Carry-On Steve!

Our Tribute to the man who truly believed in doing what you love and who showed the world what difference can it make.

RIP Steve Jobs. Mourn not his death. Celebrate his life.

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Ideas of the week 7th-Oct-2011

 

future technology

We all have ideas worth sharing, and this is the place to do it. We are particularly interested in those ideas which might make a significant difference in the world in which we live. This blog post under the heading of Ideas of the week is a part of a series of weekly posts by us where we will share with you some of the ideas/links that we come across during the week and find interesting. We would love your feedback on our posts and we would love it even more if you share some links with us too!

 

1. A post by BostInnovation on how NFC technology could impact mobile payment in the near future

Mobile payments are becoming more and more commonplace in society with the increase in  smartphones and advanced mobile devices, More

 

 

2. The Indian Chulha made healthier and being promoted as a healthier cooking mechanism across the world. Read more about the initiative here.

The Low Smoke Stove is a low-tech solution to enable healthy indoor cooking. This stove has been developed to fight the ill-effects of indoor air-pollution, More

 

 

3. Content Marketing- An infographic depicting the process of content marketing

Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, More

4. Intel’s Skool Software brings free material for healthcare workers

The Intel Skool Health Education Platform provides anytime, anywhere media content delivery and assessment platform. The idea is to help healthcare workers in developing nations treat women and children better,  More

 

5. Paypal – An interesting video to showing how the way we shop can drastically change

The future is about creating real consumer choice, flexibility and control over how people shop and pay. The future of money is already happening with PayPal. More

 

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This week’s post compiled by:Karan Guglani

The Ladies’ Oracle

 

To all those interested in the occult, worried about the future or belonging to the female gender, I have some exciting news. Ideafarms is proud to present its first android game ‘The Ladies’ Oracle’. The Ladies’ Oracle is a fun game that never fails to give accurate answers to any question asked. Originally a book by the same name, the game comes equipped with answers to over 95 questions that every girl of every age wants to know.

Men and women alike are often curious of the unknown and ask questions like;“When will I get married?”, “Will I have any children?”,“What does the future have in store for me?”. The infallible prophet “Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa”, had long ago worked out a fascinating mechanism to help you arrive at the answer to these questions which he had compiled in the original classic book by the same name – The Ladies Oracle. The book has been for years considered the perfect bible for every woman out in the world.

The Android game by Ideafarms has been designed to preserve the authenticity and enigma of the book while adding an element of fun and mystery to make it more engaging for the user.

Ask a question, choose a symbol, and get your answer. It’s that simple! Scroll through the list of questions and you’re bound to find one that suits your fancy. (Psst: The game also has a jump index bookmark thingy that makes it easy to browse questions.)

Once you’ve found a question you like, you are taken to a shape selection page, where 16 figures are moving randomly around a grid. Just tap a block to select a shape. Your destiny is in your own hands, because it is the shape selected that determines the outcome of your fate.

Spend some time trying out its features. The game never ceases to amaze you. For some answers, the Oracle will even suggest a charm or ritual. You can even choose to keep it to yourself, or share the answer with your friends through e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.

Though there are some unlucky days, during which it is not advised to consult the Oracle, and it is not considered prudent to ask the same question twice in one day, you need not worry about it as the game is designed to help you out there.

Hard to put down, the game promises to be your constant companion, be it an important meeting, a lazy Sunday afternoon, or a fun filled slumber party.

So girls, go to the android market now and download this game. This one is for you.

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The Case for Sales Mobility – an interactive thought paper

Have you equipped your Sales Team with the iCollateral advantage?

Current technological platforms and devices like the iPad with their mobility and multi-touch capability are redefining the potential of the customer’s interaction with your Sales team. Organisations are realising the value added by these devices in personalising the client-sales team interaction and are equipping their Sales Teams with these smart devices. While devices like the iPad are one piece of the message delivery puzzle, the real magic can only be added with the use of dynamic, interactive content that fully exploits the interaction capability of these devices.

 

Operating at the intersection of Design, Technology and Business, Ideafarms understands the value of an interactive experience. Our extensive experience in crafting  Sales Configurator solutions across different verticals also affirms our belief that your client values an intuitive experience that is contextual to her needs.

Our thought paper “The case for Sales Mobility”  [PDF] is intended to be a trigger to start a discussion with your organisation on how your Marketing and Sales functions can maximise your existing investments as well as provide your Sales team with the right tools and applications to win that next deal.

View and Download the thought paper.
(Interactive document Containing videos. Please wait for it to download completely before viewing.)

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Pho2Greet – Bringing the charm of Picture Postcards to Android

Picture yourself standing on top of a mountain peak, completely in awe of that breathtaking view, wishing that somehow you could share this moment with your loved ones – Show them the view, tell them how you feel. We know how that feels, which is why we came up with the idea of a personalised photo greeting application.

Timed nicely for a Friendship Day launch, Ideafarms very proudly brings to you our first Android application – Pho2Greet. Just a day old and we are already overwhelmed by the response we have got. A big Thank You to all of you for that :-).

With Pho2Greet, we hope to bring back the old-school charm of sending picture postcards. What’s different is that now you can personalise the picture and the message in the greeting. Simply click a photo right then and there, or select an existing one from the gallery, add a message on top of it and send it to your friends. The beauty is in the speed & simplicity with which you can share a personalised greeting with your friends.

Pho2Greet – Simply click a picture, add a message and share with friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pho2Greet also has a live editor to customise the color, size and font of your message.

Live Text Editor in Pho2Greet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The application has also been architected beautifully for you to be able to save your greetings to edit later. You can share the same greeting with many friends, customise the message for different friends and/or even change the picture while keeping the message the same in each greeting.

We would love it if you will share with us any interesting greetings you make using the application. Do share the greetings on our facebook wall –> http://www.facebook.com/Ideafarms or you can twitpic them to us @Ideafarms

We also hope you will keep sharing your feedback – both good and bad. While the encouragement keeps us going, the critique helps us improve.

The application is available for download through the Android Market and is absolutely free. Have fun Pho2Greeting! :-).

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We too used Google+, and how!

Inspired by this post on Gizmodo which urges you to use Google+ for the main feature that it offers – sharing a post with only a select group of people – I got an idea to use it to get feedback for our latest Android App (more on that later) within a close group of trusted folks who I knew could offer valuable inputs.

For those who are yet to use it, what happens in Google+ is that you can add people to circles (and people can add you to circles too of course.) The USP is that you can choose to share your content (post, photos, rants, etc. etc.) with only a select few and so then only those people can see it or can comment on it. A little more digging around and of course with the help of the very good folks on Twitter, I discovered that you can also disable these few people from sharing it further with more people. So there, your secret is safe! Yay!

Safe with this knowledge, I shared the link for the Android App (which still needs some kinks worked out of it before it can be shared with people at large) with my Circle on Google+ called ‘Ideafarmers’.

Knowing I was sharing this with people who are working at Ideafarms or have worked here before, tech nuts and some even Android junkies ( 😉 ), definitely people with good ideas and who understand the value of the kind of user-experience Ideafarms tries to deliver, I was not disappointed. Within minutes we were bombarded with encouragement (which felt really nice) and very useful suggestions, most of which is already being put to good use towards improving the application. We all know how important early user-feedback is for any application. And if you are able to use a social network to gather it.. well it kind of validates the value of a social network beyond the ‘likes and +1s’. The benefit that Google+ adds here is that it allows a conversation to build around a topic – which was perhaps not as easily achieved over Twitter or Facebook earlier -which facilitates easier participation through which people can bring in their collective experience and expertise.

Infact we were so pleased with the result that now Ideafarms too has a Google+ account which we definitely plan to use for collaboration over our future projects / products and sharing information about all that interests you and us. You can search for Ideafarms and add us to your circles and if you think you would also like to participate and help us test and improve the early releases of our applications, do drop us a line and we can add you to our ‘Tech Fun’ group :-).

Also, if you have also used Google+ in any such interesting way, we would love to hear about it! Do share your experience and ideas.

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Why would I ask someone else to manage MY online reputation? Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of a 3-post series – Online Reputation Management (ORM) is more than just damage control. Simply entrusting the job to PR professionals especially in the Social Media world is a sure recipe for disaster. (Read on or go to Part 1)

ORM – Think about it. Does ORM mean managing the reputation of your ‘online’ business OR does it mean using online platforms and tools to manage your ‘offline’ reputation OR is it a bit of both … OR is it something else altogether?

Let’s look at recent examples of reputation toll that money couldn’t buy (in no particular order).

Last Edition of News of The World
The Final Goodbye

1. Bad News of The World: Death of a newspaper (RIP)
Speculation about whether this could have been avoided is futile. Jane Wilson, CEO of the U.K.’s Chartered  Institute of Public Relations, wisely notes that the closing of the News of the World – œis a great example of traditional and social  media working together to produce a staggering outcome.-

Google Search – Results

2. The 2G spectrum allocation scam: All stripped and nowhere to hide
India’s political invincibles are cooling their heels in Tihar. Corporate fortresses have not been spared either. The much revered Tata brand is a surprise casualty, least for the way Ratan Tata literally ‘asked for it’.

I’m not sure if PR could’ve saved the day for them and others who haven’t yet realised that their currency of ‘information asymmetry’ has been hopelessly devalued.

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Remember the story – the one-horse town that had 2 barbers; — one dishevelled and the other not a hair out of place — the dishevelled guy was the better barber. I’m not saying that PR, Advertising, MarComm or other communication professionals don’t know communication. The scary part is that while they seem to know the HOW of communication; they do not want to even acknowledge or take responsibility for the more critical WHAT. I’m worried about their understanding (and acceptance) of the realities of today; it simply isn’t yesterday once more guys!

Online spares none!!

And the speed of technology evolution isn’t helping either. By the time you get to figuring out how to exploit one wave, another surges from right behind it. Conversations are the new content; structuring them into content bins (databases) is a sure way to diminish value. We know that reputation is

“the way others see you and what they think of you“.

Your reputation is about your WHOLE personality, the good with the bad (and the indifferent), not just the good parts. So there’s a chance that if you say what you mean and do what you say, they’ll trust you a whole lot and more.

Now, there’s a bunch of reputation management companies offering services ostensibly using tools that can look for all instances of mentions of you or your company across the Web and strip the negative comments/mentions and whathaveyou. Automated scavenging … hmmm. Funny they have a hard time managing their own reputation though. ;-). See this post about Reputation.com (formerly ReputationDefender). And not far behind is a creed of ‘experts’ hustling you into trying some form of automated social media or other. Automated Social Media?? Gimme a break!

Be careful of all the jargon out there. Take responsibility for your end of the deal. Too many clients “outsource” their own responsibility of defining what they need to the agency. It is key to determine what you or your company stands for, not just what the doctor ordered. Pardon my use of the cliche but don’t, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

From blogpost on Reputation Mismanagement:

Consistency will always get you better “rankings” online and offline:
While the Internet has become the choice for many to evaluate a product or service, getting positive reviews with traditional word of mouth trumps all else. When you’re at a restaurant checking email on your Blackberry and someone is doing the same on their Droid, any comparison with intuitive features shared in-person and then verified online will be a powerful brand and reputation builder.

By the way, the barber analogy fits nicely with the way today’s content ‘virals’ itself through communities. Word of mouth is a great viral that’s unflatteringly labelled gossip by some. Your reputation does not lend itself to virality (if such a word exists) despite what the new media department of your advertising agency tells you. And Word of Mouth (WoM) is replacing the credibility (read reputation) of the very folks who claim they can manage yours!

<< (go to Part 1)

 (go to Part 3) >>

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Why would I ask someone else to manage MY online reputation? Part 1

Either I have a reputation or I don’t. And reputation is not something I can buy off the supermarket. It’s not just my brand, personality or product; my reputation is my identity. It’s really all I have and it took years of sweat to build it.

Reputation has a huge problem. It is invisible; however hard I try looking even in the mirror I just can’t see it. The only way to know it even exists is listening to who’s saying what. Yeah, you experts will give me reasons why my reputation isn’t okay or how some rumour eroded it or how, for a “small” fee you can give me good advice. Dammit, I already told you it’s all I have and I’m not letting someone else use it to experiment with their theories.

We accept as a verity* of capitalism that someone (usually an expert) knows more than someone else (usually a consumer). But information asymmetries everywhere have in fact been gravely wounded by the Internet.

Information is the currency of the Internet. … The Internet has accomplished what even the most fervent consumer advocates usually cannot: it has vastly shrunk the gap between the experts and the public.

The above excerpt from Freakonomics says it all: the message is loud and clear that the experts – PR agencies, Advertising folks, Media Publications, the new breed of Social Media ‘experts’ – and all the erstwhile keepers of information asymmetry have to learn to play the game by the rules of our times. The rules do not allow for you to build your business by taking advantage of my ignorance or by hiding the source of your information. Are you game? No? I thought as much.

Which is why I had a huge problem with this Economic Times story: Social Media Entrepreneurs are transforming companies virtually. Read my lips – “by simply affixing the label ‘online reputation management’ on CRM techniques and tools, you just fell back to your old ways of creating information asymmetry.” Fortunately, this time around your white-labeling tricks couldn’t fool too many.

So here’s the thing. Reputation management is not like any other technique or methodology that you can learn in a B-School. Reputation is the ‘perception’ of a person, company, institution, nation whatever.

Reputation is about the personality of the entity as seen and felt by all those who come in contact with it directly or indirectly. And personality is not only about how you look in the photoshopped version of your picture on the cover of Vogue.

Personality is who you are and nobody but nobody can present you to the world without knowing the real you. Not even the experts.

Question I’m leaving on the table:

1. Who do you think is managing Airtel’s online reputation? They are doing a great job, don’t you think.

a) PR agency
b) Internal MarComm guys
c) Advertising folk
d) All of the above (Social Media ‘Expert’) 😛

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*Something, such as a statement, principle, or  belief, that is true

Note: This is the first part of a series of 3 – hopefully I have been able to give the reader some sense what reputation is. More importantly, I hope you have your own understanding of what it isn’t. Feedback welcome.

(go to Part 2) >>

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Revisiting – The Original Sin

The Original Sin (image source: IT Magz – October 2007)

RT @AnubhavSharma: Why is ‘save’ icon still a floppy? <— This question recently on my Twitter timeline prompted me to dig out from our archives this old article by Sunil Malhotra for IT Magz back in 2007, titled ‘The Original Sin‘.

The article had also mentioned the same issue and I post excerpts from it here –

Continuous and aggressive improvement is not as easy as it sounds. There are aspects that we technophiles must make ourselves additionally accountable for. Things that go so far unnoticed that they become absurdities. Here’s a simple provocation:

Who in today’s world would even know what a floppy disk is! The “Save” icon has lost its context but Microsoft does not seem to have even noticed its extinction. This illustrates how oversight or short-sight can create habits; even users stop noticing things that were meant to help them in the first place. The suggestion that emerges from the above example is to design interfaces that communicate at higher levels of abstraction so that their meaning is not lost when products of everyday use become obsolete. To think things through instead of either immediately imitating “œfamiliarity” or rushing into applying our existing skills. Imagine having the graphic of a dinosaur as a signage for a wildlife sanctuary in today’s world.

I can only suggest that we, the IT community, take a higher degree of responsibility for the total software experience – simply, that from our current focus on functionality and performance we must move up a notch into sustained usability.

Definitely something to think about. I love the term ‘Sustained Usability’ used here. Something you don’t get to hear of much, especially not from Experience Designers.

You can view the PDF of the entire article from here or access it from the IT Magz website.

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Neutralising Applethink

Neutralising AppleThink
Watch out Apple! App publishers choose to go the web-app way instead.

In my previous post about the Smartphone wars -“ Android vs Apple – I had touched upon the point that some people feel that Apple may have adopted a rather restrictive approach when it comes to their devices and the app store.  While consumers have to get used to downloading apps from the Apple store, the deal is not so sweet for the app publishers.

This is what a recent HBR post says –

An interesting battle is looming over Apple’s newspaper and magazines subscription pricing for iOS devices (notably the iPad). Apple’s offer to publishers is simple. They can offer an app that allows consumers to buy individual issues of their content or to subscribe to it from within the app; the publisher sets the pricing. But Apple will take a 30 percent cut of the revenues and it will also require the publisher not to undercut the price offered to iPad app users.

Which is why we now see newspaper and magazine publishers – the likes of Playboy and Financial Times – coming up with an interesting way of bypassing the Apple App Store. These gutsy app publishers have chosen to make iPad optimised websites rather than apps that are downloadable only through the Apple app-store. While for Playboy it might be that they do not qualify for Apple’s strict no-nudity policy, for FT, in their own words –

Firstly, the HTML5 FT Web App means users can see new changes and features immediately. There is no extended release process through an app store and users are always on the latest version.

Secondly, developing multiple ‘native’ apps for various products is logistically and financially unmanageable. By having one core codebase, we can roll the FT app onto multiple platforms at once.

Well Playboy’s and FT’s reasoning does seem to be sound from the user’s perspective too. While with the use of HTML 5, there is close to no compromise on the experience of the app – you can still touch,  swipe and flick your way through the app – the user is also not forced to get tied down to a medium and can access the same content on any device via the mobile web app route. This is also perhaps clear writing on the wall for Apple on exactly what they are doing wrong by having such a strong control over their app store. Clearly where Android seems to be scoring higher points.

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