Ten types of Innovation – Concluding notes

With article on Bigbasket, the ten part innovation series comes to an end. When I understood the innovation types (created by Doblin) way back in 2011, my idea was to apply it from Indian context and make case studies fitting various types. It took two long years for me to complete this series with decent satisfaction.

Innovation has gone beyond building a particular product or service. By building something different doesn’t guarantee a business success, whereas ensuring customer derives value will. India, unlike some of the developed countries, is in the cusp of transformation where we have both traditional old school thinking and new school of thinking co-existing with each other. This made my inquiry to innovation all the more interesting. As and when I observed some innovative way to serve customers, I started mapping them back to Doblin’s model and came up with this whole series spanning across industries.

Please find URLs to individual posts as follows:

Top five for Twitter

The micro blogging platform Twitter has emerged as a powerful medium to exchange short messages called ‘tweets’ which has a maximum of 140 characters. Introduced as a social networking platform, this small yet powerful idea has outgrown itself to emerge as one of the powerful marketing tools. If you are a small and medium business owner, and are trying to offer any product or service online, Twitter is one application you just cannot afford to miss out. Here are the top5 reasons for using Twitter.

One – Promotion medium: To start with Twitter can be easily used as a medium to promote your product or service that you or your organization is offering. You can post simple ‘tweets’ regarding your offering and initial user base (beta) can be built in no time. The more ‘followers’ for your profile, the bigger the use base is. These ‘followers’ are the set of people to whom you can directly communicate with about your product/service. It could build critical mass for promotional events etc. As everyone who uses ‘Twitter’ is a customer, this offers an easy to directly reach them.

Two -The ‘Viral’ way: The ultimate power of Twitter comes from its ability to create viral messages about your product or service. Remember everybody in the Twitter world is capable of writing Tweets, which can help you to generate excellent word-of-mouth promotion for your product or service. Within minutes people express their views in through ‘Tweets’, which can heavily influence their followers, who can influence more people to know about your product/service. In a way it works as a multi layered structure, where everybody can be a influence the other.  These influencers will eventually get converted into more number of people becoming aware of your service/product and eventually will turn into customers of the service or product you are trying to offer via online. With traditional marketing getting redefined with the power of Internet, Twitter is ‘The tool’ you should look forward to generate the buzz.

Three – Can you listen? As every Tweet can be influential, it can be of two ways. In case a few users are unhappy with your offering, you can get instant feedback by monitoring their ‘Tweets’. Twitter offers excellent search facilities (http://search.twitter.com/) through which you get to know what people are saying about your offering. In simple terms it helps you “listen” to your customers, which is a great opportunity to improve your product/service.

Four – Online branding: How can we miss this? Twitter helps you to build a great online identity, thereby building a better brand. As it acts as a two way communication platform with your prospective customers, our digital impression can be built using twitter. The more authentic and engaging conversation (in form of Tweets) you have, the trust among customers can be built easily. Being successful in Twittering can put forth your personality and a unique style thereby offering a competitive advantage.

Five – It’s Free! Last, but not the least. Unlike other marketing vehicles like promotional events or brochure distribution, Twittering can be started without spending even a rupee. Given the current economic condition and shoe-string budgets, Twitter is the tool for marketers to look forward.  Andy Sernovitz one of the proliferators of word-of-mouth marketing put it as “infinite power” this divide by zero (cost) can give an infinite output advantage to your business. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to enter new world of ‘Tweets’!!

I wrote this article some time back for MyBangalore portal. Here is the link to the original article.

Top Five for LinkedIn

The professional networking tool LinkedIn has emerged as the largest online network with more than 9 million users. Unlike the social networking sites Facebook, LinkedIn is the tool for professionals to do serious business. Whether you looking for a new job or forging new business partnership, LinkedIn is the tool you should look forward to. With adverse economic conditions, it becomes all the more important to have a stronger professional network to ask any sort of help. Here are my top5 for LinkedIn usage.

One – Build your network: First and foremost, build your professional network using LinkedIn. This tool is inherently designed for professionals with a no-nonsense approach. If you are new to LinkedIn, start inviting your friends to join. In case of you already have a presence in LinkedIn look forward for every single opportunity to add new members into your network. By adding new connections, you increase the likelihood that people will see your profile first when they’re searching for someone to hire or do business with. In addition to appearing at the top of search results, people would much rather work with people who their friends know and trust. Remember, the success in professional life has got more to do with “whom you know” than “what you know”.

Two – Keep it updated: After building your profile, it’s equally important to keep it updated. Be it change in organization, role or project make sure you spend an hour to update your LinkedIn profile. Also make sure you capture your complete professional history by maintaining previous employer information in reverse chronological order. This increases the possibility of adding new connections to your network in form of previous colleagues, peers and supervisors. Recently LinkedIn has introduced “what are you doing?” field, thanks to Twitter revolution. By keeping the status updated, you can also get connected with professionals working on similar project. An element of caution here: Don’t publically announce your employee confidential information, which may create business violation.

Three – Get recommended: This is where the real power of LinkedIn lies. Using the ‘Recommendations’ options you can seek recommendations from anyone in your network. The more recommendation shows up in your profile, the trust level on your profile increases dramatically. When it comes to long term career building, having a trustworthy record plays a critical role more than anything else. These recommendations are used by companies to validate background check on employees. Also be gracious! If you find anyone of your fellow-professional worth recommending, make sure you do it without even them asking for it.

Four – Build authenticity: LinkedIn offers multiple other options by which you can build authenticity in the online world. Participating in ‘Question and answer’ sessions by offering focused answers count a lot when it comes to measuring your expertise in a particular area. In order to emphasize the importance of it, LinkedIn has an internal ranking system where the person asking question can rank the answers. The person whose answer chosen as ‘best answer’ will be added as ‘expertise area’, thereby increasing your authority on the subject that you claim you have expertise. This is a simple but powerful way to build your authenticity online.

Five – Personal branding: LinkedIn allows you to make your profile information available for search engines to index, which is ranked high by popular engines like Google. This is a good way to influence what people see when they search for you online. Also by following simple Search Engine Optimizations (SEO) like: having a customized public profile URL, including it in your email signature, adding LinkedIn badges in your blog or website can create a personal brand for your name in the online world.

What other options you can think for LinkedIn?

This article I wrote for MyBangalore portal, quite long time back. The original link for this article can be accessed by clicking here.

BOOK REVIEW : The Long Tail

 

Price: 275 INR

Author: Chris Anderson

The Business world has gone through disruptive changes during the past decade – one of the main reasons being content (ex: music, books, photos) is created, maintained and consumed. Internet was instrumental for fueling this change, thanks to digitization of anything and everything. The new ‘digital’ way has literally changed (in some cases ruined) many traditional business models, which is been working for decades together. One classic example is Apple iTunes, which has democratized the way music is created and shared across billions of people across the world. Another major aspect of digitization is about providing equal opportunity for niche players by connecting them with niche audience, which did not exist previously. As the digital infrastructure can be scaled overnight (that too with global availability), many innovative models are emerging around it.

In his book ‘The Long Tail’ author Chris Anderson introduces a new model which he calls as ‘endless choices creating unlimited demand’. He explains it with the power law graph (see image on the right). The left side of the graph is about ‘hits’, which has maximum number of non-niche customers. The right hand side is about ‘non-hits’ which reaches niche customers, which also has a huge number, at least comparable to mainstream non-niche customers. The ‘Long Tail’ of business is about selling to niche customers, aided by digital infrastructure.

Let us take an example of creating and distributing rock music in the form of albums. During earlier days, a particular rock band will create an album and approach some or the other major music distributors for making a production (in form of CD/DVD) and distribution out of it. From the distributor’s point of view, they will take a very stringent approach for short-listing these bands as they want to really ensure that the album becomes a hit. This is mainly because the distributor needs to make an upfront investment of creating the physical network (CD/DVD creation, distribution to channel partners/retailers, staff expenses etc…). While this ‘hit’ based world/approach still exists, the niche based items also gaining high importance due to the digital transformation. Today any rock band can still create the music, edit is using freely available tools, make an album out of it and upload into the Internet (ex: MySpace). By doing this, they are completely getting rid of traditional distributors, thereby targeting niche audience who are bored with popular bands and interested to explore something new.

According to Chris the ‘Long Tail’ is created because of three factors:

  • Democratization of tools for production (MySpace online tools)
  • Democratization of tools for distribution (Internet)
  • Connecting the demand and supply (MySpace social networking platform)

The similar model can be extended to other industries, using which organizations like Apple (iTunes music, iPhone Apps), Amazon (Online retailing, which can literally list infinite number of items), Google (Ad-sense, Ad-words), Wikipedia (democratic content ecosystem) has become a global success by leveraging Long Tail customers. From the consumer side, the behavior has changed as they are expecting more and more choices which can be met only by such system.

Throughout the book, author explains above mentioned aspects in detail across different chapters, thereby giving complete perspective to readers. In few chapters I felt he repeated same information multiple times, but he takes examples from different industries makes it an interesting read.  In order to understand the recent business changes, aided by Digitized Internet, Chris Anderson’s Long Tail provides an excellent framework where one can put things into perspective.