FoodForThought

Food for Thought: Series II

I had shared some noteworthy articles last month and decided that it’s a good habit to keep up.

Search: Not Provided: What Remains, Keyword Data Options, the Future

What happens to SEO efforts and Digital marketing when one of your major chunks (organic keyword level data) is not available. Avinash Kaushik gives advice on how to go about working with keyword data and why Google started encrypting organic traffic.

This is a far better approach than simply bitching about Google and hatching conspiracy theories of Adwords trying to maximize their revenues!!

Google+ Guide for Small Businesses

A detailed and step by step guide for Small Businesses to develop their presence on G+. Not only is it very thoughtful, but also it provides links and answers to all the quetsions that you might get stuck. And an awesome UI to boot as well!!

Disillusioned with Facebook? Here’s a way forward

It’s easy to dismiss Facebook as a time sink and a negative ROI generator. I did that. However as time went by, I realized that maintaining a presence on social networks is almost a health factor these days. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger walks us through some of the more important things to keep in mind as you go about trying to rustle up a community on Facebook. All the Social Media Managers out there, you HAVE TO read this.

How to track online RoI of offline marketing

This post is quite close to my heart. It is about measuring the Return on Investment (RoI) of Offline advertising. Traditionally to calculate the RoI, brands would use agencies which specialized in marketing surveys. However, with the boom of Indian e-commerce and the influx of venture capital, most of the online mediums have started offline advertising as well. How does the digital marketing manager of such a firm tackle the RoI calculation? Here is a basic explaination of how you go about Trackign RoI of Offline advertising.

What is Life?

What is Life? is based on a series of lectures delivered at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies by Erwin Schrodinger. This was first published more than 50 years back, and it has found its way in the blue nothing. The PDF file is a lengthy dialogue which meanders through the physical composition of a cell to the destruction of the identity of life using means such as hypnosis. I have to warn you that if you do not take lightly to abstract concepts and discussing them for the sake of discussion itself, then do not read this document. Having said that, this is Food for thought after all!

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Congress-BJP-Ganesha.jpg

The political Ganesha festival

My home is on the intersection of a very busy main road (N. S. Phadke Marg). The lane which connects our society to the main road is often desolate and most of the year it lies in neglect. However, whenever you have a social festival such as Ganesha, Dahi Handi, Holi, etc, then this lane gets decorated and pandals are setup to give a different and lively look to the road.

Every year for Ganesh Chaturthi, we would have a pandal setup near the intersection and this would lead to a throng of visitors … good for the community, but irritating for the drivers trying to turn into the lane from the busy traffic signal. This year, there were two pandals instead of one. I decided to enquire about this, why would a community divide their resources for two different celebrations?

The Two Parties

Congress-BJP-Ganesha

Turns out that the local MLA of this area is a Shiv Sainik and was putting that over all the available hoardings during the festival. To match this the local Congress representative had his cronies setup another pandal with the Congress banners. Boom, you now have two pandals in a narrow lane.

I have not seen any of their decorations, however I am sure that there would be strong competition within both of them to outshine the other.

Interestingly, this has helped the local community instead of cause friction between the two parties. More people are involved in the local festivals, there is a constant presence of Police these days which reduces the traffic jams (although many would disagree on this point!).

So, what?

I see a lot of government resources being put to use. But atleast its not filling the pockets of corrupt people. The co-operation and co-ordination shown during this event is quite good to see … why cant this be done across the nation? At least that way we can stop this Congress, Anti-Congress … Modi, Anti-Modi … BJP, Anti-BJP.

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Perfect Posts On Social Platforms

What makes the Perfect Post on Social Platforms?

Perfect Posts On Social Platforms

 

When it comes to maintaining your presence on different Social Media networks, the key to this is timing, consistency and knowing what your audience appreciates. As your channel matures, your audience will start realizing that your updates are according to a schedule, which means your interested audience can know exactly when to check your channel for news they can use.

The time in these platforms and the platforms themselves should also give you a cue as to which social update to put where and when.

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UK Government and its forced IE6 use

IE6

As a developing country, we often take a look at how are some of the infrastructure problems handled by the developed nations. In fact in most of these cases, we end up emulating them … the western culture, the accents, the products … we are more than happy to borrow from our western brothers … since they are more developed.

Or so, that is what they would have us believe.

Imagine a governance system wherein you could simply go to a website, fill out the relevant form and be done with it … instead of going to the local municipal center, finding the relevant department, waiting in line, trying to fill the form and get the proper official’s blessing so that the problem could be addressed. Seems futuristic and too good to be true, eh?

Well, I was lucky to have participated in one such e-governance implementation drive back in 2002. This was for Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), and we were somehow involved in the implementation of this system. So yes, these things are in India as well. But according to this article in the Inquirer, the UK has already been using this system.

So what’s the catch?

The system which the UK government has so meticulously built supports on IE6 and Windows XP!

Alright, lets take a minute for that to sink in.

  • Microsoft does not support Windows XP anymore
  • Ergo, Microsoft does not support IE6 anymore as well
  • IE6 used to come bundled with Windows XP
  • These days you get IE8 or IE9 … in fact we should be starting to see IE10 any time soon

That means in the real world … in the developed countries, IE6 is dead. Yes, we have asked for it and celebrated its death as well.

A platform created for the people in the UK which can only currently be used by the people of China (at least according to the map in the above link). I wonder, if they have a mobility middleware in place so that the site renders on mobiles.

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Rising Cost of Higher Education

Came across this infographic in my email, worth sharing and something to mull over.

Cost of Higher Education

Interesting to note that the incremental costs of a higher capitation does not necessarily translate into commensurate incremental benefits. Is brand value in education at such a premium?

I remember when I was in IIM Indore, the fees were fairly low and I was happy to get into a first grade b-school at less than 4 lakhs INR. These days when I see the fees, I tell the MBA aspirants that forget a b-school degree, the opportunity cost would be too high. Shouldn’t this rising cost of higher education consolidate somewhere and correct its ever rising trend?

What do you think?

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Wasted Education

Recently I read a great article about how a well renowned web designer who was getting top chops from the major brands in the world to work for them was getting denied by most of the schools in that area, not because of lack of any skills but due to his lack of having a Master’s degree … the post was about the differing practices of Web Design that they teach in School and that what is being practiced in the Industry.

A community college costs about $5,000 per semester. So that’s $1,000 per course, divided by 15 classes equals about $66 per class. So if students are paying that much money for web design classes, shouldn’t theyat least be getting taught up to date technology?

The pricing figures are pretty much spot on, in India we spend a good 5 lakh INR on getting a decent graduate degree. If the course cannot teach us anything worth then what is the use of such a degree? A study conducted in 2008 showed that a measly 4% of engineering students in India (out of a massive 700,000) are employable. The rest have to be taught from scratch how to code.

This means that the opportunity cost of bring this new joinee up to speed is more than his yearly income. The company has to pay for this learning by providing the right set of education and also pay the new joinee during the period of this education.

With average salary in any decent IT firm being roughly 3-4 Lakh INR, that translates into just under the amount that the graduate has paid to get the degree. A degree which is more or less worthless since it has not taught any practicable skillsets to the graduate.

Is this not a colossal waste of money?

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Europe Debt Crisis and Economics

Today I was sitting with the Pristine content team and trying to figure out why are we going to see the biggest financial recession ever. Bigger than the one we faced in the year 2008. Definitely bigger than the Great Depression of 1929 that the United States had faced.

So, what’s the problem with have Debt management in first world countries? Well, a lot of the growth in such countries is fueled by increase in the GDP (which is primarily a factor of how much the citizens can consume). Linked with consumerism is the problem of having a limited income. So most organizations think how do I maximize the share of this limited income?

The correct way is to maximize the pocket share, or the mind share within this limited expendable income that an individual has. Apart from that, there are other ways … ways such as Credit! So do not pay me the entire amount now, pay me in instalments … 30 days free trial (which loosely translates into a 30 day credit period), and so on. Credit cards enable us to do that, loans, overdraft accounts … essentially all these instruments help a consumer to spend MORE. At the end of the day when this expenditure has to be met with payments, either the person defaults (in which case this debt is bad debts!) or the person raises another loan to pay off that loan.

What banks do at the other side is that when they recognize such bad debts, they try to sell such debts as forward cash liabilities to other banks. Based on these you have a new instrument which is called a Credit Derivative .. you will remember the CDO crisis of 2007-2008. The culprit is debt or lack of Debt Management.

The problem stems from the fact that Debt management in the first developed countries was not done in a proper fashion. Typically, countries in Europe such as UK, Germany, etc are so developed that a lot of individuals are running in the negative all the time.

But things are changing, in fact I am informed that the debt management in such countries is now being managed by third party agencies, for example, click here for UK debt management. The good part about having such agencies is that individuals can now de-risk themselves. So much so that the UK government is hoping to lean on the taxpayers to lend the government money to pull themselves out from the Euro-Debt crisis.

Interestingly enough, what can be done to reduce future debt crisis is to start cash utilization and stop unnecessary usage of the credit instruments. A reality check on consumerism also needs to be done, which is threatening to take the economies of most developed countries down. In the short run consumerism is definitely a helpful boost in the arm for the country’s economy, but in the longer run it has to be curbed.

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