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


Kiruba Shankar

Launching a New Podcast Show with Business Standard Newspaper

The news is already out and figured that I might as well talk about it. Kamla Bhatt was the first to tweet about the news and AgencyFAQs is working out on a story.

Business Standard newspaper and I are joining hands to launch a new Podcast show. The show, understandably, will deal with CXOs and influential personalities. The show will not be restricted to just Tech and will cover other fields as well. This way I get a much wider canvas to play with.

The new Podcast show will be an excellent and a logical extension to the weekly column that I author. The top management at Business Standard have been very supportive and I’m extremely pumped up at the opportunity.

I’ve already started working on the episodes and we are working towards launching the new show in two week’s time. Expect to hear from me more on this soon.

It’s interesting that Kamla Bhatt, a popular podcaster, had tied up with The Mint newspaper to luanch a new podcast show. I have a lot of respect for Kamla for her dedication and passion she puts in into her shows. We were fellow-podcasters at PodTech and since gotten to know each other well. It’s awesome that established main stream media is realizing the value of joining hands with bloggers and podcasters.

Kiruba Shankar: Indian CEOs Take Up Twittering

Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that forces you to be concise. Unlike blogging where you are free to write however long you want, Twitter only allows 140 characters. That’s around 25 words. Two sentences.

Many say that this could be the secret of its success. Because messages have to be short, it makes it that much more easier for people to write. Short messages means you don’t have to worry about crafting long posts. Helps you post your message instantly with more frequency. It has gained good traction and the corporate world has been quick at leveraging the tool for business benefits.

Twitter is a nice tool that helps you keep your ears to the ground, hearing what your customers say about your brand. It’s a great brand monitoring tool. You get some of the most honest feedback and opinions and those can be very valuable.

Yesterday, I tweeted expressing my displeasure with PBWiki, a wiki site. My tweet said, “PBWiki used to be my favorite wiki. Its ease of use was its biggest strength. Now, it’s gotten complex and that’s putting me off.” Within a few hours, I get a reply from PBkrissy, one of PBWiki’s staff asking me, “I’m interested to hear about the PBWiki complexities, can you tell me more?” It’s a real person who wants to hear my problem. I’m impressed because PBWiki wants to listen, which is the first sign of good customer service. Today, I hear that they are testing out a publicly editable wiki without any passwords, which is the solution that I’m looking for.

Zoho, a Chennai based company, uses Twitter effectively to reach out to customers. Raju Vagnesa, a senior Zoho executive based in its California office, updates the blog and responds to feedback and suggestions. I like corporate Twitter accounts to have a real person’s photo because it makes it that much more human.

Many start-up founders use Twitter as a beta testing medium, letting their Twitter followers take a sneak peak about their product and collect feedback.

CEOs make for the best brand ambassadors for a company. And microblogs can be one such tool to help in image building. It gives a personal, human touch to the company.

As research for this article, I requested my blog readers to suggest CEOs and founders who use Twitter. Out of the 25 recommendations that I received, I saw a strong pattern emerging. Only three of the 25 people were in established medium sized companies. The remaining 22 were young start-up founders. I’m yet to see a single CEO of a big corporation. It could be a generational issue and younger folks tend to be better early adopters of new technology. Sun Microsystems’ CEO explains it with a nice analogy, “When is the last time you learned a new language? It’s a lot easier for a three-year-old to learn a new language than a 30-year-old.”

Here are my picks of the Top 10 Indian CXOs and founders who Twitter.

Sukumar Rajagopal, CIO/former chief knowledge officer, Cognizant Technology Solutions, http://twitter.com/rsukumar

Pranav Bhasin, CEO, Lifeblob, http://twitter.com/pranavbhasin

Vijay Anand, founder, Proto.in, http://twitter.com/vijayanands

Rajiv Poddar, founder, CallGraph.in, http://twitter.com/callgraph

Shantanu Ghosh, VP, India head, Symantec Corp, http://twitter.com/shantanughosh

Allwin Agnel, CEO, pagalguy.com, http://www.twitter.com/pagalguy

Aloke Bajpai, CEO, iXiGO.com, http://www.twitter.com/ixigoindia

Rajiv Dingra, CEO, WATMedia, http://www.twitter.com/rajivdingra

Rajesh Lalwani, Founder, Pitchh.com http://www.twitter.com/rajeshlalwani

Kris Nair, founder, Opdrage Venture Partners, http://www.twitter.com/krisnair
Source- http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/kiruba-shankar-indian-ceos-taketwittering/334675/

Google aims for Microsoft’s heart with the new browser

At first, it was hard to believe the latest news about a brand new browser from Google. I was easily tempted to file it under ‘Fun rumors’. Afterall, Google is notorious for launching many ‘fun’ projects. Think Google Cola, Google Snail Mail.

When I began to realise that it is in fact a real project, the enormity of consequences for us internet users slowly began to sink it. This is what many people call a ‘Game Changer’.

On Sunday news about Google Chrome, the name of the new browser, started to leak out in the blogosphere and on Monday, Google officially acknowledged and confessed that a new browser will indeed be unveiled.

Google’s reputation of entering a mature product space and capturing mindspace and market share using innovative improvement is well-known.

Gmail is a perfect example. Now, can Google do to browsers what it did to emails? There’s early indications it might.

Built right from scratch, the new browser is touted to have many advantages. First, its simplicity. Must like its homepage, Chrome is clean and fast. It aims to get out of your way and get to where you want to go.

Some improvements are near invisible. For example, each of the tabs in a window will be powered separately. What does it really mean? It means that if one tab gets corrupted, the browser doesn’t crash that making you lose the rest of the tabs as well.

Currently both Internet explorer and Firefox has this problem. It’s definite that Google will seamlessly integrate almost all its products into the browser thus making it easier to use.

Its important to understand that Google isn’t getting into a browser war. It’s not the browser market but the operating systems market that it’s after. It’s aiming to strike at the heart of Microsoft – Windows. Google is aiming to eventually move the operating system online making an important move in cloud computing. It did that with the Office suite a few years and that has definitely made a dent in Microsoft’s strategy so much so that they are pulling their socks up and getting mighty serious about Software-as-a-Service model.

Now, why would Google come out with its own browser when it has such a wonderful relationship with Mozilla Foundation, the makers of the FireFox browser? Afterall, their mutual relationship has helped both of them earn millions of dollars every year. One reason could be that Google is thinking long-term.

It clearly has a “Lets boil the ocean” dream. And if it wants to be seriously capture the all-important operating systems market, the browser is an important via media. It’s thinking beyond 2011, when its contact with Mozilla expires. Besides, both Firefox and Chrome can coexist helping it take on its main rival, the Internet Explorer.

Ultimately, competition is good. It is what pushes better innovation and thus better products. And here’s hoping Chrome will do a Gmail.

Source- http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/google-aims-for-microsofts-heartthe-new-browser/333439/

Kiruba Shankar: Five reasons why iPhone sales haven’t skyrocketed

About three months ago, I made a firm decision that I would definitely buy an iPhone. I’d wanted one ever since its launch a year ago and the news of iPhone 3G launch at $199 made it mouth-wateringly reachable. Apple had a 100% assured buyer in me. Why did Apple lose me then? Here’s why.

Reason #1: Promises not kept 

I distinctly remember Steve Jobs, during his keynote speech during iPhone 3G’s launch, mention that it would be priced at $199 and equivalent across all markets. When it comes from Steve Jobs, you believe him. It just rubbed me the wrong way that this promise wasn’t kept. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

Reason #2: High entry cost 

I’m certain that had the iPhone been priced at Rs 8500 ($199), the sales would have been higher. Heck, there would even have been queues outside shops and it would have become a media frenzy. It would have been a better strategy to hook people with a lower entry cost and then recoup the cost with some monthly usage costs. We Indians don’t feel the pinch if the higher cost is spread out. But a big down payment in the beginning is certainly a deal breaker.

Reason #3: The price will eventually drop 

It’s a classic Apple strategy. Launch it at a higher cost, milk the fellas who have the money and can’t wait. Catch the gadget freaks. Satisfy their ‘I-got-it-first’ egos. Once this layer is covered, cut the price down and target the next layer. Look at the historical data of iPods and the iPhone in the US and it’s easy to map it in India.

Reason #4: I’d like to retain my old number 

I’m on Aircel and I’ve had my phone number 98415 97744 for over five years now. No way am I going to let go of this number. I have too many professional and personal connections at stake. If I get an iPhone, then it means I’ll have to carry two phones with me. The iPhone will at best be a portable Internet device and music player.

Reason #5: I’m quite happy with my Nokia N82

Its WiFi is good. Great camera. Nice phone overall. It’s a little difficult to justify to myself why I should cough up an extra Rs 31,000 when I’m quite happy with what I have right now.

Bonus Reason: No 3G for iPhone 3G 

Why pay a premium for a service that is not even available in India? The 3G spectrum hasn’t even been allotted and it may be many months, or worse, years, from being launched in India.

If you notice, none of my six reasons have anything to do with the iPhone gadget. I love the phone and its features. And that’s exactly why it’s a shame that Apple lost me. It’s such a shame that they couldn’t convert such great brand goodwill and months of pent-up anticipation into solid sales.

I read today’s report that there were over 9 million new phone connections last month alone and it’s such a shame that only a few thousand iPhones have been sold so far.

For Vodafone and Airtel, it really won’t make much of a difference to their bottom-line. They’ll still get thousands of subscribers anyways. It’s entirely Apple’s loss.

Source- http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/kiruba-shankar-five-reasonsiphone-sales-havent-skyrocketed/45546/on

Personalised books: The future of publishing

Recently, I had the chance to travel to Japan to speak and participate in an international conference. Ever heard of Sapporo? Quite honestly, I hadn’t. It’s Japan’s 5th largest city in the northern island of Hokkaido.

There’s a good chance I would never have bothered to find out where it is, if not for the conference. Now that I had to spend a week there, I figured that it would be a good idea to get a travel guide. And so, off I went looking for a travel guide to Japan.

I found two books, both very generously priced at around Rs 1,500. I probably wouldn’t have minded it that much if the book had enough material about Sapporo. Unfortunately, all it had was a measly chapter about the city where I was travelling to and I was left standing with a book where 95 per cent of the information had no practical use to me. It didn’t take me long to put the books back in the bookshelf.

It’s after this experience that I so much appreciate the value of OffBeat Guides, a make-it-yourself, personalised guide book service. The service understands that your main interest is the city you are travelling to. In this case, my only interest was Sapporo in Northern Japan. And in under 10 minutes, I had myself a personalised travel guide to Sapporo.

Let me explain. The website www.offbeatguide.com asks you five basic questions. Your name, the dates of your travel, your city where you live in, your destination city, and if you know, the hotel or friend’s place where you are staying at. It then proceeds to collate date from various resources on the Net, most notably, Wikipedia, WikiTravel, EventFul, Upcoming.org, Flickr and Google Maps.

It then gives me the choice of menus of the different information about the city and I get to choose what I want and what I don’t want. For example, I did not want information about 5-star hotels. So, I unchecked them. But what I definitely wanted to know was the Subway train map and the local bus routes. Likewise, there’s a long laundry list of items I can choose.

Even though all the information is available on the Internet free of charge, there are two distinct advantages that the book provides. One, someone else does the searching for you, saving you time and two, all the information is neatly packaged into a small book making it easy for you to carry along. You can either choose to have the PDF version for about Rs 400 and read it off your laptop or choose to buy the printed book for about Rs 1,000. I prefer choosing the PDF version and taking a printout on my printer. Works better this way.

The beauty of the book is it’s personalisation. Since it knows what dates you are in the city, it only lists important events that take place in the city when you are there. For example, I was told that there is a Beer Garden Festival happening which I made sure to attend.

From my little experience, I’m certain that personalised books are the way that the publishing industry will go in the future.

Source- http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/personalised-booksfuturepublishing/332040/