Online Shopping Isn’t as Profitable as You Think

Harvard Business Review:

online and off – sometimes maybe you need offline too ?!

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

When I argue that e-commerce isn’t likely to destroy innovative omnichannel retailers, I typically receive passionate responses. Am I really suggesting that the growth of e-commerce will slow before it annihilates most physical retailing? And how could I possibly argue that the economics of omnichannel retailers are as favorable as those of pure-play e-tailers?

Growth rates first. Several organizations track e-commerce sales, including the U.S. Census Bureau, ComScore, eMarketer, and Forrester. All show similar trends. For example, Forrester’s data on the top 30 product categories (which account for 97% of total e-commerce sales) indicates that e-commerce growth fluctuates with economic conditions but is clearly slowing overall:

U. S. E-commerce Growth chart

This is a familiar growth pattern: E-commerce as a percentage of total retail sales seems to be following a classic S-shaped logistic curve. If historical trends continue, e-commerce’s share of retail will rise from 11% today to about 18% in 2030, albeit with big…

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The Cost of Continuously Checking Email

Harvard Business Review:

Multi tasking is a myth !

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Suppose each time you ran low on an item in your kitchen—olive oil, bananas, napkins—your instinctive response was to drop everything and race to the store. How much time would you lose? How much money would you squander on gas? What would happen to your productivity?

We all recognize the inefficiency of this approach. And yet surprisingly, we often work in ways that are equally wasteful.

The reason we keep a shopping list and try to keep supermarket trips to a minimum is that it’s easy to see the cost of driving to the store every time we crave a bag of potato chips. What is less obvious to us, however, is the cognitive price we pay each time we drop everything and switch activities to satisfy a mental craving.

Shifting our attention from one task to another, as we do when we’re monitoring email while trying to read a…

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A Tale Of Two Patents: Why Facebook Can’t Clone Snapchat

Soumya:

Patents again but playing out interestingly with no one saying anything !!

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Facebook released Slingshot, its second attempt at an impermanent sharing app, last Tuesday. The app borrows heavily, in concept and features, from Snapchat, as well as smaller startups like Frontback and Look.

Slingshot and Facebook Messenger feature the same photo and video recording interface–a very user friendly mechanism where you tap the main button to take a picture, and hold that button to record a video.

There’s just one problem: Facebook may be violating Snapchat’s patent, “Single mode visual media capture” that was approved over a year ago.

Representatives from both Facebook and Snapchat declined to comment for this story, but the patent appears to describe the way both companies’ apps record media:

“An electronic device includes digital image sensors to capture visual media, a display to present the visual media from the digital image sensors and a touch controller to identify haptic contact engagement, haptic contact persistence and haptic contact release on the…

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How to Negotiate with Someone More Powerful than You

Harvard Business Review:

negotiate with power !

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Going into a negotiation with someone who holds more power than you do can be a daunting prospect.  Whether you are asking your boss for a new assignment or attempting to land a major business deal with a client, your approach to the negotiation can dramatically affect your chances of success. How can you make the best case for what you want?

What the Experts Say
“There is often strength in weakness,” says Margaret Neale, the Adams Distinguished Professor of Management at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Having power typically reduces a person’s ability to understand how others think, see, and feel, so being in the less powerful position actually gives you a better vantage to accurately assess what the other party wants and how you can best deliver it. And when you do your homework, you’ll often find you’ve “underestimated your own power, and overestimated theirs,” says Jeff Weiss…

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The Crazy Genius Behind Solar Roadways

Soumya:

Solar panels on the tarmac ….

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Here’s an idea crazy enough that it just might work: Pave the streets with solar-powered panels that have their own built-in heat and LED lights. That’s what Scott and Julie Brusaw hope to accomplish with their ongoing Solar Roadways project, which they just funded through a hugely popular crowdfunding campaign.

The husband-and-wife team has spent the better part of the last decade developing solar-powered modular panels that could be installed in roadways and parking lots, and would be able to collect power from the sun. Those panels could also keep streets clear of snow and ice, while illuminating them with LEDs.

Rather than paving streets and driveways with asphalt, the Solar Roadways panels would theoretically be able to decrease our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels by generating massive amounts of clean energy. Panels are made from ruggedized glass and connect to one another through a mesh network, so that even…

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Facebook Gets it. Google Doesn’t.

Soumya:

Facebook is addressing a strong desire for privacy by its users. This needs be known and understood!

Originally posted on Uncrunched:

Facebook announced a new way for people to log in to apps “anonymously” today. You still log into the (third party) app using your Facebook credentials, but Facebook sends absolutely no information about you at all to the app.

Read all the coverage about it on TechMeme. The tech press is impressed, even to to point of wondering if there’s a catch.

I don’t know the details, such as if this is something all apps have to implement if they want Facebook login, or if developers can opt not to offer it while still using the “normal” FB login.

But it doesn’t really matter. Facebook is addressing a strong desire for privacy by its users.

Distill that even further and it comes down to this – Facebook is treating its users, at least in this case, like its customers.

Then there’s Google. Today I read that they’re going to…

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4 Ways the Best Sales Teams Beat the Market

Harvard Business Review:

How the winners at sales keep winning !! It is not easy but it can be done and it is a frame of mind that makes it all come together !!

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Customers today use an average of six channels during the buying process, and the number of channels available to them is only increasing. Competition for those customers has also increased as margins have tightened. Digital channels have upended the well-trod ruts of sales and marketing organizations — already, nearly a third of all B2B purchases are done digitally. All of this increased complexity means sales leaders must rethink how they source leads, manage pipelines, and sell more effectively.

Rather than being overwhelmed, the best sales leaders have figured out how to overcome this complexity to drive above-market growth. Our analysis of 73 B2B technology companies shows that across sectors, the top 25% of companies achieve more than twice as much return on sales investment compared to the bottom 25%.

What do they do right? Based on our experience and analysis, they maintain a clear focus on four things:

1. They measure…

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How to Succeed at Key Account Management

Harvard Business Review:

A very useful guide to get the KAM thinking and activities rolled out in an organisation!

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Key account management (KAM) is one of the most important changes in selling that has emerged during the past two decades. KAM is a radically different organizational process used by business-to-business suppliers to manage their relationships with strategically-important customers, and it produces measurable business benefits.

Not surprisingly, smart suppliers are keen to implement KAM. But, sadly, many KAM implementations fail and are abandoned. In other cases, suppliers find that they have to make big changes to the KAM programs to get them to function.

The good news is that many of these failures are unnecessary. KAM is a major change, but the chances of success can be dramatically increased by following the seven steps described here:

Step One: Recognize that KAM is an organizational change, not a sales technique. KAM implementations take years, not months. The companies which have implemented KAM most successfully have been those who thought of it…

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Whatsapp – Email overload & Enterprise social networks!

The last few years I have been really getting acquainted with several companies in my line of a work as tech sales guy. I see several organizational problems that I see building up due to unfettered tech and its wrong usage.  I’d love to solve them and have a few suggestions and being who I am they are inevitably about the more adoption of technology! I mean hey Whatsapp just got bought for like $10 +billion and people have a huge opinion about it. But all it did there was just move text messaging from the voice on CDMA+GSM spectrum network to the Internet Protocol/data network on the GSM+CDMA spectrum and added a layer of take and share media and files, create private friends or family social networks and on the mobile!

Email overload at the workplace is the latest big thing now that I really want to handle – it is so current now that were you to type in that search word – damn there’d be an article an hour back like say this one when I started to type this out. The solution is not too tough really – all you have to do is move that traffic else where on other servers that can handle it and is not as crowded and with less noise.

Go Yammer  and the ESN way. ESN is something I think I coined if no one has used before: enterprise social networks. If you don’t want to use Yammer – you may as well use FB – create corporate FB Ids centrally etc. But the point is it is they are there and can be used. You could try moving to the sales force dot com platform and use that as your workflow and sales force automation systems also and create that process. People like it or not read their FB messages, twitter feeds, Whatsapp dialogues more than anything else. More than SMS perhaps! There is even bug report on mozilla asking to see if reddit can be used to replace yammer?

Also the medium makes it such that people are forced to stay on script; brevity is the soul of wit as said Polonious in Hamlet  – a Shakespearean play. People need to have to be brief by the urgency of the medium and the forced restriction of space. Occasionally it spawns it’s own language like BRB, IMO, IMHO; LOL; BTW! Plus it brings in the concept of presence ; you know who is logged in on a server somewhere on the internet and can send receive files etc!! There are also possible videoconferencing and tele calling available which makes ESN the best way to go to handle email overload. In a very Marshall Mac Luhanesque manner; the medium becomes the message! Also it is open source capable and can be mostly configured for free with admin levels rights requires payments but it gets the work done!

Digital Marketing, internet advertising and social media.

I have been drifting the last few months and my blog posts show! One of the things I drifted into was a small commission to manage a digital marketing effort at a startup social gaming/entertainment network based out and targeting south east asia pacific rim markets.

Digital Marketing today is a fairly evolved and complex set of activities in the visually connected and engaged space of the consumer’s mind. At one level it is simple Internet banner ads, networked digital signage but at another it is also complex socially networked media, people focus, crowd engagement, the collective user experience, blogospheres, sharing. At all levels it is pure and simple advertising, subtly or not you are trying to drive a message through and cause action; make people buy as it were. In the digital world – it is about increasing your “like” counts. Somehow like it or not – our lives and as are companies / organizations also – are being defined by the lingua franca of social networks like Facebook, Friendster, MySpace and many others before that.

A key point in the development of the digital advertising space was the design and implementation of search engine term monetization by Google – very simply put AdWords and the entire bidding related marketplace that it has spawned. Acquisition meant control over Doubleclick – a pioneer ad serving company in 2007 and before long the empire also had interest in mobile ad serving with Android and AdMob – another well-timed acquisition in 2009. For advertisers it meant a sort of implied granular control of their ad money spend. I insist “implied” because after one level – it all becomes blind and you really do not know what is going on. Some others have also opined against it and here is one.

Advertising the mainstream variety has always been inherently a “dark art”. A famous quote I recall was that “…half of my ad budget is wasted – I just don’t know which half…” You made a good ad, you bowed to creative urges and flashes and then you spend on media – a lot like shooting many arrows and hoping some of them stick. Internet advertising in the olden days was a lot like that – you had banner ads and you hoped some of them got seen. Then they did pop ups and pop unders and things got crazy for a while and standards got set up. A little bit of the relevance of this type of advertising sank with the development of ad blockers. Before long banner ads that ran java were also proving to be an effective malaware vector to infect using drive by downloads.

At a time like this search engine keyword/term advertising that Google brought in set the industry standard. Advertisers were intrigued and the prospect of granular payments for the number of clicks and clicks throughs set the mind of the marketer afire. Today about 20% of all advertising budget is thought to be going into internet advertising. and some estimates say that soon it will be 50% and one forecast has it that it will outstrip print advertising by 2015. Google’s system was imitated by the rest and anyone that has a search engine today monetizes it thus, including Bing – the other search engine. The system works pretty simply – you quote a price – a “bid” as it were for a set of keywords that best suit your product or service and that the average user would use to search for things related to your product and service. Every time that word, search term was used and your bid was not lower than everyone else’s your ad would be shown next to the search results. Google will help you with a keyword generator, a suggested bid that is an approximation of the bids and well you need a script that is ideally 100 odd characters. You can also use the search terms generated to advertise on internet banner ads on desktops and mobile devices inside apps, on the web through a browser. The advertiser gets charged every time some one clicks through one of the ads.

Like traditional advertising however – the guy with the most money is usually the one whose message gets out better and louder. The brands that are deemed the most social inevitably are also the brands that have the largest ad spends in the “offline”, traditional advertising space. Things get different when you realize that it is a self service “platform” – you log in to a web site which gives you a fairly complicated but tightly laid out options and mechanisms for your ad. There is telephonic support and you dial a toll free number to talk to someone who can guide you through the process and help you spend. There are of course agencies that will help you do this and increasingly they are traditional advertising agencies that develop a separate department or perhaps acquire some hot startup. But the beauty is the egalitarian nature, anyone with a credit card can advertise. This has specifically appealed to the small and medium business cluster and has unlocked advertising dollars that were not being spent.

This in a way is the early stage of internet advertising age, which itself cannot yet be called a long phenomenon. This is the stage before social came in to the picture and this is when one web site built an audience in the 100s of millions that soon become a billion. The good news was the audience gave the web site their personal details, location, preferences; you name it – a deep insight as it were into who the users were and well what they were doing. Facebook was suddenly the wonder child of the new internet generation with a young founder CEO and a dashing style built on openness and a Hollywood credo. When they finally rolled their advertising mechanisms out they offered unbelievably fine-tuned targeting of their user base without actually jeopardizing anonymity. On Google you advertised on Google’s and other people’s sites when you did banner ads or on Google’s or other people’s apps. The inventory of ad server space from the non Google Apps and Sites was more often than not sold between all the other ad server suppliers and there were quite a few there as even a survey and listing from 2010 will show here but on Facebook that inventory is all theirs. There are page posts, promoted posts, likes, installs, display on web site, on phone of android or iOS, everything they own, it is their ad inventory. It is also a bidding style self service engagement but there is a very deep level of granular segmentation possible that you can actually build a very strong motivated followers from the likes. Facebook also allows you a nice medium to show your wares through a Facebook Page – which is like a digital storefront at one level. The strength of the still new platform is that it can drive app installs at a well nigh unprecedented rate as has been seen.

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