Habits, Life, Transformation

Spontaneity & Spectacles


Today I was pondering on thoughts: the best things in life have been unplanned; it happened when I least expected it to.

This week will be the celebration spontaneity. I’m unfollowing all my plan and schedules for the day and take it as it comes. The structure will be no structure; but what I feel at the spur of the moment. For this week my priorities are uncategorised; the instinct decides the course of action.

Result, it took me more time to write this post than any of the others. I realised being spontaneous is so difficult. Being with yourself is difficult and deciding what you want to do is more difficult. Spontaneity doesn’t come easy and naturally.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book wrote one needs 10,000 hours to be good at any new skill, a thumb rule. Though the rule has been challenged by many other theories, such as one needs to have a huge amount of emotional quotient, passion and drive to excel. But as a thumb rule, the number 10,000 suits just fine. You may not survive 10,000 hours if you are not passionate about the subject. Maybe it takes that much time to discover oneself (or even more.

Spontaneity is closely associated with Social media, which I must acknowledge that I’m not very good at. I think a lot before composing that tweet or post. The folks who are good at it, know have it on their finger tips. Perpetually on their phone they would know what to post and when to post. More importantly, these folks know how to cut across the noise which is there in the social space because they have their niche and stick to it.

The most that I’m impressed by and have started the 10,000 hours in my mastery of this Social mastery journey is Snapchat. The ephemeral medium and celebrates moments in life. The user experience in creating the stories is unmatched; Snapchat is creating newer experiences continuously. I know of few organisations who mandate Snapchat skills as the essential for recruitment ( I would definitely be under qualified for such organisations). Brands are benefiting from the great user experience that it provides.

The recent launch of Spectacles from Snapchat, is a demonstration that innovation is just not the forte for Googles and Apples of the world. Spectacles is a device that enables you to   grab memories and wirelessly transfer to Snapchat and share. The Spectacles charge when they are put back in the case. The launch reminded of Apple launches and the long queues before the product hits the store.


Snapchat is continuously innovating experiences and raising the bar of user experience. Maybe this will be my conduit to discover spontaneity!

Digital Marketing



Last Thursday was my “Unconference” day, through Meetup. My first opportunity to interact with Dubai’s startup community. The subject is a part of Lean Marketing principles.

It was great.

The venue was a boutique villa in Dubai knowledge village. The place is owned by Tecom  and provided to promising startup ups at a subsidised cost, even the license  comes subsided if the pitch goes through.

The organisers were consultants: Jorge Castellote & Francisco Lafuente. Though there were few participants, all actively partipated.

And thankfully we didn’t have pitches, which is usually the case with most of such conferences.

It is to be seen how this theme of “Unconference” and “Lean Marketing” shapes up. This region which strives for perfection, will it adopt lean marketing principles?

Decision is to meet every month. I will extend the next invite when I get an update from the organisers. Fill the contact form if you want to be on the list (For Dubai only)…

Digital Marketing



Today I’m reminded of the day when I first used a chopstick. The place was highly inappropriate; an uptown Chinese restaurant. Better still the table was right in the centre of the restaurant visible from a distance. I didn’t give up; it took me about an hour and a half to finish.

From how of “holding the chopstick” to “recovering from trauma of embarrassment”, I learnt it all that day.

Strangely, Snapchat is making me feel deja vu. I’m loving it though…

Also comes a firm resolution from this new milestone in my life. I’m going to be on mobile only. This would be my last post from desktop. As Gary says “We are not in Mobile first world, we are in mobile only world” and yearning for attention.

Bye bye Macbook, hello iPhone & Huawei!


Digital Marketing



One of the games that I often play with my 6 year old daughter Dhriti is “Make Up”. She and I take turns to provide the other 3 words all disconnected and the other person has to make up a story.

I love the game because this is one time that Dhriti likes to let loose and try to beat me with her little stories; her enthusiasm is infectious. I realise that I have so less of it; my storytelling abilities.

It is always better when we put some joy back into a banal ritual and let our passions engage. The single most important thing for success.

I was reminded of this when I was lying back in my apartment going over the rituals of the day. I was wondering if I had missed out on any important data or left out any opportunity to maximise conversion. It is measurable and hence we should maximise it.

Banal and boring. Where is the story mister? Said a guy sitting on my left shoulder. Leave out everything else, did the visitor have a good time on the site. Did you make him dream? Will he come back again?

Where the story of data ends, imagination starts and that’s the scary part because it is a rare commodity these days. Build engagement, start a conversation, zero moment of truth is rare because it is tough.

Data is an enabler, not the engine.

How do we rise above the mundanes of daily sales target, conversion optimisation and ROI maximisation? Feel from the heart, truly while conversing with our users. This is the only skill that cannot be copied. Experience is just one of the events in this funnel.

That is why this is the most difficult, because it requires imagination and faith. Not data, but true grit. This is not about Kaizen or Disruption, but about the age old way of doing business, which we may have forgotten. Was it lost while I was trying to uncover data?

Did you have a good time playing the game?


Digital Marketing

Moneyball Marketing

MB 2.jpg

There are few movies that I keep watching again and again. Moneyball is one of them.

The movie is the story of Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, who faces a daunting task. Beane must reengineer his Oakland Athletics baseball team and assemble a competitive one to win among the bigger leagues. Else the game is over for Billy Beane. And there is very little money.

A very familiar situation for start ups.

He is surrounded by traditional scouts, who have age old wisdom to select players. Billy decides to build a team of undervalued player by taking a sophisticated programmatic approach to analyze players. Data driven decision. Oakland team scouts are first dismissive of this approach, because this is against scouts experience and intuition. Beane uses on-base percentage (OBP) to choose the players. Oakland’s reach stages beyond expectation and lose in the post season.

Billy could have become the highest paid general manager of Red Sox that season.

Moneyball is a classic story of growth hack. You need one thing to bring about the disruption; give up the old and believe in the new. Change the game.

Here is a classic quote…

“Any other team wins the World Series, good for them. They’re drinking champagne, they get a ring. But if we win, on our budget, with this team… we’ll have changed the game. And that’s what I want. I want it to mean something.”

The constraints drive you up the wall, but make you discover the best. But all of it starts from one strong BELIEF.

Whether Billy Beane wins or gets defeated in the end is not the moral of the Moneyball.  What is more important is what is lived for and what he believed in.

How many of us would have to conviction to carry along this far?


Digital Marketing

5 Reasons To Move Beyond Apps

One of the first questions that one may ask a digital expert is – what is the cost to create an app. Leave side the cost for marketing and maintaining the app, App development is a cash cow for many tech outfits.

Truly, the native app experience is the reason why apps dominate the content consumption (App usage is 90% of the time on Mobile).  This trend may fundamentally change.We are in middle of most exciting times where mobile is concerned, and we now can consider moving beyond Apps. Started by Google and Facebook browsers, we may soon see browsers becoming the new apps and deliver similar native experience.

Consider the following reasons.

Reason 1: Mobile browsing has become faster


I’m quite excited about Accelerated Mobile Pages (About AMP, also read my previous article). WordPress opens my posts on mobile blazingly fast, as it has in built converter to  AMP. This sets me thinking that may be in future this feature of WordPress may be a default feature in CMS out there in the market especially those who are in news article publishing. Also check the AMP video on Google Amp Project website, which opens fast. Though there are limited features, every quarter new features are getting added. Such as now forms can be used on AMPs

Progressive Web Applications (PWA) is another technology stack which is making the browser work better to enable more native app like experience. Consider some of these PWA enabled websites on your mobile for the experience what Was can deliver. One of the best feature is that you can let the user “Add to Home screen” to create a home screen button which will take the user directly to the website. Find more handy resource on PWAs here.

Reason 2: I don’t want to have another app in my phone

According to emarketer report, a new app may not be retained for even a single day. 71% of the apps were deleted on the Android platform on the first day itself and the number became 97% by the end of the month. The frequency of the usage would dominate the app retention. Such as you are more likely to retain social (Facebook, snapchat etc), ecommerce (Amazon, Flipkart), taxi hailing app (Uber, Careem), and banks etc. However one time utility apps such as an app made for standalone hotel is most likely to be deleted.

Average Retention Rates for Mobile App Install Worldwide
Appflyer Performance Index: Ecommerce, Travel and Utility Apps

Reason 3: Discovery of an App is a question

If the app is downloaded organically, it has more chances to to be retained compared to forced push one. After 30 days an organically downloaded app has 156% more chances to be retained compared to one which has been pushed. In addition, consider that it takes marketing monies and effort to put the apps on the iOS or Android App Store, till the time an app gains relevance (which is any where between 2-3 months depending on the budget for app marketing or push). The inaccurate app tracking and calculating the ROI of the efforts makes such efforts more questionable. Especially with products with one time use, I find it hard to justify an app such as stand alone independent hotels. It would be easier to get a website site with good native experience and some of the app features such as the browser push notifications to get a richer experience.

Reason 4: Optimise Content Management effort for Web & Mobile

One of the advantages of using a responsive web design is that one can start thinking on content across multiple devices. Rather than duplicating efforts for a website and a mobile (mobile device content should be shorter and precise), one can manage content easily, reducing the effort and time needed. Most CMS’s would like to hear this as this would reduce the gains from a promising app content management product.

Reason 5: Deliver device agnostic experience: Mobile first, multi-device second

As more and more content is being consumed by mobile, it become important that mobile is placed in the centre of the digital experience consideration set. However, the world is increasingly becoming multi-device. Comscore study indicates that more instant and functional content will be browsed on mobile, while detailed content on many device. Hence critical to simulate the same experience across devices (courtesy Comscore).


Devices Used Across The Day.png

For a stand alone hotel, it is much easier and cost effective to streamline the experience using a web strategy (using PWA) rather than creating an App. Unless one has volume such Marriott, Hilton or Accor.

So, carefully consider options before you jump into spending a million dollar to create an app, when you can get the same experience at probably fraction of the cost. In the brave new world, Browsers are the new Apps!