Friday, June 25, 2004

A New Era in Marketing

Rapid evolution in communication technologies seems to be re-defining marketing strategies. With convergence being the objective of technology companies, new products are designed to serve multiple purposes like computing, television, telephony and more. An example would be the cell phone. From being a simple communication device, today’s cell phones provide a whole suite of services. This phenomenon is spreading to other consumer products as well - refrigerators with Internet capability, intelligent ovens, cars with built-in computers and more. Newer homes are being built to accommodate these new technologies.

From the marketers’ perspective, all this has opened a new path to the consumers’ minds. A whole new approach to direct marketing is now in the making. With consumers relying more than ever on a few devices to perform day-to-day activities, these devices are becoming targets of companies. Whether to sell products or services, such devices offer an excellent means of delivering customized or personalized messages to the consumer. So, don’t be surprised to see a day when your cell phone consistently displays ads or your car’s dashboard becomes an advertising medium. Advances are already being made in cell phone marketing.

With that said, there will be a new breed of spammers. Spam will no longer be unwanted email. Spam will be unwanted everything! Every electronic device used for advertising purposes will be the new target of spammers. And then what? Other devices to fight spam will be born. In this cycle of marketing/technological evolution there is a huge potential for a number of people:

Marketers – Easy direct marketing tool.
Consumers – Personalized advertisements tailored to their likes and dislikes.
Spammers – A huge market to target.
Spam-fighters – New ways to fight spam.

So, lets welcome the new marketing era!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Opportunity for Greatness

How do you differentiate true leaders from ordinary people? Put them in a high-stress environment and you’ll see the leaders standup and tackle the situation while the others succumb to the stress. The difficult times that we in currently, in terms of the economy, war and terrorism, create an environment ideal for leaders to flourish. “Challenge creates an opportunity for greatness”. That’s what the authors of this article, published by the Leader to Leader Institute, have to say.

All historical leaders have risen to power by their determination to succeed during difficult times. Contrary to the belief that high-stress causes illness, the authors suggest that ordinary people ‘think’ their way to illness when subject to stress. This difference in the thought process is what differentiates leaders from others. The authors go on to provide useful suggestions for handling stress and bringing out the leader in you.

So, while there is chaos all around, look out for new leaders to emerge and take control. Are you one of them?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Open-Source Medicine

The open-source model gained popularity with the wide acceptance of the Linux operating system. The model is based on a free-for-all framework allowing anybody to contribute to the end product. The huge success of this model has prompted others to apply similar models in other industries.

The Economist carries an article (An open-source shot in the arm?) that foresees an open-source model for medical research. This model would allow researchers to collaborate and share their findings with their peers. The benefits would be enormous if such a system could be created. Presently, a company developing a new medicine is expected to spend a lot of money and resources in research. The company is only rewarded when the research is proven successful and a patent is obtained for the product. But, once the product is patented there is no monetary benefit for other companies in further developing or enhancing the product. So there are probably other valuable medicines that are not being developed for this reason.

By allowing multiple companies to participate in a research project, the open-source model would cut down the cost of research. This would encourage more companies to actively pursue common goals and interests. The end product would obviously be cheaper than traditionally developed products. The savings flow all the way to consumer. The bottom-line, a society with much lower health-care costs.

There is also downside to the model. Unlike open-source software development, the resources required for even the simplest medical research are very high. Even to participate in such a model companies need to invest to sizable amount of money. And with no regulatory authority to monitor and consolidate research information, companies would hesitate to jump in. What we need is an organization that would build an open-source framework to support medical research. Such a framework would allow researchers to post and share their findings and effectively produce useful products. Moreover this body should ensure that such open-source products be properly tested and marketed so that every participant benefits from them.

With costs soaring in every industry there is definitely a need for more open-source models. If successfully applied in other areas, the open-source model will soon become a management concept that could provide a tremendous boost to the economy. So, how about an open-source car?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Think like a Genius

Ever wondered what goes through the minds of geniuses? How they model their thought process? Here’s an interesting article (Thinking Like a Genius: Eight strategies used by the super creative, from Aristotle and Leonardo to Einstein and Edison, by Michael Michalko, THE FUTURIST, May 1998) that shows you how to bring out the genius in you.

One point that really got me interested was productive vs. reproductive thinking. The concept of reproductive thinking, where new thoughts and ideas are derived from past experiences, is so widely prevalent. That is what most parents teach their children and almost all teachers teach their students. Study past incidents and experiences and make future decisions based on them. The author claims that this does not generate new ideas but only repetitions of the past.

To be truly innovative one needs to adapt to productive thinking where every thought process is an attempt to create a new perspective of the situation. No more analysis and relations to past experiences. Does this work? History has proven more than once that only productive thinking leads to inventions and discoveries. No wonder true geniuses are hard to find – no one is taught to think like a genius anymore.

Other strategies recommended by the article are:

Geniuses look at problems in many different ways.
Geniuses make their thought visible.
Geniuses produce.
Geniuses make novel combinations.
Geniuses force relationships.
Geniuses think in opposites.
Geniuses think metaphorically.
Geniuses prepare themselves for chance.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Profitability in Poverty

Did you realize that there are over 4 billion poor people in the world with a consolidated market of close to $2 trillion. What do we do with them? Sell products, provide services and reap profits.

An article by Allen Hammond and C.K.Prahalad, titled Selling to the Poor (summary), talks about the hidden potential in this 'poor' market. This opens up a huge market for companies along with a need for innovation and new marketing techniques. The article also gives examples of successful business models designed for the poor.

Interested? Check out Digital Dividend, an organization dedicated to identifying opportunities and seeking innovations to provide new services and products to the poor.

Here's the other side of the coin. This opportunity for profits actually helps improve the lives of the poor people. These new products and services which were earlier restricted to the middle and upper classes are now affordable to the lower classes. And with companies vying for their attention to market products, these people do end up with a better lifestyle. Isn't that a win-win situation?

This is one 'poor' coin with two 'rich' sides!

Hybrid Energy

Ford has launched the first hybrid SUV powered by a gasoline-electric engine. Its estimated mileage is 35 to 40 miles per gallon. That is great in the SUV world. More manufacturers are expected to follow with their own models.

With the record prices of crude oil, it is important that we seek alternate sources of energy. Oil prices can create havoc in any economy. These prices don't just affect specific industries, but the world in whole. The cost of oil trickles down to every product or service that we use. Oil drives manufacturing, transportation, heating and everything else.

The scary part is that a major portion of the world's oil resources is concentrated in a few countries. So, other countries, with little or no resources, are at the mercy of these few oil-rich nations. And there will be a time when the Earth's resources start to dwindle. What will happen then?

Shouldn't there be a sense of urgency in seeking alternate resources of energy? Once in a while we hear about innovations in wind harvesting, solar enery and others. But nothing definite has happened.

The technology introduced by car manufacturers should become law. Universities and governments should promote research in such areas. Imagine if every car consumes less fuel, every house requires very little energy and every product is designed for efficient energy consumption. Imagine a world where energy resources are abundant and oil prices do not make or break economies.

Until such technologies become available, let us all strive to create an awareness within ourselves and others around us - Save energy!!

Friday, June 04, 2004

Knowlegde Everywhere

Everyday, there are a number of events happening around us. We are connected to these events by different means – by being part of the event, through the news media or through friends and family. Each event is a source of knowledge and wisdom. A sort of equation, that defines a relation between a series of actions, which converge at a particular moment in time, and the outcome of such actions. The outcome may be good or bad. Whatever might be the case, these events define the course of our future. The decisions we make, the life we lead, and our successes and failures are all molded by past and current events.

The mind, when exposed to such events, trains itself on how to react to similar situations. An uninformed mind, can potentially assume the wrong course of action. And we see this happen every day. Lost fortunes, broken marriages and every other misfortune is a result of an uneducated mind making the wrong turn.

When our future is dependent on happenings around us, it is our responsibility to extract knowledge from them. The knowledge and wisdom will give us the power to influence and change the outcome of future events and give us control of our own destinies.

‘Blogs of Wisdom’ is an attempt to accumulate and disseminate this wisdom that is ever present around us. Readers are free to support or contradict any opinions posted here. All in an effort to correct, tune and sharpen the hidden wisdom.

May this blog open the window of opportunity and success to many!