Monthly Archives: June 2014

Trivone Wins Its First Public Award

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Patting oneself on one's own back is a heavenly feeling, second only to scratching one's own back. Bad jokes apart, it feels great to announce on this blog that Trivone Digital Services has been awarded a silver under the category Effectiveness-Publishing-Entertainment at the prestigious DMAi Echo Awards 2014. Trivone's relentless success with Star India and its social media endeavors for its show Koffee With Karan has come to fruition. Our pursuit of excellence for our clients has brought something we will cherish for long. 

We would like to thank the Star team in Mumbai for their tireless efforts and their ingenuity which made it possible. As a young company, we are happy with the recognition for our diligence but are far from satisfied. Ironically, our hunger for more recognition has been stoked by this feather in our cap. This award surely is the first of many that will come our way. We remain steadfast in our commitment to our clients and we are very proud of what we have achievd till date.

Congratulations to everyone at Trivone. Check the list of winners here. Some elite company we are in!

 

Category: Recognition, Success

When Leaders Fail To Inspire

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By Shweta Verma, Editor- B2B Media, Trivone Digital Services

Managers who are unable to ‘lead’ their teams often try to hide behind complex matrices and leadership theories that even they don’t understand!

If you are tired of those leadership models, complex matrices, and the same old buzzwords and clichés, you are probably suffering from what is called ‘framework fatigue.’ In fact, most of us in our work lives suffer from this kind of fatigue today.

More often than not, managers try to drive their teams based on certain frameworks and management lessons they may have gathered at B-school. In reality, many of them are not able to really ‘lead’ their teams and end up hiding behind such matrices and models that even they don’t understand!

“The trouble with leadership theories is they’re easy to hide behind (often inaccurately). They become proxies for actual leadership. When something important is on the line, people don’t follow five-tiered triangles, four-box matrices, or three concentric circles. They follow real people,” Doug Sundheim, a leadership and strategy consultant, writes in his blog.

While there is no harm in using these frameworks, the real test of leadership lies in how you put your knowledge into action. In doing that, you may need to look beyond the jargons and clutter around ‘leadership’ and get into the shoes of a role model for your team.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

This may sound like another cliché, but it still holds true. Actions do speak louder than words. Hands-on leaders who are always ready to jump onto the field and take things in their hands whenever necessary always earn more respect among their people.

How many times have you gone to your manager with a problem and he has sent you back even more confused? Managers often believe that by giving ‘gyan’ they have equipped people with enough information to be able ‘act.’ But the results are usually disappointing.

Most of the time when an executive reaches out to his manager, he is not looking for those ‘words of wisdom.’ At times he could be just venting out his frustration and might feel better if you just provide a compassionate hearing.

Moreover there could be situations when a person is in real trouble and may actually want ‘you’ to act. As a leader in the company you would be entitled to certain authority and clout that he may not enjoy. Therefore, a small step taken by you might go a long way in making things easier for your team.

What Makes A Great Leader?

Leaders don’t come in standard shapes or sizes! So it could be tough to find ones who can truly inspire their teams to work towards their goals. Management Guru Peter F. Drucker writes, “An effective executive does not need to be a leader in the sense that the term is now most commonly used. Harry Truman did not have one ounce of charisma, for example, yet he was among the most effective chief executives in US history.”

Back home in India, we’ve had some great examples like NR Narayana Murthy of Infosys, Anand Mahindra of Mahindra & Mahindra group or even Kishore Biyani of the Future Group, each with his own unique style of functioning and business approach.

Daniel Goleman, the author of the famous book‘Emotional Intelligence’ says,The personal styles of superb leaders vary: Some leaders are subdued and analytical; others shout their manifestos from the mountain tops. And just as important, different situations call for different types of leadership,” he says.

Drucker goes on to say in one of his blogs on leadership, “Some of the best CEOs I’ve worked with over a 65-year consulting career were not stereotypical leaders. They were all over the map in terms of their personalities, attitudes, values, strengths, and weaknesses. They ranged from extroverted to nearly reclusive, from easygoing to controlling, from generous to parsimonious.”

Whether a leader follows a certain management philosophy or uses different matrices to achieve business goals, in the end, he has to motivate his team to deliver results. Just like different problems may call for different solutions, different leaders could also work towards creating their own leadership styles and models, instead of trying to force-fit those given frameworks into every situation!

Category: Leadership

Leadership Notes: Finding the Best Person for the Job?

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by Raj Narayan, Chief Content Officer, Trivone Digital Services

A few weeks back, I had blogged about how the ‘suck-up syndrome’ hampered senior managers from creating functional teams. Some friends who had the misfortune of reading the post quizzed me on how one could overcome this syndrome? My answer: “If I knew that, I’d be the Master of the Universe”.

I am not trying to be facetious here. The fact is most of us find it difficult to deal with our discomfiture with other individuals. The moment our we encounter a diversity of thought, the mind transmits a warning signal… “Watch out! This person might spell trouble for you in the future.”

Sally Krawcheck, former CEO of Smith Barney and CFO of Citibank and currently with 85Broads.com has an interesting perspective… “I look for people who make me somewhat uncomfortable. I look for people who are different from me, who hold different views, have different areas of expertise. I look for people from whom I learn in the interview.” Hiring such people makes the workplace “less comfortable” for the team, but that is exactly the point, she says.

This is easier said than done. One of my standard questions to prospective hires would be “Tell me everything you know about our company and share any experience you’ve had with us.” On one such instance, the interviewee looked me straight in the eye and said, “You guys need to grow beyond reportage and add context to the news you are covering. As a reader, I expect to find answers to ‘why’ more than to what, who or when.”

As head of the division, I had to really steel myself before this barrage of criticism, that too coming from a person seeking employment. The discomfiture referred to by Sally was palpable. My immediate reaction was to ask him why he wanted to join a company that didn’t measure up to his standards. “Well, I know what needs to be done to bring about the change,” he said serenely and 24 hours later he was on our team.

So, how does one find the best person for the job? Sally believes that one must actually look to build the best team together and this could be quite different from finding the best person for the job. She likens this to hiring all point guards – a playmaker position in basketball. If we were to replace basketball with cricket, it might be akin to hiring all-rounders in the hope that one or the other will rise to the occasion.

Expanding from the earlier example, what would happen if I continued to hire people who find flaws in our way of doing things? Obviously, I would end up hiring another ‘harbinger of change’ and the outcome would be complete lack of clarity on editorial positioning and quality metrics.

So, for every playmaker in the team, there should also be shooters and defenders. In cricketing parlance, to win a test match, the batsmen need to score enough runs and the bowlers need to scalp 20 wickets.

Each one plays for the other using the unique skills that he brings to the ground. That is probably the essence of good teamwork and the difference between success and failure. 

This post first appeared on CXOtoday.com on 25 Sep, 2013.

Category: Hiring, Leadership

It’s Just Not About Sikka!

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By L Subu Subramanyan, CEO, Trivone Digital Services

And so, Vishal Sikka has been named as the new chief of Infosys. Enough newsprint and bytes have been spent by experts, to tell him what he ought to be doing. As a typical Indian predilection, almost every single newspaper had at least three, if not more, experts and former industry stalwarts, giving him unsolicited advice. My only advice to him would be ‘stop reading Indian media’. They are so much full of S@#t. Not one of those experts have had even a nodding acquaintance with running a company, leave  alone one as large and successful as Infy. But then, till date there is no cost to giving free advice. So there.

To me, the biggest lesson was the fact that Infy got someone from outside to run the company. Not that there weren’t enough good guys inside (though they did appear to resemble endangered species as time went by!), but the hard fact that the Infy board figured out was that the Software and Services business had changed inextricably in the last few years. So much so that even the venerable NRN had missed the point on his second stint. It is no longer Software and Services sales, but more and more about business solutions.

Again, the phrase ‘business solution’ in the Services export context has been used quite liberally in the past. However, today, the phrase has acquired a whole new meaning and most services companies are and will continue to face the heat if they don’t change. To me, as a layperson, the change is reflected in three distinct areas:

1. The customer has changed, not the company: The Indian software and services business had excelled in selling to the CIO/ CTO community. They had got the screenplay right. It was all about the cost savings, latest tools, testing processes, quality certifications… nice colorful powerpoints with a huge number of acronyms… we knew what it meant and the CIO/CTO also did..

The world just changed a tad last few quarters. The customer is no longer the CIO, but the business head – CMO, Head of Finance, Human Resources, Logistics chief et al. And the big problem is that they really don’t care for the pretty powerpoints or even whether you are CMM Level 5… they need a business problem solved and they are the guys who are going to decide who is the best solutions provider.

2. The marketplace is digital: Many companies, if not all, don’t think of their digital assets as strategic. Most websites are broadcast tools with content that is so pompous that you might just want to retch. Few digital assets are designed to engage and create conversations and build and nurture communities, and smartly at that. The problem is that the new customer – the business process owner is extremely keen to engage and talk.

3. The content is, well, rather, boring: I am being very parliamentary here. The reality is that most content sucks. Massive ppts, intricate diagrams with flowcharts that resemble a bowl of spaghetti, acronyms that would be worse than Greek and Latin.. most content is designed for the CIO/ CTO. There is no story, no humor, no emotion, no sense of accomplishment.. it is way too dry. Now why would a CMO really bother reading about the implementation of Oracle Middleware Solution? He just doesn’t give a damn.

So where do you go from here? Obvious isn’t it? Besides being diligent, can we be a little more intelligent and also assume that the customer is equally intelligent? Can we reduce our endeavors to stories that the marketplace can understand, and not just us? Can we engage our customers on our digital platforms and start building conversations with her, rather than pretty powerpoints?

To circle back, we need more strategists from overseas who know the customer to start running our companies here and guiding us. Left to ourselves, we will leave the ostrich envious.

Sikka is a harbinger to that trend.. and so could Infosys be

 

Category: Corporate

Social TV and the “Second Screen”

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By Neeraj Raje, Director- West & Social Media, Trivone Digital Services

A lot is being discussed about social media as an extension of the TV viewing experience. Social media comments around the 2012 Oscars were 250 percent higher than in 2011. For the Grammys, there was a whopping 2,300 percent growth in social comments. TV marketers are excitedly watching trends in social television because this implies two things – an enhanced viewer experience, and also encouragement for the viewer to talk more about shows that reach his online social circle.

TV has always been a social experience. We watch a match together and talk about it with friends. With more personal gadgets (mobiles, tablets, book readers), sharing goes beyond the living room, and spans people connected via social networks. We can now talk about TV shows — and what we’re thinking about them – with online friends.

A study by Yahoo advertising showed that 86% of users with access to mobile Internet use their mobiles while watching television; 25% of them said they were browsing content related to the show they were watching. It appears we’re not satisfied just watching TV; we need a second screen to keep us engaged.

Businesses are growing around the idea of the “second screen”, and content developers are taking this ancillary market seriously.

TV has always been considered “lean-back” entertainment, while the computer is “lean-forward”; i.e., one is “passive” and the other is “active.” With the idea of a second screen around content, marketers are excited at the possibility of a marriage of the two. Imagine if a product placement in a sitcom can immediately be bought online. (WiOffer.com gives TV watchers information about the products and services they see advertised on screen, in commercials and within the shows.)

But before we get all excited, we have to remember that people use their devices as a distraction from what they are watching. Most people are checking mails, playing games, or talking to friends on social networks – or texting. The challenge is to create a great experience for users using the second screen as an add-on.

For this, we have to understand audience needs, behaviour, and the context of watching TV in the living room. There is a greater chance of interacting with users during TV shows such as reality TV, events, sports, news, or season finales of big shows. When you check trending topics on Twitter, you realize that most trends about TV shows are around these categories. Within this group, the most popular in the US are the Grammys, Oscars, and Superbowl. In India, it’s international cricket matches and the Filmfare awards, among a few others.

There is a small but fully involved user base that watches reruns and movies — and tweets about them. For these audiences, there can be a content strategy for second screens.

Let’s look at the basic audience need in terms of content from the second screen while they are watching TV. Viewers want to find out morejoin in, and take control.

“Find out more”

When we really like a show, we want to find out things like who the actor playing such-and-such character is, what the music score is, where we can find the complete recipe, and so on. During the Oscars this year, tweets increased dramatically during breaks, when people wanted to find out more about the winners or the movie. The show also offered different camera angles on their second screen app during the broadcast.

During the breaks in a big movie being premiered on TV, the stars are often shown discussing the movie. Can this be taken onto the second screen too? Can that be enhanced by a director’s commentary parallel to the movie?

Last week, Celebrity Apprentice US launched a second-screen app for iPhone, iPad and Android. It lets users interact with the content, play socially with friends, share episode details with the community, and get real-time digital coupons from show advertisers. The app also gives extra content, contestant bios, scoops, trivia and other content enhancements. The hook to download the app is exclusive giveaways for app users, cash prizes, and the chance to win a Buick Verano.

“Join Into”

While watching KBC, as soon as the question appears, someone in the living room guesses the answer. Users want to join in. Can we make an app where users can guess along with the contestant? How about instant polls on live reality TV? How about creating a separate platform to share views immediately with friends who are watching the same show, or with other fans?

GetGlue is a social network for entertainment. Users can check-in to a show like check-ins on foursquare, and share what they are watching, listening to and reading. Users get rewards for checking in, from channels or from the show’s online stores. GetGlue has been so successful that its user base has crossed the 2 million mark. There were more than 100 million check-ins during 2011. Its database now encompasses over 350 million check-ins, ratings, and reviews.

Zeebox is promoting itself as TV’s sidekick. It’s a free app for laptops and iPads. It knows what you and your friends are watching, and it can give you more information about it – while letting you buy and download relevant stuff.

“Take control”

Disney Second Screen is an app for your iPad or laptop computer to interact with your Blu-ray movie. You download the app at Disneysecondscreen.com, but you need a “magic code” that comes with the Blu-ray disc. The app syncs with the movie audio and knows what scene you are watching. Once the app is synced, you can navigate, bookmark scenes, play trivia along with the movie scene, and listen to a director’s commentary. It also peels away a layer of visual effects and gives you a 360-degree panoramic view. Right now, though, there are only a few titles available, including Tron and Bambi.

TV marketing company CTV Advertising conducted a survey with ten heavy TV watchers. Some of the results are interesting, even if they’re not really surprising:

  • 6 out of 10 viewers reported that social disruption occurs when trying to utilize second screen synced ads. This includes negative reception by others in the group, and inability to participate in relevant conversation around the ad itself.
  • 4 out of 10 said the second screen was a disruption to actual TV viewing.
  • 7 out of 10 had problems getting the app to work properly, including bad sync.
  • But 8 out of 10 said they derived value from the second screen. There was also widespread acceptance and deeper engagement for ads that rewarded their viewers with specific incentives.

Zachary Weiner CEO of CTV Advertising says,

”There is a lot of power within the second screen, but also a lot of considerations and difficult factors when creating brand experiences for consumers. Our belief holds that true two way interactivity found within the first screen holds the potential to have more seamless user experiences, such as our main practice area of connected TV advertising.”

Here’s a take from Forbes magazine on the debate: Second screen apps are a way to spend time doing something other than watching TV commercials. The more screens we have on hand, the more likely it is that we will find a way to tune out during the breaks in shows. It’s a simple but scary dynamic – commercials start and we grab our devices. The bottom line is that the more we drive consumers to the second screen, the harder it will be to monetize their time and attention.

The important thing that everybody would agree on is that TV content is at the core of second screen media experiences. What is required is a great first screen experience, followed by a second screen experience that is not driven by just advertising revenue.

TV channels must certainly develop a second screen strategy for social media. But rather than thinking, “We should get more users via Twitter to watch the show,” we should have a plan to talk to the user already watching the show and connected to his social network: How can we enhance his experience? If he sees value, he will definitely talk about it and share.

What do you think?

Category: Social Media

Market Shares Are Made of These

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By L 'Subu' Subramanyan

In the past, when my friends and colleagues used to quiz me on my penchant for flying Air India, I’d merely smirk. However, one fateful night last week, that smirk slowly but steadily morphed into a frown – followed by a frustrated, harried and hapless condition.

At fault was the ‘Maharajah’ whom I had supported through thick and thin – from the time when the airline got nationalized through the entire privatization era, when the ill-winds of strikes and job cuts loomed large – right up to the moment I waited to board a flight at the JFK Airport in New York.

Having arrived almost five hours early for the New York to London flight, the first shock was to see the ‘cancelled’ notice alongside the flight. What made matters worse was the conspicuous absence of any Air India employee at the counter. Having secured the number of the Airport Manager, I tried in vain to get through but was halted in my tracks by the manager’s voice mail announcing his inability to attend the call.

Can’t blame him for delayed flights, can we? 

The 1-800 numbers did work though the chap to whom I got connected couldn’t help me, given that he was stationed at Gurgaon! “Sir, I cannot do more than this (giving standard answers listed out in front of him). Please talk to the Station Manager at the JFK Airport. When I told him that the concerned individual was ‘unable to answer the phone’ and had set up a machine to do the talking, the Gurgaon kid said: “Please talk to the Station Manager, Sir.”

I gave up. The situation was piquant to say the least. No flight, no chap to attend to a bunch of harried and stranded passengers. And no money to book an alternate flight. Of course, a few of us were lucky in the last respect and promptly booked ourselves on a Virgin Atlantic flight set for takeoff around the same time.

However, my heart went out to a couple of young folk who were travelling home to Nepal and had to return to the city, wonder when and where they’d leave next.

For once, I am not suggesting that flights shouldn’t get cancelled once in a while. However, the least that an airline can do is provide some succor how to get free gems on episode to passengers in the form of customer service. Running away from the situation without facing up suggests callousness.

Kuwait Airways, with whom Air India has a tie-up in the United States, had its staff in place. Witnessing our predicament, one of them came up and told me, “They’re just avoiding you sir, since they know they have a situation to deal with. But see us… we’re dealing with people who have booked with us.” To say that I went red in the face does genital herpes itch out of shame would be an understatement!

When the Air India employees go on strike demanding many things, the initial public reaction is one of disgust. Now I know why.

When the Union Minister for Civil Aviation says ‘Air India will be protected, many are outraged. Now, so am I.

When foreign and Indian airlines kick Air India’s backside, many applaud. Now, so will I.

Not because they canceled a flight. Because they don’t care.

Now neither will I! 

 
Category: Corporate