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A presentation I attended a couple of months back at the NASSCOM product conclave , Bangalore  left a lasting impression on me -it was a 30-min presentation by Mr. JP Rangaswami, Chief Data Officer at Deutsche Bank.  He shared with us his thoughts on the power of data, big data, and analytics in business; the value of trust in understanding data; the sensitivity of data protection; and the lurking vulnerability of the new-breed data analytics and management approaches. The presentation included about 20 slides, and, to my surprise, none of the slides had any imagery or content related to big data, cloud, data mining, or any IT jargon.  All the slides had contextual images that connected beautifully with the emotions of human needs and interests, as well as pictures from history. Yet, each image connected so well with every concept he introduced to the audience. The very title of the presentation stirred immense interest in the audience - "Mother's home cooking: what's happening with data in the enterprise". We were curious to know the relationship between mother's home cooking and data. The link was simple and remarkable at the same time - TRUST. He brought out the metaphorical relationship with beautifully strung pearls of concepts. He even cheekily planted the seed of a new thought - data allergy caused by street food data - it's dangers, possible remedies, and preventive measures. The presentation ended with the image of an empty plate and he left us with a thoughtful note - that's what the plate looks like after you eat your mother's home-cooked lip-smacking food and that's how data should be handled. I was spellbound at the effect the seemingly simple yet inherently complex presentation had on me. What a brilliantly sculpted content that was!

Great content delivers the jaw-dropping, eye-popping effect that not only garners immediate attention but also carries the audience seamlessly through the later stages of the conversion funnel. This wow effect builds a strong foundation as you connect with your target audience.  A heartwarming connect to your audience's most valued emotions will definitely stir a chord in their hearts. Of course, you must be able to deftly link the emotional connect with your intended call to action, else your audience would be left direction-less, wondering about the purpose of a great content left hanging in mid-air.

Let's extend this concept a lot further - to software product/service organizations. Here's the challenge: from your business vision and objectives to your actual interaction with your intended audience, you should directly touch the lives of your end consumers. You need to connect with your end customers at an emotional level, with minimal technological jargon coming in the way. Is that even possible? 

Of course, it is - SAP's vision is "to help the world run better and improve people’s lives" - a remarkably  simple, yet far-reaching vision, which has no mention of even the word "technology". Their integrated report for 2013 lays out their vision, mission, and strategy, the content of which highlights their customer-centric approach.

There are many other such examples you can refer to:

What are the questions that could act as beacons in paving your path towards the wow effect?

1.     As a product/service owner, you may want to increase your market share, make a dent within a new geography, or establish yourself as a leader in your area of specialization - these are your individual goals. But what would you want to achieve for the people your product/service is intended for? That's your organization's objective.

2.     What is the road map you will need to answer the when, how, and which of your objective?  That's your strategy.

3.     What are the tactics you will need to execute the strategy and communicate your vision, value, and capabilities to your target audience? That's your implementation plan.

4.      What are the approaches you would use to measure the effectiveness of your implementation? That's your plan for data analytics.

This list has just a few pointers that'll get you started. The more questions you ask, the more clarity of purpose you will have. However, the key is to keep technology in the background and end consumer experience on the forefront. 

 Once you are clear about the road map and the tactics, your primary task will then be to connect with your target audience to get the message across and build trust. This is where your emotional, heart-warming content marketing efforts come into play. Use content not only to create awareness, but also to build trust - to link your product or solution with an emotional imagery your audience will immediately relate to. Such sincere efforts will definitely help create long-lasting, dedicated customers who identify with your vision and objectives. The key is to generate interest and build trust using context-based non-technical content.

So, start working towards connecting with your end consumers' aspirations rather than blind promotion of your products or services using tech buzzwords - that's your challenge.  Sky is the limit!




"Can we have a one click checkout for all e-commerce transactions? We want to reach that next frontier of user convenience".
--Gaurang Sanghvi, CEO, Instakash

Lack of innovation on the financial services front led Gaurang Sanghvi to set up Instakash, a Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) committed to offering loans to people with low or no credit scores.

Gaurang decided to launch a mobile data analytics organization that applies Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to create new financial products. Focused on consumers and Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs), the company is simplifying financial access for the next generation of users.

"I felt there weren't too many financial products in India and barely any innovation on the customer side. Financial institutions, I realized, were not looking at the user experience. Finance is not about capital only", Gaurang adds.

Instakash is offering loans to those in need, and also creating credit scores of its own based on the online activities of users including payment of utility bills, e-commerce purchases and social-media behavior.

The company has explored other relevant forms of data including a user's banking history, behavior, social graph, background, etc. "We said let's create different risk models based on alternate data points and change the way consumers and businesses view loans. What we are doing is simplifying and automating the processing of loans approval by assessing at least 100 data points", Gaurang states.

Today, Instakash is trying to create a match between what banks are offering and what consumers want. The company is in discussions with some of the big banks to make online lending a normal procedure. Instakash's lending meanwhile, is a totally on-line, end-to-end process.

Speaking about the challenges that Instakash faces, Gaurang says they include collecting and authenticating data. "It is difficult to collect the right data points seamlessly and within a short time. Our USP is that we have the data points and are building credit models for them. This is what differentiates us and enables us to do lending at scale".

Another challenge for the company is working with the banks as getting them on board at scale remains a problem.

In Gaurang's view is that in order to survive and thrive, every start-up needs to think mobile first and acquire good mentors. "Finally, companies need to be at it continuously, even if everyone says ‘No'!" he advises. 

Commenting on the role that NASSCOM has been playing to catalyze the start-up revolution, Gaurang  says the association is creating a unique eco-system that is not even seen globally. "It has become a true evangelist for start-ups and is connecting these companies with the government and industry. This is the need of the hour", he says.

"We have conducted many Hackathons, with participation from thousands of people. They have helped us reach out to developers who are in turn wanting to reach different domains!"
--Sachin Gupta, Co-founder and CEO, HackerEarth

The story of Hacker Earth began in 2012, when Sachin Gupta, an IIT Rourkee alumnus worked on the idea with a friend and decided to launch a company in Bengaluru. The Founders of HackerEarth were keen to create a platform and network for top developers across the world that would expose them to coding challenges that they would then have to solve.

That was the beginning. In 2014, HackerEarth started introducing other elements into its solution. It created a section within the platform where subject matter experts could share tech content.

The next logical step was to enable people to build end-to-end products-basically different applications for different spaces. "For that, we created a platform to host Hackathons. Since early this year, we have conducted many Hackathons, with participation from thousands of people. The Hackathons have helped us reach out to developers who are in turn wanting to reach different domains!", Sachin informs.

According to Sachin, all developers want to become better programmers and the company is helping them achieve this through its platform. "We help them improve their skills on an ongoing basis, network with each other and jointly solve problems. We are creating a skills graph (core technical skills) for developers where they come and solve problems and earn a score", he says.

HackerEarth is also connecting these developers with organizations that need to recruit programming talent or want to create awareness about the technology they have. "Facilitating recruitments and solving the outreach problem for tech companies is a core business model for us", Sachin comments.

Speaking about some of the challenges faced by the company since its inception, Sachin says they included creating a team and finding people who were as passionate about HackerEarth.
According to Sachin a key learning for the company during its journey has been the need to change and let go. "What you start out with is a thought. You need to mould yourself to the changing environment and react to the response of the market. We have morphed from what we were doing by being receptive to market feedback", Sachin states.

Speaking about the future, the CEO says the company is very bullish about the years ahead. "We want to establish a presence in the US and be 10x of what we currently are", he says.
The company incidentally has an interesting facet to its profile where it is nurturing an active campus program. "We want students to become campus ambassadors and want to offer institutions a platform free of cost where they can host their own competitions and conduct their own Hackathons to promote and establish the culture of coding among students. That in fact is our key achievement. We have over 200 students as our campus ambassadors", Sachin says.

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