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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Monsoon Blues

The monsoons evoke a bag of mixed feelings ranging from mischief, playfulness, fun and romance to misery, gloominess, filthiness and irritation. Some enjoy stepping out in the rain going for long rides, while some enjoy sipping hot beverages and having some snacks and watching a movie, while some others enjoy snuggling under a cozy blanket and some taking a long walk.
Overflowing drains, flooded roads, pot holes, heavy noisy traffic,  fallen trees causing long power cuts could be highly damping for city bound office goers. After a long day at work with these unavoidable circumstances the rains can make you cringe.
Sometimes when we sit at our office desks and watch the rain lash against our windows. We feel lethargic, lazy, moody and sleepy. This is a common seasonal affective disorder. The muggy weather can surely upset us and we could get distracted from our routine tasks.

Here are few things to do to beat office monsoon blues:

Take a break: Working for long hours in a gloomy weather can make one feel exhausted faster. Take a break. Stack your drawers with your favorite snacks, a bottle of hot chocolate (hot chocolate drinks are the best to sip during a cold rainy day). Smile at you fellow colleague or try to find a colleague at the cafeteria with whom you can discuss world news and other happenings.

Choose a bright wardrobe: We will not realize it, but being around dull colors such as black and grey has the same effect as the weather outside. Wear vibrant colors such as shades of red, blue, green, yellow. Decorate your work station with indoor plants, a tiny table fish tank with colorful fishes, posters, photographs will always give you a reason to work in a lively manner. A brighter you on the outside will translate into a vibrant you on the inside.

Exercise: Keeping your body active not only pumps up your heart rate and boosts blood flow; it also helps release happy hormones into your body, which plays an important and effective role in controlling stressful situations and work loads.

Choose public transport or Carpool: People driving or riding in heavy rains are likely to be accident prone. Public transport may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is the best option during monsoon. Carpooling is another option, this also avoids getting stuck and feeling frustrated alone in the traffic, when you carpool  even if you are stuck you have two or three people to chat or crack a joke or two and the journey back home will be fun.

Cozy:  When it rains we would all love to snuggle and sleep. Keep a pair of warm clothes in your office drawer or locker. You can always wrap yourself and feel cozy while you work. Sometimes too much coziness will make your eye shut and tempt you to sleep. Keep your body well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and wipe your face with wet wipes to avoid dozing at your desk.

Monsoons are the best, if we take care of our monsoon blues we will tend to enjoy working in this moist weather.


Sunday, 21 June 2015

The nitty- gritty of banking tech

We have stood in those queues with tokens in our hands, waited to with draw or deposit cash, transferred cash trough demand drafts and have got our passbook updated from time to time. All these banking activities still do exist but to a minimal rate. My uncle used to the work in the bank I clearly recall him tallying accounts in long ledger books. Now he uses technology to do the same, which he claim is faster and error free.
These days, with the advancement in technology, online banking has caught up really well. With our busy schedules we need to pay our bills, transfer money to our parents who are overseas. Online or Mobile banking has carved a path.
Technology has changed the business world in India and has helped to serve just what we want i.e. more flexibility in retail and banking. Banks now offer at the finger tip services. From creating a new account to taking a loan, banks give online options to their customers. Customers have to just sync their mobile numbers with the bank, download an app and viola! Your banking work is done. More over banks provide message details of all transactions.
Here are few customer specific essentials for a safe banking:
Customer Friendly: Online banking and mobile banking are indeed customer friendly as the serve the purpose of every customer. One can feed a friends’ or family members account details and easily transfer money instantly. Pay loans, bills, credit card payment in just one click, convert payments to EMI’s, schedule payments and save transaction details.
Information Security: With cyber crimes seeking around corners banks follow high security systems. Since all important details such as card numbers, security pins, passwords are at stake. Banks ensure that all customer details are secure. Time and again we are reminded by the bank that our details are meant to be secure and not to be shared with anyone. Our debit and credit cards have EVM chips to ensure complete security when swiped at POS terminals.
Payment gateways: With the bloom of e-commerce and e-retail, banks have provided secure payment gateway options to e-commerce companies. Banks offers net banking and payment through cards. Only secured and verified gateways are tied up with banks. Every bank has either OTP (one time password) or a security password verified by Visa or Master
Banking has become simple and it is at the tip of our fingers with technology. With the shift to the Internet, the traditional brick is becoming superfluous. Banking tech is here to stay.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Happy User

From mending pencils to Photoshop illusions, graphic designers try to create those essence of love for a user’s experience. We all want to fall in love with our gadgets, when our sense of sight, sound and touch meet the device’s interface.

I assume most of you are born during the 80’s or 90’s and have all used gadgets like a videotape player to watch a movie or carried a A5 sized music player, played video games on a small hand held black and white screen game boy. At that point just owning these gadgets amused us and we did not stop to perceive user experience of the device.

Technology trends are changing like a woman’s wardrobe, new trends just come and go. We have so many choices when it comes to gadgets that at several points it just leaves us baffled like a woman stating there are no clothes in her closet when she stores a truck load. The point is that every website, device, app which arrives in the market comes with the tag of feel good when you use, we sit hours to decide on the appeal and use before we actually buy a gadget.

A simple example of user experience is our smart phones, which have changed from black and white to color. My first phone was a Nokia 1100 which I owned in the year 2008. A phone barely half the size of my palm with a monochrome graphic display of one and half inches, a flashlight to guide me in the dark and two mini games which ended at level 9. In just 7 seven years I owned around 9 different phones each changing in shape and size and user experience. Just  as  children grow a few inches every year so do our smart phone screens they grow every year inches by inches. From a one and half inch type phone to a 5 inch touch phone when have all experienced the technology growth.

We belong to Gen X and we have grown with the change in technology. It is very likely that there is someone of Gen Y reading this article who  has had an interaction with a product or service that doesn’t work the way they think it should  and have felt frustrated, confused, stupid and perhaps angry or even written a review on Amazon explaining the same.

Product makers do know that the users of their products are their customers and any of these sad emoticons are the last thing they want them to experience when engaging with their business. So the put on their thinking caps, pull up their socks and come up with version point upgrades.

Another thing is that customers are like stray cats they are loyal to place and objects that give them comforts. In simple terms if your users have a bad experience with your product or website they will go to your competitors. So you not only lose a customer but your competitors score a browine point.
It is also well known that loyal customers make some of the best brand evangelists. Having this kind of customer should be your ultimate goal and great UX helps achieve this.

Don't we love selfies, selfies are the 'yo' trend. Our 2 or 5 mega pixel front cameras are not enough to give us those picture perfect photographs. What do we want a 15 mega pixel camera with flash? A Photoshop app in our  phones. We get bored easily we always want more or better, ever since primitive type has evolved to smart touch we are anticipating the ultimatum. 

Our customers are our users. Whether it is website, apps or gadgets our customers like something that is easy, pleasant and natural for users to be comfortable to use. If our customers are able to engage with us using our product consider it sold.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Make the right move

Digital marketing is like an eel, impulsive, erratic and volatile. The moment you try to catch this eel there is a new fugacious eel which requires catching.

With blue prints of future technologies it is like running a fool’s errand to keep up with this dynamic industry. There seems to be no beam balance of chasing capricious trends and an ossifying Luddite. There is an in between solution where in digital marketing  specialists identify current trends, settle on an actionable strategy, and take measurable movement forward, which help them to strike the right cord and reach the desired goal.

Ask me or any digital marketing specialist where do they put all their marketing eggs? Without much thought, our answer will be ‘Google’. It is true that this giant on a bean stalk cannot be dethroned and their golden goose cannot be stolen so easily, but customers on the other hand do like to try and look out for alternatives. Just think about this if Facebook has to introduce a search engine to their web of services, we surely know which spider will be stealing those flies away. It is the digital marketers duty to connect with these diverting customers and bring them to target point.

On my previous week’s blog about Pocket Technology we saw how in twenty years all those huge gadgets that lie around us calls in our pockets as one small device the 'smart phone'. We know that US has the largest number of mobile users, as of January 2014: 90% of American adults own a cell phone. India and China are catching the train of mobile ownership.  With internet on a smart phone users not  just download apps and search the net, they read the newspaper, send mails, track their parcels get directions, book shows some event set their diet plan on the phones. We know what we do with our smart phones. For a Digi marketing specialist this is data, figures a boom of the modern marketing era. This may be utterly cliche, overrated, but the fact is, our customers are on the mobile market.

I have been in this stream for over 3 years, so my social networking pages (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are others) have the same amount of online presence. Our pages are growing organically and we have built up a pretty decent following in each channel and our audience have begun to engage more with our content. What's the next question is answered by driving these leads into business. Social Media is Zeus lighting bolt for lead generation, if used right this powerful tool can create wonders in our business. With a lot of experimenting, testing, patience and dedication to post highly valuable content for our audience we build social conversations. We communicate to get a better response.

Currently the future of PPC's is looking grim as more search marketers are using organic strategies to do the job in addition to this the ad campaign area has now become limited and restricted due to growing competition. Pay-per-click (PPC) ads were once a hot ticket item in the world of search marketing, serving as an excellent complementary strategy for practically any type of business. Weather we like it or not sometimes we have to let money do all the talking at times to build a viable strategy.

We have have all done algorithms when we were in college, those sums were always tricky. Digital marketing also following algorithms.  It will infuriate us, delight us, confuse us, and disappoint us. But it will change. It is not just Google's  search engine results page (SERPs) which we consider we need to take a look at Bing, Facebook and Twitters algorithm as well.

According to Forbes one of the most fascinating trends in 2015 is the continued evolution of growth hacking. Growth hacking will continue to demonstrate its indomitable power in the face of unlikely odds.

Where strategy applies there is bond to be risk and failure. Despite various market treats and several intimidating change in trends we still take bold steps and move forward. Closing our eyes and jumping head first into new trends would not help a business grow via digital marketing. A cautious experiment with trends will helps us count our customers and turn them into leads.


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Enriching lifestyles

Imagine waking up in the morning at your hotel to the sweet sound of your favourite artist, the draperies opens to reveal the glorious sunshine welcoming you to a new day. The music you left behind begins to fade and sensing its master's presence, the lights in the bathroom turns on and greets you as you walk in. The wall-flushed monitor turns on and automatically switches to your favourite news channel from CNN. All you need is a smart phone or a tablet.
Our phones these days are smart, when we get all features in form of apps on the phone then why not have hotel automation controlled by mobile apps.

With new technology trends changing the way various industries function, the hospitality domains too look at ways to improve customer experience. Hotels and property developers are now looking into automation changes for their hospitality properties. 
Innovations being  so powerful and compelling it is disrupting our lifestyles and habits. Google, Facebook, dornes, 3D printing all these technologies in some way can disrupt significant aspects of our lives. But the one area, where entrepreneurs would do well to be as little disruptive as possible is the $1.2 billion market of automation.

Our home breed a sense of familiarity, a cocoon that one goes back to at the end of a day's work. We are bid by habits which are a framework that guides our everyday living. We turn on and off lights, draw the drapes, control the room temperature. When we go on a holiday our hotel rooms are serviced to give us comfortable home like stay. 

Change is something that all entrepreneurs of the hospitality domains look forward to. Most hospitality sectors are looking at tools that play the rule of three: Sensors for detection, mobile apps that remotely control them, and a cloud that stores and analyses behavior. 

At the hardware level the automation system must be discrete and invisible since it is another presence in the hotel room the solutions or sensors should be nondescript, mundane even. It should blend into the walls, mimic a customers behavior, become an extension of existing habits, not change them. 

Home automation solutions are now being adapted by various hotels and property developers around the world in an effort to help consolidate the costs associated with rising energy prices. Within the field of green technology, smart automation solutions are making a great impact on the industry. From automated temperature control systems to smart-energy lighting solutions, programmable automated technology is changing the world around us for a brighter future. 

Control drapes, lights, temperature, with a remote. No more getting out of beds to draw them. No more going round behind sofas to reach the light switches. Just turn them off them at the touch of a remote or touchscreen. A smart device device which makes a hotel guest's stay relaxed and comfortable. 

A technology that is not disruptive, but a product which adapts to our settings.


Thursday, 4 June 2015

Pocket Technology

What began with striking two stones together to create a fire, went on evolving to create new devices for our daily use. It is said that, "Necessity is the mother of all invention." As man began to evolve his necessity began to evolve as well. From the invention of radio, camera, telephone, television in the 20th century, we would all agree to the below image of having all those large gadgets in one place a mini device called the mobile in our pockets.

 Martin Cooper of Motorola made the first publicized handheld mobile phone call on a prototype Dyna TAC model on April 4, 1973. It has been 42 years since Motorola rolled out this model, today the mobile phone, not just does the basic job of calling and texting. It has completely changed in size and shape and has the functions of all major devices in one gadget.

Since the phone is so smart, light to carry and can do multiple tasks for us, it is changing our life style by the day.
All phones have the same hardware component with just a few changes. The major changes of a mobile device is the software versions. The user experience of the phone defines the look and feel to the device.Most companies target on the look and feel of the application a user uses.

2014 saw mobile apps overtake PC websites in terms of Internet usage. As this trend is bound to continue in 2015, marketing strategies should evolve to keep up. On a average approximation 63% of the world population are mobile users with the total number of mobile subscriptions globally topping seven billion. The mobile market is big business, and it’s showing no signs of letting up.

Recent studies show that users spend more time on their phones than at their desktop. As new apps continue to flood the market there is a significant change in the way users download and engage with them.
The creation of applications intended to execute on newer mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets involves unique requirements and challenges. Thanks to a robust app developer community and a growing number of cross-platform developer tools, there is clearly wisdom in developing and delivering content on more than one platform.
As enterprises strive to make their business more approachable, while allowing their customers to manage work seamlessly – business apps in a way is helping them work smarter and emphasize on what actually matters.
Apps are gaining momentum and are becoming  an important aspect of our daily lives. Take an example Indian Television Channel Star Plus, they have an app called Hot star app which allows one to watch TV serials, news, sports, reality shows and submit comments. Its is a mini package of the whole channel for all those working women and men who do not like to miss their serials or matches can now catch their latest updates on this app.
Banks have their mobile banking system, restaurants have mobile ordering systems, E-commerce have their mobile shopping apps. In simple sense all industries are looking at a seismic shift to mobile platforms because you and I own the latest smart phone. It all lies in the demand and supply curve of the economy, where the demand for more and advanced technology lies there the competition for supply also lies.
So if you already have an idea of an app for a particular stream or industry why wait for someone else to come up with the idea which you already have in the pipeline, but never created. Why not go ahead and create an app of your own.
If you have a web based product think of an app for the same as customers get attracted to the app rather than the web product. Websites have already changed style and design to suit and integrate on a mobile platform.
With IoT and BYOD sneaking into work places and changing work trends the demand for mobile apps will increase by yet another 30% in the coming years.

Mobile app development is experiencing a tremendous growth in the industry, with the growth of E-commerce the scope for app development will always be on the rise. Mobile application development is the present and future of the IT industry.