Author Archives: Vivek Bhaskaran

Employee Engagement & Satisfaction – Redefined

Hey – I wanted to send you a quick note on a webinar we are putting together to launch our latest employee engagement and satisfaction measurement tool – FlashLet. This is as much a of a new concept as it is a software offering – a ridiculously simple way to measure, track and react to how employees feel on a weekly basis.

We are calling this tool FlashLet. We are organizing a launch webinar tomorrow (Thursday) at 11AM PST / 2PM EST. We’ve been piloting this concept with a few companies here in Seattle as well as other startups in the Bay Area and San Diego. The response has been very positive so far and we’ll be sharing the high level results of our pilots so far.

I would love for you to join the webinar tomorrow : Link below:

http://news.surveyanalytics.com/employee-temperature-webinar

BTW – Two cool things we are planning on doing :

a) We’ll be giving out a 10 free copies of “High Performance Management” – by Andy Grove (Intel Co-Founder) – I’ve been really fascinated by OKR’s and radical transparency concepts recently. I highly recommend that book…

b) After the webinar we will all jump into a live discussion / conversation where you can get feedback and talk to the CEO’s of 3 of the companies / partners we’ve piloted FlashLet with already. The CEO’s of IdeaScale, QuestionPro and of course SurveyAnalytics itself will be there to participate in the conversation!

Thanks and have a great evening…

-Vivek Bhaskaran

Individualized Mass?

Am I the only one that finds irony in the fact that thousands of people stand in the SAME line to buy the SAME device from the SAME company at the SAME price because said device allow them to enjoy personalized and individualized experiences?

Is there not irony in the fact that companies that offer personalized experiences on the web still sell advertising with a bulk, homogeneous calculus called CPM?

Will the next generation of Marketers win awards for rediscovering the “mass market?”

Has there been a paradigm shift towards individualized Marketing or is this just another cyclical fad?

I honestly think the jury’s still out.

Romi Mahajan · President – KKM Group

KKM Group is an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

To ask or not to Ask? That is the question

There are two broad schools of thought – "Listening to you customers is the most important activity you can do" and the proverbial Henry Ford quote – "If I asked my customers what they want, they simply would have said a
faster horse."

I came across a couple of very thought provoking ideas and discussions:

TED Conference – Malcolm Gladwell talks about Howard Moskovitz – how he changed the way Consumer Packaged Goods companies did segmentation and cluster analysis:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6449479356304659254

The final analysis from my standpoint is – Asking customers what they want vs. analyzing their needs. Obviously the latter is actually what you really want to do. In our own businesses, we come across many clients every day that want "feature x" – We also have to think hard about _why_ they need feature X – that is the larger question.

942c51593546464fcc358dd1e028a645?s=48&d=identicon&r=GVivek Bhaskaran
President and CEO – Survey Analytics
As head of privately held Survey Analytics, Vivek is responsible for all aspects of strategy and direction.

researchaccess.com/vivek

Green or Gold?

Romi Mahajan · President – KKM Group

KKM Group is an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

The Corporate World is awash in a Gilded-Green. The Green is clear- environmental sloganeering; the Gold is equally clear- profit. The conflation of the two, money and morals, is a tricky one and ultimately rings disingenuous. That the relentless pursuit of profit and single-minded devotion to economic growth has directly lead to anthropogenic climate disaster cannot be forgotten nor should the baby-steps being taken by corporations be trumpeted as a new, sustainable mode.

When things seem to clear to us, too obvious, too comfortable (for instance that we can continue to make super profits and protect the planet) they should be suspect.

When someone tells you to buy a carbon offset and that too charges a nominal amount to do so, it should be clear that huge problems cannot be remedied by easy steps.

When oil companies broadcast commercials about their fierce love of the environment and simultaneously invade the Earth more deeply to find what’s left of the Planet’s oil, one should realize immediately that they are attempting to dupe us.

Until it’s too late.

Marketers and PR Professionals are carrying much of the water for these deceptive forces. That we do so is blight on our profession.
The status quo is not a good one.

And sooner or later we’ll need to retrain ourselves. We’ll have to be able to speak to the Press or to large audiences about our shrinking companies and our reduced profits. We’ll have to boldly discuss measures we take to ensure our workers’ health and welfare, to in fact increase our spending on things that matter. We’ll have to talk about these things with our characteristic verbal dexterity and smiling faces.

The good news is it won’t be subterfuge. Because when we discuss these things, we’ll know at a deep level that we are talking about security, sustainability, and the real possibility of progress.

When will this switch happen? The sooner the better.

Victor’s Justice

Romi Mahajan · President – KKM Group

KKM Group is an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

At the edges of the Law is the notion of “Victor’s Justice,” that the victor in a war applies different rules to the behavior of his enemy than to himself. In the famous Nuremberg trials, the Allies exempted certain aspects of the bombing of civilians from being designated “War Crimes” because they themselves had indulged in this while prosecuting the War. Similarly on the other side of the Globe, in the Tokyo Tribunal, the dissenting judge Radhabinod Pal accused the Allies of applying Victor’s Justice by retroactively declaring certain activities of the Japanese Accused to be illegal.

Related to this is “Vae Victis” (To the Vanquished One, Woe), that the loser must face severe consequences including the post-facto abrogation of treaties and other agreements by the Victor.

Stripped of complex garb, these concepts are known well to people in the world of Business. In this world, a common situation is analogous to the dispensation after a war: the winner in a battle for market share gets to impose its rules on the less fortunate and the loser has to face dreaded consequences including bankruptcy.

But in matters of perception, Victor’s Justice plays out in an equally fundamental way. In Marketing, we see it all the time.
When a company does well in the market and makes a lot of money, we tend to think of its Marketing as high-quality; when a company loses in the economic game, we tend to think of its Marketing as poor. At the time, however, the Marketing artifacts are built, we aren’t able to make the same sort of definitive judgments because we think of good Marketing as that which has led to success, while success is determined after a period of time has elapsed. In other words, we have no pure way of judging Marketing as we might, for instance, be able to find a poem beautiful even before it has found success by way of publication or wide-dissemination.

We do this because we believe in Victor’s Justice despite its patent unfairness and the obvious tautological flaw- success implies successful marketing because successful marketing leads to success.

We apply our rules ex post facto and never form a corpus of “truth” to which we stick. That is why Marketers are themselves lambasted- because we also shift our ground.

When will we have the courage to stand up for the defeated, to be able to declare a piece of marketing that has not led to commercial success still a great piece of marketing?

Marketing’s Boll Weevil?

Romi Mahajan · President – KKM Group

KKM Group is an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

Those interested in US history will remember the devastating impact the Boll Weevil had on the cotton-based Southern-Economy in the early 20th century. In the thirty years from the Weevil’s appearance in the US to the height of its spread, 600,000 square miles of territory were infested, wreaking havoc on the monoculture in the Agrarian South and prompting one of the largest shifts of population in the history of this country.

The city of Enterprise, Alabama, however, erected a Monument to this pest in 1919 since it, in their perception, heralded an era of Economic Prosperity. The Boll Weevil infestation is thought to be the precipitating force behind the South’s creation of a more complex, diverse economy.

Shocks to the system, while painful to endure, can engender positive change.

So what is Marketing’s Boll Weevil? The Internet? Measurement? Recession?

What are your thoughts?

Marketing’s Acupressure Problem

Peanut-Buttered Marketing has little hope for success. Marketing that stems from the “meridian” philosophy of early Chinese medicine is the only real way to go. In Acupuncture and Acupressure, certain nodal points in the body are located as “meridians” that when stimulated have far-reaching effects throughout the body. Marketers need to know the acupressure points in their ecosystem if they hope to ever show the results they claim they can. Spreading marketing evenly, while understandable, is by and large a failing proposition.

Consider the following problem: Let’s say you are CMO of a company that wants to get Developers to write applications for your new Mobile operating system. You want to incite action and participation from Developers by getting them to change their perceptions of your company and your competitors. Where would you spend the bulk of your marketing efforts? Well, clearly, you’d spend resources in Silicon Valley, the well-known “headwaters” of perception in the world of technology and home to Apple Corporation, maker of the iPhone and incumbent perception-leader in its space. It would be foolish to spend equal amounts in the Valley and in, say, Los Angeles though the latter is a bigger market.

Continue Reading…

Romi Mahajan is President of KKM Group, an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

India 3.0

India 3.0 is here.

India 1.0 was all about cost and the 24 hour workday. India 2.0 was about large project efficiencies. India 3.0 is about global talent management.

In speaking with Srivats Srinivasan, CEO of Nayamode, a marketing services company based in Redmond, WA, I crystallized my thoughts about the changing order of what I call “Advantage Priorities.” [Full disclosure: I am an Advisor to the company.]

The term Advantage Priorities refers to the method of enumeration of the relative advantages that different facets of your Business Model confer to your company. India 1.0 was about the advantage of cost savings and of a perpetually productive workforce. India 2.0 was about the advantages that large, skilled, non-payroll virtual teams can add to efficiencies. India 3.0 is about the ability companies have to leverage a robust and dynamic global talent pool to provide the right talent for the right project, while simultaneously upgrading projects and skill-sets.

Continue Reading…

Romi Mahajan is President of KKM Group, an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

The Enduring CPM and its Discontents

The Internet is a breeding ground for unlimited punditry, and the pundits are almost always wrong – as in the area of Internet advertising in which self-proclaimed seers declare the demise of the CPM, the fundamental unit of measurement in Internet Advertising.

The world has changed, they say, and advertisers/marketers want action and engagement, not just impressions. In this “theory,” the CPM is dead, but the CPC, CPL, and CPA are alive and kicking.

Continue Reading…

Romi Mahajan is President of KKM Group, an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

Power Outage – Recap #fisherplazafire

As many of you are aware we had a day long outage on Friday. I wanted to give everyone a sense of what happened, what we are doing etc.

On Friday (July 3rd) – there was a fire in Fisher Plaza. Fisher Plaza is a “Communication Hub” in the NorthWest – its host to a bunch of datacenters as well as TV and Radio Stations. The fire caused the automatic sprinker system to kick in and essentially shut down power to one of the buildings.

3:00 AM

We learned about this around 3AM Friday morning. All QuestionPro technical staff were online assessing the situation by about 5AM. Since this was a system wide outage (as opposed to a group of servers failing) – we simply had to asses the situation as it developed.

6:00 AM

We get preliminary indication that the root cause of the power failure is the fire and that no-one is allowed to enter/leave the building till Seattle Fire Department does a sweep. At this point we are all online, waiting for Seattle Fire to clear and give the thumbs up. We redirected traffic to QuestionPro.com to a temporary set of servers with a downtime notice. We asked users to check out our twitter feed for updates as well as our status page (status.surveyanalytics.com)

9:00AM

We get indication that Fisher Electrical contractor is trying to get power back online – drying out the equipment to make sure its safe to operate. We start putting updates on the QuestionPro and IdeaScale twiiter accounts (twitter.com/questionpro and twitter.com/ideascale) – both QP and IS are hosted in the same set of cabinets. The entire building is out of power and its a challenge even to get in and out of the building (no elevators, electronic key cards don’t work etc.)

We also make the determination that we should wait till about 5PM to see of the power comes back online before moving all the data to another data-center. We also have space in a backup data-center.

12:00PM
Fisher and Internap communicate that they are bringing in mobile generators in Flat Bed Trucks – the plan is to get the Generators fired up and bypass the electrical room altogether (where the water damage was)


5:00PM
Engineers are still working on bypassing the electrical room. We decide to wait for a couple of more hours. There are a lot of other issues with moving all the data into the backup data-center – re-configuring the systems would take us a longer time and we run the risk of not having enough servers to handle to load. Our backup systems are meant to store backups (not run the entire load and applications.)

10:00PM
Power is restored to HVAC (heating and cooling) equipment. Power is then slowly turned on to all the customer (our) equipment.

3:00AM
Power comes back online – Our servers start humming – All QuestionPro technical staff is online by 5AM – We start working on making sure all services come back online properly. – By about 6:45AM we are all back to normal.

Twitter – Works like a charm:
We tried to keep everyone abreast of issues as they developed on twitter. We were issuing updates and following updates using the following hashtags – #fisherfire and #fisherplazafire. If anyone every doubted the uselfullness of Twitter in an emergency – this has proven (to me at least) first hand that Twitter indeed is amazingly useful to communicate in the face of an emergency.

Through twitter we found out that we were not the only ones affected by this fire – Some of the other sites that went offline are:

  • authorize.net
  • bing.com/travel (farecast)
  • bigfishgames
  • Bartell Drugs
  • allrecepies.com

Needless to say, this is pretty big disruption of our services. Both Fisher Plaza and Internap have promised us that they’ll come up with a detailed explanation of the issues and steps to prevent such outages in the future. Meanwhile this also exposed a couple of vulenerabilities on our own preparedness. In the spirit of openness I’ll talk about them – and not only will we talk about it, we’ll also do something about it – and keep you posted on progress.

We will be posting a series of blog posts with the hashtag #fisherplazfire to communicate effectively the steps we are taking to make sure this kind of a distuption does not happen in the future. Like with any system, we cannot make things 100% – but we sure as hell can try.

Short Term Issues:

Communication:
One of the shortcomings we noticed was that our Blog (which is our primary medium of communication) was also hosted within our data-center. This has to change — we;ll be moving our blog (blog.questionpro.com) to a hosted WordPress – Rob Hoehn is in charge of that and will oversee that. We’ll also take this opportunity to segment our blogging – we’ll setup three separate blogs (one for QuestionPro, IdeaScale and MicroPoll.)

Automated Phone Message:
We should be able to deliver the same information (like twitter updates) when people call up. We use Angel.com for our hosted PBX system – We’ll setup the system so we can give out updates when users call in in times of emergencies like this.

Pre-Planned Error Page:
We should have a system in place to switch our systems to an error page (when all hell has broken loose) – we had to scramble at the last minute to setup a separate system (in our backup data-center) to host the error page itself.

Long Term Issues:

Real-Time Data-Center Redundancy:
We have full redundancy _within_ the data-center. So if any one of our servers dies (hard drive failure, etc.) – other servers pick up the slack automatically. If one of our database-servers crash, we have replicated servers that will come online automatically within seconds. However, if the entire data-center goes offline, our current plan does not have a solution to move to another data-center within minutes. We have full copies of the data stored offsite – but that is only the data.

What we need to get to, is to _operate_ out of a different data-center in case of a massive emergency like this. This will undoubtedly will double our operating expenses, but given then business we are in, we simply need to do this. Over the next three months, we’ll be figuring out a solution so that we can sustain turning off power to our primary data-center and things move to our backup data-center.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the patience some of you have shown and understanding many of our customers have shown in the face of this emergency. As the CEO and an Owner of this business I do not take this lightly.

If there is something I can do for you, please feel free to ping me directly – vivek[dot]bhaskaran[at]surveyanalytics[dot]com