Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Social CRM - Not Your Father's Customer Relationship Management

I found a interesting presentation from Brent Leary on Social CRM. It is 2 years old ppt but still hold good worth. Brent describes how Obama won the election by using Social CRM, and says:

Traditional CRM + Social CRM = Real CRM

Here's the full presentation file from Slideshare.

View more presentations from bleary.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why Data Matters: Age of Analytics

This is my favorite video on Analytics. IBM Analytics Experts talk about how data and analytics is guiding our daily life.

Enjoy the video.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Is Marketing a Necessary Business Expense?

While there are various talks on whether to take Marketing budget as necessary business expense or a investment. A video from Vault Analytics talks about it and shows how McDonald and Amazon took over the World by investing heavily in Marketing.

Nicely presented. Enjoy the video here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Track Clicks on your Tweet Links

As a Analyst, all like is data. I love the data, statistics and comparison. I was very happy to be the most followed person in Twitter (now I am not) few months back, but not very unhappy to have lost the place. Records and leads change, and thats the beauty part of it.

I like to count followers in Twitter, and I love to Tweet. Something I always wanted is to know how much click my Tweet links bring. None of the services provided that to me. gives the popularity of a unique URL or article, but it does not explain how much my tweet added to it.

so we started a URL Shortener, NXY.IN, to track individual Marketer's efficiency and to bring credibility to Twitter Marketing. It can track the clicks on URLs shortened irrespective of what other people do. If a long URL is shortened by five people, all will get different short URLs.

Do not forget to log in thro Twitter while trying it. Would love to get your feedback on the same.

Here are the URLs:

Next time you Tweet, go to NXY.IN --> shorten the URL --> post to Twitter

Then see the magical numbers -- the number of clicks for each URL you shortened :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Entrepreneurs Should Choose VCs and Not Vice Versa

I have been in the Entrepreneural venture for around half a year, and have been scouting for investment for some time. Met many VCs and attended few Start-up summits organized by and startupcity. Let me share my experience here.

Indian Market is full of enterpreneurs and there are very few investors around. This makes investors more powerful then the fund seeking enterpreneurs.

Present Investors are of various categories -- individual investors (high net worth individuals), Seed Funds, Venture Capitalists, Equity Partners etc. They invest in different modes, and they enter and exit at certain defined stages.

Let me discuss something about different type of categorization of investors.

Categorization I : Risk Takers Vs Avoiders

Risk takers mostly prefer to be the first company to invest in a venture, and they look low valuation and high return. They have risk taking ability with good vision and judgmental ability.

The avoiders do not posses any of these three traits. All they seek is a area where they can park their fund, and get good returns. They don't know how and they do not make any effort to understand. All they do is look at places where the other companies invest and then become a secondary investor. They believe in other's judgement.

Categorization II : Big Thinkers Vs Small and Beautiful Vs Quick Monsters

Big Thinkers are more strategic. They invests in ambitious projects and are more open to ideas. They take risks but calculated risk, and often help clients grow using their network. They are active but understand the business and its challenges; they also don't bug the management team of the client unnecessarily.

Small and Beautiful are the folks who look around their closed circle of friend enterpreneurs, and make investments. They are not aggressive in growth but invest for medium to long term. They exit partially and value relation with the promoters. They are supportive but prefer not to give too much time for the venture.

Quick Monsters are very smart folks, who are strong in tactical works but not very strategic. They don't value relations, and can enter and exit at any time they want. They neither have long term strategic thought as a Investment Company nor they have for their clients. All they look is an immediate opportunity to get in, and exit when it favors them.

Categorization III : Open Minded Vs Look-up Tablers

Few people I talked with do not believe that VCs can be categorized this way. But I have an experience to support. I visited few VCs were stuck with the questions in his look up table.

They had four questions to ask.
1. Who are you clients?
2. What is your revenue?
3. How long are you in the industry?
4. How experience is your team? Any celebrity entrepreneur with you?

Is this because of the outsourcing culture in India? Does this say people here can't think outside of clients and revenues? I have no answer.

They never asked my what my company do, what is the business plan and how I can work with the investor to bring good value to the customers and the stakeholders of both the companies. I was surprised! I call them the Look Up Tablers.

These class of investors have very good experience in managing money, and they are no better than investors who buy shares from the stock market. They are of no more value than their money. Sometimes even their money can be a problem. I expect them to bug the management team every now and them, and influence the invested company to change its course.

The Open Minded Investors are the other hypothetical class of investors, who understand the team, the product, the potential and the vision. They invest in the company and share the vision.
Sadly, I have not met any such investors. Have heard about them, and would love to meet if there are any.

Investment : Enterpreneurs and the Investors

What I have learned in last few months is, as a entrepreneur one must be strong enough to reject some investors and one must posses a quality to reject an offer to meet the investors too. Companies after all do not run only on investors money; it can run in bank loans, some small borrowings, some quick revenue survival plan, and some cost sharing partnerships with revenue rich companies.

All these strategies do have their own drawback, but going around a wrong investor is more bad. It takes away the valuable time, delay the work, frustrate the team and most of all forces to divert the main vision.

The investors are in the business of investing. They have to invest in order to survive and grow. They are more forceful than the enterpreneurs towards investment.

Ending Thoughts

Most of the Investors we meet are not the enterprenuers and they are the staffs of the investment company. Enterpreneurs need to understand this, and be prepared to be rejected and misunderstood. After all had they been enterpreneurs themselves, they would not come up with questions you cant answer.

It is more important to target a right investor, and find them at the right time. It is also important to find the right partner for the business who bring in money. Wrong investor can be more harmful than a no investor. Enterpreneurs needs to be careful.

What do you think? I would love to hear from you. Share your thoughts here as comment.

If you have any experience to share, please do it. I am sure, all want to read and understand on what's going wrong.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Where did Obama go wrong?

Barack Obama’s victory for the US President Election was symbolic in many fronts. He took strong stand on three major areas:
1. Improving Brand America in the World
2. Soft Diplomacy to Improve Ties with Non-Friendly Nations
3. Building American Economy with Human Face

Well, Obama taking his Pre-Presidency Rival, Hilary Clinton, as his Foreign Policy Associate was a big step. Only a very strong person and positive thinker can do it. He knew his weakness (lack of experience) very well and picked his people very wisely.

One of his best diplomacy can be seen by his play on India and Pakistan. Obama knew the power of Indian Population in US, and called Pakistan as the hub of Terrorism to lure them. He seemed smart in using the best possible way to get Indian American voters. He later quickly came with a statement on Kashmir, and this time calling US involvement in it. This got him Pakistanis as well.

Obama’s softer stand on foreign relations got him Europeans. Closing of Guantanamo Bay Prison and his open arms for friendship from rival nations like Iran and Libya got the Islamic mass too. All this did well for Obama and the Americans.

The point where Obama went wrong is on the Economy front and managing China, the emerging super-power. His Office first went wrong on blaming China for the recession, while everybody in the World knows that fault lied with America. Extended Housing Inflation, Sub-prime credit bubble, CDS Bubble, etc lead to the economic burst. China had no involvement or control on any of these factors. It was instead helping Americans to maintain high fiscal deficit; they continuously bought US bonds and even now they are continuing it.

Chinese have own interest in keeping US Economy afloat and is trying hard to help them get back to shape. Obama administration failed to appreciate that before Chinese hit them hard saying China was doing favour by believing in an Economy with huge deficit. This was a nightmare for the most powerful countrymen to hear.

On another note, US took over the political, military and economic power from Mainland European Nations after the World War II. Thanks to their geographic distance from the rivals. They lost little, and could easily command their voice to the pre-War powers. This would have remained for few years or decades only, but the quick economic reforms and forward looking inclusive governance took them far from other competitors. The reforms included privatization of most government owned companies and moves towards capitalistic and free market, including favour for outsourcing and off-shoring. Europe hesitate to take these steps, thus becoming a slow moving, low performing and happy living economy.

Successive American governments have not only favoured aggressive growth and hire-fire policy; they have let big companies fail too. This made entrepreneurs and corporate aware, active as well as responsible. They didn’t felt relaxed and become laid-back, and this culture created it as a hub of most successful companies.

Obama should have known that 2008-09 crisis is not the first crisis that happened, and it won’t be the last one too. Many crises came and ended. Obama seems to have hurried, and did too much to save the economy. His bail-out philosophy has not worked, and is still on test. Many American Corporations will now be running under the government umbrella, and many more companies will be seeking for bail-outs. This has given the corporate executives, a place to hide their face when they fail. They can surrender and can get away with another venture. It happened this time, and it won’t be easy to wipe it anytime soon.

Obama has acted hyper-actively, and wasted huge tax payers’ money. He has also made Federal Reserve to print Dollars to finance government expenditure and save dollar shortage in the international market. These steps are not risky, they are deadly. One side, it decreases the output and other side increases inflation. This might create a condition where there is too much cash, too much government role, very low productivity, very low freedom and very low responsibility on action. This might kill the performance culture of the Americans and might ultimately lead to the fall of the American Economic Imperialism.

Obama might need to correct these steps. Economy will recover; it’s just the matter of time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Twitter BOTs : Blessing or Curse?

In my school days, there was a favorite topic for debate competition -- "Is Science Blessing or Curse?". I have participated few times and had to put points from the both side. My stand was, and is always is -- there can not be black and white in the World. It depends on how we use and make good out of any function or technology.

Now Twitter BOT seems the same. I am happy to know that a Human (Aston Kutcher) won over a BOT (CNN) in the race to have 1 M followers. Would like to look into the matter into more detail here.

Reasons to hate BOTs.

1. Welcome Auto-DMs used as Ads
Auto-DMs are really annoying. When you follow people they say welcome with an ad -- "please visit our site xxxx". I take this as an offence. Suppose you come to our company site and we start telling you about our service one after the other without knowing why you came and what your interest is.
Do you like this? I am sure you wont. Best strategy is always to listen first, understand and then talk. And when you talk its better to ask questions and genuine questions. This will ensure good relation build-up, thus ensuring the successful use of Social Media.

2. Too Many and Automated DMs
When I follow you, I am subscribing to your Tweets and not to your DMs. You can DM, but not regularly to piss me off and force me to unfollow or block you. It is a good way of taking relations private and personal to have successful professional co-operation. Robotized actions in such functions can only harm.

3. Frequent Tweets
Twitter is not a Media like any other Media like Radio, Television or NewsSite. You don't need to be there all time. It is simply because, no one is listening only to you.
Twitter is a Media where people follow many others and share things. Quality of Tweet matters a lot than Frequency. If the frequency is too high for followers to follow, you can only lose them; you have a share of people's time and you better stick to it. Increasing the share can be a long term strategy with well thought planning, this needs quality of service and not quantity.

I unfollow any users who use BOTs to Tweet more than 5 Tweets a Min. This is irrespective of the quality of Tweet.

4. Automated RTs
This is another annoying thing. RTs are done for the Tweets that you find interesting and worthy for others to read. People have high expectations while visiting the links that are RTed. If you use a BOT for that purpose and wrong Tweets get RTed, you are gone. It can harm a lot and you may end up losing followers.
More important is the fact that such actions will lower the value of RTs. Accounts are graded by many Account graders using this metric, and the automated RTs of the useless Tweet will affect that badly.

(We are working to blacklist and remove RTs from the ReTweeter BOTs while calculating scores in Buzzom.)

5. Repeated Tweets
There are few BOTs in the TwitterSphere which Tweet about certain no. of links or services. They continuously do the repetition and add no value to the followers. It only decreases the relevance of the user and is most likely to be unfollowed.

Reasons to Like BOTs

1. Automated Followback
This is detable again whether you need to followback all who follow you. I do feel, it is necessary atleast to know what the follower has to say. I unfollow when I feel the user add no value.

This followback takes huge time as I get 200 to 500 followers daily, and it actually pains to follow each of them. I use Buzzom for this, and I am pretty happy it does for me. It has the facility to choose whom to follow back and whom not to.

I may even choose to have automated followback, but have not done it so far.

2. Find New and Interesting People
Twitter is believed to be having around 25 million users, and they all differ in their likings and dislikings. If I want to know who are from my domain and who have interest matching my interest, I need a system to tell me. I need a BOT!

3. Grow Regularly and Timely
I want to find and follow people from certain areas like Analytics and Economy. I also like to follow people who are likely to follow me back and grow my follower base. I can do it manually but again it takes times. If I have certain benahoir that can be automated, why not do it.

I would like to use BOT for some regular stuffs, but want to make sure my action does not annoy anyone. My experience is that continuously follow and unfollow pisses off some people. If anyone can give me facility where these things dont happen, I will certainly use a BOT and save my time.
Buzzom have tested BOT with such facility and is coming up with BOT Factory soon. You may want to explore it.

4. Quality Feeds
If you are a blogger or a News Site owner, you will need a BOT to set-up feed Tweets. I am not a big fan of such feeds but don't have any problem if they are quality, genuine and manageable. I would actually love to see feed Tweets from CNN, BBC, TechCrunch etc., provided the frequency is manageable. This would mean if I get 100 Tweets in 5 mins from CNN, no way i am going to follow them and lose what other folks have to say.

When done timely and properly, feeds are actually great. They have huge value to the followers, and you save your time. A win-win situation.

5. SPAM Control
An Iron can cut Iron, a bamboo stick cannot. Only an BOT can find and nullify the SPAMMING BOT. Out of 25 million Tweeters, and out of hundreds and thousands of Tweeters we follow, there are a few thousand such Spamming BOTs that trouble us. It can be fought back only in two ways -- 1. having too much control and choosing followings with much care 2. go for a mass follow and make huge number of friends, while having a BOT working to control the SPAM in your follow list.
If you follow the first approach, you are not using the strength of Twitter and using it like Orkut or Facebook. Twitter is about going out and reaching to the maximum possible people outside of your friend circle. If you compromise here, you lose the fun and the opportunity of this new Social Media Revolution.
Have the second one, and get relaxed.

My Take:
BOTs are not essentially bad, and can be blessing in disguise. Individuals need to make a Twitter strategy and get it going. BOT may or maynot be suitable to you; you are the best person to judge.

If you like this article, do not forget to follow me in Twitter.

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