Thursday, September 3, 2015

Go Incremental and Iterative with Agile

As a software developer, I have had the chance of working in both Agile and non-Agile environment. Though, the Agile exposure, so far, was not quite close to a certified Scrum like environment, It was quite flexible yet adhering to Agile manifesto. I have been learning more about agile lately and it has been quite exciting to understand the intricacies of this methodology and I am now looking to just get more Agile :)

image credits:

During this learning process, one of the thing that intrigued me was the relationship of Agile with Iterative Vs Incremental development. Iterative and Incremental development, both in itself can coexist or rather are often used during the development of most products. Their relationship with each other and the connection with the Agile philosophy is indeed a sort of grey area that got me into doing some research which was fairly rewarding.

Now, lets look at both Iterative, Incremental and how they can co-exist for a theatre production. I am specifically choosing to pick a non-technical project scenario here. Some of the great directors I have worked with, would inherently use both iterative and incremental methodologies while building up the play.

A theater production process is Iterative because, the play is rehearsed consistently and is constantly going through improvement in terms of the performance of actors and other technicians. Good directors start with just readings of the play to ensure deeper understanding by all the members of the team before the actors even get onto doing any movement

Shashi, Mayuresh in Samaantar (2009)
It is also incremental because during the rehearsal process or the shows thereafter, a whole bunch of things get associated with the play. A particular kind of lighting, background score, costumes or accessories. All of this, eventually increase the overall cognitive experience.

When it comes to technology related projects/products, I feel that Incremental methodology is not only about features going into various releases but does also apply to the user stories going into one particular release. Just like a theater production, the design, functionality, user experience need to evolve through both iterative and incremental ways.

Agile is both Iterative and Incremental, in my view. In fact, its much more than that. Though, the Agile practices talk about both iterative and incremental with varied weight-age and many times interchangeably, I think both iterative and incremental are deeply rooted in the Agile mindset.

If I have to put a mathematical relationship between Iterative, Incremental and Agile, it would beEk Aur Ek Gyaarah’. :)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Trends re-shaping B2B Marketing

Industry connect sessions offered by Institute of Product Leadership is a great opportunity to meet, connect and learn from industry experts from various backgrounds. and Its also exciting because Its free. We had Anshul Kaushesh, Brand Systems and Communications leader from IBM, sharing her experiences on the transforming space of B2B marketing that left the audience walk away with a very enriching experience.

My idea of attending this session was mainly to understand how B2B marketing differs from that of B2C marketing which I have been studying lately. With every passing slide and the points from Anshul's presentation, this idea started turning into more of a misconception or a myth. B2B marketing is getting more & more closer to B2C, in fact, it would not be wrong to say that there is nothing like B2B or B2C marketing, its just Marketing. This eventually became the biggest take away for me from this session and we will see multiple reasons as to why, in the rest of this blog.

1:1 relationships : B2B deals are no longer struck on the golf course because it is no longer just the CEOs or CFOs signing the deals, but CMOs, CRO, rather all CxOs and other senior management professionals now have the authority to make buying decisions. Most of these CxOs are milleniars and hence deeply rooted to the technology. They understand the social ecosystem really well and use these skills while making their buying decisions. In fact, a large amount of  such decisions are made even before the lead is initiated. The buying entity makes a much more informed decision based on the information and data already publicly available. This brings us to a very key point of significance of relationships, but these relationships are to be built and maintained by marketers and not just Sales. Marketing is now looking at how do they personalize their campaigns to build 1:1 relationships with the decision makers and influencer/stakeholders. The ad campaigns are more about the buyers/consumers and no longer about just the brand. An ad campaign boasting about the brand is now old school, but they are likely to connect to the buyers relating to their cognitive and emotional senses.

Being Found - The second most important point to understand from marketing perspective is that it is no longer about conducting events, then identifying the leads from those events and passing it on to Sales. In fact, it is not about finding the customer at all, it is now about "being found" by the buyer who has his own places to look for information. The tech savvy buyer is likely to go to google, facebook, twitter and various other social platforms to find out more about the products or services he is considering. He is going to research or look for curated information that is now widely available. Also, If this buyer is looking at google today, tomorrow he might be looking at other places and this is exactly why the marketers need to be extremely agile ensuring that they are available where the buyer is looking at.

Marketing Efficiency - Traditionally, ROI from marketing campaigns or events has always been subjective to Sales effectiveness and hence would be difficult to measure. With the ongoing changes to the marketing function, there data driven activities would now directly reflect on the ROI and hence it is now possible to get much closer to the reality in terms of identifying its effectiveness.

Impact to Sales - As marketers are now being expected to identify, track and develop 1:1 relationship with the buyers, they are beginning to overlap with the typical function of Sales. Sales would eventually shift their focus onto more specialized activities but the need for typical Sales function is anticipated to go down further in the long term.

Skills required for being successful marketer - As the marketing role is getting transformed into this new avatar, the skills required to be a successful marketer are also changing, rather acquiring new skills is becoming more critical. As the function is becoming more data driven, being smart and savvy is just not enough any more, it is equally important to have an understanding of how the data is generated and how that is interpreted to increase the effectiveness.

With this session, it was evident for me that the learning experience becomes delightful when it happens unexpectedly and I am certainly looking for attending more of these events in the near future. The views here are my own interpretations from Anshul's presentation and the discussions afterwards.
You can find more details about the Industry Connect events and the Speaker here.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A 'pitch-dark' Diorama

Honking train moves under the railway overbridge in Bangalore. Camera spans over to the open area next to the Railway overbridge where a very old black car is waiting. Next shot. 2 guys sitting in the car, thats me and my co-actor. I am just about to take my line and the director shouts, "Cut! Get some touch up done for Mayuresh.".

Sitting in an old Black car, no air conditioning, windows rolled up, burning temperature. I was sweating, and really uncomfortable with that whole setup. To add to it, the crew had these huge outdoor sun reflectors that were pointing right at me ensuring I get constant Sun bath in that heated chamber. Even worse, I needed to look in the direction of the Sun reflectors while taking my lines, so need to keep my eyes relaxed. I was getting worked up, and the crew members walks up to me. She clearly saw what I was going through and said, "Mr. Amitabh Bachchan also goes through this Mayuresh". That stayed with me, and I didnt complain for the rest of the day on that shoot. :-)

The first cut of this film, A 'pitch-dark' Diorama, is just out. The most interesting thing about this project is that this has been shot on the film camera and not the DSLRs. The movie has a gem of a plot and the writer/director, Santhosh M P, is a fantastic film-maker who is betting everything on his life for this movie.

We shot this a few months ago and just finished my dubbing last week. For the last leg of post-production work, the project is crowd-funding at the moment and if you want to be a part of this movie, please do contribute.

There are many things to remember from this project. A fantastic DoP and technical crew was great fun. Made many new friends and have been a great opportunity to work some fellow theatre actors in Bangalore.

Do check out the first cut below,

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Reviving the blog with new wave in India

I have been meaning to revive this blog for a long time now and in fact quite excited about the fact that its actually coming together. Since the political scene in the country at the moment is looking forward to the new wave, thought it might be interesting to post what I wrote around the Assembly Elections back in April 2014. I believe that would help me bring the backlog down by a few months for this blog. :)

My Vote is against Vote-Bank politics.
I voted with a hope that AAP grows bigger than Arvind Kejriwal and my vote would add some confidence to their candidates. The vote is really for clean politics and for the candidates that they have brought e.g. V Bala, Babu Mathew and many others. I encourage them to stay focused on what they have set out for.

NaMo is likely to become the PM and that's not a bad thing for now. But NaMo voters, I think, are like those short term traders that look at such election as an opportunity to earn quick money i.e. Immediate or short-term gain. In this case, Security. Because, We don't want to deal with another crisis at the country level.

BJP or NaMo (& ofcourse Congress) still represent and practice vote-bank politics, communal/secular, caste, religion - whatever. Sure, NaMo will bring some stability, economic and otherwise, to our country, but that is no longer sufficient for India. We need reforms and radical ones. Also, let's not forget, NaMo has made an investment of thousands of crores for his 370 rallies and he is sure to bring 1000% return on that investment when BJP comes to power, rather compromised power. In return, he will give us swanky international airports, multilevel flyovers and many other things on the name of development, some of which even UPA gave us, but the gap between India and Bharat (or religions, castes) will further widen. They want the votes to still stay very cheap.
This gap is growing every passing national election and we need to make investments to turn the tide and in 66 years, we haven't even begun.

In my view, the game changer is many of the AAP candidates who have not joined politics to make money and also carry right intentions for change. They surely lack the experience in Governance but they have enough exposure and experience to utilize the bureaucrats and highly experienced policy makers. They also need a party framework so that they can focus on the right things. Today, AAP could become that party and tomorrow, it could also fill in such candidates and any new such candidates with its framework and support. It needs to grow organically.

AAP has been learning their lessons, and It is already the third biggest national party and I believe, they are ready to jump in the water either with power or as the principal opposition.

Today, on Feb 8th, The Delhi elections have concluded, AAP is likely to be at the top on the counting day, Feb 10th.

Thank You!