General


Ever since I started shopping at flipkart, I stopped visiting book shops. Flipkart is one site that I visit at least a few times every week and the size of my wishlist keeps growing. I have been absolutely fascinated by the experience of the site. Initially, they were peddling only with books and with time, they started dealing with mobile phones, electronic items etc. with some fancy advertising like 30-day money back guarantee. This is what I call an elaborate exercise of ‘chewing more than you can bite’.

As it is, the retail market for books is big and getting bigger – addressing this itself would mean a number of challenges like procurement, vendor relationships, logistics and payments. Add to this mix, the other products and we are multiplying the challenges by at least another 3-5x times. Looks like, they are bent on addressing all these challenges and coming out trumps. This in the short run will certainly increase their cash flow and would sound a great strategy, however in the long run they are bound to lose focus. This is only my assumption at this point and it can be disproved but the chances I foresee are slim.

In the last few weeks, I have been having issues with flipkart where one of the books that I ordered after seeing the availability did not get delivered. Initially, I received a mail stating that they would need 3 more days to process it. After 3 days, I was told that they are sorry about having not delivered and they don’t seem to find the book in any of their procurement channels and they cancelled the order. Today, one of the deliveries got messed up – the invoice details are right but the wrong book has been delivered. Cracks have started to show now in the efficiency and what appeared a winner through ‘word of mouth’ publicity is becoming messy with expensive advertisements and whole load of products.

Maybe, I am over-reacting here but could it be a classic case of lost focus? I keep my fingers crossed on the verdict and my take would be – the earlier they hive off other products and manage just books, the better it would be.

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I’ve started writing a book on ‘how do you get your customers to buy your product or service?’ specifically with the B2B segment in mind. My writing is going to be based on the following, though not in the same order:

1. My writings will be based on the work that I did – with more focus on what one shouldn’t do rather than what one should do

2. I strongly believe in the fact that there is no such thing called the ‘right way to market’ – it would speak about the experimentation that is required and how to keep it low-cost

3. New age marketing tools like Social Media Marketing, buzz marketing etc.

4. Why is it so important not to lose focus on traditional marketing principles; for instance, value proposition and positioning statements remain sacrosanct irrespective of the medium that you choose

4. It would also have templates that would allow one to do their marketing plan

5. It would have practical examples with which one can de-risk their marketing intiatives

6. Series of interviews with marketing practitioners from different settings. These would also be covered in the book

7. Lead generation techniques, lead nurturing techniques and  its effectiveness

8. Thought leadership – it certainly is about thoughts?

9. Marketing ideas that you can take and implement immediately; ideas that wouldn’t take you more than 2 minutes to start implementing 

10. Taking it out of social marketing, specific focus is going to be on twitter – I am going tweet about this book as well effectively

I’d appreciate your comments and also appreciate inputs on what you would like to see in this book.

Social media is gaining popularity is stating the obvious. It has in fact become so disruptive that it is affecting businesses, and I want to take the example of Recruitment consultants. Their main revenues was in finding talents that hiring managers can look at.

What has happened now with the growth of social media is, internal recruiters of corporations have started using sites like facebook and linkedin, over and above the job portals and are able to scout for talents very extensively. This has put the brakes on these specialists whose ability was in identifying talents and qualifying them before the hiring manager gets to see them. Now this is getting compromised and for the recruitment consultants to survive, they need to re-invent themselves and start focusing on verticals, level of hire, headhunting etc. and you cannot survive by being just another recruitment consultant.

Social media is here to stay,  and for good enough reasons, it is helping individuals and companies in their pursuit. At the same time, it is pushing the limits on traditional means of doing business.

My customer called me into a meeting and told me that he has a peculiar problem and he wanted my opinion on it.  He said that his organization has a huge sales pipeline but they are not resulting in sales.  Where does the problem lie?

I have written a post on this in my company blog and you can view it by clicking here.

Some pointers on the situation:

  • No salary hikes for the next couple of years
  • Companies are revisiting their variable pay components, where 50% of it would be linked to the organizations’ performance as opposed to individual’s performances
  • The word ‘subsidy’ is considered bad in their lexicon now
  • Subsidy in transportation has got to go; one cannot look at 8 hour work-days and should be prepared for longer hours
  • Subsidy in food goes out as well
  • Consider yourself lucky if you are still on the job and pray to god that you will continue in your job for the next couple of years
  • All low performing employees and the fresh recruits, you better watch out for alternate careers
  • Mandate has been send to many TLs, PLs and above in the organization that they need to reduce the workforce by at least 15% q-o-q. Essentially by the end of the first year, you will have close to about 40% to 50% of the employees out of your organization
  • This is a completely market driven and market dependent industry segment; margins will come under huge pressures because of the discounting and leveraging that these companies would have done keeping in mind their future earnings
  • There is an ecosystem of dependency on this industry and each of it will come under heavy pressure due to this fall-off. Existing suppliers and vendors to these firms will have to take a cut in their business as well as margins.  Realty sector will be under huge pressure as the occupancy level will decrease. Financial insititutions will have to play the role of adopting a win-win solution. 
  • Employee dependent ecosystem will be real-estate, automobiles, financial services, and lifestyle services
  • This can well be a blessing in disguise that this country was looking forward to, for far too many talents are burried in these organizations doing dead-end and run-of-the-mill jobs. This is time for them to reflect and positively contribute to innovation and new business models than providing arbitrage services to the not-so-intelligent customers in the developed economies.
  • Outsourcing really has been the boon and bane of India, for it deprived the intelligent ones from contributing to the society in a more meaningful way
  • The sheen is getting lost on this segment; they are not able to run the gravy train continuously as the market realities are governing their growth and projections

Guess I covered quite  a few and if I can think of anything else, will contribute in subsequent posts.

Market conditions is what determines your employability when you look at the larger picture, but at the base level it is your skills that decides your employability. Sample some of these:

  • I was told by my friend that he lost a job that was paying him a lac and 20K every month, and now he is willling to work for half as much as he was getting paid. This is because he has to take care of his dues. I told him, if that is the case, in the first place he was getting overpaid because of market conditions and probably he wasn’t worth the money that he was getting paid. After this conversation, I have neither heard back from him nor did he call me up
  • I left my job recently to go on my own. Many people who don’t know me as well think that I am out of a job because of recession and am trying to do something on my own to beat it. I haven’t really tried to explain to those folks as to the reason why I quit my job. Add to that I am not too much bothered by the macroeconomic situation 
  • I saw these two ads 1) Recession proof business – in the fce of the economic meltdown not all companies are struggling. We are a city based IT company looking to expand in 2009 2) Recession proof organization, product development – there are some competitive organizations which continue to grow even in the recession phase and we are one of them.

Recession essentially has become a buzz word and discussion point in any and every gathering, especially in the IT industry. Quoting one of my friends, who use to put it famously that all problems in this world exist because of four reasons; they being Baap, Desh, Bhagwan and a current trend and the current trend turns out to be recession (Father, Country, God and Recession).

I don’t think that any job in the IT industry is 100% secure and for that matter in any industry, hence it becomes all the more essential for differentiation in terms of skills that would be sought even during tough times. Organizations should not essentially use this period to impose everything and anything towards correction of this.

Many organizations are focusing themselves on correcting salaries, sacking the so-called non-performers, reducing spend, and bringing in policies that would safe guard themselves even in an upturn. They should ideally focus on differentiating, not just improving efficiency; consolidating their offerings and figuring out their USP; removing spend and not just reducing spend; grow through the downturn, instead of waiting for the market to get better.

As an aside, if I have to foretell some of the recession proof jobs, I cannot think of picking anything in IT except perhaps the infrastructure guys and among non-IT, certainties would be funeral directors, prostitution, textile retails (in chennai), and healthcare.

I have started writing in kalugu.com, an online magazine that offers insights into south asia. There are a bunch of writers there and i am happy to be a part of that setup. I have done my first post on “Barack Obama says no more tax sops to outsourcing firms – its significance” and it can be read from the link provided.

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