Jeremy Gutsche – Unlocking The Cool Interview

Jeremy GutschePopular is not cool. Cool is the next big thing and in a world of increased competition, intensified customer demands and globalization, understanding how to be creative and then build up a culture of innovation is more important than ever before. One of the ways companies do that is to use ‘Trend Hunters’ or ‘Trend Spotters’, people who research ‘what’s cool?’. One of the pioneers of the field is Jeremy Gutsche, a Canadian innovation expert, author, “one of North America’s most requested keynote speakers” and chief trend hunter at trendhunter.com which has been described by The Independent as “the world’s biggest online cool hunting magazine”.

At the Marketing Symposium organized by Revelations, Jeremy was in Pakistan to talk about ‘Unlocking Cool: How to inspire innovation potential and infect products with Cool’.  Jeremy’s Culture of Innovation framework exposes the audience to ground-breaking ideas related to perspective, customer obsession, tolerance for failure and creativity. Aurora caught up with him to talk about the next big thing.

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and do explain what do you mean by Trend Hunting?

I guess the best background for me is just to say that I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart and I never knew what my business idea was going to be. Everywhere that I worked I was trying to get that inspiration. So eventually when I started trend hunter, I wanted it to be a place where people could come when they wanted to get their ideas and I’d get ideas from all over the world and hopefully I’d find my own. As TrendHunter took off I never needed to pick. The interesting thing is that still guides us. We have the world’s largest trend spotting network with 50,000 contributors signed up around the globe from where we publish ideas each day and with 40 million views a month we gather data to understand what clusters and what groups are interesting.

Q. Why should marketers care about Trend Hunting and what’s Cool?

Cool is unique, cool is cutting edge and Cool is viral. Micro-trends and innovations surround us so how do we make sense of all the noise? Trend Hunting thus is basically the search for inspiration. Looking for something new, a pattern that could inspire your next big idea. It’s not about the rise of big trends that everyone knows about like ECO or FEMALE PURCHASING POWER since everyone knows about those including your competitors. We’re looking at micro-trends, those unique niches of opportunities. When you see these opportunities you can take advantage of them and if you don’t your competitor or a new startup might and overturn you.

Q. For most businesses your ideas are quite scary. You advocate constant change, relentless questioning and an anti-bureaucracy. How do you create a culture like that in a traditionally steeped organization?

There are two parts to that that are important. One is the idea that you need to constantly change. Second, you have to realize is that the world never returns to normal. If you look at marketing, you can see things like social media changing the landscape.

I like to say that ‘Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast’. Thus in terms of how you get a traditional organization and get them to change, an interesting way to get an organization to get more innovative is to create a ‘Gambling Fund’. The idea is that it’s tough to try to persuade everybody to do things a new way but the real thing that stops people from being creative is because you get caught up in a routine. With a gambling fund you are allocating a specific amount of money and time trying something new. BBC’s ‘The Office’ was their most successful program and that came out of that fund.

Q. You talk a lot about destroying value to unleash new creativity and innovation. Yet cannibalization in business is hard. Is there a middle way for managers where they can balance both shareholder demands yet ensure that they live for tomorrow.

In innovation there are best practices and having someone kill your idea is important. There is a need for people to challenge the idea and there needs to be a push in all directions. Situational Framing Dictates The Outcome Of Your Creative Process. What is it that you’re trying to do?

It’s so easy to get caught up in your profit center that you stop adding fuel to your innovative new ideas. When push comes to shove or when you need a little extra money, companies cut off their innovative arms. For the long term, one of the most important questions is how do you re-invent ourselves and that always comes from destroying that which you’ve created.

Failure is part of the experimentation process.  In order to win, you need to constantly be gauging customer needs, tracking evolving trends and testing new ideas. Google is an example of this. They’re constantly testing new portfolios.

Q. You have come up with “The Exploiting Chaos Framework.” Give us a brief description of each of the four tactics and how they work in the framework. Do you think these tactics can be employed by Asian cultures which are more passive in nature?

The framework has four parts. Creating a ‘culture of innovation’ – Deeply Understanding Your Customer and Willing to Try New Things. The next part is ‘trend spotting’ – you identify opportunities from your customer, competitors or other industries. The third part is adaptive innovation – constantly adjust your strategy to ensure that you’re on top of a changing world and the forth idea is ‘infectious marketing’ – to create a meaningful change it’s about finding a way to break through the noise and create word of mouth. What this framework is about is that in periods of change these are the elements that help companies adapt and win.

There’s a difference between how people remember you and having people feel how they see you as part of their team. You can either make an emotional connection or you can go deeper and making a cultural connection. The difference is that with a cultural connection I see you as being part of my team. I don’t see you telling me what to do, I see you as part of my team.  Because we’re on the same team I want you to win and you want me to win. In any industry when you make a cultural connection, people are willing to refer you. That someone else says your product or message is the best.

Q. I love the quote you often use, “Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast”. Do tell us more about what that means and how does culturally steeped nations can create the Culture of Revolution you often talk about. Are we doomed to passivity?

No matter how cool your PowerPoint deck is, if the organization is not willing to adapt and embrace change than it’s not going to happen. At the end of the day, what will make your company succeed or fail is the culture you’ve created. This means both the culture within your organization’s teams AND the cultural connection you’ve made with your customers. Within your team, you will always be more successful if your team feels connected to your cause, empowered to try new things, and able to test and fail. With your customers, you will always be more successful if you can create a cultural connection that makes people feel like your product is made just for them. Too often companies speak “to” their customer, but companies that create an authentic cultural connection make the customer feel like they are part of the same team… They talk “with” their customer.

Q. For a message to go viral, you recommend that marketers should Relentlessly Obsess About Your Story. What does that mean?

People talk about it in a given way. You can control that message by having a story idea that is simple, direct and super-charged. The idea is that if you can only remember 7 words or less – slogan or in every part of my company – you might want to think what those words are. You need to best describe what you do. By constantly figuring out what are the exact words that best define what your company is about you can get a disproportionately better impact and each word really really matters.

You need your story needs to be simple. I’ll give you the words that you can tell us. The second is you need to be direct. You convey your value proposition and why I must choose you. Super-Charged – messages, slogans, titles that makes me want to tell someone else.

Marketing Strategies For Digital Media

Every year for the last five years digital pundits had been predicting dramatic change in our media consumption. They had foretold the convergence of digital and broadcast media, the erosion of mass audiences and the restructuring of the media and advertising industries. So far every year, leading industry practices had remained static, even stagnant, and the overall pattern of marketing spend had barely changed in all these years.

2011 however marks the event when the long-predicted future has finally arrived heralded by the ever increasing number of advertisers looking for digital solutions, the marketing spend on digital in Pakistan crossing the $5 million mark, the setting up of ‘digital agencies’ by the dozen, established traditional agencies setting up ‘interactive divisions’, whilst prior tech companies proclaim themselves to be ‘agencies’ and both mainstream media companies and major marketers accepting the facts that the methods by which consumers absorb information and entertainment and the ways they perceive, retain, and engage with brands and brand messages have changed irrevocably, as evidenced in interviews in Nov-Dec, 2010 issue of Aurora, the leading trade magazine for the advertising industry. Now enough consumers are spending enough time accessing information and entertainment via digital media platforms to have shifted the overall pattern of media use. This shift will increase substantially in 2013 as greater broadband penetration (4.13 Million connections estimated by PTA) and roughly 20% of all Pakistani households using broadband will make the internet more viable as an alternative entertainment platform as well.

Yet digital platforms continue to remain a mystery for most Pakistani marketers. This is because they transform the traditional marketing and media ecosystem into an intimate, immersive, accountable environment, in which consumers can interact with brands at every level of the purchase funnel. This befuddles the mind as it is very different from the linear content and communication form developed for traditional marketing channels where the consumer is assumed to be the sheep or as politically correctly called ‘captive viewer’. The old media world was where information was controlled and limited by editorial through a centralized single channel distribution system. In today’s multi-channel world of ‘leaks’, however it’s not really surprising that these old forms of advertising should fail to translate well as consumers increasingly behave more like discerning critics who use the Internet to pick through and make their own sense of the swathes of information available. To survive in this new reality, thus requires a massive change in mindset.

The first thing to understand about digital marketing is that (surprisingly) it is not primarily about technology. It’s about providing relevant & interesting value in the form of ideas and experiences that get people engaged, makes them want them to talk, provide real entertainment value, or render a useful service to the consumer rather than just another [empty] marketing slogan, dance or jingle. These marketing ideas and experiences thus need to be crafted with the same discipline as the underlying product so that the two become virtually indistinguishable.

Secondly, to effectively engage consumers in the new digital space, marketers need to define more clearly the values that underlie each of their brands and to instill those values throughout the marketing program through integrated marketing. Marketing executives can start by asking the overarching question: What new capabilities and services will enhance the value of my product to my customers? The answer to which will thus develop an understanding of capabilities they should keep in-house (e.g., those that can achieve scale across the portfolio and that create essential advantage) and which should be outsourced to external marketing, media, and technology partners.

Thirdly, it helps to remember digital marketing’s greatest selling point. Digital benefits marketers by furnishing a real time, direct, uninterrupted view of the consumer and a measurable, efficient read on the return marketers are generating on each marketing spend. This accountability and intimacy are particularly important now, when a cluttered and highly fragmented media environment has made “buying awareness” prohibitively expensive.  However it’s one thing to collect digital information; it’s quite another to draw intelligence from it. Leading marketers would be wise to build partnerships with their digital agencies to track ad placement, versioning and effectiveness as well as delve in social insights generated through ‘listening’ to the consumer.

To thus keep up with the times, the following are some recommendations for new digital marketers and traditional agencies:

  • Shift just 3% of your media spending and management attention to digital media and learn how to use those media to more effectively influence consumer purchase behavior. Especially learn to develop in formats which promote interaction with audiences.
  • Digital is not a silo. Combine “above-the-line” advertising and “below-the-line” marketing (promotions, sponsorships, events, public relations) in new two-way interactive campaigns. Touch-based technologies can really amp up any event.
  • Research through approaches and metrics that measure outcomes.

Traditional advertising has lost its storytelling charm and evolved instead into predictable, often bland, and largely invisible dance based executions that are not memorable or inspiring. Industry-wide, companies are making digital media a bigger priority in their brand strategies. It’s not that digital alone will dominate over other mediums. Mass advertising will continue to perform a role in driving awareness, but increasingly as digital makes head-end marketers will prioritize towards channels that deliver accountability, relevance, and interactivity to fully capitalize on the online opportunity. The digital markets thus are only set to boom.

To Learn More About Our Digital Marketing Solutions, Visit My Digital Agency or for a full list of services we offer in Digital Media: http://midigital.co.

The Rise of The Data Center Industry in Pakistan

IT operations are becoming a crucial aspect of most Enterprise and Medium sized organizations in our country. As the automation of processes increases through implementation of world class ERPs, one of the main concerns that companies are facing is business continuity – what if a system becomes unavailable thus impairing or completely stopping the business process. Thus it is becoming necessary to provide a reliable infrastructure for IT operations, in order to minimize any chance of disruption. Thus Data Center Services are becoming a booming business in our country.

A Data Center (the cold room) is a facility used to house and maintain dedicated servers on behalf of an organization. It’s a concept that found life during the dot-com bubble in the US and has since then grown into a discipline unto itself globally. In Pakistan it started with the Basel II accords which separated operational risk from credit risk (meaning banks were now responsible for defaults and any operational problems that arise in banking) implemented by the SBP. Now with Basel III implementations and more and more medium sized companies aiming for enterprise level automation, IT becoming the core backbone on which business operates especially for industries such as Telecom, Banks and shipping, m-commerce and e-commerce growing in Pakistan and increasingly competitive landscape from a global community is driving the companies towards focusing on core competencies and outsourcing everything else.

The biggest reason for this change in mindset is cost. The overall IT spending shows that the lion’s share of IT expenses goes towards overhead and maintenance – as high as 70% of the budgets of IT departments are spent in maintaining IT infrastructures at the expense of adding new capabilities. This underutilization of equipment leads to high cost per transaction. Most servers in typical business data centers are utilized at only 5 to 10 percent of their maximum capacity and cooling and power distribution systems are also used to much less than their full potential.  Clearly that’s wasted capital and it makes the cost per computing transaction much higher than it needs to be. A secondary effect is that the fixed energy costs for running servers at low utilization makes the cost per transaction much higher than it needs to be.

The second factor is that outsourcing ensures access to operational expertise, much of which is unavailable internally due to economic or other restraints thus also freeing up internal resources for other purposes. These services also allow enterprises to leave the upkeep of network infrastructure and applications to the data center personnel allowing the company to focus on their core competencies. Not only does this increase efficiency, but also reduces the cost of running the network in terms of resources and manpower. Besides this, it also offers increased security, whether from environmental threats such as over-heating and dust or from viruses and infiltration via firewall maintained by the data center thus providing a high level of risk management.

The future for this industry is bright. It cannot be denied that traditional retail formats have been saturated and the present consumer environment is moving from bricks and mortar to online due to the increased convenience and a more satisfying retail experience. Many new ventures are now focusing on e-tail and need the expertise in networking and database while being focused on translating the retail experience onto the new medium. The biggest driver however remains the consumer themselves who as they become involved with the digital world more and more, will increase demands for storage, connectivity and more and as corporate turn to serve them, they too will drive the demand for reliable mission critical facilities.

 

 

Data Centers – A New Industry In Pakistan

Data Center Pakistan

Dawn Images interviews Mr. Raja Jehangir, Director Strategic Planning, Center-X Solutions Pvt. Ltd, Pakistan, bringing in a new wave of data center solutions in the country.

Q. What’s the big deal about Data Centers and why the hoopla surrounding them now?
Well, the “hoopla” has been around for a while, but only now is the industry truly examining the complexity of the data centre. The last two decades have seen a paradigm shift in the way we do business. Companies have always risen and fallen, based on the level of service or need on offer by an organisation. In the last two decades, the “computerised” environment has played a bigger role in the level of service offered, and the pace of this has been accelerating at break neck speed.

Now, It’s pretty clear that there’s an architectural shift going on in the industry. Previously businesses relied on the client-server relationship internally, processing of data for internal use, but now we are at a stage that the services a company offers are not “at the counter” but online. This has resulted on the greater dependency on ensuring uptime, right about the time where certain elements within the Pakistan infrastructure, power delivery, cost and security are being stretched. This has resulted in a greater demand for reliability, which in turn has placed a greater demand on data centres to deliver the uptime required.

The flipside of the “hoopla” is that companies are now evaluating the cost of the data centre far more closely. It is a cost of business. What this trend means is that your servers can be professionally managed by a data centre, so you can actually have a weekend and not spend all your time trying to manage your servers. It’s like having banks manage your money rather than you managing your money. Also since the networks now have become secure and the computers have become fast enough that this is possible.

Q. Why do we need data centers? Isn’t it better that companies keep their own information safe?

This is the mindset that has hampered the industry to an extent in Pakistan. This can be attributed to the early data centres in the country not maximising the business potential, and also the “client” not willing to let go of the perceived control. The issue of “information safety” within an external data centre is actually a non issue, but it is the physical parting that often creates angst. Till now, the cost associated with providing a service through ICT infrstructure has not come under scrutiny, but as costs of power delivery and reliability rise we are seeing a shift in opinion in Pakistan. Only about 30% of the CIOs in the U.K., for example, are held to account for the electricity bill, this is a trend we see here, but we forecast that we will see costs associated with data centres being audited more efficiently and commercial data centres focusing on such costs to increase their margins. What companies did not realize is that for every kilowatt-hour of IT electricity use, you have more kilowatt-hours for supporting equipment — cooling, fans and air flow. This is just overhead that doesn’t result in more computing, and the more you can reduce it the better. This is a large over-head per Kw/H most companies are paying for their Datacenters. IT departments should be looked at towards treating and managing IT as a strategic resource subject to the same cost controls as any other department. Efficiency is the key.

Q. What do you consider when running a data center?

Environmental influences play a crucial role and require in-depth analysis in advance of planning and implementation. A critical point to note is the matter of security and availability requirements. When defining objectives, it is essential to establish which hazards can potentially occur, external influences include natural disasters and accidents such as fires, while internally, it could be data security or attacks . In Pakistan, things like Uptime, Power Delivery, Cooling as in line with international flags in terms of requirements. However, we also have to contend with civil disorder, security threats and flooding, when considering a data centre.

Q. Aren’t large enterprises or mainly large companies customers have use of outsourcing their data centers or smaller companies have this need as well?

Ans. Pakistan is increasingly joining the ranks of countries with a sizeable population of Web 2.0 companies and business units of large enterprises with zero-tolerance for IT failure. Industries such as Telecom, Banks with their ATM machines for example, credit card machines, m-banking and so forth are increasingly relying on IT to be the core of their business. In shipping email is a legal document. These are the first industries that have migrated to the outsourced data center model. Moreover as more Pakistani companies become export oriented and start becoming global companies, they will need their processes to be up and running at all times. This mission criticality will lead to a bigger boom in Data Centers in the country.

Q. What is the Quality of Data Centers In the Country and are they up to global standards?

Ans. Whilst we do have some excellent data centers in Pakistan, the up and coming data centers are the ones to watch. They’ve learnt from the lessons of their earlier pioneers and are truly bringing in global standards in this country. However it is end users who must ensure that the supplier they choose is able to cater to their reqirement, on Uptime, Connectivity and items such as Civil Disorder or Terrorist Threat. Setting strict SLAs and outlining exactly what measures are expected of the data centre, will go a long way to preventing a downtime and delivering a quality service.

Q. What is trend-setting?

Telecoms traditionally had large investments in network infrastructure rollouts. We’re seeing next generation mobile and fixed networks being planned, 3G and fiber rollouts. Telecoms are increasingly fearful that they cannot survive on micro-margins in commoditized markets which is a boom to industries like ours. The great thing that’s going on in IT is automation. Anything that’s related to automation is what we will be looking back on as transformational. Also there are the additional demands on business infrastructure which are going to be coming from online video and social media, a growing B2B software-as-a-service market (SaaS) market, and the exponential growth of web-enabled mobile devices and other Internet-based offerings in our country.

We’re also seeing the beginning of Virtualization and Managed Services Model of business as Data Centers move from being a merely a ‘Cold Room’ towards adding more values to their clients. The days of getting a single million dollar client may be coming to an end and the future could very well be about serving the larger net communities over the cloud and net services. Now it will be about a million customers deliver one dollar each.

Q. What is your recommendation for companies that have decided to not outsource but to build their new data center or modernizing their existing one? Is there a rough guide?

Every organisation is different, but every organisation should be looking at bottom line operational cost. When evaluating a move ahead with in house development of data centres, do question, “What is more core business? Is it building and managing my data centre or is it about delivery of a promise to your clients?” When looking at your in house data centre, do factor in not just the construction cost, but also the cost of maintenance and power costs. The quickest and easiest way to save money and get efficient either in-house or outsourced is by using the latest energy efficient hardware at enterprise level coupled with the right power and cooling upgrades to your data center.

A good way is to drive down your energy use in your office is through the use of Smart-PCs which have a rated-power of 40 Watts, and can cater to 95% of the business user’s needs, with higher end machines used to the remaining 5%. This has the twin benefit of lowering your generator set costs and increasing the output of your UPSs leading to massive savings.

Q. For Disaster recovery, where is the best place to have your DR site?

That is a tough question as there is an element of personal choice. In my opinion, the preference would be what the Financial Services Authority in the UK advises, namely “not too close but not too far away”. There is a number of people who believe in DR sites being in a different city, I believe this to be a mistake, as the reasoning is for a city wide disaster. City wide disasters are rare and by their very nature prevent travel out of the city. I would prefer having the core team, the key element in any disaster being close to my DR site. Outside your city, at a reasonable distance, may be the answer.

Q. Which are the key characteristics of the data center of the future?

The data center of the future will be modular, expandable, flexible, with a higher level of integration between the IT equipment and the infrastructure. The two systems have to be better integrated to allow for optimum efficiency. I see the servers themselves telling the cooling system how much cooling they need, and all of this in a well controlled space with excellent airflow segregation.

Originally Published: Dawn, Images, Page 10, Sci-tech, 2nd January, 2010

To Contact Raja Jehangir for Data Center Services:
email: corporate@mediaidee.com

About Raja Jehangir:

Raja Jehangir Mehboob, Director Strategic Planning: After completing his education in Business Information Technology in the United Kingdom, he joined Lehman Brothers’ management trainee program in 1987. He has experience in the International Foreign Exchange, Money Market, Equities, Commodities, Derivatives, domestic Asset Management and Data Centre industries. After Lehman Brothers, he rose through the ranks within 2 years to hold the position of Senior Dealer and Chief Dealer for Po Sang Bank, one of the 12 sister banks that comprise Bank of China, where he was instrumental in Po Sang’s first Treasury in the United Kingdom. This was followed by setting up and heading the Foreign Exchange department of Sucden Financial, the World’s largest Coffee, Cocoa and Sugar Broker followed by setting up of the Institutional Foreign Exchange desk for Archer Daniels Midland, a company listed on the NYSE.

During his time with Lehman Brothers and Prudential, he was instrumental in the first steps taken by the organisations in computerised trading and pricing platforms, including the development of the first “Exchange for Physical” trading program, giving the organisations a 20 second advantage on price discovery on Futures<->Spot. He has developed mathematical trading models based on Fibonacci, Moving Averages, Momentum indicators and divergences in the market which was applied to a highly successful fund in FX, Precious Metals, Commodities and Equities trading.

The depth of knowledge skills have resulted in a concept paper being co-authored and presented at Harvard Business School titled “Quasi Equity Islamic Finance”. Additionally, he has written/contributed to concept-theoretical papers for mutual funds based on carbon credits and wind generated power, Gold and Inflation Tracker Funds. He was instrumental in developing the Dawood Islamic Fund, which based on the criteria set in the guidelines remained the top performing Islamic Equity fund with the lowest standard deviation in Pakistan while he was with the organisation.

His time in the Data Centre Industry in Pakistan as Head of Sales, and then Strategic Planning saw a growth in profits of over 500%. He is registered with the Financial Services Authority in the UK as an authorised investment adviser.

He is currently Director Strategic Planning at CentreX Solutions (Pvt.) Ltd., a company specialising in Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity, Energy efficient desktop computing and VDI.

Exploring New Avenues In Digital Marketing

Digital marketing encompasses a variety of internet marketing and online media strategies to promote brands and products, besides generating awareness. Increasingly, this is the medium which is providing powerful marketing tools that will improve branding efforts and boost direct response e.g., integrating mobile with digital marketing can create personal, long-term relationships between brands and consumers using electronic marketing channels.

One of the companies responsible for creating such powerful online marketing strategies, for a wide range of companies for European and Middle East clients as well as the local ones, is Media Idee. Ehmer Kirmani, the mind behind the company, is especially skilled at creating multi-channel digital marketing strategies as part of the marketing mix for a wide range of companies through his firm. We discussed the future of advertising and marketing and how the industry structures will change.

How does Media Idée work?

The inspiration to start the company came from our own experiences when in all of our previous jobs, no matter how good the performance was, they used to give us fixed incentives and we couldn’t grow beyond a certain level. I wanted to change that and when I started my own firm, my objective was to provide a platform for anyone who wants to grow professionally by giving an opportunity to have a stake in the company and share the profits. We are now in the fifth year and have grown enough to be separating the divisions of the company and each segment is being run by its own director, reporting to Media Idee Corp. This would not have been possible without this entrepreneurial drive. Consequently, we have a complete production house, an in-house execution team for events and a full service interactive team.

You speak a lot about developing an entrepreneurial culture. What does that mean?

We are the first media and entertainment company in Pakistan which is bringing in a professionally driven structure, based on entrepreneurship and profit sharing. Companies in India and other countries grow because of their hierarchal structures and the fact that anyone can rise to the top and not just the family that owns that company. These companies have a platform where people can join them as profit sharing directors and which, in turn, expands your company. It is difficult to educate people in Pakistan about this, but gradually the culture is changing.

What motivated you to establish Media Idée Interactive?

It is not a new company. We started the company way back in 2006 when we saw the writing on the wall, clearly saying that ‘digital is the future’. This makes us the first digital agency of Pakistan. The market in Pakistan was nascent then, so most of our work was being done for brands abroad which has given us international exposure into the medium.

Now, however, most Pakistani companies are going digital and as pioneers, we’re at the forefront of this revolution. Most of the young people today spend their time either on the mobile or in front of the computer. For many of the brands we handle, their target is the young audience. However, this was not the only reason. Digital media is economical and can effectively complement any traditional campaign.

What would you regard as your most significant experience?

It has been a great learning experience as we’ve not only worked in Pakistan but have done work for international clients based in the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe, which has given our work a lot of diversity and a global recognition. Moreover, we also cater to local customers and we have no qualms even for working for other digital agencies.

Which industries do you see as the trendsetters in Pakistan?

The telecom sector is the one which is bringing in the most digital innovation in Pakistan. The financial sector and the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sectors are also entering this medium and looking for solutions. We expect a lot more sectors to come onboard.

Closing thoughts…

Digital marketing is a learning process—there are still no experts in this space. You have to be a learning organisation and change with the constantly evolving market; especially at the pace technology is altering.

Visit MediaIdee at: www.mediaidee.com or Media Idee Digital: http://midigital.co.

Originally Printed in DawnCEO Media Idee: http://www.dawnexhibitions.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/sci-tech-world/exploring-new-avenues-410

Unleash The Power Of Digital Out Of Home In Pakistan

These are signs of changing times and they are everywhere. Banks, retail stores, exhibitions, malls, airports, restaurants — digital signage is being mounted at all these places. Enter the world where flat screens offer high-quality, value-added marketing content.

Digital signage is a broad term used to describe the integration of a variety of technologies, including software, that culminate in a single end result — a unique and powerful communications medium that provides unparalleled opportunities for marketers to capture audience’s attention, educate and inform, build brands, improve customer experiences and drive sales through the use of digitally powered signs (such as plasma display panels, liquid crystal displays (LCDs), kiosk stations (such as ATMs, computer monitors and normal televisions) to replace and enhance traditional media such as posters, outdoor billboards, etc. The concept has been around for some time, but now digital signage is fully coming into its own since the days of the dot matrix display boards, the first usage of this technology.

AN ATTRACTIVE ALTERNATE

Digital signage is now a viable and affordable alternative to traditional printed signage because the prices of display hardware have tumbled. Thus this new medium of Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) (also known as out-of-home advertising, in-store TV, captive audience TV, digital signage or dynamic digital display) looks set to offer advertisers one of the most targeted and powerful ways of reaching consumers. The type of content on this type of signage can vary. Pakistani marketers looking to improving the effectiveness of their marketing communication are fast replacing the static point-of-sale signage, especially in today’s multimedia world, where it doesn’t have the POP! it used to.

Aside from content such as TV ads, messaging on DOOH can also provide a website address, mobile number or even an IVR, which, when dialled, provides a pre-recorded message specific to the ad display location for exhibit, product or other information. DOOH can also be made interactive with sensors, touch-screens and other interactive devices which can be installed alongside these displays, allowing content to respond when consumers pass by. This enables the customer to fully engage in the communications experience, and this also provides valuable marketing data.

Dynamic dimensions

There are several dimensions of this technology, including comprehensive control over how, when and where your messages are delivered, based on the location or time of the day. This is called narrowcasting. Narrowcasting involves streaming specific data to specific audiences as opposed to traditional broadcasting, which targets a great swath of general viewers.

Digital advertising makes it possible to present messages on multiple DOOH displays through eye-catching dynamic content targeted by demographic, psychographic and geographic specifications, besides other customer-defined business rules such as the time of day, store zone, etc. Since the content can be changed or updated at any time from a remote computer containing the solution’s administration software, the displays are designed to show product information to consumers with the hope of encouraging sales that would not normally occur according to consumer’s traditional shopping patterns e.g., on a given day, different ads for a clothing store might be presented to reach the young people between 18-25 year olds through displays at bus shelters, coffee shops, on campus, in food courts, petrol stations, bank machines and in malls, depending on the time of the day they are likely to be there in large numbers.

This kind of specific targeting allows a marketer to communicate their message to the audience at critical junctures and cuts down the total spending on ads. The greatest strength, however, of digital signage lies in its immediacy. Digital signage enables “speed to messaging”, “faster time to market” and communications flexibility when content creation, composition, management, transport and presentation are all done digitally.

This allows the cost-effective re-purposing of ads across media platforms, since digital signage networks are largely automated and remotely controlled. This enables the launching of new communications campaigns with zero courier costs, no on-site personnel requirements and total security. Thus digital signs can literally be reprogrammed with the latest advertising campaign, price change or public message at the click of a mouse button. One mouse click and thousands of screens update automatically.

This also has the benefit of eliminating out-of-date messages to increase relevancy of messages for the consumer – no more posters or messages from last month’s campaign fluttering around. In the future, these signs will also be able to influence inventory and supply chain by promoting products that are in an over-supply and cutting off promotions of products that are out of stock at that location. Targeted, informative content that changes behaviour, such is the power that every marketer dreams of.

Also, since DOOH presents digital messages at the point-of-purchase, it brings “the power of place” (how our surroundings shape our thoughts, emotions, and actions) to life. There is currently no other medium which makes it possible to deliver compelling content at the right location at the right time for maximum impact, for example it is a known fact that over 75 per cent of buying decisions are made at the point of purchase (Source: POPAI). Setting up a digital signage at a shopping mall or retail outlet can influence purchasing right where it’s about to happen. This is what sets digital signage apart from traditional media. It allows you to run purpose-built, meaningful content that can be managed to meet the consumer experience.

DOOH also has been reported to increase customer dwell time. Dwell time is the period during which a dynamic process remains halted in order that another process may occur, e.g. a person stops to glance over at a range of biscuits in a super market. Retail studies have shown that the longer the dwell time, the higher the number of sales.
The use of DOOH has also been reported to enhance the customer experience through value-added ‘edutainment’. In waiting rooms, e.g., such as the doctor’s office, pharmacies, railway stations or banks, these displays reduce perceived wait time. People really enjoy watching the educational programming on these displays and believe that the time spent was less than it really was improving customer satisfaction.

SETTING IT UP

Setting up a basic signage is as simple as plugging a DVD player and a DVD with your ad into a display console and putting it up in a shop. However, for a proper DOOH, the components needed for a digital signage system include: an authoring console equipped with content management software, allowing the playback of content in a variety of playback formats, a server to which finished content is uploaded and from where it is distributed to the different displays of the network, a distribution infrastructure consisting of a data network or fibre optic or CAT5 cable which broadcasts media from the server to the displays and digital signage displays which can be plasma displays, LCD monitors, CRT monitors or kiosk stations.

The distribution infrastructure is perhaps the most important part of digital signage, and choosing the correct distribution technology is a crucial element of any digital signage project. To date, the most common distribution infrastructure in Pakistan has been the data network platform, most commonly seen in the top retail stores of the country.

A data network platform uses a computer network infrastructure in order to transmit content in the form of compressed multimedia files (such as MPEG files) from the management station to the central server and from there to the computer connected to the display device. The central server handles distribution to multiple displays and the display-end computer decompresses the file for display on the display device. This solution requires a dedicated CPU in every single display device deployed.

While offering better approaches and new paradigms of message targeting, DOOH is typically sold on a rental basis. Thus the technology’s inherent capabilities for message targeting combined with attractive rates make DOOH attractive, providing high return on marketing investment. And the best part of it all is that marketers can maximize display value with measurable effectiveness, tallying sales data to the message that was being run on these screens.

GETTING NOTICED

The greatest interest in digital signage today is from the banking, telecom and retail sectors, although it does have other uses in healthcare, education and other displays of information, e.g. an average retail store has a footfall of over 500 people per day who can watch these ads and the preliminary results of studies by local major players show that a dynamic content’s impact is higher than that of static media on these locations. So it’s no surprise that the potential for this technology is huge.

Telecom franchises number well over 1600 alone, there are over 5000 high-end retail shops where this technology can be deployed and high-end banking branches number well over 4500.

As one of the suppliers and pioneers in this field, 3M Pakistan is currently assessing the potential of bringing this technology into Pakistan. They’ve already launched one of the components of DOOH amongst their range of products, Vikuiti, which is a range of projection display components. Vikuiti has been tested at over 50 locations in Pakistan so far and have been proven to be an excellent choice, surpassing the metrics of reach, frequency and recall over static media. Within one year of its introduction Vikuiti has already hit the targeted numbers for this market and is growing fast, slowly converting the POS market in Pakistan.

According to Dr Hugh Philips, a cognitive psychologist, human beings “select” or “de-select” what they notice based on the relevance of what is presented. That being the case, motion video and animation coming and going on a dynamic display has a high probability of being seen, and relevant or interesting messages can then fulfil the objectives. The numbers are already promising. Viewers are five to 10 times more likely to notice and recall dynamic media than static media (Source: POPAI).

It’s a high-definition world, and today’s time-starved consumers demand more from their experiences, thus using digital signage can make for happier and more energised customers. With its superior ability to target specific messages towards defined audiences and get noticed, digital signage offers unparalleled opportunities to anyone wanting to capture the ever fragmented audiences’ attention, educate and inform people, build brands and drive sales and profitability.

The advantages of digital signage

• Reaches defined audiences
• Targeted messaging
> Target your messages by screen, location, time or day
> Enables tactical marketing by audience segment
• Captures audience attention
> Increases message impact through eye-catching dynamic
content
> Enhances the customer’s experience through value-added
‘edutainment’
> Increases customer dwell time and reduces perceived wait time
• Speed and immediacy of message change
> Reduces time and cost to produce and deploy new messages
> Eliminates out-of-date messages to increase relevancy of
messages
• Ensures local compliance with auditable playback
> Automated playback with no human interaction
> Compare proof-of-play reports to sales data
• Maximises display value with measurable effectiveness
> Creates content schedules containing multiple messages
per signage asset
> Easily tests different message executions and assesses the
impact of each

Published: Dawn Newspaper, Sci-Tech

For More Information on MI Digital’s Digital Signage Solutions, please visit www.midigital.co

The Future of Digital Marketing: Pakistan 2015

It’s sad that at every turn we tend to focus on the negatives when this great country really offers endless opportunities amidst all this chaos – if one is focused to see the forest for the trees. Because of a lack of legacy infrastructure to burden us down, the marching advent of technology and telecom is shaking up the old and ensuring that Pakistan is coming of age in one of the fastest of the new growth industries such as Digital Media and Marketing which will only go up and up over the next decade.

Let me start by making a bold prediction. Expect 15% of all advertising in Pakistan to shift to digital, interactive, mobile, social and online video over the next five years. Why is it bold, because currently digital spending is estimated at US $5 Million and if the prediction were to come true, we’re looking at an amount hovering in the $40 -$50 million USD range. That’s a growth by a factor of 10 in just 5 years. It’s an impossible figure at first sight but like in the rest of the world, the increasing consumer connectivity (4 million+ broadband connections by 2013 – Source: PTA), Mobile and social technologies are rapidly evolving the very definition of marketing and commerce in our country and the on-coming world of 3G / 4G technologies, cloud computing, mobility and even SMS/WAP based services will quickly bring this prediction about. With this in mind, the following will be growth areas in our country over the next few years:

Prediction #1: The Ubiquitous Mobile Eco-system

If you think the Telecom sector is huge right now, wait for a few years. With close to 60 million phones and 90 million SIMs providing the foundation, already without a doubt the next big thing is going to be mobile. You maybe getting tired of hearing about how it’s going to happen, but it is coming and coming soon and it’s going to be not just about phones, it will be an entire ecosystem built around the mobile – any service, anytime, anywhere and on any screen.  Bring in location based services, m-commerce and Proximity forms of marketing enabled by a million strong SME sector and it’s a no brainer that mobile-assisted shopping will be integrated into the physical and m-commerce especially will become a necessary part of multi-channel retailing and an important component of Point of Purchase Promotions. With that we can portend the rise of mobile comparison shopping, mobile coupons, mobile affiliates and ever more SMS services. Add in social networks which are being promoted on even the Chinese mobiles, we can easily perceive that social media and social commerce on the mobile device will be a big part of our marketing efforts. For the marketers the challenge in this regard will be even more platform fragmentation.

 

Prediction #2: Digital Marketing Will Be About New Possibilities

Digital marketing will be about connecting information that’s otherwise not connected to create new possibilities and experiences. If my own personal experiences in game development are taken as an example, applying game mechanics to the customer journey, particularly product awareness/brand discovery – with levels, engaging fun challenges, and certain rewards can be very effective way to market your own brands even now and in the future will be certain to grow as ‘experiential marketing’ takes over from traditional activations. You’ve heard life is a game … this time we’ll be living it especially as augmented technologies come into play in this country – some we’re developing even now. For those who’d like to see what the Pakistani marketing world can be like in 2015 Google ‘Nike London Grid’

Prediction #3: TV Will Still Rule But The Focus To Something New Will Come

In a Feb 2010 published report by the European Interactive Advertising Association (IALS), the number of hours that the average person spends connected to the internet in Spain now exceeds that spent watching television. The study, conducted in 15 European countries, revealed that people in Spain spent an average of 13.3 hours per week connected to the internet compared to 13 hours in front of the television. There is quite a difference between age groups, with younger people spending most time online, while those over 55 years of age almost exclusively use only television. Whilst on the same note a study by Ipsos Reid last fall found that Canadians are spending more than 18 hours a week online, compared with 16.9 hours watching television. In the UK, According to a Sept 2009 news report by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), online has overtaken television to become the biggest single medium growing to 1.75 billion pounds, with the medium accounting for 23.5 percent of all spend, ahead of television. If the European and Canadian trends are to be taken as a benchmark for our world in the future, than there will be a major shift in advertising from being predominantly TV focused to something new. The economic drivers are already compelling marketers to try their hands on digital.

Prediction #4: Digital will continue to remain a Paradox

Digital marketing will always remain a challenging paradox for the traditional marketers because the way currently marketers think about digital is flawed, fully racked as they are with a mindset tuned towards providing immediate gratification, a one-off mentality and a propensity to constantly chase the next shiny object. Understanding conversations, the loss of control, co-creation, engagement are forms which will take time before they’ll be manifested in the marketing communications here.

It can be said that digital technologies have changed everything, not because of the speed of access but because there is a direct connection to what we want which is always on. This has changed the experience from one which used to be disruptive (turning on the PC to check email e.g.) to embedded (checking email on the phone whilst on the go) and being integrated into everything we do. This is the same technology that will be powering our media and marketing over the next decade and giving us continuous hope and reason for bringing our country into the developed world at an extremely fast pace.

A truly connected world is going to be a radically different world from the world we currently inhabit and understand. It will be a world where mobile devices and computers will be as prevalent as the air we breathe. It will be where social media will compete against mass media and real time ‘Now’ will complement the traditional forms of ‘Search’. It will be a world where Apps will compete against ads and context will be king. The cloud, semantics, Android, mashups, mobile, social graphs & social-spheres, user targeting,  HTML5, location-based, gaming, ad exchanges, path to conversion, 3D, channel interaction, HD video, augmented reality, data visualisation, apps and even more, and all present even on the lowly Chinese devices will stand to drive the consumer on a different path to purchase than the current models. Already the trends show that consumer preferences are already shifting towards the digital landscape. We’re watching Indian soaps on YouTube, banking through our mobile phones, finding life partners and ordering grocery online. What happens when these technologies become embedded in our lives? We’re already witness to the decline of the ‘Broadcast Business models’ from newspapers & magazines to TV & music, none command the stature of previous decades and as technology progresses they’ll lose their importance even more. With this will come the end of noise & interruption form of advertising and the rise of context, relevance and real experiences for brand building.  Consumer behavior will continue to change as technology evolves and permeates even more into our lives, giving greater influence and control to the consumers over the relationships and the experiences that they choose to have with the brands.

 

 

The Blogging Scene In Pakistan

Ten years ago a set of 95 theses were organized and put forward as a manifesto, for all businesses operating within what was then suggested to be a newly-connected marketplace. Titled ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’, it put forward an idea that the Internet was unlike the ordinary media used in mass marketing as it enables people to have “human to human” conversations, which have the potential to transform traditional business practices radically. The authors asserted that a shift would occur through substantial and pervasive changes in current company-to-consumer interaction. Communication would shift from mission statements and marketing media aimed at consumer segments to open dialogues or conversations between businesses and consumers, whilst online marketing would be more about holding conversations with people rather than broadcasting half-truths about products and services. Turns out that tens years on that now everything is a conversation.

The fastest growing alternative media to the traditional channels (3.7 million results on Google Pages from Pakistan and 367,000 blogs found), blogs in Pakistan are now being credited from everything from bringing a giant corporate to its knees over its negligence during a reality show, greater consumer awareness, putting pressure on governments and politicians for greater transparency, showcasing the new and the trendy to the point where all gadgets now MUST have a blogger’s meetup at launch followed up by reviews, media practices, latest fashions, marketing and even general venting of frustration at All Things Pakistan.

The ability for anyone to have a thought, be able to type it up and then publish it online for the world to see for free has been equated with bringing in the same revolution as the printing press did 400 years ago. So much so that every traditional broadcast media & newspaper worth their salt has started their own blogging channels to avoid missing out on this cluetrain. Just on Dawn.com alone, one is treated to a myriad of subjects ranging from Politics, Satire, Sports, Technology, Business, Culture, Food to much much more. Politics of course is the favorite subject and one is treated to the widest range of topics from ‘Couldn’t She Find A Nice Indian Boy’ to deep philosophically inclined discussions on women’s rights and the burka. One is also treated to all the content that one would never be privy too in our traditional channels especially regarding our political leaders.  Sports too especially Cricket are the passion of the nation and nowhere is it more apparent than on the net with the keywords ‘Cricket Blog Pakistan’ resulting in 446,000 results from Pakistan alone.

The biggest benefactor of the blogging scene however has been the Citizen Journalism scene, everything from taking on the big bad corporate and their policies to exploit low waged workers and risk their lives in factories without proper precautions or rights, or to prison seriously injured workers in a hospital room to block them from the media and labor movements, action against exploitative advertising of baby milk or more minor issues like delays in payments has been documented and archived for generations to come. The citizen of Pakistan’s voice is finally being heard and it is loud and demanding remedial for the generations of anger, exploitation and squelching of our voices.

One of the management gurus Tom Peters said, “One of my grand theories is that, fundamentally, there’s only one source of innovation, and that’s pissed off people. I think anger is the essential motivator.” If this is the case than this is our time to change the Pakistani world the way we want it to be with the power of the word. It has been known for eons to be mightier than the sword and with digital distribution it’s a tsunami now which will shatter all that that comes in its path.

 

Farming Farmville

It can be said that it’s a growing social phenomenon when during a romantic interlude between couples, one person shouts ‘OMG! my strawberries are going to die” and runs to the computer. Yes! we’re talking about none other than the modern day equivalent of farming which has been designed to be completely in sync with the time compressed modern life – ‘Farmville’, the place where Strawberries grow in 4 hours and water melons grow in 4 days. This is the farm where you can grow both Tamarind trees and lime on the same soil and you have to adopt cows which wander in from no where.

Farmville is a social game which has been developed by its parent company Zynga. With 60 million players globally, It is projected to rake in $1 billion in 2011 and Google has poured $100 million into the company in an attempt to launch its own ‘Google Games’. It’s popularity can be gauged from the fact that anyone who has ever been on Facebook in Pakistan, 90% of your messages must have been the bombardments to come play the game, help build up the barn, accept a gift, adopt a cow, sheep or simply ‘just be a neighbour’. The gameplay of Facebook is deviously simple – plant something – wait for at least a day- get money – buy plants- wait for at least a day- get money- buy plants and so forth with some additions of buildings and other stuff. In return the player levels up and gets achievements for sticking to the game, which makes the game very addictive. The addiction starts off easy that one day you’re just planting a few plots of wheat and soon you’re hooked buying farms, expanding farms and harvesting 24/7.

Personally however I used to play Farmville but after the 5th time my crops withered due to an active social life, I said ‘Go Moo!’

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The Year Twenty Ten: A Review

It’s that time again when we reflect upon the world and aim to do better with our resolutions. This has been an eventful year. I guess we were expecting it to be when Google announced with a bang in January that its corporate network had been attacked. With the follow up being the attack on the Iranian Nuclear Facilities through the Stuxnet worm, the Gulf leak that occurred from BP’s Oil Spill, Pakistan’s Floods to the finale this month with the US Cable Spill, 2010 will be remembered as the year of struggles and crisis. In the midst of so much flooding of stress, tension, five distinct trends stood out which could well summarize the year that was 2010 and possibly tell us a bit of what 2011 will hold.

The Rise of Leaks and The End of Privacy

it was a very busy year on the privacy front and nothing showcased the power of the social web than the way technology was used this year in multiple forms. From the news of Tony Hayward, CEO of BP’s Yacht trip during the worst of the Gulf oil spill to the recent US cable leaks which have had consequences for the political fiefdom in our country and have given rise to new meanings to the terms ‘Open government’, ‘Public Interest’ (do we really care about the hot Ukrainian blonde) and ‘Radical Transparency’. With Google also in the hot water over it roaming street view vehicles, to Facebook’s new Privacy settings which basically sold your profile to advertisers expect the Web community at large and the government to become even more concerned about what to do with all of our personal data in 2011.

Recession Proof: Mobile Rules 2010

Without a doubt, the explosion of the smartphone landscape this past year and the allure of earning income from the new data services and surrounding industries in Pakistan have made the mobile and telco industry a behemoth to contend with.

Apple’s iPhone 4 was launched  early this year followed up by the equally drool worthy iPad and the world has never been the same again. Angry Birds was the number one application in the Apple’s Pakistani App store whilst locally ‘Gully Cricket’ became the first locally developed mobile game to be made available from a local carrier.

2010 can also be said to be the year of the Android phone – Worldwide HTC dominated the market with their Android assault especially HTC Desire. However the new Motorola Droid (Milestone) is getting the best reviews since their old Razr went blunt and reports of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 are very positive whilst Android has also made its presence felt in Pakistan, being launched by a Chinese Telecom company along with equally economical internet packages on the mobile phone which is expected to double the number of internet surfers within a year or two.

All these trends are expected to accelerate well into 2011.

Social Networks Come of Age

It can be said that Social Networks came of age in this country when users on Facebook crossed the 3 Million mark this year (3,075,480 at the time of writing this article) and politicians in this country took to twittering their thoughts and whereabouts to anyone who cares to follow them.

Marketers know that tough times also spur innovation and thus they are experimenting with mediums such as social marketing. Social marketing promises lower costs and bigger returns. In fact, word-of-mouth campaigns encourage consumers to do the marketing on behalf of the brand themselves. There are many brands which are getting on the social media band-wagon amongst them hair care, cooking oils, personal care are the most famous categories. Telecom industries are using the media as a form of customer service centers.

In 2011, expect social media to get even more popular, more mobile, and more inclusive as even the lowly Chinese phone starts supporting the different networks natively. It will also toughen the job of IT departments as people feed their social media needs through the mobile medium.

Pakistan IT Industry Becomes a Source Of Pride For The Nation

The Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) is an international awards program which provides networking and product benchmarking opportunities to ICT innovators and entrepreneurs from 16 countries in the region including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka among others. Out of 16 APICTA categories, the P@SHA (Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES) delegation picked up 7 Merit Awards (the APICTA Silver equivalent).  These included Merit Awards in Security Applications, E-Inclusion and E-Community, Financial Applications, Communications, E-Government and E-Health categories. It was our best performance ever.

The Rise of Online Movies & TV watching

Perhaps it’s a by-product of the ever declining broadband internet prices in the country and the ever faster speeds (10 mbps launched on 10/10/10) because of which online movies and episodes of the latest Indian or English sitcoms have become the trend to watch whilst free online. Indian movies are the most watched feature on internet with 3 Idiots being the top-most watched movie this year online. This trend is expected to continue even further this year.

The upcoming year appears poised to build on the strength of trends already in place: greater mobility, greener technologies, mobile technologies, more powerful hardware and web-enabled products and applications that focus on collaboration and interoperability. The marching advent of technology and telecom is shaking up the old and ensuring that Pakistan is coming of age in one of the fastest of the new growth industries. With that we bid farewell to 2010 and bring in 2011 with prayers for the prosperity of this great nation for one and for all.