Business Strategy

May 26, 2013

Career 101 – Career Tips for IT Professionals

I have mostly been on the "hiring" side of the table. Based on that experience, I am listing down few career tips – mostly around soft skills. Again, the tips are directed towards professionals in IT industry, but it should be applicable in every industry with some modifications. I am happy to hear (or read) your perspective and learn from the same.

1) Pace out your career!

There is no rush. You do not need to achieve the pinnacle of your career by the age of 30. It is not important to simply scale the peak. The journey is more important than the destination. It is equally important to stay put or at least climb down gracefully when your capabilities are not in line with the ever changing and growing demand of your professional career.

It is okay to push yourself and improve your capacity and capability in a sustainable way. But do not be reckless.

2) What is your ROI?

Think over it. Calculate it. Ensure that you calculate it before your boss does. Are you able to deliver what is expected at your level? You can only grow if your value proposition is high, distinct and visible. Set clear and high goals and milestones. Make sure that you only work with a company that has alignment with your personal goals. Align your goals with your organization's. Take help from your management team to do so. Without clear ROI, you can never have a satisfying and rewarding career.

3)  Stay well oiled

If your job is to carry heavy machinery on your shoulder, make sure that you exercise and keep your body in top shape. If your job is to write software code, ensure that you exercise your brain. You can do so by learning new technologies (with self initiative), having intellectual discussions around your subject to add to your knowledge. Observe how people make decisions, ask questions, understand the decision making processes – this will make you sharper and valuable.

4) Love your work

Do not take up a profession that you do not LOVE. If you do not love unearthing accounting frauds, do not get into Audit as a profession. If you do not like writing software, do not get into a programming job. It will be an ordeal – for you and your employer. If you are doing so – change it today. It is said "Do what you love, and you will never have to work ever".

5) Work for excellence

You must be proud of your work. Not for the sake of it, but because you are confident that your work is best in its class. It needs a lot of passion, hard work and self criticism to achieve this. To be excellent, you need to have laser sharp focus – to learn, to observe and to absorb from your peers and ones who have excelled.

6) Love your company

Yeah, I know – its being idealistic. But, honestly if you do not respect your organization, you should not belong there. It is important to have a feeling of ownership, a sense of mission and a state of belongingness to be able to achieve and deliver. Every organization (and people) will have their strength and weakness. We need to understand, adjust and improve them ,if we can. Criticizing them wont help anyone. If the weaknesses far out-weights the strengths, and you cannot love your organization, its time to move on. But, as long you are associated, there has to be 100% commitment.

7) Surround yourself with good people

In every organization you will find different kind of people. It depends upon you, whom you choose to spend your time. Spending time with the right people will help you acquire the desired skills (soft and hard) that you need to achieve your goals. Indulge in healthy debates and discussions.

Avoid smalltalk and gossips. Remain positive. Have your own perspective that you must derive from your own logical thinking instead of simply adopting conclusions from people around you. Share your opinion and thoughts – not only with your colleagues, but also with your seniors and take feedback. Keep your mind open. Every coin / thought has two (or more) aspects.

8) Create value for clients

You work for a company, but your salary bills are paid by the clients that the company has. Think about them. Benefit them with your skills. I call it top-down value creation. If the client benefits, your company benefits. If your company benefits, you have better ROI (see point #2). And if you have clear ROI, you move up the chain.

9) Let go the ego

The higher you need to rise, you need to shed the weight of your ego. Some learn it the difficult way, and some adopts humility as the way of life. The higher you move, the more you need to get things done from your team members AND the more you need to align up with clients. If you want to take them along, you need to respect their ego more than yours.

10) Ethics – the real #1

My definition of morals and ethics is: Do to others as you would have them do to you.(Luke 6:31).  I have seen many people justify their acts as "ethical" and "legal" because that benefit them. But the best way to judge that is – will you like your friend to do it to you? or will you like your employee do it to you? This is the real #1 tip!

Remember: The journey is more important than the destination.

I am sure you all know of 100 more tips and feel free to add to this list..

 

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April 23, 2012

Technology Trends for 2012

I was thinking of writing this post for quite some time. But, @twitter has made me lazy. However, I have finally taken out time to summarize some technology trends that I see emerging and strengthening in 2012.

  • Mainstream adoption of mobile web – It seems mobile web is finally here. The tablets has fueled the growth and has also increased the horizon of mobile web from essential info search to default information consumption device, which opens doors for a lot of interesting innovation in days to come. With tablets overtaking the production of laptops and desktops in number, this trend is set to grow.

    We, at Indus Net Technologies has adopted a mandate that we will design sites for tablets and then make sure that it renders well on laptop / desktop resolutions.

  • Mobile Transactions – With mobile payment infrastructure, regulations been put together and advent of NFC, mobile payment (or wallet) is a reality. It is however to be seen, who vests the power – the network providers, device manufacturers or the app developers. The collaborative competition will be interesting to watch.

    It shall also gradually replace visiting cards and catalogs / brochures. I have increasingly felt less anxious when I meet people without my visiting card in my pocket. I know, we can connect through mobile (will become easier with NFC / Bump) and social networks.

  • The OS / browser war is ON – With Android (from Google), WinMobile (from Microsoft) and iOS (from Apple), the old OS and Browser war is back. This time it is not separate – it is integrated, as web has emerged as the new platform.
  • Interactivity is changing – Interactivity has moved on from keyboard to mouse to touch (the last one literally turned around Apple's fortune). And now it is set to move into the domain of voice and gesture. Innovators are working hard to make them mainstream.
  • Convergence – Though, there has been talks about convergence for quite some time, but it will be visible in consumer use this year. TV, Internet and Mobile will finally blur with the advent of Smart TV, Android PC and Android based tablets / mobiles. All these can run same apps, which will bring in integrated functionality and give us access to content and functions irrespective of the medium.

    This will have path-breaking impact in the verticals of entertainment, education, home automation, productivity, etc.

  • Cloud (IaaS, SaaS and PaaS) becomes mainstream – IaaS, SaaS and PaaS is rapidly becoming mainstream. Though IaaS seems to remain under the reign of the big boys, SaaS will remain a favorite for technology start-ups! However, this year will see the growing popularity of PaaS, which provides a middle path to the enterprises who are averse to adapt SaaS.

    This paves the way for wide adoption and growth of XML based 4GL and 5GL languages. From application development perspective, does it mean the end of the tedious coding cycles, which has fueled the growth of offshore outsourcing industry so far? Only time will tell.

  • Social media gets mainstream – From the fancy muse of technology enthusiasts, social media is set to become mainstream. The rising concern among the political circles about the freedom of speech due to the social networks like Facebook and Twitter is a clear indication that they have proven their importance.

    The multimedia part of the social media will continue to evolve and improving intuitiveness of interaction will bring more users contribute / consume content. If my 18 month old daughter can hook on to Youtube for her favorite video, there is no reason why 70 year olds (most of those who found it difficult to adopt to technology, as they had to learn it) cannot.

  • Video will emerge as the most popular and common content / media for mass communication replacing text and images as we have on most websites. It stimulates all senses and gets the message across quickly and precisely. In a world with such low attention span, who has got the time to patiently read a 1000 word brief of how a new gadget works or how Company A is changing the world.
Whats the next big thing? It may not happen right now, but they are not very far either:
  • The idea is to reduce improve the signal vs. noise ratio. Something that will allow us to focus on the essential and stay away from the bloat in the age of information overload. There seems to be several attempts, but no product seems to be the "winner" yet. This may be a little far away, but "objectiveness" will become a more and more desired skill.
  • After network of sites (Google) and network of people (Facebook), it will be time for network of objects. Technology / platform to leverage the same and get the most of it, thrusting us in the machine age is not far away.

    Several companies are already working on prototypes and proof of concepts and it is not far before innovators will start putting business models around them. Technology is already available – it is about making it easy to use and show the best possible use of the network of objects, so that it becomes a "need" for masses from a "aspiration" or "sci-fiction"

  • On a sad footnote, the print publishing industry has been pushed to brink at a faster pace than they (or even I) expected. Try to reflect on yourself – do you really find it difficult to stay away from newspaper. If you have not tried, its worth giving a try.

Beyond doubt, the rate of change in technology is accelerating at a pace that is unprecedented. It will be exciting to see how this post / trend spotting matches with the real result in a years time.

It was summarized by a statement made by a friend of mine who is in corporate debt finance –

"I have to work harder, I have to keep reviewing the companies and their state every couple of months now. Gone are the days when companies used to take 10 years to be built and same amount of time to be killed due to mismanagement. 10 years has shrunk to 10 months, if not less"

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February 25, 2011

1-2-3 of Exhibiting

Our exhibiting season starts on Tuesday with TFM&A and CeBIT. We are excited about it (like every year) and look forward to connect with hundreds of existing clients and prospects from around the world in more than a dozen shows.

So, here are some basics that we follow. Our fellow exhibitors can also benefit from it 😉 I call it the "1-2-3 of exhibiting"

Before I talk about the "1-2-3 of exhibiting", a word of caution – Do not exhibit to satisfy your ego. Do not remain self obsessed. You go to a trade show to connect and communicate with your audience. If you fail to do this, the entire exercise and investment is futile.

1) Connect in less than 2 seconds

When a person walks past your stand, you only have 2 seconds to grab his attention (many a times that too in a subconscious state). You got to connect with him within those 2 seconds. Therefore your elevator pitch must be prominent, loud, attention grabbing and clear. That should qualify your visitor and bring him to your stand.

Avoid connecting with visitors who do not qualify. You can only attend 40-60 visitors in a day (if you are a two member team manning the stand at all times). So why waste time on visitors who do not need your service.

2) Knowledgeable communication

It is so frustrating to go to a stand and find that the person manning the stand has very little or no idea about the product or service that they are promoting. The team on the stand must be knowledgeable, passionate and alert. They must know the subject well.

If the stand is manned for the purpose of collecting visiting cards (with a promise to get back later), trust me, it is a waste of time and money. Manning a booth with the right sort of people is not easy, as it needs people from the senior management layer of the organization, who are knowledgeable about the offering, and can answer the queries with confidence.

It is equally important to be compassionate during interaction on your stand. It is so common to find exhibitors to behave uber cool, uninterested and sometimes outright rude. Value these interactions and consider them a vital PR activity. After all, each interaction will build or spoil the image of the company in long term.

3) Getting back in context

It is very rare to see companies getting back (in context) after the show. Some companies just feed the visiting cards into a marketing system which sends out email and mailshots at regular intervals. However, these templated follow-ups are no where close to the discussion that took place on the stand.

Proper notes must be taken during discussion on the stand, and the follow up shall highlight those points (to bring the discussion in context) along with complete set of documents, information, price chart as requested by the prospect.

If you do not get back to them, or get back to them very late, you have lost them!

So, the 1-2-3 of exhibiting is –
"Connect in 2 seconds – Have knowledgeable discussion – Follow up in context"

Happy exhibiting 😉

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Is "happy employee" a myth?

Being healthy does not mean that one has never been sick. It means that one has had many more healthy days than the days in which one has been sick. Similarly, a happy employee does not mean one has never had any problems at work. It means their chances of having a fulfilling work day are higher.

Happiness is an emotion and hence it’s a very personal thing. It is a state of mind. Different people will be happy (or otherwise) in different situations. Some of them are induced by the workplace and some by their personal circumstances.

Therefore it is very difficult to generalize it for anyone – be it an employee or an entrepreneur.

So, how an employee can be happy?

1)    By not working!

2)    By adapting to organization and people

3)    By aligning needs with goals

Let us try to understand them in a little but more detail:

Not working

Everyone has a desire to achieve something in the given profession. They want to make a difference in a given way and want to make a living out of that. This is a great approach for a perfectly happy work life. Most people use the word “work” to specify something that one has to do for making a living. But, when you do something you are passionate about, you are not working! You are doing it because it makes you happy.

Unfortunately, on several occasions, the immediate need overpowers passion and the dream is lost. The fulfillment of immediate needs, which is mostly derived due to peer comparison, is a great feeling. This mostly revolves around money, benefits, quality of life, position and power. They look so attractive that most people are forced to believe it to be the goal of their career. People end up choosing a job which they are not particularly happy with but it pays well.  Does the story of engineers doing MBAs sound familiar to you?

The by-product of a career becomes the end purpose of the career and the desire is killed. And, in doing so, play is transformed to work.

If people do not let these forces of immediate needs drive them, they can surely have a happy career.

P.S.: To make sure that employees really make the difference, it is most important that the goals of the organization and that of the employee align with each other. Else, it will end up in work, work and more work!

Adapting to organization and people

It is common to see that when someone joins an organization, they shower all praises for the same and its management team. Then gradually he becomes indifferent to the same and takes it for granted. And finally he starts hating it. It is time to look for a new job!

So the question is: Has the person changed? Has the company changed?
Neither of them may have changed.
What has changed? – Perception.

Every organization and human being looks great at the first instance, simply because everyone wants to present their best self. However, as the relationship grows, both learn more about each other. When the person is unable to take the new found perception of the organization in stride, dissatisfaction grows.

No organization is perfect. No human being is perfect. It is critical to adapt.

Similarly, to be happy at work, one needs to see things holistically. When we look at things by stepping in someone else’s shoe, we understand things better and are able to adapt to the members of the organization. Heartaches and frustration can be avoided, and meaningful discussions can be made by doing so.

Aligning goals with needs

A good organization can manage the hierarchy of needs in the workplace. But how can we manage the same beyond that, i.e. in personal life?

This question is more crucial as the demarcation between work life and personal life is rapidly fading in most organization. I do not see this as a problem, because for a happy employee, work and personal life cannot be separated because they pursue work to satisfy their personal goals.

Therefore it is not necessary to demarcate work and personal life. But it is critical that personal goals and needs are well aligned to the work life.

It needs major functional change (and scalability) in the human resource management framework of companies. And the employee needs to have clear unbiased focus on personal and professional priorities.

This is easier said than done!

So, the happy employee is a possibility. There are happy employees, but less in numbers. Even if companies desire, they cannot scale and customize the human resource framework to make majority of the employees happy. Also, it may not be possible for every employee to follow passion and adapt. Both factors put together make “happy employee” a rare phenomenon, thus raising the question – “Is the happy employee a myth?”

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January 29, 2010

Interview in 'Advantage Bengal' – A publication by Indian Express Group

I was recently interviewed by Indian Express group for their publication "Advantage Bengal". Here is a transcript of the interview for my blog readers!

1. As an IT entrepreneur what do you feel are the key strengths of Bengal as an IT investment destination?

Most environmental parameters can be offset using technology, so it is useless to compare any destination based on those parameters. Therefore 'people' become the biggest differential factor for any geography. People are different in different parts of the world and they become the competitive advantage and the differentiating factor. The same goes for West Bengal.

2. Please share with us your experiences in Kolkata as an IT entrepreneur.  What are the major advantages & challenges you faced as an IT entrepreneur in Bengal?

I have a mixed bag of experience in West Bengal.

Pros:

  • Availability of talent
  • The tightly knit peer community
  • There is lack of serious competition and therefore you get clear visibility and rapid growth

Cons:

  • Local market potential is lacking
  • There is a proven apathy of state government towards local companies
  • General lack of professionalism and dynamism

3. Tell us about Indus Net Technologies.  When and how it was set up? What is the total strength of the company?

Indus Net Technologies was set up in 1997 as a hobby. In 2002, I decided to build it into an organization and started building a team. We started with web hosting and gradually diversified into web design, web development, Internet marketing and recently into Internet strategy consulting. We did not find big enough local market and therefore pioneered the concept of selling web services through Internet. We generated a very good traction based on our innovative marketing and rock-solid project delivery mechanism. Today we are around 300 people strong and have offices in Kolkata, Chennai and London.

4. Who are the major clients of Indus Net Technologies? How big is the company in revenue terms? What are your targets? Do you have plans to increase the headcount in the coming years?

We have 8000+ SME clients worldwide. Besides them, we also serve (We cannot disclose the name due to privacy reasons).:

  • Major Insurance and Financial Service companies from the UK
  • Major global publishing houses in Europe and India

Our expected turnover for 2009-2010 on the lower side is Rs. 150 million. We expect this to grow at a pace of 75-110% per year on year for next five years. It is difficult to plan on revenue terms in a dynamic market scenario such as Internet services.

Our headcount will also increase accordingly. However, we are looking at breaking the link between headcount and revenues.

5. 'Seeders', a brain child of yours have been helping 'young brains' to set up IT start-ups.  Can you elaborate on the activities of 'Seeders'? What necessitated the setting up of 'Seeders'? How it is helping IT entrepreneurs in 'germinating' their business ideas and plans? Tell us about some of the major projects funded by 'Seeders'? How big is the Corpus Fund?

'Seeders' has been set up as a partnership firm between myself and Pallav Nadhani of Infosoft Global Private Limited. 'Seeders' has been formed to provide the right eco-systems to startups to help them grow from an idea stage to expansion phase. Most startups struggle for the right kind of mentoring, connections, guidance besides infrastructure and capital. 'Seeders' offers the complete package. The entrepreneur needs to walk in with the right attitude and a bright idea.

We are IT entrepreneurs and therefore we can effectively mentor and guide IT related ventures. Considering this, we only entertain business plans and proposals for IT projects. It can be of great help to IT entrepreneurs as they can get the complete eco-system in a single package. It will accelerate their pace and give wings to their ideas.

The corpus fund is of 2 crores to start with. We will continue to add to it with time as situation demands. We have reviewed over 25 business plans so far. We are in advanced level of discussion with 2-3 entrepreneurs and will soon close few investments.

6. How can one avail of the facilities of 'Seeders'?

They simply need to visit http://www.seeders.in and fill in the paper-napkin business plan. We do not want people to create projections and detailed plan for us, unless we believe in the idea and the capability of the entrepreneur. This makes everybody's life a lot simpler.

7. How pro-active is the State IT Department / Webel to the needs of IT entrepreneurs like you?

WEBEL did helped me very proactively when I relocated my business from power starved Dalhousie to Sector V by providing me space in SDF Building. They have always tried their level best to help us in all operational issues which was in their capacity. I will also like to highlight the help extended to us by STPI Kolkata and TiE.

State IT Department has always had the best intentions for us (IT SMEs). However, for some reason we remain deprived. To quote you a simple example – State Government is trying their level best to woo investment from Wipro / Satyam and Infosys by offering them big stretches of prime land at discounted prices. However, local companies do not get the same equal treatment. I am echoing the sentiments of a big segment of IT SMEs in Kolkata as I have interacted extensively with them and they believe it is a lost cause.

8. How you have benefited from your association with IT organizations like TiE?

TiE is a great learning and networking platform. I would say that it is like doing an "Executive MBA" in true sense. There are so many helpful and passionate people around in this wonderful organization, who passionately drive the cause of entrepreneurship. I find like minded people who feel (like me) that entrepreneurship is the only way poverty can be abolished.

9. Future plans??

Indus Net Technologies is looking at a rapid growth trajectory in 2010. We are looking at firming our base in the UK and taking our footprints beyond.

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April 24, 2009

Talking @ Internet World on Three Dimensions of Internet Strategy

Friends,

I will be speaking @ Internet World in the Web2.0 theatre on 28th April 2009 from 16:40 hrs on "Three Dimensions of Internet Strategy"

The talk will revolve around an approach that let businesses put together a comprehensive Internet strategy order to optimize their revenues and profitability by connecting – communicating and collaborating more effectively with the stake holders of the business.

The slideshow is attached 🙂

So, do drop in. 

Regards

Abhishek

P.S.: Internet World will take place @ Earls Court in London between 28th-30th April 2009

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April 20, 2009

FREE Website Clinic @ Internet World 2009

Hello Friends,

I will be holding a FREE Website Clinic from 28-30th April at Internet World (Earl's Court, London) at our booth.

I will be helping website owners improve their website one-step-at-a-time by giving them up to five actionable tips specific to their website after analyzing the same and understanding their online business goals.

Website Clinic is absolutely FREE of cost and there are no strings attached to it.

There will be a lot of rush as we have started getting request for booking time slots. So I suggest that you send an email to talash@indusnet.co.in and book your time slot in advance to avoid disappointment.

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March 27, 2009

Braving the downturn – More recession strategies

I recently shared few ideas with fellow IT companies about braving the downturn in a NASSCOM event.

The takeaway from the presentation was –
Stick to fundamentals. Business is simple. If we complicate it for the sake of some buzzwords, we will see more such tough days!

Here is the presentation for you:

Earlier in the day, our Industry stalwart, Mr. B. Hari did a small workshop on Wealth Dynamics (the Roger Hamilton one) and how entrepreneurs / executives should adopt the path of least resistance to succeed.

A great day out!

P.S. A few days back, I shared some random recession strategies. You might like to check them out as well.

P.P.S. Thank you Nasscom, for such a wonderful event.

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March 12, 2009

Technology is as good as its implementation

There are so many people working to get a new technology out to masses – a new invention to make things better. However, in my experience I firmly believe that:

Technology is as good as its implementation.

Many a time, little imagination is put into implementation of the technology which is existing. If the existing technology is properly explored, understood and implemented in creative and innovative ways, I think it will do a lot of good to the mankind than decades of new inventions. For billions, the usage is falling behind the rate of discovery.

Let us implement the available tools and technologies properly, because poor implementation will not make any difference to the mankind and the guy next door (for the sake of simplicity).

Thoughts are welcome…

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February 18, 2009

Street smart strategies for the recession

Hello Friends,

Here are some street smart strategies to survive the recession:

1) Invest in marketing. Your competitors are not doing so to save money. You shall go ahead and make the kill to get maximum leads and exposure. As we know offense is the best defense. So it is best to attack recession with your full might and try to go all out to grab the business that might be available to you. It will help you increase your market share in a shrinking market.

2) Identify deadwood inside your organization. They sneak in when you are at a high and do not care about few 'under-performers'. However, it is easy to identify them when the going gets difficult, because they are unable to earn back their own cost to the company. Put together a system to calculate cost and revenue from each and every individual in the company.  It is difficult to do, but this is the only way you know if you have the right team or not. If a guy is not earning for you, he must be told so, given a warning and an opportunity to improve quickly. If he does not, you shall let him go.

3) Start a new business line which creates more value in the current market dynamics. It is best if your new service has the same target audience as your existing business. It will just make life simpler. To get you more bandwidth, consider closing a business, which does not excite you or seems to have a bleak future. Recession is the best time to do such transitions.

4) Partner with your clients. Deliver real results with real benefits. Calculate the benefit you have given to the client and see how you can maximize it. If your services and/or products are not delivering the value that a client expects, you need to do a serious re-think on your business model. Recession is a result of blind-mad-rush where companies forgot the basics of business and got swayed away in the glamorous world of equity, valuation, expansion, etc.

5) Sort out the internal processes and do some house-keeping. This is the only time when you are a little bit free and you can actually take care of your home in a proper way. Processes, policies, products, offerings can be reviewed, polished and realigned to take advantage of the next boom.

Feel free to add your points –

Update:
Recently my friend Arun has put together his set of tips! So why not grab them as well 😉
http://www.arunagrawal.com/2009/02/20/recession-busting-strategies/

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December 3, 2008

Internet strategy for small business

Friends,

I have recently written an article for SME WORLD (November 2008 – January 2009) issue of Financial Express. It should be a good read for any small business if they want to put together an Internet strategy for their business.

Internet Strategy for Small Business

Internet is making the world flatter and giving small businesses a level playing field to compete with the big players. Many businesses have changed the rules of the game by using Internet to their advantage.

Do you have a compelling Internet strategy? In simpler words, do you have a clear plan, on how you will use Internet as an enabler to create an edge for your business? If not, put one together now.

Demystifying Internet Strategy?

Every successful business needs a strategy, i.e. meticulous planning and a long term vision across all functional practices like human resource, sales, marketing, supply-chain management, etc.

Internet is a media, a platform and a network. Therefore, it is not a business function. But, it cuts across all business functions and has a profound impact on the way we do things. It has changed the way we do business.

Therefore, it is important to plan to usage of Internet across different business functions in a way that it can make the business more competitive by optimizing it’s top-line and bottom-line growth.

Every organization is unique. The way their business works is different. And therefore, their Internet strategy is bound to be different. However, a generalist approach for small business highlights three core strategic dimensions –

  • Acquisition of new business
  • Developing a strong online business network
  • Improving efficiency in communication, and collaboration

Acquire new business

Internet is a mass media with millions of attentive people logged in. They are trying to solve a problem. And if you can solve that problem, you have a hot business lead!

Do not ignore the fact that this prospect is looking for what you offer. Therefore this is a potential pull-sale prospect. It is more valuable than hundreds of cold calls and thousands of mailers that you might invest in, expecting a single digit conversion rate.

This opportunity has its own challenges:-

  • What is your prospect searching for?
  • How will your prospect find you?
  • What offer should you make?
  • How will you convince him?
  • Why will he trust you?

The entire cycle is comprised of a) Getting targeted visitors to your website, b) Convert those visitors into clients and c) Analyze results and make changes in your online customer acquisition process! (Note: A targeted visitor is one, who is looking for a product /service you offer.)

You can get the targeted visitor by using techniques like SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) backed by high quality content on your website.

SEO is a technique used to rank a website high on search engines on specific keywords. SEM is all about buying clicks on popular search engines. Both techniques have their pros and cons. The selection entirely depends upon the business need and the overall Internet strategy of the company.

Once you have the visitor on your website, you can further test various offers, content snippets and design elements by techniques known as A/B split testing and Multivariate testing to see which combination works best!

This is just the beginning. Some of the many things that you must consider:-

  • Which keyword shall I target?
  • Is it worth paying $1 per click when I am selling something worth $25 only?
  • How to handle a visitor who is not interested in my product today, but might need it tomorrow?

The list can go on and on. As you can see, it is a fairly technical process; it needs expert guidance, external consultancy and implementation help.

Make new connections

Business networking is a marketing method by which business opportunities are created through networks of like-minded business people. People like to work with people within their comfort zone. So before you can talk business, you need to create a trusted relationship.

A good network is like a catalyst, which can multiply the speed of your growth. If you know the right person at the right time for the right job, you will race ahead in the competition.

When this networking is done online, it can connect you with people all over the world in a very efficient way.  You can efficiently create private and open networks where you can share opinions, ideas, problems, information, knowledge and most importantly business references! There are several online business networking websites like LinkedIn, Ecademy and Ryze.

It is important that you approach the network in the right spirit, present yourself nicely, increase your connections, work on win-win partnerships, and adhere by the pay-it-forward principle of networking.

I highly recommend that you try to strengthen your network with face-to-face meetings with as many people as possible.

Some questions that you need to answer to do this bit effectively:

  • What is your elevator pitch?
  • What are your goals of networking? What are you trying to achieve? Most people who are actively networking invest a lot of time, without a clear view of the desired outcome.
  • What kind of people you want to connect with? Why will they like to connect with you? What is your win-win proposal for different categories of connections that you will make?
  • How can you proactively help? What knowledge can you share? Which are your areas of expertise? Do the areas of expertise help you create influencers in the marketplace?

You need to do the groundwork to get the best results. So do not underestimate this part. You may need someone to help you with this.

Streamline communication and collaboration

In an increasingly dynamic business environment, proper communication and collaboration system is the key to success. Internet is a software platform that enables such system to be deployed across the organization cutting across various roles, designations and departments.

Businesses do not operate within their closed shell anymore. They have major impact from its environment consisting of employees, clients, suppliers, etc.

You need to react to changes as they happen every moment across the organizational eco-system. Therefore, the data required is real time – i.e. updated every moment.

You need to have an intranet (internal collaboration portal) or extranet (external facing collaboration portal) to keep up with the pace.

Think of some of the advantages it can bring to your business:-

  • Employees can share ideas, notes and project details.
  • Efficient communication with all your employees and clients.
  • New employees applying online on your website to reduce time and cost in processing the job applications.
  • Real time order status and inventory flow can be seen by respective customers and internal stakeholders.
  • Clients have access to their ledgers in real time.
  • Clients can communicate with their sales managers, place new orders and file complains / queries instantly.
  • Suppliers can see tenders online and submit their quotes. The built in rule engine help you select the winning bid.
  • Documents can flow within departments with remarks added on within seconds at relative ease.

Such empowerment will increase the level of productivity and satisfaction at all levels. Innovative ideas will result in paradigm shift in the way a particular work is done.

Some examples:-

  • E-statements by bank save money, postage and trees.
  • You can buy and reserve your air ticket / railway ticket online without standing in the queue.
  • Major corporations need you to apply for a job online. Even, Barack Obama, President (elect) of the USA is recruiting his team online!
  • Large corporations like BPCL have online system to receive and resolve complains from consumers.
  • Online shopping is becoming the order of the day.

The way Internet can be used to increase efficiency is only restricted by your imagination.

It is a good idea to hire a consultant who can think aloud with you to find out ways, in which your business can become more productive, more efficient and stay ahead in the fiercely competitive world.

Conclusion

There is no silver bullet of Internet strategy. However, the following tips will help you define your Internet strategy and put the same into execution.

  • You need to put together your organizational goals. Break them down into functional goals and map them with the three dimensions of Internet strategy.
  • Rationalize and prioritize various elements of your strategy. Everything may not be feasible or even rational to execute. The cost / return analysis should be done.
  • Once you have created the right mix, define your approach for every element in detail. It is a low-effort high-impact world of Internet. If success gets magnified, then so are the mistakes!
  • Execute the strategy in a time bound manner. Everything changes fast and if you are caught on the slow trail, you might be doing something which does not hold value anymore.
  • There is no absolute truth. Make sure that you have a mechanism for measuring the results.

How Indus Net Technologies can help?

Indus Net Technologies has been rated as #1 IT SME in India – 2008 by Dun & Bradstreet.

We help enterprises all over the world through consulting and implementation of their online strategies. We bring together 11 years of experience and implementation expertise to ensure success in your online initiatives through out its lifecycle.

Our core teams provide creative services, web application development and Internet marketing (SEO, SEM & conversion optimization) solutions. They are guided and supported by our consulting initiative.

You can be in touch with us at abhi@indusnet.co.in

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November 13, 2008

HR review of IT Industry in India – An environment of mistrust

I was reflecting upon last one year and how IT industry has changed in this duration from HR perspective. Among many thoughts, the most visible one (and the most concerning one as well) was the all-time-low employer-employee trust level.

One year back, we were looking into an industry where attrition was the biggest concern. Even the FAB5 (Infosys, Wipro, Satyam, HCL, Cognizant) of Indian IT industry felt the heat as employees jumped ship at the drop of a hat. It was difficult for them to understand as "What the youth want?". The HR honchos from all over India were hunting for answers even less than six months back. Employers were finding it very difficult to trust an employee. The question was – "Will he stay with me long enough to complete this project?"

And suddenly, the situation has taken a u-turn. Companies are laying off their "talent bank" for which they fought so ferociously. The guy who walks out of office today is not sure, if his job is here to stay when he reaches office the next day. The morale is at all time low. Employees are finding it difficult to trust an employer. The question is – "Will he sack me today?"

This is an environment of extremes and uncertainty. This is an environment of relationship without trust. And, this is going to worsen with every cycle on up-and-down.

So, Who is to be blame? And more importantly, how this cycle can be broken? OR, Can this be at all checked?

In my opinion,
This environment is a result of a number of social-commercial factors, like:

  • Employee side:
    • Desire for overnight riches and i-want-to-retire-young mindset
    • Career objective not properly defined. (Corollary: Objective=money)
    • Peer pressure. Comparison of lifestyle. Increase in jealousy.
    • Spending more than the earning!
    • Gaining experience without gaining competence (i.e. 12 years of experience looked like 1 year of real experience repeated 12 times over! – which eventually remains 1 year of experience) 
  • Employer Side:
    • Inexperienced and poor management
    • Unavailability of proper HR professionals (Hint: NOT those people who think HR = headhunting)
    • Treating employees as commodities
    • Not sticking to the basics
    • Lack of strategic insight into one's business

Currently, the problem is in a virtuous cycle, and it is difficult to break it, since it is not based on a tangible outcome. It is purely based on emotions! And, if this cycle is not broken soon, it will intensify and re-occur more frequently.

However, it is very important to solve this problem. Otherwise, it will result in more bankruptcies, more stress, disturbed lives, social crime and poor results. To resolve this, both sides need to take corrective actions (read: be logical in their approach).

I hope, both sides get it right soon.

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June 11, 2008

Saturation of the social networking fad

There is a mad rush towards online social networking space. Every second person wants to get on the bandwagon with his own social networking website with a silly-sounding name. In my opinion, most of these sites are just a fad and are not built on strong fundamentals in terms of a) revenue sources and b) the problem they solve.

What is online networking, btw?

The purpose of a social networking website is to help you keep in touch with your existing contacts and to generate more contacts! In case of social networking, the contacts are friends or prospective friends, whereas In case of business networking, the contacts are business associates or prospective business associates.

Now, answer this question – How much time and money are you willing you spend to keep in touch with your: a) friends and b) business associates. It is important to know this fact. Online market may be different, but it is closely related to offline consumer behaviour. Online business model can help in extending the product composition with new innovation and format of delivery. It is important to know if people are willing to pay for a given convinience. And if they are not willing to pay for the convinience, what alternate source of revenue do we have?

So how do you keep in touch with your friends?

In real life, you spend nothing to keep in touch with your friends. You call them up when you want to hang out with them, you give them a shout on their mobile phones or drop in to kill some time! If you are tech-savvy and love to announce a great news, you send them emails. Why will you like to send a scrap to someone (when you can simply send a short email or catch up on various instant messengers)? And why will you like to create such huge volume of personal content and share with millions of people on the Internet who are not even known to me.

Though you may have build friendship /relationship on social networking websites, they are generally not for long. And the long ones actually use the social networking as only the contact point and then evolves and flourishes offline.

What about business associates?

However, business networking sites will keep evolving, since it adds value to businesses. It help people refer / recommend a vendor or buyer to other people in a networked environment as a recommendation network. It has been very successful, when it comes to executive search and generating new business.

Again, the formal nature of relationship and privicy factor makes business networking websites a great place to get connected and exchange notes.

So, the conclusion is:

So, as on today, given the trend, I can say that social networking is a fad, which is getting saturated and is not supported by a proper revenue model. Online advertising cannot be considered a decent revenue model for a site where people come to kill time! However business networking is here to stay. Corporate intranets having social communities may stay. 

I have already written the orbituary of Facebook, My Space, Bebo and social networking platforms. These are evolving as a fad and will vapourize in the same way in years to come. I wish these trillion dollar valuations to be true, but my mind says otherwise. And I am not the only person saying this. Steve Rubel of Micro Persuation feels the same way to a great extent (may be for different reasons).

What do you think? 

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March 24, 2008

Sky-high bids on Adwords! Do they work?

The bids on AdWords are soaring to new heights everyday. Some advertisers are even shelling out up to $10 per click. So, naturally the question arises – Is this complete madness or is there any logic behind such aggressive advertising?

To me, it does make some sense to bid aggressively if you have the right strategy in place. These are two scenarios you can consider:

1) Every client you acquire, on an average spends $12000 with you in a year. In this case, you do not mind spending 10% of the revenue as customer acquisition cost. Therefore you can comfortably bid $10 per click (provided you have a site which can convert 1 out of 120 visitors). Thus, looking at a lifetime value of a customer makes it a good investment.

2) If you have mastered the art of persuasion (or have hired a master of persuasion), and have come up with a website with converts well (visitor > customer conversion), every visitor you are driving to your website is equivalent to revenue :). So go ahead, rock the boat and bid out all your competitors. You will get more customers and will also have lower customer acquisition cost. What more do you want?

So, expensive keywords bidding do work, if they are backed with high lifetime customer value and/or higher conversion on the website. And yes, those Internet marketing experts are not insane! In fact most of them are very smart.

So bid smartly!

 

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March 21, 2008

TemplateKingdom revisited

I have recently revamped my five year old venture TemplateKingdom, which has till date sold 5000+ original template designs to companies and various template sites around the world.

And so TemplateKingdom 2.0 is right here.

Come, buy the ready-made web site template that best suit your next project.

All our templates are quality checked and are designed by top-quality creative professionals (including 100+ in-house designers). You can use every template for your projects as many times as you wish. We have given special attention to make the designs user-friendly so that they can be used for practical projects.

Salient features of Template Kingdom 2.0

  • Lower prices
  • You can discuss specific templates and design
  • Members area to download free templates as we make them available
  • 80% of our template collection can be downloaded instantly (remaining 20% within 24 hours)

Many more exciting features are coming up soon:

  • Tagging for ease of search
  • Reseller license (so that you can resell the templates and make money). Normal licenses can be upgraded later by paying the difference.
  • Active Blog with tips / resources on using the templates
  • Several new types & categories of templates

So keep tuned in and if you want to join hands with TemplateKingdom, feel free to write back to me! I will love to work out JVs with enterprising entrepreneurs. I are open to ideas – so write to me.

P.S.: The site is in its BETA version, but it can take orders. If you encounter a problem, please feel free to write to us. We will be obliged.

 

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