Friday, 28 March 2014

When marketing and technology meet

My company Bright Angles Consulting publishes a newsletter every Friday. In this newsletter, we encapsulate curated news clips from the world of tech. Our readers, most of whom are from the marketing fraternity, tell us that they find our newsletter very useful as they can just scan through our newsletter every week to keep themselves abreast of tech news. While curating content for our newsletter today, I came across two very interesting pieces of news:

News #1 : American media Behemoth, Tribune has recently launched a smartphone app that reads aloud personalized playlist of news articles. The app called Newsbeat uses text to speech technology and human voiceover to produce a catalogue of  7000 news articles about everything newsworthy. While the app is free, the content is not advertisement free.

News #2 : A Miami based company, Admobilze has created a technology that finally makes outdoor advertising measurable. The technology called AdBeacon can count the number of people who were exposed to a particular billboard by taking photos of the surrounding every 2 seconds. The photos are fed back into the server where a software tracks the gazes of the passersby. Billboard suppliers can now charge the advertisers on a 'pay per face' basis.

I think here are two great examples which demonstrate the growing symbiotic relationship between marketing and technology. The line between the two functions are fading fast. Companies which are adept at both, marketing and technology, will be the ones most equipped to take on the brave new world. From consumer research to media, the magic today lies in the zone where marketing meets technology.   

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

There's nothing comfortable about the comfort zone!

In the last ten days, I watched two hindi movies - Queen and English Vinglish (yes, I must have been the last person on earth to have watched English Vinglish) and an English Movie - Annie Hall (Yes, I must have been the last Woody Allen fan to have watched the film!) Coincidentally, all three films though set in different times, had the same underlying subtext! All three talk about women and their ability to transform from self doubting janes to confident and independent women by stepping out of their comfort zones.

My take out from these three films is that there is actually nothing comfortable about the 'comfort zone'. It is a cage created by our minds to provide an unfounded sense of security. It is dark, dingy and musty. It does not have a window through which hope shines through. It does not have a dance floor to do the victory dance. All it has is a large door which is bolted all the time to keep away possibilities, fear of failure, fear of alienation etc etc. (You get the gist, don't you?)  

It took me about forty years to realize that moments of awkwardness and moments of discomfort are growth fuels. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and running away from them, our ability to get them in our stride is what finally makes dreams come true. Finally makes magic happen. Finally helps one fly.

Currently I am looking back and feeling rather foolish at all the times when opportunity came knocking at that big door of my comfort zone and I turned it away. But thank god for that one time when I did step out of that door. That was the step I took to set up Bright Angles Consulting.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Coming Of Age, Indian Style

I liked Queen. In fact as I think about it again and again, I loved Queen. For me, it is one of the best ‘coming of age’ movies Bollywood has produced in a long time.

Rani could have been a neighbour or a classmate – the many girls I have known for whom, there has never been a concept of ‘adolescence’ as we know it. Girls from families which adorn themselves in modern garbs but with many feudal hues. Such is their upbringing that they are perfectly comfortable passing through their entire teenage years without ever rebelling against parental authority or giving into the temptation of forming ‘deep connections’ with members of the opposite gender. For them, marriage is THE rite of passage.
For some of us fortunate few, ‘marriage as a rite of passage’ is an alien concept but for the majority of middle class Indians, it is THE defining moment.The smell of marigold, the sound of shehnai and chanting of Shlokas marks their ‘coming of age’.  Marriage is the license to explore their own minds and bodies and if really lucky, stand up for their own rights and voice their opinion.   
Cinema has often been criticized for being a corrupting influence on society. For the sake of the many Ranis in India, I hope it is true. I hope every girl watching this movie will begin to understand that marriage is not the be all and end all of life. I hope they will see what it is to find a backbone, forge true friendships, be independent, enjoy freedom and above all have the confidence to walk away from all the trappings of a ‘happy life’ with a smile. 

Here's to many more films which celebrate liberation!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Backyard tourism in Mumbai

Woke up this morning and decided to do something different from the usual beer-mutton curry- movie regime that has come to define my Sundays. Jumped into my car with my camera, dragged a friend in and drove to the north of the city. Its funny how we are always planning holidays but don’t explore what our own city has to offer. We reached the Kanheri Caves in about 30 minutes.

The caves which have been carved out of basalt sometime around the 1st Century BC, were used as Buddhist Viharas. The art on the walls are Spartan. There are some small caves which are completely devoid of any carvings but the larger ones have a collection of sculptures depicting Budhha and his teachings.  We trekked up the rather friendly hill walking from one cave to the next despite the hot Mumbai summer sun.

Young couples deprived of privacy in this teeming city, dot the landscape.  Buddha or the art glorifying his teaching is clearly not the reason for their visit to the caves. The curious eyes of a few foreign tourists and their trigger happy fingers is the only give away that this is a monument of historical importance.

In one of the caves, we got completely lucky as we encountered something absolutely out of the ordinary. A foreign tourist (his T-shirt read ‘Made in Germany’ so I assumed he is German) broke out into an operatic piece. He sang from his gut and with his heart. Within seconds, his powerful voice filled the entire cave. The melodious canonical chant was completely mesmerizing. Not just my friend and me but even the security guards were captivated with this spontaneous aria. I regret not whipping out my phone and capturing the moment.   

By and large it was a well spent Sunday. But sadly I missed collecting any story about why and how these caves came up in this region or what the art on the wall depicted. The brief mandatory write up at the entrance is a badly written piece. Clumsy sentences strung together with misspelt words and incorrect grammar. It does nothing to satiate one’s curiosity about the significant of these caves. Another sad reminder of how little we value our culture. Ours is a country seeped in history and here is just another national heritage standing silently in the periphery of the city more as a refuge for young lovers than as a historical landmark.