Thursday, October 6, 2011

Harnessing Capitalism via Social

Yea, yea! There is irony involved in the caption above. Not talking politics or .... maybe I am .... when talking about media companies going head-to-head with each other. Trends in the media industry suggest that companies which are able to grasp elements of capitalism are destined for supremacy. Facebook is under severe pressure by Google+ given the strength of the Google brand. It is of interest to many to see what will happen.

Salvaging Facebook … !
The general response from consumers to the constantly evolving nature of Facebook is marked with resentment and rage. Considering from Facebook’s own perspective and given the fact that it operates as the most successful player in the social sphere, it has valid reasons to do so. These series of experimenting allows it to evaluate consumer reactions, check responses, attain feedback and gather innovative ideas to see where are the flaws and where are the niche areas where it can improve and get more advertisers. Fair play since Facebook’s advertising strategy allows it to generate more than half of it revenues! However, with all the experimenting, it bred grounds for another social network to emerge.

Enter Google+ … !
Google’s social network came in roaring. It created a series of waves and initially, it attracted a lot of reaction from consumers. Many wanted to be part of it! Its strategy, based on the invite-only basis, elevated the excitement amongst social media consumers. Finally, a perception was prominent that there is some player that was going to give Facebook a run for its money. Google+ was growing quite steeply at the beginning and its adoption rate was eccentric. It was presumable Google was well on its way to cash on its own advertising strategy to becoming the most revenue generating company in the world. The rather ridiculous adoption rate of Google+ possibly had Google getting a bit carried away. Status-quo suggests that Facebook took serious note and answered Google+ in a very, very “social” manner! It embedded new features such as the NewsFeed and is partnering up with Spotify, the social, sharing and caring legal music service from Sweden to forge a combo that will only allow Facebook to capitalize on its more advertisers and compete for the dollars with Google. Google+ has suffered a drastic downturn. It failed to impress consumers and it failed to provide a ground breaking user experience good enough to compel consumers to switch!

The recent amendments in Facebook have allowed it to go more social at the cost of consumers’ privacy. There is resentment, fury and actions full of venom contradicting the ‘fun’ that consumers find in Facebook. Nonetheless, sharing is becoming easier, more seamless with loads of lubrication. Google has started to promote Google+ by adding more features and advertising it as the Next Generation social network. Google realized that best way to pulverize the Facebook strategy is to cash on its own brand. One of the ways it is doing so is by attempting to divert users from Gmail. This is what prompted me to write this post. I think it is self explanatory. As soon as I signed out of mt Gmail, I saw this huge ad Google had dedicated to Google+ to attract consumer consent. One would say Google intends to retain consumer attention, traffic and time on Google products.

Will it be successful? Will Google’s advertising strategy bear fruit? Or will Facebook outdo the Google brand by its all social, sharing, caring and interacting strategy? I wonder, I wonder ….    

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Diffusion of Yearly Thoughts - A "LOVE" filled @STOCKHOLM?

OK! I will try to reflect on how and why I joined the Communications team during the term 2010-11 at AIESEC Stockholm, my experiences, what I gained from it, my opinions on the communications team and what kind of things assume(d) the mainstream at the LC. Mmmmmm ... let’s dig deep …

All seems to be a mere stone-throw away. So many things occurred; some motivating, some challenging, some special, some mind-blowing, some magical and some nearly mythical. It is ruthless to be selective and highlight only some of them. Where to start? Big, big dilemma! For me, it started midway through my Masters. Having spent significant time in Sweden and having adopted a professional mindset like the Swedish mainstream, I joined AIESEC pursuing certain professional goals. I wanted an internship in a high profile company. It became my foremost belief that becoming part of the AIESEC family was essential to my pursuit, only realizing ahead that one could achieve such an objective without becoming a member. Nonetheless, there were no regrets at the time. I became part of the Communications Team in which plenty of ideas used to be discussed and many goals were set. Sources of motivations came from Par Fridholm, the VP (Communications) at the time while support came from Niru, Gen and Santha (and of course, Myself! :)). Over a span of the term, the team ended up with three members with Gen and Santha dropping out fairly soon. This happening did not hinder progress. Rather, motivations and confidence were yet elevated. Outlined objectives started to be achieved and this pretty much remained the course throughout the entire term. The Communications department at LC Stockholm started exhibiting characteristics of an outstanding Center of Excellence. In saying so, the story remains abstract. However, I will attempt to convey some special moments that I went through at the LC.

Moment 1: Unique Memory with Dedication - "COMMUNICATION SAGA"
The Communications team had a responsibility to promote communication (internal, external, online etc). Although the genes that comprise the AIESEC structure advocate that communication is effortless at all levels of the hierarchy, it remained evident that there were certain hidden elements that obstructed easy communication within members. However, it remained hard to figure out what were these elements. As a norm at AIESEC Stockholm, midway through the term, each team at the LC was required to showcase productions according to their respective functional and professional DNA. When this opportunity was presented to communications, it created a unanimous opportunity to address this problem with the entire LC crew present in the first LC meeting after the X-Mas and New Year break. With the communications team present with only two members (Sarmad & Niru) on the “Day of Judgment”, the LC crew was entertained like never before with talks, reflections, observations, actions, movements, demonstrations and content, compelling CONTENT! Post reactions were productive, pleasing, emotional and exuberant. Speaking strictly within the parameters of internal communications, I considered it remained a great memory and will possibly remain a benchmark for the communications team, as far as the very essence of communication is concerned. This humorous, entertaining yet meaningful episode created harmony and forged lubrication within the realms of communication at the LC. The entire production was dedicated to the ruling VP (Comm) at the time – Lucky him who became the envy of many J.

The presentation came at a very crucial moment. The LC was going to participate in the second conference of the year, UNITE in Copenhagen which was supposedly an international conference. Consequently, people went there in high spirits and showed what LC Stockholm was made up of.
Moment 2: Eruption of the crazy "OC! OC! OC! … OY! OY! OY!"
After mid-January, a broadcast message was circulated to all LCs across Sweden informing that opportunities were available to be part of the Organizing Committee in the second conference of the year, UNITE. Though at a short notice, I seized the opportunity and travelled all the way to Copenhagen to work with people I had never met before. So many nationalities were present prior to the actual kick start of UNITE. The most incredible aspect was that despite so many variations, all had one objective in mind, that of making the conference a memorable outcome. The OC embraced energetic members. This was important as it was to be taken for granted that these members were not going to get much sleep as they were the ones responsible to execute the off-show activities and preparing subsequent formalities in time for delegates that partook in the conference. Becoming the focal point of sheer heavy workload, members were motivated, confident and energetic. They were supportive and helpful with each other which eased the workflow – fabulous teamwork! It went on for three days (plus) and OC members started to assume zombie-like appearances. However, these feelings were instantly overshadowed at the reunion held at the official dinner when massive acknowledgement was given to the OC for the way the rather “memorable” conference had shaped out. This fused the OC even more which lead to several strong acquaintances amongst OC members even after the conference. It was truly memorable. I would recommend AIESECers to try OC stuff at least once. It is a once in a lifetime experience.

Moment 3: The Impeccable, Dramatic, Astounding Episode
Boy! This is the hardest one, and the best one! It was the month of April, theoretically when bootstraps are tightened at AIESEC to carry out aggressive campaigning for the subsequent term, recruiting new members, defining the new Executive Board and plenty of other formalities. It was during this time that I developed certain acquaintances. Many mouths utter AIESEC is all to do about professionalism, developing leadership skills or developing tomorrow’s leaders. The counter side also exists where people mingle and know other cultures by interacting with them. For me, it was rather different. This phase allowed me to learn more about aspects of people and also about myself. It allowed me to evaluate myself, assess myself, MAYBE even re-assess myself and unearth my shortcomings. It should be clear that by dealing earthly matters as such allow one to be stronger, acquire greater prowess and strive towards excellence (VERY AIESEC LIKE!). However, some experiences take longer time to illustrate results. I am pretty sure this IMPECCABLE, DRAMATIC, ASTOUNDING experience is another one of those situations where I look ahead into time into the unseen and explore the unknown. The days from April 11-15 will truly remain very important for me as things were shaping out better than I had expected. I was achieving academic goals, professional goals and social goals in such a short time frame. It would be great to undergo the very same experience again. I, personally, would classify this experience as the pinnacle of my AIESEC life. So much happened during these 5 days that it is impossible to depict all happenings here.

Rounding off? ….. NOT YET! ….. What’s with LC Stockholm?
While being at AIESEC, one can undergo many life changing experiences. People say one can develop professionally while others say they gain a great networking opportunity to develop acquaintances. Very true! To exercise this effortlessly, I believe there are certain shortcomings at LC Stockholm that require immediate attention. With new leadership on board, expectations are potentially higher. Given the fact that AIESEC Stockholm comprises of two EB members at the moment and more members are on the verge of becoming part of the founding LC of AIESEC, it is important that there is harmony, union, bonding and collective thinking within all the people who will hold the responsibility to run the LC next term, members included!

A very prominent shortcoming last term was the lack of communication and interaction between the EB and the members. Moreover, the lack of interaction between members and members! No measures were taken to eliminate this inadequacy. It was pretty much down to self-initiative to overlook this problem. Keeping in mind I owe my loyalties to LC Stockholm, I have a number of recommendations for the next group of AIESECers to keep in mind.
1. Be Abrupt: Do not think about what you want to do and what you want to say, whether you should do a certain thing or you should say a certain thing ….. Just Do It and Just Say it!
2. Interact & Communicate: Though a hierarchy exists in the LC in the technical sense, in reality, there is no hierarchy. Do not be afraid to step up, deliver your thought and smile about it when you do so. At least you will get appreciation from someone!
3. Avoid Personal Branding: It is important to think in the collective sense and pursue objectives that work in favor of everyone. Give everyone an opportunity because that’s why people join AIESEC. Once this is implemented, everyone will be branded anyway - Branding in the Making, so to speak!
4. Adopt a Recognition System: As we know, acts and works done at AIESEC are considered professional. However, the reality is that it is voluntary work after all in which certain people put in a lot of effort. The EB should acknowledge their efforts by actions, by words or by recognition through something tangible. This will instill further faith and most likely, members will double their efforts to work even better.

5. Participate in Conferences: Extremely important for all newbies! This is your chance to acquaint with people from other LCs. Though ties tend to remain weak due to the spatial distance in the post-conference life, it still boosts a lot of confidence and lead to some friendships that can be lasting. Maybe you can cash some friendship later!

6. Challenge Convention: Try to do something unconventional, something different, be a change maker! You may not get appreciation from all but you will certainly gain self-satisfaction and get a chance to influence others.

7. Network, Network, Network: Very important to enter new circles. Do not think about what kind of people there are in the circle you are eyeing. Go in there, speak with them, you will get a chance to understand where you stand, a chance to assess yourself and carry out corrective measures if needed.

8. Be Omni-Present: Try to understand what other teams other than your own do, their operations, their tasks etc. This will not only broaden your vision but will allow you to learn more. Moreover, it will allow you to interact with other AIESECers and prepare you to step up against big audiences.

9. Please! Change the Roll-Call: Perhaps I need not say more! The song used to practice the roll-call is “STUPID” in itself, not to mention its title, “THE STUPID DANCE”, which require urgent remodeling. Plzzzzzz Hawra & Co., LISTEN TO MY PLEA! :D

As I sign off, I would want to take this opportunity and thank everyone I met at AIESEC, especially Par and Niru, who have been a tremendous support and have been truly awesome throughout. Thanks to all the EB as well, especially Filippa who has been so energetic all around. Many thanks to all the other acquaintances as well! I hope we can meet on other better occasions in the near future. So long!

Besos y abrazos desde Madrid!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Google’s “Dubious” Competitive Advantage

Before I dig deep, let’s take a look at this:

The company that has created marvels in the online arena since its inception seems to be plagued with uncertainty. Evidently, I am talking about Google Inc. Ever since Google unleashed its search algorithm, the manner in which it sought stardom saw no worthy adversary. With time and with the emergence of new technologies, different companies have tried to outclass Google within the search engine business. Yet, all have failed! In December 2007, Google had a massive market share of 62.4% in the search engine business. Just over two years down the road, in January 2010, this market share saw alterations only for the better, which ascended up to 65.2%. No parallel as the numbers suggest and adequately so! These figures obviously manifest that the search algorithm is Google’s competitive advantage. It allows it to stay ahead of competition and more importantly, draw revenues and profits by cautiously embedding an excellent advertising strategy. Yahoo has exerted immense efforts to somehow draw contention by whipping off some of Google’s market share. However, these efforts have not been overwhelming. Similarly, Microsoft made a massive entry with “Bing”. It looked promising but ever since Google upgraded its search engine with Caffeine, Bing has not proven to be a formidable opponent either.

Many would agree that Google is the first option in search due to the lack of complexity in terms of usage . It‘s simple interface made it so attractive and appealing for consumers that it became renowned extremely quickly within the mainstream. Slowly and seemingly apparently, Google is attempting to implant “simple” characteristics in its services. It can be understood that the surge of social networks have been fundamental in structuring this transition which Google exercises so abruptly. However, the question that arises here is where Google Inc. itself sees its source of competitive advantage in present day era, SEARCH or SIMPLICITY? Or both? The clip above suggests Google has opted for simplicity. It allows simplicity to the users to such an extent that all they have to do is to ‘drag and drop’ and results become visible, not harder than that! However, numbers call the shots and suggest otherwise. It is the SEARCH that overrules everything else. I believe this generates sensations that Google is somewhat tumbling down the rabbit hole and is getting strayed from what has made it become the premier leader in the search engine business.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tensions of Extensions

WHY IS IT SO HARD? Why is it so problematic? Why is it so unpredictable? Why does it swing like a pendulum? Many questions raised here yet very few answers yielded. Throughout history, nature has been teaching lessons to mankind regarding when and where they should partake in any venture. No matter what kind of venture it is, humans, the most formidable species present of the face of this planet, always tend to excel more than required. Many argue it is acceptable to display this facet on a regular basis. It is true to some extent. What many fail to realize is that overplaying can become the subject of unwanted repercussions. These repercussions can be upsetting, distressing and disappointing – to say the least. Humans have a natural tendency to overachieve in a short time. It is a way to remain preeminent and get to the long term goal by any means that, if not pursued as planned, can start to cause tensions, unwanted tensions. Tensions of Extensions!

Human capacity is fragile, it is weak, it is brittle and it can be manipulated easily. Effectively, all lessons one learns from life ought to an important lesson for prospective periods. It is essential to do a good RISK ANALYSIS of any venture. In doing so, one often anticipates certain consequences that can be quite boggling. Perhaps it is means to assess a potential future. The way humans normally go about with this is by drawing certain boundaries for themselves and attempt not to trespass them showing notions of strong willpower. However, most of the times, this will power is overshadowed by strong human sentiments, strong acquaintances, solid ties that emerge from weak ties. Happenings as such take place quite often but the human urge to think that something good will result remains a tough fallacy that transforms into something which is hard to encounter. It is one of those stages of life where one seeks answers. One often starts visioning into the future thinking something might just happen abruptly, only to realize that one immerses into a state of pure artificialness and try to believe a truth unknown. I wonder if it is plausible, I wonder if it is fair. I don’t know if it is but what I know for certain is that I am seeking answers to the tensions caused by such extensions.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Interactive Video "CONTENT" Usage for the Better

All those who are into social media, its evolution, its potential and what it can achieve in merely no time would be interested to know the power of compelling and interactive content and the way it has produced shifts in the educational paradigm. Far are gone the days when education used to be boring to many students; the days when students did not have real-time interactive resources to pursue their academic objectives. The situation today is altogether different. Education has become more interesting and more friendly thanks to resources outside conventional means. Exemplifying things always helps to gain a more profound understanding. 

Just recently, an excellet TED talk by Salman Khan, the founder of the Khan Academy revealed how their academy assist students to not only improve grades but also enjoy education and be more creative - their way of "REINVENTING EDUCATION". Take a look:

As I streamline this, the key takeaway from this video is how improving online content and making it more interactive can benefit all entities involved; students, teachers, content creators and the education sector on a whole.