Month: February 2020

Offbeat Holiday Destinations in India

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It’s Friday, and if you are thinking of where to head for a holiday in the coming months, then you might want to consider these lesser-known destinations within India.

The North-East of India – Very few Indians, let alone outsiders, venture into this remote part of India.

Living Root Bridges – Meghalaya is known for its natural wonders, especially the place that receives possibly the highest amount of rainfall in the world. Another lesser-known natural wonder are these living root bridges.

The Magical Kumaoni village – Not many might be aware, but this place in the Himalayas has been visited by some extremely famous personalities, including Swami Vivekananda, Timothy Leary and Bob Dylan. Having visited this place myself, I can vouch that there is something about Kasar Devi that gives it a serene, almost mystical, air.

The Gateway to the Deccan – Some of the most popular destinations in India are to its north, west and east. Most travelers miss the vast Deccan plateau in the centre of the country, While Hampi, to the South, is now well entrenched in the tourist map, there are many lesser-known gems such as the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh.

The World’s Largest Single Tree Canopy – Most people might not have heard of Thimmamma Marrimanu, but this place in Southern Andhra Pradesh, located about 180 kilometres to the North east of Bangalore, has the world’s largest single tree canopy.


Key Digital Marketing Trends for 2020 (and beyond)

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Yes, I know I am late to the party. We are well into 2020. But, as the saying goes, Better Late Than Never!

Here are my views on what key Digital Marketing trends for 2020 (and beyond) might be and the key questions you need to be asking:

  • Rise of Voice Search – The stats for Voice based Search are quite staggering. How are you going to stay relevant when most searches are going to be voice-based?
  • Content is King – A very old statement, I know. But this is going to be increasingly important as brands strive to differentiate themselves and stay relevant in this day and age. How are you thinking about your content strategy as a key strategic element of your marketing and brand strategy?
  • SEO is not going anywhere – It is surprising how many brands directly jump into social amd other media strategies before evaluating and optimising good old Organic or Natural Search. It seems like almost every year fresh obituaries are written for one of the oldest Digital Marketing tactic. To adapt the famous quote (or possibly misquote) from Mark Twain – “Reports of SEO’s death are grossly exaggerated”. Do you have a robust SEO strategy in place, that incorporates the changing nature of Search?
  • The pendulum will keep swinging between Data-Driven and ‘Creative’ Marketing – There will continue to exist two camps in the (Digital) Marketing field. One that believes that data-driven and performance marketing will rule and the other that bemoans the loss of creativity and asserts that marketers will have to stay creative to build and differentiate their brand. A few years ago, I felt that the pendulum had shifted significantly to the data camp. I believe we are now seeing a shift towards the creative side. How will you balance the requirement for creativity with holding your marketing accountable to specific ROI metrics?
  • Process-oriented marketing will be key – AI is helping automate many marketing activities. And we will see more applications of AI when it comes to marketing, especially marketing automation. I have written previously about the importance of process when it comes to Digital Marketing. Do you have a robust processes in place to drive your marketing?

What are your views? What else do you think will be important in Digital Marketing in the near term?





Micro-credentials: The Future of Learning?

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We have all heard the saying that Learning has to be a continuous process. And the digitisation of learning has meant that it’s become easier than ever for people to learn a new skill, at whatever stage in their lives they might be.

I am a Visiting Faculty of Digital Marketing at a few institutes and teach both MBA students as well as Working Professionals. I like teaching, and so I occasionally wonder what the future of education and learning might look like. These are some of the trends that I believe will become increasingly important:

  1. Bite-sized learning – The desire to only invest time and money for learning some specific subjects or skills
  2. Anytime, anyplace learning – the ability to learn at one’s own convenience
  3. Application Oriented learning – learners are keen on pedagogies that prepare them better on how to apply their learnings in their immediate careers

Enter micro-credentials. These have become very popular very quickly to address the opportunities being created by these above trends. While they are not yet a substitute for formal, university oriented education, I have no doubt that these can, and will, play an increasingly important role going forward.

Does that mean that universities and established higher education institutes have reasons to worry?

I do not believe there is undue cause for concern, at least in the near term. There will continue to be the need for centres of academic excellence that provides an environment for people to go deep into a subject and do research. At the same time, there will continue to exist, for the near term, the need for ‘signalling’ – a way for society, especially employers, to be able to filter people by their ability to conform to the set of rules that define success in a typical academic set-up.

I would like this, to be different, though, such that people who might not have the ability, of the willingness, to conform to these set rules can still signal their capabilities and interests to the broader world. I believe micro-credentials can be a means to achieve this end. We are not there yet – the lack of a uniform set of standards to evaluate the various different ways to earn micro-credentials is a major issue that needs to be resolved before this can happen.


This post was inspired by the following article published on – Could micro-credentials compete with traditional degrees?


Monday Reads – 17/02

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This week’s articles are on the topic of AI or Artificial Intelligence –  we look at the history of AI or Machine Learning, and a couple of interesting (and thought-provoking) use cases.

10 Overlooked Machine Learning Advances in the Last 10 Decades – While AI has become a buzzword fairly recently, the history of Machine Learning (or ML) goes back at least a century. This article covers the key Machine Learning trends and developments of the past 100 years.

What will Music be Like in 20 Years? – A fascinating peek into how AI is already part of the music industry and what the future might hold. How would you feel if you suddenly discovered that your present favourite song was created by AI?

An Algorithm That Grants Freedom, or Takes It Away – “Across the United States and Europe, software is making probation decisions and predicting whether teens will commit crime.” Sounds familiar?


The Role of Process in Digital Marketing

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One of the benefits of working as a Digital Marketing consultant is the opportunity it provides of meeting a variety of interesting businesses, people and getting a chance to understand and help solve different problems. Over the past 18 months, I have been fortunate to have got the opportunity to analyse varied businesses and help them with their Digital Marketing and Growth Strategies. It’s been a great learning experience for me as well, trying to understand what could be some of the common reasons and opportunities for all these varied businesses.

There are a few reasons when businesses feel the need for an external consultant when it comes to Digital Marketing:

  • They have an idea and realise they need some expertise in developing an overall digital presence.
  • They have been in business for some time, have some degree of Product Market fit and now realise they need Digital Marketing to grow their business and take it to the next level.
  • They have been doing Digital Marketing for some time and would like an external pair of eyes to help them understand the true performance of their Digital Marketing and drive further efficiencies

One of the key learnings for me so far, having engaged with businesses in all of the above stages, is that, in most cases, the solution lies in the process.

Digital Marketing is a continuously evolving field. Channels come and go, as do tactics. What works well for one business in a particular context might not work for another. But one aspect that has really not changed is that it is a very data-driven field. And that, by necessity, requires businesses to have a strong process orientation to be successful.

What does this mean in practice?

Barriers to entry in Digital Marketing are low and keep dropping all the time, so almost anyone these days can start a Digital Marketing campaign from their computer in about 24 hours (or even less). This makes it very tempting to jump into a specific tactic headlong. However, just because execution is relatively simple and easy does not mean that one should not take the time to think through how one is going to evaluate the performance of their Digital Marketing. And this requires a Digital Marketing framework that includes the objectives, strategy, execution and measurement plan. And the first step in developing this framework is an in-depth understanding of the customer.

Once a business has some strong customer insights is when they can start developing their Digital Marketing strategy – what are the channels to leverage, how does one target the relevant audience, what is the content strategy and, most importantly, what are the measures of success?

The reason I emphasise the process aspect is because, very often, businesses might not have all the insights, or it might be very expensive and time-consuming exercise to get very accurate insights. What I recommend businesses is that it’s fine to not have all the insights, as long as one has put in place a process to gather insights quickly, translate these into hypotheses, create a plan to test these hypotheses, gather and analyse the data as close to real-time as possible and then make changes to their tactics and strategy based on these insights.

The point I want to emphasise is that there is no ‘magic bullet’ solution when it comes to Digital Marketing. Every business is unique. Customers might be common across multiple businesses, but the mindset they are in when it comes to interacting with brands might be very different across different brands. And, therefore, assuming that what works for someone else should work for you can be a dangerous assumption. It is always best to start from first principles, iterate, learn, tweak, learn some more and so on. And one requires a robust process mechanism to ensure that this happens as a matter of principle.

So do you have a process to do the above?

If you would like some help with setting one up, please do get in touch with me. I will be happy to help!