Author Archive

Marketing mantras from John Sculley

Sculley says the key role of marketing is to ask the right questions. He alluded to a research he anchored way back at Pepsi where they started off designing a bottle to compete with then market leader Coke, but eventually went on to launch larger size packs as he found out that homes that stocked colas were always running out of stock! more

The MNC show at NILF 2011

Accenture, CapGemini, IBM, Cisco, CA Technologies, CSC, AT&T and ATOS Origin….. they are highly visible and participate in NILF 2011. Accenture is the knowledge partner, as always! Cap Gemini is doing a number of things around the event- they brought in Robert Swan, polar explorer, for a masterclass session; they have sponsored an evening and their top management has anchored sessions. IBM and Cisco are showcasing their cool technologies- the spoken web and telepresence.  CSC and others are key sponsors. One thing is clear – for all these companies, India as a market or offshore destination- is important enough to warrant such an investment of time and money.I was chatting with folks from these companies and all of them reiterated the need to underscore their India-intentions in as many ways as they could. more

Your virtual assistant at NILF 2011

The future is all about virtualization said Mike Rogers, futurist in residence at New York Times  who spoke on the opening day of NILF 2011. In his opinion, more interactions will be virtual in the near future than we can imagine. Our kids who are growing up in this environment may actually need to be trained to carry out interactions in the “offline” or real world, he said! Among the technologies that he spoke of, that will make a significant difference to the way companies transact business, was telepresence. Calling it videoconferencing on steroids, Rogers is convinced that with the growing sophistication of technology on one hand, and economic considerations on the other, business travel is bound to come down significantly sooner than we think.  I could well believe it, given that at Prayag, we have taken advantage of this method a fair number of times in the recent past. more

Marketing an innovation

I was chatting up with Pushpahas Joshi of KPIT Cummins yesterday. The company has won NASSCOM’s “most promising innovation of the year” award for Revelo, its hybrid plug and play solution. more

Masterclass- lessons in competitive strategy from Vishwanathan Anand

I have cheated a little and borrowed the term “Masterclass” from the NILF agenda for my blogpost as it seemed the most apt way to describe the concluding session on Day 1 at NILF 2011! Anand, in somewhat unfamiliar territory, came with a well prepared speech- while he may not have displayed oratorical brilliance, the content of his talk was really interesting.
To draw a parallel between competitive strategy in business and the game of chess, he explained his preparation for two important matches he had played and won- one with Kramnik and the other with Topolov. Here is what I took out of the session:
1. Each competitor is different- so, for every new “game” plan ahead, and plan differently
Kramnik and Topolov are different kinds of players- one vertical and the latter horizontal. Hence, preparation for the games, months in advance, which included an analysis of the opponent’s strengths, was very different. Businesses likewise, need to anticipate competition behaviour and plan for surprises and to surprise them.
2. Each competitive face-off is different – though he prepared with equal intensity for both games, the one with Kramnik played out very differently than the one with Toplov. With Kramnik, by using surprise as an element, he got a near unbeatable lead and held on to it. Whereas, with Topolov, it was up and down till the very end, and the 12th game was a decider- thus he really had to hold his nerve to win the match. We come across similar situations often times in business oftentimes, when we go prepared for a certain response but end up dealing with something entirely different. The ability of your business to adapt, take risks and be resilient is key to emerging successful in that round!
3. Failure teaches you more than success – Anand referred to the time after winning the world championship for the first time in 2000 when he went through a major slump in form. What he did to recover taught him more than what his many successes had. Companies would do well to analyse losses and see what they can learn from it. In my experience, post-bid win-loss analyses is one of the most under-leveraged business tools.
4. Preparation is the key- Reaching the top is one thing, staying there is another, they say. Listening to Anand, it was evident that diligent preparation held the key to his sustained reign at the top. Similarly, for companies in the IT industry, especially those that have had a good run so far, keeping at it, staying focused, and learning not to underestimate the competition would be the mantras for continued success. more

What keeps Chandra awake at night?

Engaging with customers better and understanding how his organization (TCS) can become more and more customer relevant appears to be the most important question in the mind of the CEO of India’s largest IT services company – Chandrasekar of TCS. Chandra explained that simple as this may seem in concept, doing this right and in a sustained way was far from easy. A deep understanding of your customer’s business, and understanding how IT can drive efficiencies as well as growth, are key to stitching together sticky and enduring customer relationships, said Chandra in conversation with Shereen Bahn at NILF today.
Chandra added that one reason why the Indian industry (read scale players) handled the recent downturn better (compared to 2001) was because they had become more customer-relevant and were in many cases the strategic outsourcing partner. Having said this, keeping at it and making customer engagement deeper tops his list of priorities. more