kiruba-1

I’m a Social Media Entrepreneur, Professor of Digital Marketing, Author of 5 books, Podcaster and an Organic Farmer.

kiruba-1

The Power of Vertical Storytelling

Recently, I had invited Josiah Tay Guan Hin to address the members of the Professional Speakers Association of India. We have a monthly meetup and we invite a global expert to share his/her expertise related to Professional Speaking with the audience. Guan is the Founder and Global Chief Creative Officer of TGH Collective. He was earlier the Global Executive Creative Director of J.Walter Thomson.

As professional speakers, we are all storytellers and if we need to be great at storytelling, then we should master the digital medium. Guan, in his talk, shared how mobile phones have become the default way of content consumption. It has long ago overtaken TV, Radio, newspapers and even PC. He also mentioned that in developed countries like the US, Japan and Singapore, digital penetration is almost 100%. In India, we are still hovering around the 20% mark. This is a blessing in disguise as the digital growth is predicted to see a hockey stick growth. The number of mobile phones in India is greater than the population of the country. With 4G connectivity becoming prevalent across the country and 5G soon to come, India will soon leapfrog in mobile content consumption.

Guan also mentioned that we host our phones vertically 95% of the times. The form factor of the phones makes it easy for us to hold it vertically than horizontally. This explains why Facebook Stories, Snapchat and most video applications are now focused on vertical formats.

Guan showed various examples of how Brands have started to use the vertical formats in mobile advertising. He referenced this fantastic article in the AdWeek by Kay Hsu, the Global Creative Lead of Instagram where he talks about how the world’s creative people use vertical videos to narrate their brand’s stories.

He also showed examples of KitKat advertisements which were built purely keeping the mobile audience in mind. No, these ads were not TV ads optimized for the mobile. These are mobile-first ads. Examples of these can be seen on KitKat’s Facebook page.

The session lasted over one hour with lots of questions thrown in. By the end of the session, everyone were convinced that vertical storytelling is the way to go. The session was so impactful that I started to shoot videos only in vertical formats.

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A Brand New PC

I just bought a brand new Microsoft Surface Pro. I finally homed on this after nearly 4 weeks of intense search. The brand new machine just got delivered now and this is the first post I’m typing on it.

My old Lenovo laptop is nearly 7 years old and has served me well. While it is still working fine, I now find it embarrassing to take it to business meetings. Its like someone still using a clickety button blackberry in these days of smartphones.

When I started my hunt for a brand new laptop, I wanted the following features.

• I wanted the laptop to be thin, light and portable. As part of my fitness drive, I now walk a lot…even for business meetings. So to save my back, the lighter the laptop the better. I had three choices. 1) A thin clamshell laptop like the Dell XPS. 2) A 2-in-1 laptop like the Lenovo Yoga or 3) A tablet PC like the Microsoft Surface Pro. I spend reading insane number of reviews and watched tons of YouTube videos. Among all the three, the Surface Pro scored because of its 0.77 kg light weight. The rest were at least half a kilo heavier.

• I wanted touch features. The tablet clearly won in this round. The traditional clamshell laptops and 2in1s were no match to the touch versatility of the tablet.

• I wanted the cost to be reasonable. I had a budget of Rs.80K. Sadly, the Microsoft Surface pro is a very expensive piece of equipment and higher than what I could afford. Thanks to the Amazon Great Shopping Festival offer, this came within my budget and I went for it.

• I wanted Windows, a platform I’m familiar with. While I love the sexiness of Macbook Air and iPad Pro, the mental stress of adapting to a completely new ecosystem is too much for me. Its for the same reason that I ruled out Chrome OS.

Before buying this, I checked with my friends who have been using Microsoft Surface Pro as their primary work laptop and I had good reviews from them. That tilted my decision entirely to the Surface Pro.

A couple of years ago, if somebody had told me that I would buy a Microsoft hardware, I would have scoffed at them. How things have changed.

Today, I start work on a brand new book project and this new laptop has come just at the right time. This is the new push I really needed. Here’s to more productive work.

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Amazon Launches Free Reading…..Which I May Never Use.

I hesitated about renewing my Kindle Unlimited account. It wasn’t the Rs.169 per month cost. Its that I have so many unread books that I’ve bought before and nearly half a dozen Audible books still waiting to be listened to. Since I’m an Amazon Prime member, I now also have free books to read on Amazon Reading. I’m fairly certain this feature will go unused until I clear my reading and finish listening to my audiobooks.

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Speaking at the International Authors Summit

It’s an absolute honour to be invited for the International Authors Summit 2018. A true privilege to share the platform with over 40 well known global authors, publishers and book marketers. Am particularly thrilled to join my favourite NewYork Times Bestselling authors David Allen (Getting Things Done) and Jay Papasan (The ONE Thing).

Here is the list of other New York Times bestselling authors, award-winning writers, publishers, editors, agents and book marketers who join me in this virtual summit.

Honorée Corder (Miracle Morning), Lisa Bodell (Why Simple Wins), Ron Kaufman (Uplifting Service), Michael J. Gelb (How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci), Joanna Penn (Successful Self-Publishing), Elaine Pofeldt (Million Dollar One Person Business), Dave Chesson (The Kindlepreneur), Warren Berger (A More Beautiful Question), Jane Anderson, Lloyd Luna, Mark Coker, Annalisa Parent, Joseph Alexander, Charlie Hoehn, David Burkus, Stephanie Chandler, Sha Nacino, Derek Murphy, Robin Colucci, Barbara Huson, Derek Doepker, Srinivas Rao, Lou Aronica, Shirley Taylor, Tom Morkes, Christina Daves, Kiruba Shankar, Joanne McCall, Sarah Robbins, Anthony Iannarino, David Avrin, Hugh MacLeod, Frazer Rice, Sylvie Blair, Sue Hollis, Heather Hanson Wickman, Cathy Fyock and James Taylor.

These are a brilliant set of people to learn from. Imagine that every day for 5 days you’d get access to exclusive interviews from all these top authors and publishing experts.

As I’m one of the guests being interviewed for it I’ve got you a free front row seat for this incredible online event.

So whether you’re looking to write your first book, publish your next bestseller, or just get inspired, then this event is for you. Join the International Authors Summit! https://internationalauthorssummit.com/?orid=116751&opid=59

When you register for your Free Pass, you’ll discover:

● How to craft a winning book proposal

● How to write bestselling non-fiction books

● How to decide between a traditional, independent, or hybrid publishing model

● How to build your platform as an author

Over 10,000 people from 120 countries attended the last Summit organised by host James Taylor!

Here’s the link, reserve your front row seat NOW!: https://internationalauthorssummit.com/?orid=116751&opid=59

Here’s wishing you the best on your author journey.

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Building a Tattooable Brand and a Real-life Example

In my digital marketing class at LIBA, we were discussing strategies on how to nurture a community that builds a tattooable brand. I took the example of Madras Bulls and Bullet communities that are run by customers. Imagine my surprise when one of the participants actually has tattooed the Royal Enfield’s logo on his forearm!! Hearing from Balaji, a market researcher, on why he loves Bullet was fascinating learning. It is things like these that makes classroom discussions super interesting! 

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Talk on Personal Branding in Kolkata

Excited about speaking today to a group of business leaders and CEOs in Kolkata. I’m talking on one of my favourite topics, ‘Personal Branding for Business Success’.

For those who know me, I involve a collaborative method in my talks and you can bet it will be very interactive. Look forward to an engaging day of sharing and learning.

My appreciation to IndusNet Technologies for sponsoring and spearheading this program.

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The Importance of Digital Workspaces for Productivity, Profit and Security.

I recently had a chance to interact with Sanjay Deshmukh, VP, End User Computing, VMware Asia Pacific & Japan to discuss on what Digital Workspaces are and why they are important for businesses. We met on the sidelines of VMWare CIO Forum in Mumbai and here is the transcript of our conversation.

Kiruba Shankar: Sanjay, thank you so much for coming on the Movers & Shakers Podcast.

Sanjay Deshmukh: Thanks Kiruba.

Kiruba: What are Digital Workspaces and how would you explain to someone hearing this term for the first time?

Sanjay: Before I explain what is a digital workspace, I think it is important we talk about what is a traditional workspace. This way, you will better understand the value of a digital workspace. So, if you look at a traditional workspace today, immaterial of what industry or size of the company we are talking about…a traditional workspace has a location, an office, cubicles, devices not necessarily of that of your choice. You also don’t get all the facilities when you use them outside the office. For example, you will not be able to access some of the apps or information if you use a home PC or laptop. The company usually restricts the use of most of the apps.

So, basically, there is a lot of limitation and restriction in today’s workspace like where you work and what you can access from. Also, it starts to get complex as you start moving to the cloud SaaS application. A lot of customers are accessing SalesForce, Concurrent etc. When I’m accessing SalesForce, I need to set up different logins and password. That results in a lot of frustration for the users when they don’t necessarily remember that and they can’t get access to information when they want it. So basically, there is a restriction and lots of limitation. The experience is not consistent when you go outside of office and change devices. This is what defines the nature of workspace currently.

Now, when you look at the digital workspace, first of all, it is not a product. Its a notion of what the future of the workspace should be like. The digital workspace offers the users simplicity. This means that the users get to access the application and the information to get the job done should be very simple. Let’s take the password example. If I log in once, it should remember I’m a valid user of this company and give me access to all the applications without the need to authenticate multiple times.

Second, it should be consistent. This means that if I’m at the office using an office provided computer, I get access to all the applications that I get and when I’m at home using my PC or travelling on the road and access my mobile, I should access the information and get a seamless consistent experience to do my job.

And the third thing that a digital workspace offers is security. We have heard all these stories of these cyber attacks and if you looked at the root cause analysis, it shows that some of the machines are not patched with the right level of data security and there was a vulnerability. That’s a big problem in the traditional workspace. The digital workspace is secured with more modern technology without impacting the user experience.

So, in summary, the digital workspace is these three things: Simple, Consistent and Secure.

Kiruba: That’s fantastic. You encapsulated that beautifully. I’m curious though that with so many advantages, why do you think companies have still not embraced digital workspaces as much as they should have.

Sanjay: I would say that there is a shift happening from the old culture of command and control to a more employee-led, employee-focused culture. In any new concept of technology, you will see that the new economy companies are the first ones to adapt to it. The old economy companies will drag their feet and do whatever they can to stay in the now but over a period of time, they are forced to change.

What we have seen is that the companies that are the first ones to adopt digital workspaces are the ones with a big percentage of the millennial population. The work style and the preference of the millennials are very different and the digital workspace can help meet that expectation. They have been in universities and schools using gmails and access their emails from any computer, they have been using dropbox type of application where they can access their information anywhere.

They are used to have the flexibility of accessing their information anytime and anywhere. Their work discipline is also very different. They don’t work 8 to 10 hours at a stretch. They work for a couple of hours, then go out with friends, then come back and catch up with work. So, if you look at that kind of work discipline, the traditional workspace will not meet their expectations. So, what we have seen is that new economy companies with a lot of millennial population are the first ones to make the shift.

The second thing that we have seen is that companies in a B2C environment and in a competitive space are quick to adopt as they are forced to innovate to keep their market share and service their clients better.

Kiruba: Now that you mentioned about adoption amongst companies with millennials, I’m curious to know how has digital workspaces affected their work-life and has it had any impact on their work productivity?

Sanjay: We recently did a study with Forbes Insight. Our motive was to study if there was a connection between technology empowered and business success. We spoke to over 2000 customers around the World, a combination of both technology and business people across Industries and countries including India.

We were happy to note that the report had a very strong correlation between successful companies leading in digital transformation and companies who are empowering their employees digitally with access to all the tools and information. The number one area where it impacts is the employee productivity and better work-life balance.

Let me illustrate this with an example. State Bank of India is the largest bank in the country with over 20,000 branches across the country. The Chairperson of the Bank launched an initiative on the International Women’s Day to help the female employees have a better work-life balance. So, they had this challenge wherein the traditional work environment, the employees had to stay physically in the office from 9 to 5. During this time, they missed out on commitments at home, particularly for married women with kids and family to support.

So, they launched this concept of work from home which means that employees could leave home early, attend to the family commitments and yet have access to their device and get access to work. So, we are of the strong belief that digital workspaces help in better employee work productivity.

Kiruba: Agree that employee work-life balance is important. What is also important is for employees to get more revenues to the companies and to help cut costs. Can you elaborate on this, please?

It depends on which business you are talking about. In terms of getting more revenues, let’s talk about a banking experience. In a traditional banking experience, the customers are the ones who go to the bank..the location is fixed and they have to meet certain people. In this environment, there are other progressive banks that are trying to capture the wallet-share of the clients.

Typically, a customer will decide to give his or her business to a particular bank based on who is services them faster and efficiently. We have an example of a published case study of ANZ bank which is one of the largest banks in Australia. They invested in our digital workspace platform and they started the project with their customer relationship executives. They realized that after doing that their customer service executives were able to meet their client expectations.

In one conversation, they were able to gather what the requirement is to even complete the transaction. In a traditional environment, they would have been like, “Let me talk to my team and get back to you” or “I don’t have access to the information because I don’t have my computer’ and things like that. But with the digital workspace, running on their iPads., they could meet their customers in the location of their choice and they could provide all the information that they need in terms of their portfolios, get information from their advisory teams etc.

This is how a digital workspace can help the company increase their revenues which means you are empowering your customer-facing executives get access to all the information they need to service their clients better. This is how they can differentiate themselves and win the business against their competition.

In terms of saving costs, we absolutely believe that there is no choice. If we go back 30 or 40 years in the manufacturing domain when the whole concept of quality and processes were introduced. There were questions raised that if we embrace such processes, it will increase our costs of production by 10% or 20%. People questions would they even do it? It’s like that. IF you don’t do quality, the customers will not buy your product. If companies need to be successful in this new age, where the employee demographic is changing and technology landscape is evolving at a rapid pace, they have to embrace the digital workspace.

The current environment which the customers have is very siloed. They may have 20 different solutions to solve different problems. As a result of that, it increases the complexity and cost of infrastructure. By investing in a digital workspace platform, it simplifies all of that and it helps them save cost. You can also radically change your cost structure Just to quote one example here, in a traditional environment you would buy computers for your employee. You will spend Rs.60,000 or Rs.70000 based on what configuration of the computer you choose and you refresh the device every three years.

What companies have failed to realise that users or employees don’t like that. If I’m a university graduate and I have always used Macbooks then that’s what I would like to use in my work environment. My daughter is 9 years old and she has her own iPad and she has multiple applications that she has to get her homework done. Imagine if she goes to her office and she is handed a black colour windows machine, she won’t be productive.

One of the drastic ways to reduce the cost structure is to allow the employee to get their own device. Companies can sponsor part of the cost and by doing so they can reduce their outflow while the employees can get the machine of their choice.

Kiruba: Most software is now offered in the cloud. Do you think the days are over for the boxed software? Do you think everything is going to go to the cloud?

Sanjay: It depends on the company’s age and what business they are in. We do talk to a lot of customers and try to understand what kind of application infrastructure that they have. The reason why we do that is that at the core of what the digital workspace does is that it makes all the application available to the employee in a simple and unified platform.

If you have been in the business for 20+ years and there are many businesses that have been around for that long, they will have a mix of Windows application, browser-based HTML5 applications, cloud SaaS applications, and a few mobile applications. At a very high level, these are the four different applications we have found with our clients. If you look at a new age company, somebody who has started two years ago, they would not have enough capex in the beginning and they would have started straight away with Salesforce on the cloud, SAP ERP on the cloud, Workday for HR on the cloud, They may have zero footprints of software in their computers.

That’s the big extremes that you will witness in startups and in businesses that have been for long. For companies that have existed for long, it is not easy for them to shift from software they have been using to completely cloud-based applications. However, they are slowly making the transitions. Let’s say they have 50% of their applications are windows based and the remaining 50% is a mix of HTML5 and mobile applications. In 3 to 5 years time, this pie chart will change. The windows ratio will decrease but will never become zero.

The biggest growth will be in mobile apps. This is because the companies have recognized that the users like this concept of the mobile moment. This means that if I’m here in a conversation with you and at the end of the conversation if I can approve an expense claim or approve a discount which is required to close a deal, that does a lot for my productivity and the response time for my business. Employees are used to this mobile moment concepts because that’s what they get as a consumer.

After this meeting, you can fire up an Uber app or decide to get something delivered to your home so that before you go home, you have your wine or food ready. Employees are used to these mobile moments in the consumer world and they are expecting similar mobile moments in the enterprise world which they don’t get. That’s the reason we believe that companies will start investing in more and more mobile applications for those specific business processes that actually help the employees.

Kiruba: Now that there are compelling propositions for companies adopting digital workspaces, how should companies go about to implement them?

Sanjay: That’s a great question. We are engaged with our clients on an everyday basis to answer that question. Digital workspaces is the vision of the future that you need to go to. Our first step is to work with the client and introduce them to the notion of the digital workspace and get their buy-in into that notion. I have had the opportunity to have conversations with clients across the Asia Pacific and Japan and I have not found a single company that has challenged that vision. Nobody has said they don’t like digital workspaces, that employees won’t like it. Not a single client.

Every company accepts the fact that that is the future. They want to empower their employees with simple, consistent experience to the applications, they should be able to access them from any location and any device and that they have to be secure. Then comes the question of how to go from the status quo to that of digital workspaces.

The first step that we would advise our clients is to get a quick assessment of where they are. That would determine the path you need to take from where you are today to the digital workspace. Most of the times the clients make the mistake when they get excited about the vision of the future and the solution and jump on the bandwagon without knowing where they are today.

So, doing a quick assessment of where they are today, what the application landscape is, what the cost structures are with regard to devices, what the policies are with regards to working from home or working remotely. We try to find the immediate problems that the client is finding right now. That becomes a great area to start with that you can achieve a quick success as you move in the direction of building a digital workspace. Then, we look at what the business priorities are because if you are trying to implement digital workspace which is not aligned to what the business goals are, it would not make sense.

The State Bank of India example where the Chairman of the bank wanted to promote the concept of improving employee productivity and helping them maintain a work-life balance, that was a done with a business objective. The digital workspace platform enabled that. So, we try and understand the client if there are initiatives like that that are important to them.

For example, we get a lot of feelers from the traditional banks that they are getting a lot of competition from FinTech companies, they are eating into the wallet share of our customers. They want to know how do they change the experience of their clients and get more market share. If that’s your number one priority then let us start with that area. Let’s look at how your customer service executives are engaging with your customers, mobilize that and enhance the experience. It is important to identify what the drivers of the business initiatives are and align the digital workspace initiatives with that of the business goals.

So, in summary, I would recommend a three-step approach to get to the digital workspace. First, make sure that the foundation of the infrastructure is right. Many times client think that their digital workspace initiative is different from their cloud initiative or data centre initiative. The clients don’t realize that most of these technologies actually in the data centre and the cloud.

So, it is important that both these initiatives are aligned. We work with the clients to make sure that they are moving from this siloed infrastructure to an elastic infrastructure which is aligned to their data centre and cloud strategy. That’s where the unique proposition of VMware comes in because we are the only company that works with our customers that offers them technologies from the cloud, mobile applications.

The second step we would recommend to move to a digital workspace is started looking at how do you want to manage these devices that employees are bringing. Example, Macbooks, iPads, Chromebooks, Windows laptops, android phones etc. They need a unified platform that supports all these devices. That will give them a foundation for managing these devices and also improve their security because there won’t be any vulnerability on these devices

The third step is about the users and applications. Set up an enterprise app store. Just like the way a user has a personal app store on their phone which they go to for all their applications, similarly set up a simple enterprise app store. Anything and everything the user has to do with regard to work, they go to these enterprise app stores, based on the device they are using, they use their Face ID, Finger scanner or retina scanner that authenticates them into the app store and they are free to access all the applications. The third step is the one that has the most impact on the user and productivity.

The interesting thing about these three steps that lead to the digital workspace is that they are not sequential. It depends on your business priority. If you want to start with changing the experiences of your users today, we could start with the step 3.

If you think that the infrastructure inefficiencies is your challenge, then we could start with solving those first. If you think you are struggling with security issues and managing the disparate and heterogeneous devices, we could start with unified endpoint management. So, these are the three steps approach that we advise a client to take if they want to successfully implement a digital workspace strategy.

Kiruba: That was wonderfully explained. Thanks for taking the time out to explain to us the concept of digital workspaces.

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Received a Donation of Old Vinyl Records

I got an email from this couple stating that they have old Vinyl Records and if I’m interested in acquiring them. Ever since I published my microsite http://www.Kiruba.com/records where I mention my love for collecting old records, I get quite a lot of calls and emails from brokers who try to sell them to collectors at exorbitant prices. I responded to the couple saying that I’m not in the business of records nor am I a rich buyer. I’m only a collector and my role is that of a guardian of old records. My interest is in saving it for the next generation of youngsters rather than making it a business.

Apparently, for many months, they were hunting for exactly the same kind of person. Sridhar Subramaniam is an enterprise IT consultant and Lekha, his wife, was earlier with the Railways. This collection of 40 vinyl records belongs to Lekha’s Dad and they all wanted this to be given to someone who would treasure it and take good care of them. They, in fact, came home to meet me and my family in person.

These vinyl records are in excellent working condition and they have a decent market value. I appreciated the fact that they preferred to donate these rather than taking the easier route of selling it in the market. I accepted them with a sense of responsibility and look forward to preserving them. Next time you come to Vaksana Farms, you can listen to some real vintage & classical music the way how people listened to many decades ago.

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Theni Fire Accident

The Theni Fire Tragedy is heart-wrenchingly sad. I don’t watch TV but I did watch a video on YouTube of people who have been charred from the fire and writhing in pain. 20 seconds into the video, I could no longer watch it.  That girl squirming in pain could very well have been my daughter. In fact, my plan was to ask my daughter to join a long trek after her public exams are done.  I can only imagine the pain and agony the parents must be going through with the loss of their dear ones.

This is an accident. No one would have anticipated a disaster of this magnitude. Even with all the precautions, its not easy to escape a raging inferno. That’s why I don’t think its right to criminalize an organization like the Chennai Trekking Club. I’ve known members who have been part of the organization for the past ten years and they are among the nicest folks I’ve met. They are so full of life and energy. They are law abiding and very eco-sensitive. I really wish the Chief Minister or the Media can take into consideration the amazing work done by this passionate community over the last decade.

It’s also very easy to victimize the leader. Peter Van Geit has earned the respect of tens of thousands of people for selflessly helping others and to help build an amazing community of volunteers. It would be very wrong to punish him for an accident which is beyond his control. If that’s the case, then the Minister of Forests and Minister for Environment should also be held accountable for failure to prevent the forest fires in the first place.

Here’s hoping that positive measures comes out of this tragedy. Better forest fire measures. Better safety precautions on adventure treks. I really hope the spirit of Chennai Trekking Club continues to live on and I would whole-heartedly sign up for the next activity as a sign of solidarity.

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Goodbye Aircel, My Old Friend.

I feel bad for Aircel. Today, I initiated efforts to cut ties with it after being a customer for over 18 years.

I’ve been a loyal customer and stuck with them through thick and thin. There have been sporadic outages but overall their service was decent. Not great but decent.

As a professional speaker, Aircel has been my client and I have had opportunities to speak at their HQ and got to meet their top brass. They are nice people and I can only imagine what a tough time they would be going through right now.

I would have stuck on had the connectivity not been this bad. It started to affect my business and that cannot be tolerated.

However, getting out of Aircel is proving to be a lot tougher than I thought. To port successfully, I need to pay this month’s bill but the payment link is not working. I heard from other Aircel customers that they are not approving the porting from their side. Here’s hoping a smooth transition.

 

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