Archives for March 2016

Change is the only constant

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PERFORM OR PERISH – A brief about changing business environment and decision making.

An object continues to remain in its state of rest or of uniform motion unless acted upon by an external unbalanced force. The mentioned statement, though not verbatim but statesNewton’s first law of motion as known to all of us. Absolutely applicable to everything in the universe could it also be true for business organizations? Is it possible that business units too need to change from their state of rest or uniform motion when acted upon by an external force? The answer in the context of modern day industry dynamics is most definitely a YES!
Change is the only constant.
The age old adage is as true for business as we know it as it is for anything else. Any modern business or industry as we see it today is a product of decades of evolution which can be seen as both a cause and an effect of the changing dynamics and how these organizations respond to these changes makes the ‘Darwinian principle’ of survival of the fittest applicable to these organizations.
 

One of the major drivers of this change in the recent past has been the information exchange. It would infact be safe to say that in the current scheme of things based on the impact that this has had on the economies and the industry that we are very much a part of the “Information Age”
This information exchange has not only speed tracked business processes but completely transformed our understanding of how business function in the larger scheme of things.
During research for this article, I had multiple conversations with people right form small start-ups to conventional business having survived the test of time, one glaring fact that surfaced prominently was the paradigm shift in our perception of the drivers of economic growth. Not too long ago we were talking about fields such as 1) Infrastructure, 2)Telecom, 3)Manufacturing, 4) Retail, etc. In the recent past these contributors may not be as fortunate to find a place in our list of top 4, we are more inclined to mention factors such as 1) Social Media, 2) I.T and I.T.E.S 3) Ecommerce and E-tail, 4)Education and Healthcare. Few of these mostly unheard of not too long ago. That brings us to the question of what exactly has changed. Businesses have been evolving for as long as our understanding of the concept of business itself, why is it that only now it has reached a point where the change not only augments but completely disrupts and revolutionizes the segment that it comes in contact with. The answer to that question lies in the question itself. Most smart phones in the market right now have more computing power than what was available for the entire Apollo Mission, as absurd as it may sound it is completely true, the engine of growth is fuelled with such capacity in the modern day that businesses have changed more in the last 20 years itself than in over 50 years preceding that put together.
We are seeing more and more number of billionaires being produced by the world and just as many organizations going out of business for not being able to keep up pace with the industry. That brings me back to my original point of the ‘Darwinian principle’ of perform or perish being applicable to businesses now more than ever.
One reality of modern day business is uncertainty, based on the speed at which the business may be affected by this uncertainty brings us to the question of how proactive or reactive organizations need to be in their strategy decisions, decision making in general has reached supersonic speeds due to the availability of information and intelligence. All threats pose more of an opportunity now more than ever, just needing an initiative from these businesses to make the most of them, a reactive approach under these circumstances not only opens the markets to other players racing to compete for market share but also leaves the business vulnerable to redundancy in terms of keeping up to pace with the overall industry.

It would be safe to say that businesses today need to be more on their toes and flexible to change now more than ever, gone are the days when organizations could afford to stick to their strategies and incorporate minor changes basis their competitors actions, examples are plenty of organizations that enjoyed a lion’s share of the market only to lose it to competition in the face of changing industry dynamics and their inability to take appropriate action on time, we have been a part of the generation that witnessed companies like Nokia and Motorola not only introduce constant innovation but at a period enjoy a market share more than most of their competitors put together, losing all of it due to their inertia in incorporating change, all of it in a period of less than 10 years. This brings us to an important question, how much do organizations need to change and how quickly, honestly there is no standard answer to it but one thing that’s for sure is that organizations today need to beyond just accept change, they almost need to anticipate change and ensure a certain amount of flexibility in all their strategies, infact, the organizations that have performed the best in the last 10 years or so are the ones have not only accepted but almost always initiated change.
To take an example, we can look at Facebook. A company that primarily started into Ivy League social media, expanding into a mass social media platform enabling content sharing, to a full-fledged technology and innovation company (owing to acquisition of oculus rift and others) going into avenues unheard of with “free-basics”, a company that not only stands as a billion dollar empire right now but lined up to be much more than just that in the foreseeable future owing just to proactive decision making. Doing all this in just the last 10+ years while taking some really big businesses out of business in the process and successfully catering to their market.
Proactive decision making and willingness to change their approach towards business strategy decisions is enabling businesses today to not only have the option to evolve but also to lead an evolution and increasing the horizons of businesses as we know it in every step they take. All this is evident from how Facebook has approached its business over the years.
Businesses have always been “changing with the changing environment”, this reactive approach that has served its purpose to most businesses over the years has definitely taken a back seat in the context of the current scenario, a company can no longer afford to wait for their competitor to introduce an innovation and take action accordingly to save their market share, the time from introduction of an innovation to capturing market has reduced substantially forcing major players to take notice of not only their immediate competitors but also any and all new players entering the market with the threat they propose to completely revolutionize the industry is not being taken lightly. Same is evident from companies like Godrej entering into the online space with efforts like “big basket” to ensure safeguarding its market from much smaller players throwing much larger challenges in the market than most established players.
To sum up the entire article, its best said by some people who not only understand this phenomenon but have left a global imprint by employing this understanding to their everyday effort.

In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks” – Mark Zuckerberg.
“This is a fantastic time to be entering the business world, because business is going to change more in the next 10 years than it has in the last 50” – Bill Gates.
“Willingness to change is a strength, even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while” –Jack Welch.

Source:
http://www.zmescience.com/research/technology/smartphone-power-compared-to-apollo-432/
For quotes mentioned: refer Goodreads.com, brainyquotes.com, google, etc.

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Are consumer insights being leveraged by marketers today?

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The google search for “Consumer Insights” defines it as “the intersection between the interests of the consumer and features of the brand. Its main purpose is to understand why the consumer cares for the brand as well as their underlying mindsets, moods, motivation, desires, aspirations, and motivates that trigger their attitude and actions”

While this definition pretty much suffice what is customer insight, we still need to know what marketers do with this Insight. Do they make use of this research to generate leads for sales or expanding their reach or for that matter improving their brand image. In this complicated and complex marketing environment, consumer insights have begun to take hold in the corporate mindset.

Researchers, or those who casually profess to provide consumer background, are now being forced to provide more than just numbers, but real useful information that can be acted on by all parts of the organization that are involved in doing business with prospects and customers. Consumer insights research gets under the skin and inside the consumer’s head to find the “why” of a purchase, to understand what happened, and to project what could occur in the future.

Dove was looking for repositioning of their brand as it was being overshadowed by rival brands.They conducted a study of more than 3,000 women in 10 countries in order to learn about women’s priorities and interests.

They came out with an insight that only 2 percent of the women interviewed considered themselves beautiful .They understood through research, that to appeal to women, you had to feature compelling women that looked like them.

This is an iconic campaign that not only has won numerous accolades from the ad industry, but has repositioned the DOVE brand as a brand for today’s woman (regardless of the age) and one that is supported and beloved by women around the world. According to Huffington postarticle dated01/21/2014 “Executives at Unilever suggest that the campaign has boosted sales”.

Earlier the mode of communication use to be One way with print media, TV, radio being the biggest player but with the advent of Internet, Social media plays a big role in understanding consumer behavior. Real time data can be generated, instant customer feedback and tracking their online behavior have been some of the ways through which brands are engaging with their consumer. Facebook, Instagram, youtube, twitter helps brand create buzz around their product and have meaningful conversation, promote themselves and also get some insights about visitor. These channels can help them have two-way communication with consumers, and thus build trust that can help them go long way.

Revlon India leveraged the power of social media to better understand the mindset of Indian women and their attitudes and habits towards foundation. The insight generated then used to tailor the campaign according to prevailing preferences.

Companies like flipkart, Snapdeal heavily rely on the social media platform, since all their customers are Internet users and have a presence on one or the other social media platforms. These companies have huge pool of data and using various analytical tools they try to understand the data Amazon.com Inc., the world’s largest e-commerce company, uses high-end analytics and algorithms in a number of areas such as recommending relevant products to users, showing users relevant search results, displaying ads to users that they are very likely to click on, predicting future demand for products, detecting spam reviews and detecting fraudulent orders.

Not only do these insights help companies to improve their efficiency but also cater to the needs of consumers better. On the other hand, consumers get benefited by it and have direct engagement with the company. With social media soon becoming part of our life it is a must for companies to use such platforms and try to be in connect with the users.

Machine learning as a concept is highly being used by these companies. Machine learning is a scientific discipline that deals with the construction and study of algorithms that can learn from data. With the help of such data they analyze the anxiety level of their consumers to rank the sellers. Micro targeting is done where the consumers are shown product according to their past purchasing behavior or how they use internet to surf online. Twitter, Facebook ad platform allows this geo targeting method through which it is easier for companies to target their product to specific customer. Various tools help analyze consumer engagement regarding a product and the reach of the product.

With current technologies it is easy for companies to track their consumers but at the same time is not an easy task to assimilate these data and extrapolate meaning out of it. Once you know why your customers do things a certain way, it will be much easier to establish and build long-term relationships with them.

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Start-ups – the new hotspot for employees today

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“People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”

                                                                                                   -Jim Collins

The word ‘Start-up’ is bandied about a lot when young aspirants talk about placements. The Start-up wave that has gripped the country has changed people’s perspective about working in a new venture. The reasons for this could be numerous: work environment, greater responsibility, decision making etc. Therefore, from college grads to senior executives, people have started looking for a work profile that offers more than just a heavy pay cheque. Hence, Start-ups have turned into one of the most sought-after places to work in. When asked about Start-ups to the fellow-mates, they said it invokes an idea of working in a flexible environment without any strict code of conduct. I do not know whether this is true or not for all start-ups, but there are a certain number of perquisites that come with working in a start-up. Such as …

More responsibilities, more opportunities

Working in a start-up means you are part of a small team where the responsibility you are going take up will be far bigger than what you are going to have in a large corporation. This will not only add up to your experience but also provide you with lots of other opportunities, especially if you are not quite sure what kind of gig you want to end up in. For example, an engineering guy wants to test his skills in marketing… he can do that in a start-up.

Awesome work environment

People are enthusiastic about their work mostly because they are doing what they believe in. there are fewer codes to follow like

– The dress code (you can wear informal clothes, grow beards etc.),

– The hierarchy code (as you may possibly be working under one of the co-founders)

– Flexible working hours (ideas do not always come in the 9am – 5pm shift)

An experience that counts

Experience of working under people who have started their own business is of more worth than working under people who have never gone off to create something of their own. These professionals approach things differently and it is truly an amazing experience to learn the nitty-gritties of the business from them.

Financial incentive

The salary is generally lower but its more about the stocks. The equity is greater. And this generally true for the first and second hires.

Entrepreneurial knowledge

The kind of insight of business you get when you work in a start-up far more valuable than what you get in a big firm. This kind of hands-on experience may help you start a new venture of your own someday. The values that you are instilled with are more important than any other benefit. Taking decisions of your own, knowing that you are responsible for your team’s success etc. bring out the best from you.

The aforementioned points could well be the reason for the ‘start-ups being a lucrative destination’. However, lack of resources and recognition can make it difficult for a start-up to attract the best and bright talent. People tend to be pessimistic about working in an unknown company, which has a possible life of only 5 years. Established Corporations have a ton of data about them on the internet and one can easily research about a big company to know whether it is good for him or not but it is hard to predict that about a start-up. Similarly, for a start-up, it is very hard to determine which type of candidate is best suited for the job.

Start-ups generally commence their business with few members and expand their employee base, eventually, as and when they deem fit. The need to have the right kind of employees is very important, as the impact of one’s work is greater in a Start-up than in a large company. Along with that, small companies have budget constraints and therefore they cannot afford hiring mistakes. That is why they need to come up with a balanced recruiting strategy so that they can hire the person who suits the requirement. Well … this is easier said than done. It becomes a tedious task to choose from a wide array of job applicants, which includes fresher and experienced candidates, as they come with certain benefits of their own.

Benefits of hiring a fresher…

It is easy to groom a fresher, than a veteran professional, the way company needs. Freshers do not have a rigid notion of how things should be done. And therefore they can be moulded according to the requirement, by the company.

Demands lesser salary than an experienced worker. If a job can be done alike by an experienced worker and a fresher, then why not have it done by a fresher who comes with a cheaper price tag.

Brings in fresh perspective. Inexperienced candidates bring in a new outlook on an old problem.

Benefits of hiring an experienced candidate…

They possess years of experience. Senior Professionals have the kind of experiences which freshers are not familiar with. So, they are usually in a better position to handle responsibilities.

Doesn’t need mentorship. Senior Professionals are highly skilled in what they do and do not need time and mentor understand the work.

Experienced candidates can guide the freshers. They possess a readily available vault of knowledge with which they can guide their team of freshers to the objectives they want to achieve.

Working in a start-up is a different experience altogether. It can act as a good Launchpad to kick-off your career because of its ability to engage and empower young personnel. Similarly, for a senior professional who is fed up of his monotonous job and is looking to do something new in an unconventional way, joining a start-up is the way ahead. Surely, there is a lot of work to be done in there, but the learnings you get along with the joy of creating something different is worth doing your job for. Being a part of a small company or a start-up is like building something unique brick by brick, creating something out of nothing. You are in the centre of the whole operation that, hopefully, might become the next best thing.

Sources:

  1. https://www.themuse.com/advice/startup-or-corporate-which-is-better-for-your-career
  2. http://www.chalre.com/hiring_managers/recruiting_quotes.htm
  3. http://www.fastcompany.com/3025459/leadership-now/why-i-turned-down-apple-for-a-startup
  4. http://www.officechai.com/learn/so-should-you-join-a-big-company-or-a-startup/
  5. http://yourstory.com/2015/08/join-or-not-a-startup/
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