Thursday, May 24, 2018

The next big steps for AI personal assistants

We’ve all seen the recent Google assistant video that makes a call to a restaurant/hairdresser for reservations on behalf of a user right? That’s really how AI is shaping the future now, isn’t it?


But I believe only Google is the winner at the end of the day, or the ones really working on enhancing the AI-based personal assistant in that space.

Because really; what happens the day Google services start restricting third-party integration with their apps and platforms to make other AI personal assistants as capable?

Like Google maps, business listings, weather, jobs, flight, hotel bookings etc?

The true winners that day will be an app like Zomato, Just Dial, Practo, Ixigo etc, that have data or data pulling capabilities of their own and are able to fulfil AI based user requests by letting them access their data rather than heavily relying on Google products!

Two examples of a smart query that can work this way are:

E.g.: Like Zomato + Alexa / Siri / Cortana is stronger than Google for food and restaurant search (in India at least!)

Which basically uses the data from Zomato + data mining and human interactions capabilities of Siri / Alexa / Cortana

E.g.: Just dial + Alexa / Siri / Cortana are stronger than Google for business listing in India (or can be)

They should ideally do this before these players develop their own AI bots (which will be a bad move and a waste of time in many cases, unless you’re JustDial and offer almost everything)

If you look at it, this is why AI right now is not progressing beyond a point.

Because we aren’t we making apps that integrate with apps on smart devices with Siri or Alexa or Cortana and enhance their knowledge when someone is on devices and browsing through content.



In short: “We’re all only contributing to making Google stronger!”

On the other hand, why isn’t Google working on second-degree search queries?

E.g.: Tourist places around Delhi that have weather below 30 degrees right now

Query: Tourists places + kms range + weather

Places around my house that serve risotto and delivery food below the value of 250/- under 45 minutes?

Query: Location service + radius + dish + Order value for free delivery


This is also probably the point when Amazon, Yahoo and Microsoft should up their game with their own search engine listings / digital properties for similar products such as weather, maps, listings etc and enable Siri / Alexa / Cortana to integrate with them as well in place of Google products!

I guess this is probably why Apple launched its one maps a while back? Or why Amazon continues to buy smaller technology products across the world. But they haven’t really done too much with it in places like India at least where Siri or an Alexa are still dependent on Google to throw up search results. That’s technically Siri / Alexa doing the bidding for Google assistant now, isn’t it!

Hence making consumers more likely or adaptable to Google assistant in the future? What say?

Monday, May 7, 2018

Making ends meet - Natural Progression of Technology and Ideas

There are some great tech products on the market today. Products that offer very focused content based solutions for people in different life stage. 

But, there seems to be a stagnation in the natural progression on these platforms... 

I wonder why that is, maybe there is a lack of 'need analysis' or too narrow a view of looking at the tech and start-up ecosystem since new startups seem to be popping up filling need gaps in place of these existing companies diversifying their brand offerings?

Let me state a few observations based ideas on the existing Indian ecosystem at least; 
  1. PopXO should think about offering a pregnancy and parenting councillor on chat/call for women. Work that audience base! Be its best friend.
  2. PopXO should also think about offering peer counsellor for women and girls on chat/call. Tap into its 85% audience base that is outside its top 10 metro cities and needs this kind of support that currently brands are becoming custodians of giving. 
  3. Hyperlocal players like Grofers / Big Basket should push the agenda like Zomato/BigF/ Food Talk India are doing in the food space for 'in hotel dining' to increase 'in-store footfalls' in retail brand store in key cities. As marketing competition is already high there and the option of malls is available. 
  4. Same way, eCommerce sites like Amazon / Flipkart can also offer in-store shopping opportunities with local mom and pop stores / big bazaars, west side gourmet etc. Feel this will / can work out well with measuring sales/footfalls in offline stores during campaign duration or as always-on components for consumers to avails better discounts in store (in turn helping build stronger brand preference). Also helping e-commerce companies capture a larger number of people from offline to take them online. This will work majorly for electronic brands and CPG / FMCG brands? 
  5. Myntra / Jabong / Nykka should integrate with Eleve/Plixxo for user-generated photos/videos of wearing their products in exchange for redeemable points. (For UGC Submission.) Help create mini infomercials to help retailers turn their Insta / FB / Snapchat stories into sales leads. 
  6. Practo / 1MG / Parentune - option diversify their product offering as a solution to new parents / young or old couples. They can do this by starting gifting options on e-commerce sites which can be gifted. These gifts can be in form of a set number of doctor consultation on chat/video call / phone call. 
Isn't this the role of a good product marketing manager? Whats the use of only upgrading current features when the overall intent and purpose of trying to be category leader is defeated in the broader sense? 

If you find these interesting, comment below and let me know your views and takes on the same!

Friday, May 4, 2018

These great platforms ensure that your learning never stops

If you’re like me; “In between jobs” then this is defiantly for you. Otherwise also, if you have this constant desire in the back of your head to learn more, do more with your free time, to look for ways to gain that competitive edge, then here’s the thing for you. 

I’ve been accessing and going through these bunch of new websites and apps, (because what’s more convenient than your phone?) that help build up skills for the job industry, giving you certifications that you can add to your LinkedIn and sometimes even PG certification! What's even better is that some you can complete at your own pace! 

So without wasting more time, here’s my list of Top 8 apps/sites that are truly awesome for learning: 

1. Simplilearn; want to learn the basics of programmatic? No problem. And get a certificate for it while you’re at it. Paid but inexpensive. 
Website Link: https://www.simplilearn.com 
App version available: Yes

2. Instareads; Don’t have time to read books? Still, want to know the gist? Here’s your answer. Free is good, the paid version is even better. Pocket-friendly. 
Website Link: https://instaread.co/ 
App version available: Yes

3. Khan Academy; well, this is good for you and good for your niece! Polish up those basics physics and math skills again, only this time with animation and examples. And it’s free! Also has courses on entrepreneurship as well. 
Website Link: https://khanacademy.org 
App version available: Yes

4. Primer; Google's gift to every CMO/CXO/ Marketer and entrepreneur! In a bite-sized app that’s constantly updated to help you keep up with the times! It’s free! Download now, never delete it! 
Website Link: https://www.yourprimer.com/in
App version available: Yes

5. CreativeLive; learn from the masters. Short courses by industry experts, some free. Some paid. But alternative learning doesn’t get better than this! 
Website Link: https://www.creativelive.com/
App version available: Yes

6. GradesDontMatter; it’s new, it’s the Indian version of CreativeLive and The Master Class! But very relatable. The courses are cheap (199/- all access is being offered at the moment) no completion certificates thought. 
Website Link: https://www.gradesdontmatter.in/  
App version available: Yes

7. Swayam; this one deserves a special mention and a standing ovation. An initiative by Ministry of Human Resource Development of India, in collaboration with everyone from IIM Banglore to IIT Bombay! This form of Education is called MOOC's - "Massic open online course". It’s free! And courses offer certificates and PG diplomas! Can life get any better? Why the heck isn’t this advertised more? 
Website Link: https://swayam.gov.in/ 
App version available: Yes

8. edX: Similar to Swayam, this is an international MOOC platform, here you can obtain certifications in a verity of interesting courses from everyone from Berkely to MIT. For a small fee, you can then give an online test and obtain certification from the said university or college.
Website Link: http://edx.org
App version available: Yes

Download them now! And if you find them interesting, share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

PS: More interesting apps, that didn't make it to my top 8 list:

  • Blinkist
  • Audible by Amazon
  • AudioBooks
  • EDUCBA
  • Mimo 
  • Coursera 
  • CreativeLive
  • Lynda
  • Udamey 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Dfaq with Zomato! - Part 1

They say you should keep your friends close, but your enemy's closer! Especially true - when you're out to run an empire! i.e.: Case and point - Zomato

Off late, the battle between Zomato and Swiggy has been steaming up. 
They were in talks on merger a while back but my best guess is, it was an attempt to look at each other's books and processes. After all, if Zomato is the King of the North, Swiggy is the Empress of the South. (and heck women have always proven to be more efficient rulers throughout history! But more on that later)

I'm a long-standing user of Zomato. Probably a 'whale' amongst users; like they say while defining mobile gaming user type. But its far more out of necessity than out of actually liking the app now. Its become an evil I cant do without. At least for the time being.

As an outsider, even a customer with one eye closed (looking at any form of digital screen connected to the internet) can tell that both Zomato and Swiggy have up the ante on new user acquisition. And from the looks of it, Swiggy is dominating this fight right now. 

But lots of users and F&B brands seem to suddenly be favouring Swiggy in North India. And Zomato's greatest weakness right now is not being able to address their concerns. i.e.: the concerns of its biggest stakeholders - its existing users!

To my understanding, either their brand team is trying to do everything at once, (like trying to eat all the french fries, the burger and drink the entire soda can in one big gulp) without any prioritization of agendas or clear focus. 

Whatever be the case, if they continue this way, they will definitely be going down as a case study in Indian business history soon; as 'The leader who lost the right to its opinion holders'.

No, I'm not going to give any 'gyaan' on what they can do better (no one is paying me for it), but I'll like to gently point out notorious things that they are doing off late; 

1. They have taught their CRM team the art of lying and defending their position instead of addressing customer issues. 
- CRM team responses are also very fake and repetitive (like banging your head against the wall an expecting a different outcome each time)
- Their social media team is far more receptive than their CRM and PR team; post something on Twitter to the founder and people get in touch with you way faster. (even if they don't take adequate action ahead of that) 
- The PR team or whoever the hell it is sending sorry packages to customers, which doesn't even care if the wrong sorry note is sent to the wrong customer.

2. They decided to take on new challenges, i.e.: Zomato delivery, and now they are causing business losses to F&B owners. 
- Reducing delivery radius so that they can deliver food quicker
- Quietly switching restaurant ordering off when they don't have staff in an area to pick up delivery in a certain area
- Creating new features like kitchen hygiene ranking and asking F&B partners for money to rank high up in them for a year. 

3. Not being intuitive enough in developing and launching new features on the app like they used to
- I'm not able to use the rating filters under subcategories 
- I'm not able to find half the items as they haven't been tagged to restaurants 

4. Doing dumb things like turning the app clour blue for people who pay them for Zoamto Gold service where all they do is highlight the BOGO offers. 
- Have they taken a look at their selves in the mirror off late? I think not. Plus they haven't been looking at what other competitors have been doing either. 
- Food Talk India - is able to partner with brands and curate interactive events that Zomato hasn't been able to do. 
- Big F and Food talk India have been giving far better in restaurant dining offers than Zomato by a MILE! Why the heck will I avail a BOGO on a single food dish at a restaurant when I can opt for 15 - 20% off on entire bill or 1 + 1 on the buffet instead? 

I'm not done yet. Part 2 coming soon.