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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Transitioning from Engineering to Product Management (PM)

Quite long ago, I was asked to co-chair a career panel discussion at UW, Foster School of Business. The focus of the discussion was on the topic - "job transition". In particular, my inputs to the audience was under the title "Engineering to PM". 

If you are reading the post then you may be looking for a change and I wish you the very best!

The below are my high order bit, hope this helps!

(1) You are ready for your transition job, when you are already doing it in your current job. The key thing is to identify those opportunities within the existing job or other avenues where you can experience what it is to be on your transition job. On the same note, I would say if you are in an interview, where you are trying to convince the interviewer why "the new role or change in role" for more than 1/10th of the interview slot, then that's an interview almost lost already. Although you may start the conversation there, you must quickly get to the topic of how can you change\contribute what you could do if you get the job. 

(2) Mentors - Quickly identify the people who can help you and do not limit your search; you will never know from where you will get the next best mentor. And don't stick to just one; you need different perspectives & inputs. Be very methodical about learning from them: go prepared, set agendas, buy them coffee...

(3) Leverage your network - This is an obvious one, but a very important one, so I would like to re-emphasize the point. Before you apply to a given company, search LinkedIn for your alumni & other friends and gather as many insights as possible.

(4) Most importantly, (also) leverage your cohorts - Prepare mock interviews with them. Share the interview tips & tricks ( I hear you, in some cases your cohorts could be your competitors).

(5) This is a general comment I make, doesn't matter if it is a transition job or not - Prepare a list of companies where you want to work. According to me, if you even slightly doubt you are well prepared, you must first choose companies other than your list of preferred companies when it comes to attending interviews.


(6) Try to garner support from the current employer. The easiest thing to do is to change one thing at a time - if you want to change the role, domain, field, and company, all at once, it may be tough. But it is totally doable. Once you gain the trust & credibility of your employer, they want you more than you want them. They will try to help you with your transition, if possible.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

What is T-Commerce?

Again, another interesting topic that comes with the challenge of the basic definition of what is it? Like all the other buzz words\tech, this is no exception when it comes to the overload of the term itself.

Before we decide if T-Commerce comprises of tablet commerce, tv commerce, touch commerce, inTeracTive commerce etc, let us look at a core scenario that gets lighted up with the introduction of T-Commerce. Again for the purpose of explaining the scenario, I am going to take TV commerce into the picture.

Earlier TVs were not directly powered by internet, there were several form factor products that arose to bridge the experience of bringing internet to the big screen. Now that TVs themselves are inbuilt with the capability and the other augmented products have reached a point of being worthy enough to deliver a compelling experience, it is time to talk what's next? 
What can we do when I can download apps in TV? What can we do when I can experience augmented reality with the existing products such as Xbox Kinect and more new ones on the horizon? It is time to talk about MONETIZATION of these integrated experiences...that gets us to T-Commerce.

In short, T-Commerce provides a compelling experience where in a retailer can do the following:

(a) Develop a TV app - with their catalog
(b) Build a virtual dressing room that lets people try different clothes
(c) Share the picture\video\conference with their social network to get opinion on what to buy
(c) Finally provide a payment mechanism to buy from TV.

Now, you can enjoy shopping sitting at home that is close enough to the offline shopping experience.

PS. Above is the post from my Quora board: http://www.quora.com/T-Commerce

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

It is all about the MESSAGE!


Be it traditional marketing or social media marketing, one primary thing that cannot be and should not be compromised is the consistency of the message. There are several challenges in keeping the message aligned between the traditional and the new social media marketing channels, given that your target segment spans the need for both the marketing channels. I have tried to capture few of those challenges below, hope it will be interesting and useful. Again, these are only my observations and experiences; please put your thoughts on the comments to share yours.

Image courtesy: 66batman.com

*Audience – I agree the audiences that you want to reach on the two channels are not necessarily the same. However, that does not mean the core of the messaging needs variation; often one could diminish the brand value due to inconsistent messaging given that there is a high growth of confluence between the traditional vs. the social media audience.

*Channel partners – The issue with having too many people deal with the two different channels could lead to convolution of the message. If in case you would like to outsource your marketing needs, make sure you pick the right partners who understands both your traditional and social media marketing needs. You need not pick the same partner to drive both the efforts; however make sure all the partners involved are in line with the overall efforts.

*Internal conflicts - Promoting two different departments for notching the same target, where one department deals with the traditional and the other deals with social media could cause internal conflicts. At the end of the day, both the departments are measured based on the conversion and the retention ratios.

*Treating the customers differently – The benefits to the consumer on one channel might be different from the other, but if there is a reason to believe one is valuable over the other, often the weaker group might feel left behind. It is all about consistency in delivering on all possible accounts. [For example: When National geographic runs contests, they promote and create messaging for the same contest on both their magazine and their social channels. Sure, the way to get the eyeballs on both the magazine and the social media is different, but at the core, the message is the same.]


Image courtesy: whichboxmedia

*Social media platforms – The growing platforms in social media creates a dilemma on how to manage each platform, should we be on all or how do we decide which ones to focus? The goal should be in focusing on cross-pollinating the efforts across the available platforms. Remember that a huge segment of the social media population is out there because they are often compelled to. Understanding the influencers on each platform needs some study and due diligence in analysis. Following the right people will create the right impact and influence for your brand.  [For example: Say you are a brand logo is lemon, you do not want to follow people on pinterest.com who posts lemon pictures necessarily, unless they are in your target segment.]

*Not playing me too – As mentioned before, today’s organizations are forced into social media, as they see their counterparts jump into the space. By randomly taking shots on the social channels can often be misleading in what you are trying to convey. This may result in people turning away from your brand. 

Creating a concise strategic marketing plan that will encompass the different elements of messaging, and planning for the content ahead of time is very crucial to the overall efforts. While the social media demands to be more dynamic, the messaging has to be consistent in a way that it does not deter the core meaning of the value of the product, and the principles of the organization. 
  

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Remembering Steve Jobs!

World has lost a great prodigy! He shaped creativity in a new angle, enhanced technical world with plenty of attractive apples, and enriched lives with his creations.

O, you wizard,
Your Apple is an experimentative wonderland;
Your brain is a creative entanglement;
Your heart is a pristine heaven;
Your soul is a divine holiness;
The world will miss you and I miss you Steve! May you rest in peace with God’s blessings!

Your admirer
- Ram

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Seattle Startup Day!

I had a chance to attend the Seattle ‘startup day’ today! The overall experience was relishing, there were few good speakers and some boring ones. The most striking factor, at least for me is, every time you go to such an event, people say the same thing. The message is simple and clear and if YOU listen carefully it strikes back louder & louder! It is all about ‘YOU’; how YOU do things, how YOU handle yourselves, how YOU motivate yourselves, how YOU carry yourselves etc. It is definitely a great reinforcement for me, to continue down the path of entrepreneurship. Especially, when a 20 year old telling you about his story and success. It was Kiip’s founder Brian, who was the very first speaker and probably the youngest guy in the whole camp telling his story, that’s definitely motivating. I was totally stunned to see a kid come out and tell you what to do. I felt happy and sad at the same time, happy because I got my energy back and motivated, sad because I felt I wasted few years already.

Not surprisingly a pattern that existed among the speakers was repeating a lot of ‘Fck’ words. I get that, people don’t give a shit about others; they don’t fcking care about what others think of themselves. They just do what they want to do! They wear their attitude; they pay the tribute to their creativity!

Most of the ideas boil down to - Plan -> Build -> Ship -> Measure -> Reiterate, the whole step. The quicker you can make the whole cycle the better it is. Another important aspect of doing something is to learn if it is the right thing to do at a given time. People talked about ‘failing fast’, you better fail fast and quick rather than lingering here and there, wasting your energy and probably others’.

Life is really short, it daunts me, and I am not surprised to hear others feel the same. I think fear is good; it helps you choose which path to take. You make adjustments along your way and every step you take is a guarantee towards realizing the meaning of your life. After all, who else can change your destiny, everything is up to ‘YOU’!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Google - sponsored search & auctioning

Google’s business model is certainly enviable, especially when one realizes Google’s profit margin. Google is bestowed to continue this growth at least for the foreseen future. Here is my take on Google’s advertising model…

Google follows an auctioning model and takes advantage of the competing businesses. Imagine you are a manufacturer of hard-drives, who wants to buy Google Adwords. The common words you would choose for advertising would be ‘hard drives’, ‘storage’, ‘backup’ etc. Now imagine if you have a competitor in your industry, which is often the case who also wants to buy the same adwords from Google. As a result Google can basically auction the adwords and can serve the best interest of the firm who pays the most.

For a moment, let’s side track and talk about auctioning. In auctioning you make more money, if there are more interested parties who are ready to buy your product. Guess what, the ‘real’ market value of the product will be close to the average of what the interested parties are willing to pay. But to be a winner of the auction you have to pay more, and more than the real value of the product. This means the auctioneer is the real winner!

Ok back to where we started…

In our example, the hard-drive manufacturer, not only have to pay more for their adwords because there are competitors in their industry, but also there are competitors for those adwords outside their industry (other industry verticals). Think about the other industries who would share the common adwords like ‘storage’ in our case, the container manufacturers, the public storage firms, the safe manufacturers all wants to use the same adword for advertising. Hence not only Google takes the advantage of competitors within an industry vertical, but also they take advantage across the industry verticals who share common words in their core business. Thus when there is growth in the market, Google is assured to reap money out of it.