Friday, September 30, 2016

Have moved all further blogs to Medium

Dear subscribers,

I have moved all my further thoughts and blogs to two different publications that you can continue to subscribe.

The Simulacrum : Themed on opinions on Product, Tech, Innovation..

Autonomous Agents : A new publication on Artificial Intelligence, Neural Networks and Machine Learning..

As always, thanks a ton for your feedback. Happy reading...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Retail MUST Die: Of formlessness and fu**ing ants !!

Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Ok, be with me on this journey... I shall smoke a little... (What the heck. Let me smoke big time here)

Check this video for some kick-ass inspiration :

Destination Retail MUST die. (Destination retail is any online retailer who has a destination website or a destination app). Locking up millions and millions of SKUs and thousands of product cohorts in a destination catalog is a pre-world-war concept (as a starting reference to demog profiles that is) ! The post war demog cohorts starting from baby boomers and gen-x who have the highest discretionary spend are not discovery savvy once in the destination. Hey, they are not destination bound either...

I strongly believe new age retail should be formless, shapeless, like water. My friend !!

IMO, Millennials and Gen-M are everywhere in the digital world. Shaping the spend of the future. They are the children of a journey as against a destination. They surf through the digital veins, on smart mobility interfaces in and out for "function", for value, for enrichment. Why send them to any place than where they are already? 

In order to change this, you need to take the catalog and pour it into the veins of the omni-channel, like blood flowing through your body or river beating its path to the sea. You need to pour it through millions of micro moments on tens of thousands of channels of engagements. The products in the catalog must gravitate its way on its own to where the worthy (not opportune) micro moments of the consumer exists no matter where she is in her journey of personal enrichment.

The concept of retail master catalog management and PIM must change. Virtual inventory linkage must mature. Merchandising must change. Category management and sourcing must change. PLM must change. Else be ready to die slowly and surely. Death may not be drastic, but it is coming...

Ok smart boy. Sooo, what is the future?
In distant future, Instead, just breathe life into and unleash the products. Like ants in the connected digital internet ant-hill. Like intelligent f**ckin ants (like procreating ants I meant). Empower and seed each of your products (ants) with base customer cohorts (like teaching them about honey and predators). Pour them in the digital veins. Hell ya, let them loose. Let them learn about the consumers on its own. Let the products (ants) bump into each other and exchange notes. Let them learn about the micro moments of the consumers, wherever the consumers are. Let them learn who prefers them, who hates them. Like learning to avoid obstacles and gravitating towards honey. Let them gain a collective consciousness. Let them manage themselves. Maybe they should decide their own freakin worth and price themselves !! they should decide when they are free versus when they are pricey. Let the digital-mother-nature decide when each of them should die and what genetic material they should pass on. Let them syndicate, let them hide... !!

You see where i am going? I shall be happy to pass the pipe (Some powerful shit this is! no?)

First step towards that future? teach your product to show up wherever the consumers are. At the SKU level. With a Buy-Me or rate-me interfaces.

Next, reinvent the concept of sale. Instead, allow people to adopt the products...

Then, learn to code AI. Yes, Artificial Intelligence kinda AI. Its coming my friends... Ready or not :)

I call this, the era of Autonomous Agents (the ants). The "Internet of Autonomous Agents" or #IoAA that is... 

Retail is Dead. Long live Retail.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Free is Blasphemy. Freedom is not.

Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
The Hindjudchriaslams, a very wide spread religious group who are know to be extreme thinkers are offering free-food for poor christians of the developing world along with 'conditional' sermons and conversions as part of the free food.

This has created large debates with two groups of people.

One of the groups argues that offering free-food which is basically deep fried potatoes along with hastily cooked pig liver (which is available locally in abundance as a by product) and sugar water to the poor christians which consists of trans fat, high cholesterol, high sodium and completely unbalanced diet is not only unethical, but sermons and conversions is just plain wrong.

The other group argues that any food is better than no food and in the short term this should be ok!! Also what is the harm in a little sermon? after all, the poor christians shall exercise free-will not to eat the food or attend the sermons if need be!

The funny part is, both the groups who are arguing for or against the free food offering is rich, well fed, has no sense of ground reality, arm-chair critics who has never experienced hunger or what it means to be poor.

Better yet, with large marketing budget, the Hindjudchriaslam foundation is able to create propaganda about its benevolence and good intents.

Unfortunately, there is absolutely no voice of the poor christians heard !!

The problem with zero-rating or or any such foundations, even if the intent was partly benovelant but not fully thought through on the repercursions of free markets, is that, there is no proof of the pudding yet. Its been 5 years now !

Free Internet. Free as in freedom. At any cost.

I only used the religions connotation for effect. If not poor christians, feel free to replace with poor hindus or sikh or muslims. The spirit does not change.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

An Ode to Product Cowboys

Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Yo! new age cowboys from product acropolis,
why the rush to build products without hypothesis?
Such bottomless confidence without synthesis,
will land you soon in anomalies.
What good then is a psychologist?,
if you behave like everything you do is tautologous !

Bayesian validation may not be haven,
but its a necessary condition in the equation.
Logic evasion at all occasion,
for sure, will lead to product abrasion.
Oh, please stop this invasion.

Why such defiance on compliance?
If you what to forge a true alliance,
show me some signs of science in your appliance !

Be, a creator not a cowboy...

Peace out!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What are we optimizing for?

Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Here is what is an interesting problem with God. Mostly he shows up, in your face, hawking whatever the opportunities are. The problem is, everytime he opens the line with his second-hand-car-salesman-grin and says "Consider this your lucky day...", we shoo him away with a; *Not now pal, not interested in whatever you are selling...*

Or maybe, I hypothesize, that God is probably like a buoyant little kid, working hard on his creations, making magnificent things, jumping up and down like a exuberant puppy to show us what is in the making; unbounded; ecstatic..

Its just that we are too busy with our strange rituals called the "meetings" and "answering to emails" or whatever the heck we are presumably optimizing for, that we turn him down all the time.

A little gratitude may be in order? The poor little kid...

Oh, I only mean God as a metonym for Life. You would as well replace the word 'God' with 'Life' in this rendition...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Is this Sparta? Specifically?

Many teams struggle with inefficiencies when they do not condition themselves to the cause, terrain and strategies necessary for the "specific" needs of the Domain they operate in. Battle Readiness must be specific and targeted to the battle. Team members and training rigor has to be specific for specific battles.

As an analogy, if you do not have the right team members, then the size of the army does not matter. A great farmer or an amazing educator has no place on the battlefield. No point debating counter-force, pincer-maneuver or shock-and-awe with a farmer and his pitchfork! Of-course you need farmers and poets and administrators to win the war. But, NOT on the battlefield.

Critically, if the team does not believe in the specific cause, or does not necessarily believe in the rigor, or do not trust in the discipline required to stick to rules during training and battle readiness, then no amount of strategy shall help.

I come across teams (startups or otherwise) filled with ambition (cause) but no experience (a farmer) or domain specificity (terrain knowledge or strategies necessary for their functions). Funnily enough, the teams skip through training or discipline needed on market-mapping, consumer research, competitive intel, product research, operations planning or partnership strategy formulation "specific to the markets of launch". Why is specificity, though elementary Mr. Watson, often overlooked?

Fancy terms like fail-fast is thrown at you! Ahem, fail-fast is a lab condition. Try fail-fast in key battles!! (Do not get me wrong. I love fail-fast, but within the right context).

Also, what works for Battle-of-Arbela, does not necessarily work for Battle-of-Waterloo. This is where re-training and tooling is necessary. A change in team execution or structure, technology and strategies comes to the fore. A winning team that may have succeeded during early-exploration may have to reconfigure while crossing the chasm.

The biggest hurdles usually arises when the teams have to set aside egos, equipments and emptying the cup to retrain when the battle condition changes. This sometimes is specifically hard to overcome. Its hard to stop living in the past. It does not matter if you have worked and succeeded in an amazing company which is loved by everyone. Yes, your knowledge and experience matters, but pre-canned solutions that worked for one battle (your past company, which had the largest army and a mountain of a war chest in a previous economy) may not work in the current battle (current company, which is either a start-up or still growth hacking).

Finally, among all virtues, its not Fortitude, but Patience that seemed to have effectively worked as winning strategies in many battles.

Holding the line is more harder than charging at will.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I hope I am unique.

I love the concourse of warm fuzzy experiences, where in the first minute, I expose my underbellies to opinion-makers to strip my dignity through insipid dialogues on the tube, tactfully channelizing my anger into endless debates on policy making and death penalty for the brutal rape in Delhi. While in the next minute, jumping into a catchy tune of "Jho tera hai woh mera hai, jho mera hai woh tera..." advertisement jingles brand washing me, while reaching out for my pickel and pappad.  I love to light that candle 'showcasing' my empathy. I love drama and platitudes, of terrorism and communal violence and nudity and India being stripped of its virtues.
I hate to get off my ass and make any effort on cultural revisions (Societal, Political, Behavioral, Moral or otherwise). I love to write such blogs which will bring no change whatsoever. The truth is that, I love 'ME' and my passionate debates in a complex nuanced way, and how elegantly I portray them. I will NOT lead by example. I think I am an exceptional argumentative Indian.
I really really hope that you are NOT me.