Thursday, April 18, 2013

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Digital Media Convergence

Back after a long time, it took a vacation for me to write a blog, this one is on digital media convergence, the buzz word, and will use quotes from H.G.Wells to keep it interesting:

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”

Digital convergence essentially refers to convergence of internet, information technologies,telecommunication, electronics, media, entertainment and services industry.

The key drivers for this is the convergence of networks and applications, data storage and delivery, services available across devices with various delivery mechanisms, web 2.0 and its connect across platforms, electronic commerce across devices, single hub providing multiple media access and applications/multilayered apps revolution.

Across the world, digital media convergence indeed is arriving.

“I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea.

In a strictly technological sense, the core of convergence is the convergence of devices, applications and networks. This has to be facilitated by super-fast internet through broadband connectivity available with and without wires.

A special mention of South Korea has to happen to in any digital convergence discussion. South Korea has a 97% broadband penetration in terms of households, with the best quality score in terms of quality of broadband in the world. They have very robust, mobile internet in terms of mobile wimax, digital media broadcasting: mobile TV and IPTV. Their convergence spans through:

  1. Broadcasting: IPTV, Mobile TV
  2. Video/Internet TV
  3. Games: MMORPGs
  4. Media: Personal Media players
  5. Telecom: VOIP
  6. News
  7. E-governance
  8. Online education

“Nothing leads so straight to futility as literary ambitions without systematic knowledge.”

Coming back, another key challenge, which is getting surpassed across the world, is digitization of content. Now content across media is available in digital format to reuse and repurpose in a big way. Content I guess, is very much a commodity now, till an established expert writes about it, which is propagated on the internet through strong blogs and blog aggregations, but the generic content is very much down to commodity.

Looking at the future of convergence in India, I guess on the devices side, we are ready, and it’s the services, which is spoiling the party. The devices we use are ready to connect to best of internet services, in terms of 3G, Wi-fi, GPRS-Edge, but the services do not compliment them. On devices, where we are still behind, are the digital boxes for television, where in digital interactive services can be serviced, and it could be huge game-changer in terms of usage of services.

“The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.”

There are wide varieties of issues, right from network convergence, government regulations, telecom operators issues and so on, I wouldn’t get into details of all that, but the resultant is a weak infrastructural convergence, I have heard of many programs coming our way, but the proof will lie in the pudding, so far most of it, has been lip service.

Some of service providers like Airtel have started providing, telephone service, internet and television, with a Wi-Fi modem in households, with a single wire, now that is a good example of convergence moving ahead.

Hoping for stronger infrastructure and next level convergence in India.

“If we don't end war, war will end us.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Price Glory?

It is like a paranoia, when one thinks the new year has actually some thing new about it, believe me it doesn’t! As one goes through the daily actions of corporate life, especially being in a dot com, you would like to know, when will you be leveraging in form of hockey stick(J-shape). This is not just a financial comment, it is a philosophical comment, I hope you can decipher it. This Blog I will be using quotes of movie and also a book by John Grisham, “The Rainmaker”.

“Sworn in by a fool and vouched for by a scoundrel. I'm a lawyer at last”

It is outrageous the way things are moving here in India, on both social and economic front, money is the name of the game. The government is hell bent on economic policies, which are pushing wealth into a certain segment, and the differential between rich and poor keep increasing. I saw a movie called “Lost in Translation”, which has lot of scenes in which they have shown how people in Japan are madly following US ways of living and how ridiculous is that? One sees similar trends in India, with spends rising on cars, new homes, consumer durables and not to forget clothes, and all on debt. Now one big difference between India and US, is the percentage at which debt is picked up, we are serving the debt @ 11% on an average today, which is a huge number. In case you are running a 20 year home loan, for first three years, the principle is bared scratched.

What's the difference between a lawyer and a hooker? A hooker'll stop screwing you when you're dead.

The bank is a step ahead of the lawyer, and the government and the RBI, who is backing the bank on this is another step ahead. One simply, completely and totally fails to understand the growth in auto sales, and some other items. One also fails to understand as all other countries, like Singapore became affluent, they built on infrastructure and strong law enforcement. Also the people in these countries looked for better quality of lives, becoming independent and classy, more catching the positive vibes of the west. Where as in India, we have shattered infrastructure and people becoming whorish and lawless, in the malls, on the road, when you see, well dressed people in big cars, jumping lines shamelessly on toll roads, you imagine, are we getting somewhere?

Every lawyer, at least once in every case, feels himself crossing a line that he doesn't really mean to cross... it just happens... And if you cross it enough times it disappears forever. And then you're nothin but another lawyer joke. Just another shark in the dirty water.

Now seriously introspecting, one feels that is true for most of us, we do cross a line in many ways every day is pursuit of money, career, glory or something really petty. Exercise: can you try to think where did you cross the line today? Maybe our politicians and bureaucrats, have crossed the line enough times, maybe you and I have too! One feels like crossing the line, when he takes a step back in fear of loosing something, but later on, you would have lost a lot by not being what you are. How companies hypnotize us in buying things, and political parties into following them, is not difficult to understand. We are no longer confident about ourselves, our identity and individuality, this is the core reason of American sub-prime crisis, not the easy loans. People there wanted to live beyond their means, so that they could outdo each other, they bought the American-corporate dream.

Rudy Baylor: I'm curious.

Leo F. Drummond: About what?

Rudy Baylor: I'm just wonderin'... do you even remember when you first sold out?

Are we selling ourselves out? Lying through our nooses, pretending stuff which we are not, making commitments which we do not want to keep, and chasing life which is totally artificial. This may sound like an old fashioned rhetoric, but it is not, one has to seriously believe that countries, companies and families, which do well are on basis of high commitment and integrity. “Honda” builds the best engines, and intention is to create real value, Singapore has been built over hard work and real “patriotism”, and “Bush family” is a happy family, as George Bush only sleeps with his wife(courtesy: Mr. Bill Maher, pun intended!!), unlike some family called “the Clintons”.

Q: Did you achieve glory today? At what price?

A: Higher price than last year, greed is experiencing high inflation.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Eggs Rs. 48 for a dozen

Two things, I hate to disappoint you all, but this blog will have nothing to do with internet space, but the economic indicators can be understood in overall business sense, second, in this blog I will use movie quotes from 1967 classic “Cool Hand Luke”.

As commodities moving up by almost 50% year on year, Eggs for example have moved from Rs. 32 to Rs. 48 for a dozen, and similar trend for vegetables, fruits and pulses, the government WPI inflation showed up a number of 4.78 %, as on 14th December, 2009. On news of this high inflation, the suggestions floating around are to curb liquidity further and raise the interest rates. But how good is this inflation number, when clearly the value of currency is going down much faster than these number indicate. The currencies across the world are showing worst trends, with US Fed maintaining a 0.5% interest rate, and printing money. Meanwhile, the gold is rising all the time, with more faith in precious metal than in currency, and couple of months back, Chinese government offering official advice to its people to invest in Gold and Silver.

“What we have got here is failure to communicate”

The core of the inflation numbers, come from it being driven by age old wholesale price index, rather than consumer price index in developed nations. The other side of it, is lack of control of government on economy and liquidity as a whole. With Congress enjoying absolute power in parliament, there is no one questioning the price of gasoline, up or down, in turn commodity prices, due to hoarding, the situation for a common Indian is getting worse. And to check common man’s case, Mr. Rahul Gandhi visits a dalit’s home in UP, every two months, to have “two poories and aalu ki sabzi”, which becomes prime time news for our esteemed news networks, apart from covering “paa”.

“Sorry, Luke. I'm just doing my job.”

“Luke: Nah - calling it your job don't make it right”

The government is doing its job, the stock market is rising, the auto sales are up, the real estate is back in business, so what’s wrong? The same thing which was wrong in late 80s Japan, and to some level post Sep’11 United States. It is the budget deficit and trade deficit, that is wrong, it is the out of control real inflation, it is the Debt bubble we are building, it is the falling exports month on month. But does RBI care, nopes, they want to cover the deficits by printing money, a la helicopter Ben (Bernanke), who can be blamed for the crash, but since he later tried to put off the fire he lit, he got re-elected.

This is the new RBI solution for everything, print more, and with no focus on the problems which US is facing post making that mistake. RBI is also accumulating worthless dollars as part of its foreign exchange reserves, and some recent buying(200 tonnes) of Gold from IMF at ridiculous prices. The conspiracy theory behind it, is the insecurity of RBI as part of its printing currency blindly with no back-up.

Coming to the original question, is the currency value falling faster than inflation numbers suggest, Yes Sir! What does that mean, one clear thing that in an effort to put dirt under the carpet, that is not having effects of slowdown, RBI started printing more money, and making big money auctions to banks at lower rates. This was the same action taken by US federal reserve post Sep’11, 2001, where the US economy was badly hit, instead of taking the punch, they started printing money left right and center. Which is the case for us today, with rising debt all over the place, do remember money creation is equal to inflation, and money is always created as debt. With clear lack of control over money supply, prices are going out of the roof, and so is the stock market, owing to high liquidity and operators play.

“Luke: John-boy, lemme tell you something. You know, them chains ain't medals. You get 'em for making mistakes.”

I simply fail to believe how media and people at large, do not talk about this. The prices do not inflate on their own, these things have reasons behind them, and deficits do not get wiped out by printing more paper money. US is staring at over 10% unemployment, the common man is suffering there. As US looks at loosing its AAA rating, please remember India’s rating is still BBB.

"Luke: Nobody ever eat fifty eggs"

With these prices, nobody can!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

You are not your car

The DJIA(Dow Jones industrial average) going under 6600, bailout not making any difference, homeless increase and jobs disappear as US goes down the hole of recession. The cash crunch has hit India, RBI opening gates with lowering ratios and rates, Banks skeptical to pick up more debt, as NPAs rise, still more loans are on offer to get the economy back on track. Could this be counter productive, in case loans are not paid back, like in the US? As Buffett announces “this is the pearl harbor of recession, and we have fallen off a cliff”. The fear in the customer’s mind is unprecedented, and its spreading like the bush-fires, the corporate needs to come out with honest and lower offerings, and marketers across the world have the tough job of renewing customer confidence. Is social media marketing, where millions of customers are converging, the right medium to convince customers of new offerings, that too only when corporate is giving some good schemes, as in India, greedy auto firms are raising prices, airlines not dropping prices even after government sops! Complicated, Yes, that’s the life in one of the world’s worst crisis. I will use the quotes of fight club to make it interesting.

“You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you're satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you're trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.”

What is the reason of recession, as per Dr. Ron Paul “We spent too much, We borrowed too much, and Fed printed more to facilitate this”. Basically the spending was out of control based on debt, and the debt was made easier and easier by Fed, the people drove expensive SUVs, got big houses and they couldn’t pay back. Is RBI not doing the same thing, reducing CRR each month, printing more money, pushing more money supply, as NPAs of banks rise, does it make sense to give out loans, when current loans are not getting paid out, that is what has created this global crisis, and I think in India we are following the ways to doom. People are buying sofas for 1 lakh, cars for 8 lakhs, and house for 1 crore, and we know it is out of capacity, its due to the availability of debt, this is bound to crash. Now even bathrooms and kitchens need to supremely ornamented, the tiles, the Italian kitchens, the expensive appliances, its going out of the window. We are spending too much, which is based on debt, this is modern India, going on lines of Japan and US, into the recession.

The government budget, is far more adventurous, instead of conserving spends, and taking money out for sops, decreasing income tax, they have increased the spends, the pay package for government employees, the rural schemes for 1,00,000 crores, I have put the zeros intentionally, we know where that money is going to go, as poverty in India actually stays constant. Slumdogs are staying slumdogs, and richdogs are becoming richerdogs. The budget deficit looks at a mounting 3.5 lakh crore, on which giving sops is suicidal, and sops keep coming, and spending keep rising, result S & P has rated India negative, I said the same thing on budget day, but no one heard me, but when S & P gave out rating, that was on front page, but that is obvious, I am not complaining. Bottom line, with this budget government is not in a condition to help us pay back installments of the big car, while RBI is working hard to get us that loan.

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history.... no purpose or place. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives.”

Warren buffet has warned that the fear in the consumer is unprecedented, he puts it very well, that you can install the gravest fear in five minutes and confidence may not be installed in the same manner. The fear maybe unreal, but what about demand, that is also driven by fear, advertising and availability of debt. As the dollar departs from world markets, the domestic demands has to facilitate the economy, while the export market markets crash. In India, the best part is retail consumer demand still on a good level, But as exports fall, and demand relatively falls in infrastructure and retail sector, the manufacturers and wholesalers, are experiencing overnight losses, one of my friend, who deals in copper, told me that copper rate plummeted within a week, and his inventories, were worth half. He no longer holds big inventories, but that has lead to loss of customers who want the material the same day. Please get it right, that means, everyone wants Just-in-time inventories, only when order is there, which manufacturer cannot do, obviously, so he is cutting down production or smaller units getting closed. In China, these problems are bigger, as it is highly export oriented, but the old tide is in their favor.

"It's only after you've lost everything," Tyler says, "that you're free to do anything."

Still India looks good on consumer demand, and that is what we need to push. The RBI measures are risky but happening. The service tax reduction is one good move, but now it is up to corporate to give special sops to consumers. post which it is the marketers job to install confidence and promote good purchasing for consumers. As media spends dry up owing to high pressure on costs, the marketers are looking at newer options.

I bet social media marketing and video advertising on internet is the way to go, but it has got to come intelligently. The connect, the evangelizing, the continuation of communication and the value delivery on ground has to be the order of the day. What it means is this, the social media has millions of people entrenched, you got to be part of the media, entertaining these people, without blowing trumpets of your brands, so entertain first, introduce second, give a humble introduction, not in their face, as most of the media planners and brand managers want “It needs to be seen”, so that they can impress their idiotic Heads, who have no head or tail of internet marketing, and it is for their bragging, since it is technology and digital, or maybe since his son is on Facebook. Do not, and I mean it, Do not bring the term ROI here, and please understand what that means, it is been some time that this term is abused. It is a financial term, just ask your finance guy for the firm's P & L, and check the EBIDTA, calculate the operating leverage for the year, then lets talk ROI. So Entertain, Introduce, and next impress him enough, for him to leave his contact info, contact quickly within 24 hrs, surprise him with more value, and service him well when he comes to your outlet, MARKETING IN ACTION!! Do not make it inaction…

Video advertising is really going to be the future, with video publishing and ad-serving technology getting stronger. Creativity is the name of the game, and entertainment has to be the starting point, same walk way as I explained for social media marketing. But creativity and customization do not go hand in hand, so do not trust the agencies looking for mock-ups for the clients to clear, that will kill creativity. The creativity will come out of “loosing all fear and hope of appreciation” from the client, the creativity is about you, your own stamp, it is like the great Sergio Leone movies, once upon a time in America. As responsible internet media owners and marketers, lets crack it for the brands, increase consumer demand, get the spending in the right direction, and beat the crap out of recession. Then buy that 1 lakh sofa, may be not……

“'re not how much money you've got in the bank. You're not your job. You're not your family, and you're not who you tell yourself.... You're not your name.... You're not your problems.... You're not your age.... You are not your hopes.”