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Friday, 16 August 2013

Social Media - A beacon of quasi-sociality?

Social media is fiercely debated whether its a transformational derivative or an evolutionary by-product. Arguably, its a tilted blend. It had been evolving for a long time with a swifter transformation lately. Ofcourse technology is the catalyst and thats gumption. But in current context, will harp on outcome and not the enabler.

Aristotle had quoted an extremely powerful statement: Man is by nature,a social animal. Though the essence of "social" in his context was implying to physical society, metaphor still stands perfect rather more apt even in the current transformed state of "being social". Parallelism can be contested but salient aspect is being social  in a borderless & touch-less world.  

Social media is no longer just a virtual connect platform. Grossly historical. It has even outgrown its more matured tag of consumer generated media (CGM) as it has already graduated onto its new business moniker, Social Enterprises. It has spawned itself into a two-faced monster triggering a business mayhem, restructuring & redefining the existing business landscape while strategically creating an industry of its own to cater to the frantic realignment. Household names like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Youtube, Watsapp, Wechat, Instagram etc have transformed social media with billions of active users and still counting.

So what is it which is fueling in to this incessant wild fire? Reach.According to Jan H. Kietzmann, the famous honeycomb framework of social media comprises of seven building blocks: Identity, Conversations, Groups, Sharing, Presence, Relationships and Reputation. Functional and Objective effectiveness of each block converges to that one fuel element, Reach! Across generations, across geographies.So this enviable reach of social media has flattened the connectivity, widened the accessibility and above all, provided a far effective conduit for "voice of expression".

Everyone is "tweeting" and "facebooking" their morning ablutions to evening fancies. A world where virtual sharing/posting/walling is still considered private, has taken the behavioral pattern by storm. "Sharing", a virtue of good samaritan and a coveted rare attribute, now comes naturally. Thanks to Social media. In all the conspicuous glitters of this phenomenon, lies the subtle caveats. Social media business trades on human emotions, insecurities & in-satiated curiosities. While one can endlessly debate that every good thing comes with its share of side-effects, this time its far more grave. And the reason is the same fuel-element which has made it a household aspect. Below three contrasting predicaments reflects the precariousness of the social media:

a) Distinct vs Extinct
Social media has blurred the make-to-use value chain by almost converging its major stakeholders consumers, providers and enablers. One of the most distinct feat. While we revel on this transformative impact, its causing some serious inflictions as well. Imminent demise of businesses and industries. Commoditization kills specialization and so is the corresponding business and possibly, industry. Social media is the new marketing toy, thanks to an unimaginable reach. Thats precisely the point. It can cost you one of the most vital business parameter, Control. Conventional marketing channels are easy to manage but social media can spiral out of control in a blink annihilating reputation and eventually business. Be it famous Amy's baking company or the U2 famed Joshua Tree national park and many more who has either closed down or faced near demise due to "Word of Mouth", magnified dangerously via social media. Countries with extremely high gadget penetration like smartphone etc, can have a much wider impact. At the same time countries like Singapore which has the highest smartphone penetration also has one of the most sensibly regulated media content management. But such controls are near impossible in larger countries.

b ) Actual vs Virtual
By flattening the world social media has brought long lost friends, relatives nearer like never before, thus reviving the distance-deprived connects. While we bask on its magnanimity, subtly it has created a comfort zone. Complacency of remaining in touch, virtually. This virtual assurance is culling the physical need of togetherness. Even during public spaces & events, people walk around like zombies being mentally absent busy sharing with virtual world. Ironical! The glorious times of reunions, regrouping and reliving are numbered as more and more are embracing the slothful means of being in touch, virtually.

c) Activity vs Productivity
Social media, while is a luxury for previous generations, for Gen Y and Gen Z, its the most natural thing which has happened to them, post-natal. So obviously, its both social and business obligation to cater to this need in order to keep in line with the new "social generation". But a world, where one prefers to post things, every activity is leading to serious inactivity, which I call it, "Social sedentary syndrome". In the
professional world, companies are scrambling to cater to this "natural" phenomenon, which even led to an industry of its own, BYOD - Bring Your Own Device. While on the face value, it caters to seamlessness in using the gadgets, it also breeds an extended addiction, being social at work. Thus seriously affecting the productivity of an individual.

Unlike any other transformation, invention or discovery, for which we could always reprimand the originator for making a two-sided possibility, Social media is originated from our behavioral pattern and will continue to thrive on it. So onus is back on every individual to ensure it adds to the quality of life and not compromise it.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The successful business of copy-pasting!

Copy-Paste (CP), the most commonly used Information Technology (IT) action, frowned upon for its lack of ingenuity and the sense of shameless pilferage. It would be a faux pas to believe that CP is a new idea born of IT while the moot point here is CP as a concept is agnostic of its pertinence to any particular industry. That basically gives it enough wings to take us back in time, even to the time of human evolution, if I maybe so bold to add. Visible copying, be it during an examination or while doing business is seriously reprimanded but smart copying on the contrary is extolled. Yes, our contradictory stand is but obvious! 

Since inception, history has been witness to a bipolar business fraternity: Innovators and Followers. Naturally former were known to be trend-setters while the latter took on the unassuming but unasked task of evangelizing former's work to their vested interests. To still come out as bright and ethical at the same time, did bestow innovators with hall of fame while authentically customized the actual work to super stardom. Thus, creating arguably one of the most manipulated words of all times, "best-practice". Every invention of significance, be it Radio, Lasers, Graphical User Interface to Monopoly game, were marred with controversial cases of "theft-of-ideas" and "best-practice-turned-own-innovation". Definitely thereon, Intellectual Property (IP) protection has strengthened multi-fold which curbs "straight-copying". The on-going Apple-Samsung feud is symbolic of the fierce battle around IP but no one could restrict the spiralling market and smart copiers of the business model itself. Bingo! 

While individual companies grapple with borrowed concepts, history has witnessed to countries going on a copy-rampage as well. Post World War 2 during 1950, Japan's per capita income was equal to Somalia and Ethiopia. They had to quickly get on to their feet. Quick wins comprised of copying from American & European institutions and replicating their products. Barring some initial setbacks, by and large Japanese companies improvised on the copied concepts and companies like Toyota even outpaced the industry leaders, GM and Ford eventually. So what if the turnaround had inspirational elements, Japan did a miracle turnaround and the world witnessed it with awe.

When western countries were scouting for an economically viable alternative to base their manufacturing and anchored in China, never ever did it occurred to them that latter could transform itself from a production hub to the largest consumption hub the world knows today. Be it the e-commerce giant Alibaba (whose planned IPO could catapult its market value to $50-120 Billion) or massively popular social networking sites, all are comparable or even edge past western peers who claim to be pioneers of respective business model. China is going through the same stage of copying and reverse engineering which Japan mastered in the past.  At the same time, there are cities like Wengzhou (commonly called Black City) in Southern China, equally neglected by historians and government until its meteoric self-driven rise. Surely the success comprises of some elements of "inspiration" but the notable point is in the way the city was economically built, making it exemplary for larger China. End result is what matters!

Apple and South Korean companies such as Samsung, LG have made smart phone way smarter, enhancing and capitalizing on a concept Canadian company Research In Motion & Finnish giant Nokia introduced.  Per latest available industry statistics, it would be fair to state that the latter two organizations are grappling to survive with even once a minnow, Taiwanese company HTC surpassing them in market cap.

Such examples unravel an extremely interesting and intertwining phenomenon as we gradually peel off ever-changing business layers. "Best practices", "Inspirations" or "straight copy" will continue to be fiercely criticized & ring-fenced but the fact remains that in this world of severe-competitiveness, relentless innovation and ruthless hustle-jostle to the top, end consumers are most advantaged, enjoying the quality, diversity and accessibility resulting from this juggernaut.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

How a Red dot punctuates Global growth!

An exemplary of a country to rise from rags to riches in an unprecedented time. A growth journey which is copy book and envious to peer countries irrespective of size and spread. My built up deliberately deceives as a reference to a big and naturally blessed country. But to an absolute contrary, my reference is about a 710 sq km tiny island at the southern tip off Malay Peninsula sharing the border with Malaysia in north and Indonesia in south. Once arguably disparaged as Red dot by one of its neighbor, Singapore took that epithet to its stride and transformed it to signify size-defying, phenomenal growth. A country which was shrugged off with no natural resources, contradicted the fallacy, building on the only natural resource it had, its People. A country, which defied the very understanding that it takes generations to move the needle from Developing to Developed status. Best way to describe city state's incredible stature is: One of 20 smallest countries which is also the wealthiest country by GDP per capita in the world.

Singapore believes there is no prize for coming second, and relentlessly strives to be a leader with every change. Be its architectural marvel, Marina Bay Sands or unique night street F1 race or worlds biggest Oceanarium. Its this particular approach along with the incredible marketing, sets Singapore to the topmost pedestal in World stage. While its thought leadership sets it ahead of the pack, relentless diligence and impeccable discipline ensured sustained success. Time and again, it proved its resilience, whether its 1997 or 2008 financial crisis while global stalwarts stumbled.
While Singapore find its name in top laurels, infallible processes may give rise to perception side-effects. Lately, it has been voted as the most emotionless country by Gallup survey. Its best left as a perception as I personally dont see any dearth of emotions in this vibrant society. Also, been voted as one of the best place to live in the world, seems contrary if it comes at the cost of emotional quotient. Anyways, It has its share of sensations as well, thanks to sudden splurge of sexual cases and repetitive rail breakdowns. It did cause widespread publish peevishness but minor glitches in the wider schema of things, is exonerable. Singaporeans have their share of crib as any other country but a single comparative with their peers, should make them proud of this progressive country, irrespective.

Singapore is what it is, due to exemplary governance since inception. A government, which is most trusted after China and UAE. A government, facilitating incredible infrastructure,  ensuring zero foreign debt consistently, strong balance sheet and relentlessly catering to a world class standard of life. Salient aspects to attain and sustain success in the long run. Leading the change and changing to be a leader is an apt expression for city-state. An expression, which translates into wealthiest country, world's fourth leading financial center, world's second-biggest casino gambling market, one of the world's top three oil refining centres, world's largest oil-rig producer, one of the five busiest ports in the world and best of all, world class airport, Changi. House to some amazing amusements like world's largest fountain at Suntec, world's first Night zoo, Night Safari etc.The list of accomplishments are exhaustive and envious.

There are three take-aways, world could learn from city-state: Thought leadership, Strong governance and Infallible Discipline. In an uncertain world, when economic big-wigs are crumbling, a tiny dot continues its giant march and contributes significantly to underline global growth.