Archive for March, 2012

Launching GTM360 Mobility Solutions

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
GTM360 Mobility Solutions.
We focus on developing Android apps that are functionally-rich and call for superior user experience. Our areas of specialization include location based (LBS) apps, QR codes and apps centered around sales and marketing. With proven capabilities on the RhoMobile cross-platform development environment, we can deploy a single codebase across Apple iOS, Android and Windows Mobile platforms.
We differentiate ourselves with
Solid domain expertise in sales and marketing functions and in location based technologies (viz. GPS, cell tower triangulation)
An ability to think from the end-user’s perspective, and
A commitment to testing our apps on smartphones, instead of PC-based mobile simulators, prior to delivering them to you.

We’re pleased to launch GTM360 Mobility Solutions.

This new line of business focuses on design, development and support of Android apps that are functionally-rich and call for superior user experience. Our areas of specialization include location based (LBS) apps, QR codes and apps centered around sales and marketing.

In an already crowded space, we believe we differentiate ourselves with

  1. Solid domain expertise in sales and marketing functions and in location based technologies (viz. GPS, cell tower triangulation)
  2. An ability to think from the end-user’s perspective, and
  3. A commitment to testing our apps on smartphones, instead of PC-based mobile simulators, prior to delivering them to you.

Even before our formal launch, we’ve completed the following customer engagements:

NEW YORK – CONNECTICUT DUAL RESIDENT EXPECTS TAX AUDITS TO BE A BREEZE

GRAD SCHOOL STUDENTS CREATE AWARD WINNING MOBILE LBS APPLICATION

For more details, please visit the mobility solutions section of our website.

Does Google Find It Difficult To Search Its Own Website?

Friday, March 23rd, 2012
Clik

Clik

In a post titled “Why Is It Easier To Search The WWW Than A Single Website?”, we’d cited the examples of TechCrunch and a couple of other third-party websites to conclude that it’s generally tougher to search a single website compared to the entire world wide web – even when we use the same Google Search Engine to conduct both searches.

When we wrote this post, we never imagined that our conclusion would apply to a website owned by Google itself. Looks like it does! Cut to the recently released Clik smartphone app.

On the back of the huge media buzz that followed the app’s launch a few weeks ago, the company counted some 100K downloads of the iOS version of its app on Apple’s AppStore. However, the Android version of Clik saw absolutely no traction on Google Play (new name for Android Market). Reason? The app was totally invisible to searches done there. Apparently, when you search for Clik on Google Play, the Google Search Engine there assumes that you made a typo and searches for “click” instead – hence search results are topped by “1-click cleaner” and not Clik.

In this TechCrunch post, the company’s CEO Ted Livingston says laconically, “It’s pretty ironic — the king of search can’t do search”. I think he missed adding, “on its own website”, out of politeness or caution.

Say Goodbye To Leakages & Delays In Handling Your Website Leads

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

EMAIL360 Website Leadgen Application

Good news for banks, e-commerce, insurers, IT, universities and other organizations who generate a large volume of leads from their website.

The new “Rocket Routing” feature of our EMAIL360 website leadgen application automatically routes leads for different products and services to different people in these companies – and, that too, in realtime. With EMAIL360, sales and marketing managers can say goodbye to leakages and delays when leads are routed manually, and be assured that each lead will be handled by the most most capable employee in their organization.

Please visit our website for more information on Rocket Routing.

Sign up for EMAIL360 and get started with five free leads. Join over 225 other companies who have already done so. Immediately see an increase in your lead flow and gain the capability to respond to your leads faster, better and cheaper.

Pushing The Envelope On Adopting Cutting Edge Technology – Part 1

Saturday, March 17th, 2012
icici06-150w

ICICI Bank Facebook App Features

Banks have the opportunity to cut costs and enhance customer experience by adopting mobile, social media and other cutting edge technologies. However, most of them drag their feet on being innovative, often citing security concerns, regulatory constraints, and so on. For example, statutory KYC requirements precluding 100% online and automated account opening by forcing banks to collect paper documents and account opening forms with wet-ink signature.

With the recent launch of Facebook app and Online Account Opening, ICICI Bank, which is India’s largest private sector bank, pushes the envelope on adopting state-of-the-art technologies while staying compliant with the local laws.

The bank recently launched an FB app which offers a whole lot of features such as account balance, mini statement, cheque book request without leaving Facebook. GenXers – like me – who have been using Internet Banking well before Facebook came along might be wondering why someone would want to do their banking on FB. However, from the speed at which my GenY nephew signed up for this app, I’m convinced that ICICI Bank has a winner on its hands with this initiative.

Coinciding with the launch of its FB app, the Bank also launched Online Account Opening functionality on its website. As I’ve mentioned in a couple of blog posts in the past (click here and here), most “online applications” for financial products in India and elsewhere are glorified lead collection forms that fall way short of end-to-end fulfillment of the account opening process. ICICI Bank has got this customer pain area and has advertised its new offering by specifically committing “Instant Account Number” issue. Props to ICICI Bank for doing what, to the best of my knowledge, no other bank or financial institution in India has done so far.

icici01-400w

By no means does ICICI Bank complete the account opening process – that’s simply not possible under the current laws. But, by doing whatever it has done, it has demonstrated that it is possible to use cutting edge technology under the current regulatory environment to improve improved the status quo. ICICI Bank has also proved that, while doing so, it is possible to cut costs and enhance customer experience: By getting the customer to complete the application form online, it has saved the cost of printing paper forms and distributing them to over 2,500 branches all over India as well as the cost of entering all that data manually; and by offering to collect paper documents from the applicant’s doorstep instead of forcing the applicant to visit the branch, it has also enhanced the customer experience. And I think that’s a big deal.

In Part-2 of this blog post, I shall dig a little deeper into ICICI Bank’s Facebook behavior and its communication of the online account opening offering. By getting these right, ICICI Bank can serve as a lighthouse for adoption of cutting edge technology for the entire BFSI industry. Watch this space.

Cost Versus Benefits Of Class Action Suits

Friday, March 9th, 2012

From: S Ketharaman

To: The Editor of The Economic Times

Subject: Class Action Suits

Dear Editor:

Apropos the article “Class Action Suits will Help” published on 21 January 2012 in the Pune edition of The Economic Times, the author makes a strong case for how introduction of class action suits in The Companies Bill 2011 will help improve the quality of financial reporting and corporate governance in India Inc.

footnoted01-250wHowever, while drawing a comparison with the American justice system, I’m surprised that the article completely misses the concept of punitive damages. For the uninitiated, punitive damages are set well in excess of simple compensation arising from the offence. They serve as a strong deterrent against repetition of the crime not only by the given defendant but also by others in future. It is by awarding punitive damages regularly that litigation in general and class action in particular have proved so effective in the USA. India not only lacks punitive damages but, even damages are awarded, they’re very measly and take ages to materialize. Under the circumstance, it’s questionable if class actions suits will be so effective in India.

The author claims that the costs of class action “dominate the benefits” in the USA. He implicitly attributes this state of affairs to lack of certain practices which he offers up as a list of prerequisites that must be established before such lawsuits are introduced in India. Maybe I’m missing something but, in drawing up this list, the author seems to have totally ignored due American legal process. Almost everything he suggests has been around in America for a long time. Let me take them one after the other:

  1. Whether it is class action or any form of lawsuit filed in a civilian (i.e. non military) court, the defendant is always innocent until proven guilty and the burden of proof always lies with the plaintiff.
  2. Before lawsuits come to trial, they go through arraignments and grand jury hearings, the express purpose of which is to dismiss lawsuits that lack merit and stop them from going to trial and wasting the court’s time and the taxpayers’ money. Therefore, frivolous lawsuits won’t go to trial in the first place. The defendant’s legal costs in such situations are not so high that telling the plaintiff to bear them will make any difference.
  3. Forward looking disclosures accompanied by caveats are already immune to lawsuits, which perhaps explains the copious use of footnotes in most regulatory filings in the USA. As an aside, Footnoted, now part of Morningstar, was actually founded as an independent blog in 2003 to flesh out the fine print that is rife in companies’ SEC filings.
  4. Unless otherwise agreed to between the parties to the trial, damages are anyway attached proportionately to each defendant’s culpability.
  5. Finally, to boost damages – and hence their own legal fees, no doubt – it’s a common practice for plaintiff lawyers to advertise class actions on TV and actively solicit as many alleged victims to sign up for the action. Since large shareholders aren’t kept in the dark during this process, there’s no separate need for the court to empower them  to join the class action.

Therefore, even if the author’s conclusion about the American situation – costs of class action dominate the benefits – is right, his diagnosis of the root causes is not. Maybe he’ll dig deeper and come up with more valid suggestions the implementation of which can truly ensure that class action lawsuits have a net positive effect for India?

Thanks and Regards.

Ketharaman Swaminathan

Why “Overcoming The Tyranny Of Excel” Is A Lousy Positioning Theme

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Time and again, we come across companies who position their software around the theme of “overcoming the tyranny of Excel”. Recent examples include developers of a business activity monitoring (BAM) platform and a mobile secondary sales application.

It is true that Excel-intensive environments are generally fraught with indiscipline and duplication of efforts. Therefore, the “tyranny of Excel” is very real. It is also true that any software worth its name inculcates discipline and eliminates duplication of efforts. To that extent, overcoming the tyranny of Excel might be a technically correct view of most software. However, it does not make for good positioning.

Before we explain why, it’s useful to remember that positioning, by definition, is the image of a product that a marketer tries to create in the minds of its target market. In other words, positioning is not the same thing as what the product is or does.

If we look at this whole thing from the customer’s point of view, what do we see?

We see companies who have spent millions to implement ERPs but have still not given up the use of Excel. According to anecdotal evidence, 70% of Fortune 500 companies have ERPs but over 90% of them submit reports to their board of directors in Excel. Even in specialized functions like, for example, corporate treasury, the use of Excel continues unabated. According to this gtnews article, “around 70% of (companies) are carrying out cash flow forecasting using Excel spreadsheets. Many corporates who have a (separate) treasury management system or a suitable module of an ERP system do not actually use the system for this purpose”. Excel’s ease of use is one reason for this apparent anamoly. Besides, in the words of a former boss of mine who used to report to the company’s board, “No other software allows so many last-minute changes as Excel”. So, whether we like it or not, Excel is not going away anytime soon.

Examples of Marketable Items

Examples of Marketable Items

Against this backdrop, it should be obvious that positioning a software product around overcoming the tyranny of Excel is unlikely to get a vendor too far in the mainstream market. Agreed that it would evoke a favorable response from the prospective customer’s IT middle management and might even suffice to gain the endorsement of the company’s technology leaders. However, the business case and funding requests for such software would invariably be shot down by the C-Suite, which is comfortable with Excel and is unlikely to find any compelling reason to buy something that only replaces Excel.

One common outcome of this flawed positioning is the “100 demos, 0 order” problem that ails many software companies who complain that they’re able to showcase their products to eager audiences all the time but are unable to win too many deals in the end.

If “overcoming the tyranny of Excel” is not a good positioning theme, what is?

According to us, software and all other high-tech products and services need to be positioned using Marketable Items regardless of whether they replace Excel or do something else. Marketable Items package product features (and service capabilities) into compelling reasons to buy that resonate strongly with the target market’s pain areas and hot topics. If they don’t create gain, they must solve pain. More information on how to create Marketable Items can be found here. To find out more about how a re-positioning based on Marketable Items propelled the aforementioned mobile secondary sales application into a different orbit, click here.