5 Hot Technology Trends (2/2)

In our earlier post, we wrote about #ISMAC and how it is changing the business ecosystem. In this post we will continue the conversation by understanding the leaders in each of these technology areas. We will also review what each one is doing in that space.

1.    Internet of Things (IOT)

Vendors in this space range from chip manufacturers (Intel, ARM, Texas Instruments), mobile and embedded device vendors (Freescale, Qualcom, Ericsson), Home appliance vendors (GE, Bosch), pure-play software developers (Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook), Networking vendors (Cisco) and large system integrators (IBM, Oracle, SAP). The spread is so broad given the multitude of technologies that go into making a device intelligent and automated.  One of the biggest business and technological
challenges in this area is the need for standards at all hardware and software
layers.  Standards are important to
ensure complete hand-shake across device vendors as well as to derive
functionalities at scale. Early-stage research companies will lobby for their
work to become the standard.  This tussle
will continue for a few years until the standards bodies get a grip of the
overall collaborations required.  A potential obstacle from consumer perspective is the pervasiveness of these devices leading to privacy compromises. This will be a larger problem involving social, economic and political ramifications.

2.  Social

Social sector is already close to maturity on the consumer usage perspective.  While there could be finer tweaks, the ability to post 140 character reviews to author elaborate ebooks provides consumers enough to go with.  At the backend, processing of these gazillion bytes of data and deriving meaningful value for businesses is key focus area.  At the current juncture social channels are simply used for consumer and prospect connect beginning with lead generation through to customer service and repeat customers.  Most organizations are working to understand and correlate the various factors that impact the conversion funnel and how best they can take advantage of it themselves.

3.  Mobile

With about 200 Million feature phones and 80 Million smartphones sold in India in 2014, the data cannot be clearer.  Complete ecosystems have formed around mobile exchange of money, ewallet, transaction processing etc.  Nationalized banks are also heavily invested in this direction. Ability to transfer money with the swipe of a finger is practical subject to security considerations. While Social is the biggest application used on mobiles (much more data traffic over voice), other ecommerce and financial transactions are not lagging far behind.  It is critical for business to adopt a mobile-first strategy in through thinking. Minimalistic and Responsive Design as some of the key deliverables in this space.

4.  Analytics

The ability to spot the proverbial needle in the haystack holds promise.  Analytics space continues to be hot with hundreds of new entrants each quarter. Open Source Technology platforms like Hadoop (sponsored under the Apache Project) play a key role in providing real-time and batch analytics. Quick access data stores like NoSql are very prevalent given the
unstructured nature of data.  The need to handle millions of data element inputs per minute has also created a proliferation of queuing technologies that ensure data events are processed without loss. While Analytics is touted as the panacea, this space requires good blend of business acumen combined with computing abilities to derive true
value.

5.  Cloud

Cloud is the most advanced of all the five technologies.  The question is not one of viability any
longer.  Usage of cloud has become so
common place that one cannot imagine otherwise.
All our emails, files, photos, documents, videos, photos, blogs are saved
up there in one of the cloud. Cloud infrastructure vendors have gotten the
entire store, access, retrieve cycle ironed out.  Redundancy of infrastructure and replication mechanisms have evolved so well to completely hide the true complexity away from the end customer.  With companies like Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and others giving out free access to developer’s worldwide, cloud is the only de facto platform to develop applications.  It has also brought some semblance of uniformity of development with standardization of infrastructure stack open source products.

In summary, the five technologies listed above are very real and very NOW.  Businesses should take advantage of these technologies in ways that is most beneficial for them.

Futureshift Consulting [www.futureshift.in] brings you the right combination of business and technology strategy and implementation expertise. Visit us at www.futureshift.in for a sneak preview of our offerings.  Write to us [help@futureshift.com.sg]  or for a quick response..

5 Hot Technology Trends (1/2)

SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) and IoT (Internet of Things) are the five buzz words in the technology industry that is driving innovation for business and hence valuations for businesses that are in that space.

Let us address this one by one. In this two part series, we will cover introductory and business aspects of SMAC+IoT in this part and take up deep dive in the next.

SMAC delivers an ecosystem to help businesses have maximum reach with minimal costs. It also helps business to be present in front of the customer without being intrusive. We are all creating peta-bytes of data both in structured and unstructured formats. In today’s day and age, anything that we do on the internet is captured in more than one way. This explosion of structured and unstructured data is generating through billions of devices and services – mobile devices social media, sensors, loyalty programs and browsing website and is creating new business models built upon user-generated data. Each of the four technologies – social, mobile, analytics and cloud (let us keep IoT out of the equation for now) – is critical and creates a synergy and provides immense competitive advantage for businesses when used efficiently.

Social Media has provided billions of users and millions of businesses
with new ways to reach and interact between businesses customers and between customers to customers. The mobile technologies have dramatically altered the way people communicate, shop and work and have fun. Analytics allow businesses to understand how, when and where people consume goods and services. Cloud computing provides a disruptive way to access technology with data a business needs to quickly and respond to rapidly changing markets and solve business problems. Each of the four technologies can impact a business individually. But the power lies in the integration and the coming together of the four is proving to be a disruptive force and is creating entirely new business models for service providers.

While it sounds simple the integration involves immense complexity at the back end. There are tools available to achieve the stated purpose. Integrating SMAC requires clear systems, policies and management tools that can automate business processes. The online-retailer company Amazon is a
good example of a business that has successfully harnessed the power of SMAC.
For example, when an Amazon member buys an item on Amazon on their iPhone, they are given the option to login with Facebook’s social login. After the purchase, customers are given multiple ways to provide social feedback. They can rate their experience with stars, write reviews and/or share what they just bought with friends on Facebook or Twitter. Customer data is stored in the cloud and Amazon can break down its analysis to such a granular a level that its recommendation engine can personalize suggestions for friends that are connected and have similar preferences, a concept known as 1:1 marketing.

Any modern CRM strategy would see such 1:1 marketing as the holy-grail of customer engagement and is the aim of every SMAC initiative. Critics however worry that such massive aggregation of customer data from disparate sources, data that is possibly purchased from data brokers, may violate user privacy and cause legal problems related to compliance and data sovereignty.

In spite of such criticism, SMAC is here to stay. In the next post, I will talk about Internet of Things, IoT that is the next big disruptor. Stay tuned.

Social Media in Business (Part 2 )

In my earlier post of Social Media in Business (Part 1), I shared the size of the market was and the lovable demographics social media presents. In this second and final part, I will share with you the basic steps of getting there.

Before I proceed I want to share with you a personal sorry that occurred recently.

I was disappointed at mediocre internet banking infrastructure of the two banks #hdfcbank, #icicibank and the unhelpful call center of #jetairways. The numerous attempts to the call center that either put me on hold for a good 20+ minutes or were unable to understand the requests yielded no results. Such waits and both frustrating and costly. I did what was the next step. Vent out my frustration on a tweet.

In less than 12 hours, I had ‘messages’ #icicibank #jetairways requesting for more details. In less than 24 hours of me providing my contact details, the representatives called me and promised to fix the issue. One bank #hdfcbank, just chose to be unheard and non-present on twitter. Needless to say thy just lost my $10K investment that I was planning to do to their competitor.

As a customer, I was delighted that a 140 character tweet could achieve what a 20min international phone call or a 300 word email could not. Harnessing its power,  let’s get serious.
Unfortunately, most companies are still treating social media like just another teenage fancy. When in fact, it’s so much more.

Where can Social Media help?

  • customer service, building loyalty
  • public relations, networking, thought-leadership
  • and yes, may be customer acquisition, too.
  • And because I’d hate to see it all not add up, I’ll add this tiny bit of advice. Do not assume that social media is the answer to every problem
  • If your product sucks, social media won’t fix it.
  • However, if your customer service sucks, social media can help.
  • If your repeat business sucks, social media can help.
  • If your company’s word of mouth sucks, social media can help.

So, here’s what you need to do:

Define your company’s online marketing strategy.  Hope is not strategy

Stop thinking “campaigns”. Start thinking “conversations.

Your customers are queuing there. Your resistance to social media is futile. Millions of people are creating content for the social web. Your competitors are already there. Your customers have been there for a long time.
If your business isn’t putting itself out there, you are putting yourself out of business?

Social Media in Business (Part 1)

In our consulting assignments and workshop on social media, participants ask us the same question again and again. The top three questions are –

  • “Why do we as a business need to be there?”
  • “Facebook is for friends and Twitter is there for celebrities, not for real businesses”.
  • “We are a professional organization, not some startup”

In this two-part series, I will share how social media can change the business dynamics and help you get closer to your prospects and customers. In part 2 of this series I will share my own personal example with an airline and a bank on how they leveraged social media to solve customer problems.
Well are businesses really social?

Many years ago when Avinash Kaushik, an Analytics Evangelist of Google quipped “social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. Nobody knows how. When it’s finally done there is surprise it’s not better”, it seemed like just that.

Now almost a decade later and wiser, Wikipedia defines thus – “Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue”,

Why should I care, you may ask?

Well, I can give you not one but six trends that possibly can change your perspective.

  • Because 3 out of 4 Americans use social technology.
  • Because 2/3 of the global internet population visit social networks.
  • Because visiting social sites is now the most popular online activity
  • Because time spent on social networks is growing at 3x the overall internet rate, accounting for
  • Because social media is democratizing communications. Big time.
  • Because social media is like word of mouth on steroids.
  • Because, social media is a force to be reckoned with! If facebook were a country, it would be the world’s most populous country just ahead of China and India.

If all this is great stuff, how does it affect my business, my customers or my prospects? I will cover these in my next issue, and I leave you with this thought –
93% of social media users believe that a company should have a presence in social media.
93% of these users want a dialogue, not a monologue on social media and believe that companies should not treat social media as yet another channel for broadcasting bulls*t.

Well now that I set the grounding on the basics of Social Media, I will take up in my next post on how businesses can leverage social media in my next issue.

#BetterBhavishya – Delivering Social Impact

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At Futureshift, we believe that we will be able to contribute immensely to the social sector space by building on the capabilities, skill sets and the connections that we have built with our vast experience in transforming businesses around the world.

As a part of giving back, our consultants have pledged 20% of their time to work on social causes that will Maximize Social Impact. They will leverage their global expertise and use Futureshift tools and services towards those causes.

Some examples of the areas we are working on include

  • Solving the teaching problem in India by developing multi-media teaching aid with Pocket Power.
  • Solving India’s human rights problems by working together with Amnesty International. Projects like #bullynomore.in have gained traction to address the bullying in schools.
  • Solving literacy and numeracy problem by working with a leading NGO on how to expand footprints and volunteers.
  • Solving India’s vaccination problem with MyHealthshield that can help reduce tens of thousands of infant deaths due to missing the vaccination schedule.
  • Solving neighborhood safety problem with grouping, a solution for creating ‘instant ‘neighborhood watch’ without compromising on privacy of phone number.

#Futrlabs small enough to innovate, big enough to disrupt

Futrlabs is our Innovation Hub that develops Intellectual Property on disruptive technologies to positively impact outcomes.

Technology is the bedrock for success. Picking the right solution for the right problem is critical. Futureshift’s Mobile, Cloud, Social and Analytics platforms will help you achieve success, instantly with the right tools.

At Futrlabs cutting-edge innovation happens because we are focused ground up with solutions that impact business and real problems. We are bunch of tech-savvy people who meet and talk to real people almost every week. That is what keeps the creative juices flowing with feet on the ground.