eXpresso Takes The Enterprise Route to Web Office

first_img8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market I first noticed eXpresso when they bought a little start-up called Xcellery that had a neat way to collaborate using Excel. I had used the product and it worked pretty well.eXpresso was named as one of PC World’s 25 Most Innovative Products of the Year for 2007. PC World succinctly summed the product up: “[it] allows Excel users to share their spreadsheets, online or off.” eXpresso is different from the web office contenders that you normally hear about on ReadWriteWeb for three reasons:The company originated as an enterprise systems vendor that happened to use collaboration around Excel to deliver solutions. So they arrived at the market by way of solving real world problems as opposed to companies that look at how much money Microsoft makes with Office and saying “I want a piece of that”.They focus on Excel. They don’t try to replace Word, or Powerpoint or Outlook. The Office bundle was based on the logic of the OEM market for PC vendors. There is no reason to have a bundle today. A great spreadsheet can stand alone quite easily.They extend Excel rather than trying to replace it. That works in the real world. Apart from early adopters with relatively simple spreadsheets, people are comfortable with Excel. It works well, it is extensible, it is easy to use. In an enterprise setting the cost of Excel compared to the functionality is a complete non-issue. But Excel’s native collaboration tools are weak and emailing versions around gets to be a real pain when you get to 3 or more contributors; that introduces errors in what can be mission critical applications.eXpresso say they want to replace Powerpoint as well. I think that’s a mistake. I would urge them to go long and deep on the Excel front. There is little logical connection or synergy between Excel and Powerpoint. The whole Powerpoint paradigm is flawed and will get replaced by Screencast and YouTube type presentations, in my opinion. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Excel really is a unique product. It could be a winner for a long time to come with some simple updating. Microsoft currently seems to want to push integration through SharePoint. Thats not want users want. The IT guys may like that and tell Microsoft thats the right way to go but Microsoft did best when the listened to users more than to IT.Users don’t care a hoot about SharePoint but if you try taking away Excel you will hear muttering about “over my dead body”. So many start-ups have tried to create a programming environment that ordinary business people can use and nobody has succeeded. Excel delivers on this promise and has for a long time. A novice can be productive in minutes. An expert can find endless ways to add sophistication and capability.Collaboration really is the missing piece. I used Xcellery first for a simple sales forecasting application where 4 people had to enter forecasts. It worked a treat and there was no set up or re-training required. Millions of people have the same need.Collaboration is also easy with Excel as there is an obvious unit for the locking – a cell. This is much harder with Word and Powerpoint.Two real world stories illustrate the power of Excel. One was the CEO of an outsourcing company who said that one of the first things they looked for was a high level of proficiency in Excel. Without that it was, pass. The other was a comment by a vendor selling high end financial trading systems about Excel replacing the browser. The IT guys in the room were aghast with horror at the idea. The users were “yep that’s right”. Excel has handled real time updates pretty well for traders for over a decade; long before Ajax. Related Posts Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Tags:#enterprise#web Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… bernard lunnlast_img read more

Cal State Bans Students from Using Online Note-Selling Service

first_imgWhy Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts Tags:#E-Learning#NYT#web Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting As an undergraduate at Sacramento State, Ryan Stevens founded NoteUtopia in order to provide a mechanism for students to buy, sell, and share their university course notes. Stevens graduated last spring and NoteUtopia officially launched in August. But less than six weeks into the startup’s history, NoteUtopia has received a cease-and-desist letter from the California State University system, charging that the company violates a provision of the state education code. The provision in question dates back a decade and reads “no business, agency, or person, including, but not necessarily limited to, an enrolled student, shall prepare, cause to be prepared, give, sell, transfer, or otherwise distribute or publish, for any commercial purpose, any contemporaneous recording of an academic presentation in a classroom or equivalent site of instruction by an instructor of record. This prohibition applies to a recording made in any medium, including, but not necessarily limited to, handwritten or typewritten class notes.“Following the cease-and-desist letter, officials also emailed the students at all 23 universities in the Cal State system, warning them that selling their class notes online “including on the NoteUtopia website, is subject to discipline, up through and including expulsion from the university.”Fostering (and Fearing) Student CollaborationStevens says that NoteUtopia has complied with the letter, adding verbiage to the site to warn Cal State students. But he’s not pleased with the message that the system sent to students as he feels as though it demonized a website that offers more than just a marketplace for students’ class notes. NoteUtopia is meant to function as an online community where students can share information, discuss courses and rate professors – a supplement to, not a replacement for, offline education. Cal State students could conceivably still share their notes – bypassing the typical $1 or so charge for a set of course-notes. And education code aside, sharing is something that is happening – whether it’s being actively encouraged or not – as more students are opting to collaborate and learn together online. It’s worth noting, says Stevens, that sororities and fraternities have long had systems for sharing course materials among members. NoteUtopia merely “levels the playing field,” using the Internet to allow anyone to have access to this information. Who Owns Students’ Notes?“In school,” says Stevens, “we’re taught that if we put things in our own words, it isn’t plagiarism. So it doesn’t seem like the government should be able to tell us what to do with our own handwritten notes.” Indeed, the provision of the state education code does some raise questions about intellectual property and the ownership of ideas and course content. If the students don’t own their class-notes – or at least, cannot sell them commercially – who does? The professor? The university? The state?Stevens says he’s trying to enlist the help of the EFF and the ACLU to make the case for students’ rights here. Regardless, even as the California State School system decrees one thing, it seems clear that more students are interested in collaborating online – whether in a free and open forum or via a marketplace like NoteUtopia. center_img audrey watters 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more

What Microsoft Should Be: An Independent Designer Reimagines Redmond

first_imgTags:#design#web Andrew Kim: I don’t think we can decide what their approach is just yet, because the Surface is still largely unknown to the general public. I would wait until the introduction of Windows 8 to see if Microsoft is taking a new stance, in terms of its branding position. I predict they’ll take a more Cupertino approach.RWW: It seems as though you like Microsoft’s purely digital metro aesthetic, but you mentioned that the color choices are questionable. Color was an important part of the Surface presentation. What’s wrong with Microsoft’s colors?Andrew Kim: Microsoftian colors are incredibly bright, primary and almost childish in color. Nothing wrong with that, but the company would benefit from a more sophisticated, less obvious color scheme. Metro is great, but the colors make me feel like I’m looking at something unfinished. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… jon mitchell RWW: You said that you want this brand to be “about the future.” Describe that future – not just for Microsoft, but for the world around the Microsoft you’ve envisioned.Andrew Kim: As a product designer, I see a future with more products that are efficient, purposeful and honest in their function. Like Apple products of today.Peruse the rest of Andrew Kim’s striking images of The New Microsoft on his site, Minimally Minimal. Especially if you work for Microsoft. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting RWW: You draw a contrast to the friendliness of Apple’s and Google’s brands. Do you think Microsoft’s post-Surface messaging is particularly friendly or unfriendly? Or is their attitude ambiguous?center_img Los Angeles-based designer Andrew Kim has reconceived Microsoft’s strategy to propose The Next Microsoft. In a furious three-day marathon, he did what the company has been trying to do for years: reinvented Microsoft’s brand, dug it out of the past and brought it into the future. “I decided that Microsoft needs to be a brand that represents the future,” Kim wrote in a post on his personal blog. “Be slightly aggressive unlike Apple and Google’s friendly marketing. Promise to deliver the future today. Be almost like science fiction.”Kim’s post is a visual critique of Microsoft’s corporate spirit as it is today. In a scrolling essay of bold images and few words, he tears down Microsoft’s stale image and unfurls a rebel’s banner of fresh ideas across the company’s present and future product lines.The company has been struggling to recapture its former glory, and its current strategy is failing. Kim’s critique reveals some telling reasons why that might be and proposes a way out. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts Kim’s post raises deep questions about what tech customers want and whether Microsoft (or its competitors) is giving it to them. We asked him some of these questions, and here’s what he said.ReadWriteWeb: The aesthetics of Microsoft’s Surface presentation were striking. Where does your concept deviate from what they showed at the Surface launch, with the lasers, Tron colors, techno music and all that?Andrew Kim: Any change is welcome with Microsoft at this point. My design deviates from their video in that it takes a more surreal and quiet science-fiction approach rather than exploding in your face with anger. I took inspiration from my obsession, Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

AI Can Provide Solutions to UX Design Problems

first_imgLiza Kosh is known for her tremendous contribution as a senior writer who loves to share her views on topics covering upcoming technology and the market trends. Suppose there is one operation you do for your company office daily by yourself. You first think of automation, and that is fast and effective. Using the AI algorithms in your office, you will still be able to automate — but now, if you have optimized your UX, your AI will keep the website filled with the details and logic to work in the best interest of your site visitors. AI will make the overall experience of your site visitor — a customer-specific action.Look how AI is impacting UX.#1 – A person to person “feeling” happens to online chats. China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … Tags:#AI#artificial intelligence#customer experience#UX design A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… The concept and acceleration of AI has come upon us faster than anyone thought possible. AI is blazing a trail with its impact in the lives of businesses as well as individuals. Now, in 2019, the functionalities and features that AI 0ffers has made it a trending and favorite actionable step in numerous industries. Realizing the perks, experts have already made adjustments to include AI in their company offerings. AI can provide solutions to UX design problems, too.The profession of UX designers impacts positively with the new AI.Getting familiar with AI is a fact that will have an impact on all professions and professionals. The UX design can put AI to use with positive solutions. User Experience (UX) is all about making the experiences of the site user simpler, easier and convenient. UX removes all the possible hindrances people face when operating their computers and mobile phones. UX allows your website to be surfed easily and your mobile to be optimized.UX design, then, works hand in hand with AI to become a savior to every client on the website and mobile of a business.User experience (UX) design is the way of formulating products that render significant and consistent experiences across all pages on your site — directly to the user. The entire design process integrates within your product, including the addition of perspectives about branding, layout, function, and usability.UX ensures that all obvious hindrances a customer encounters — are no longer an issue.UX design cannot be maintained only by the developers only. Automation must be added for excellent productivity, and this is a perfect fit for AI.  Employing AI into your system changes the level of difficulties that a user will encounter on your site. The UX designer faces this issue alone. No website is perfect, but your UX Designer will help to make your site the best it can be.What your site looks like and the quality of the optimizations with automation and AI will determine your clicks and your views. Your UX design and optimization will determine your sales and customer experience. UX design will keep your website running well, and AI will be the driver to keep it that way.Artificial intelligence’s advancement and efforts to raise AI have brought the entire industry fascinating innovations. Medical research, big data, and autonomous transportations are just some of the applications arising from AI expansion.Artificial Intelligence is Growing FastAI tends to make everything on a site, simplified. AI technology offers the customer a reliable and customer-friendly experience.To better understand AI consider social media platforms. Even a child can learn to use social with ease. Artificial Intelligence is something that works and presents you with content that draws and drags the sites sleekness and attention. The AI algorithm does its best job by offering the user with the posts and experiences based on the user’s interest –all by allowing AI to be working in the backgroundPut your AI and UX together and see how it all works.Artificial intelligence is something which lets machines know and speculate and zero-in on the interests of a person. As a result, it offers user-oriented choices. Liza Kosh The feature of live-chatting on the website seems to make everything much more straightforward for its site visitors. By integrating the AI system to your website, chatbots are going to work for you. The AI-enabled chatbots ensure that your customer is experiencing user-centric experiences while visiting your site.#2 – Enhanced and refined user experience.When it comes to knowing the varied needs and demands of the user, AI can work wonders. This algorithm is wholly meant to collect the data and activities of the user. AI will then offer effective and user-centric experience to the user. AI and UX design work together in an attractive and catchy format that enhances the user experience with machine learning.AI is playing a huge and impactful role in the UX design space. AI is a huge leap forward for the UX developers wise enough to get these two tools working together. As AI tools continue to develop, UX designers will undoubtedly innovate with new approaches that leverage the benefits UX contributes.ConclusionContinuous growth is paving the way for AI and UX to become even more compatible in future technology. Setting-up practical end-to-end solutions now with web design will allow you to growth hack the future of your business. With all elements of the user experience (UX) and machine learning (ML) meeting together in practical life — the future will be bright. Related Posts AI Will Empower Leaders, Not Replace Them AI: How it’s Impacting Surveillance Data Storagelast_img read more

Rachio 3: A Smart Yard Sprinkler Controlling Water Consumption

first_imgBrad AndersonEditor In Chief at ReadWrite Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces As a homeowner, I’ve embraced smart home technology by adding numerous devices designed to reduce energy consumption and use natural resources wisely. The smart devices have helped with the regulation of the lighting and the air and heating in my home. Now, I am looking at ways to adjust to how I use water. The Rachio 3: a smart yard sprinkler controlling water consumption.One of the biggest water wasters is the yard sprinklers. Since I travel for work, the yard sprinkler control system runs on the same schedule. Even if it was raining — I couldn’t shut the system off if I was on the road.But I’ve found the Rachio 3 smart yard sprinkler control system. As a connected device, it could be a solution to controlling water usage from whatever part of the globe I’m traveling. Here’s what I found after using it in my yard.About RachioRachio is a technology company that builds intelligent control systems for landscape use. The company wants its customers to enjoy beautiful yards while undertaking sustainable water use. According to their website, 38,714,286,562 gallons have already been saved by the Rachio community — and this number continues to grow as more people discover Rachio.How the Rachio 3 Works: Features and TechnologyThe recipient of the EPA WaterSense Certification, the water-wise Rachio 3 connects to your home WiFi. The connection runs through a dual-band WiFi connection as well as through a single-band router. The sprinkler control device can cover eight to 16 zones within your yard. The system also includes the Rachio app to control the system for on-the-go connection from a mobile device.An Intuitive Watering SystemThe system comes with Weather Intelligence Plus, which helps determine weather conditions so it can adjust watering based on that data. The technology leverages artificial intelligence to read thousands of weather reports from the national weather service, radar, satellites, and personal weather stations. The system then combs this hyper-local data to track weather changes that might impact your watering schedule.The intuitive yard watering system offers numerous skip and shift features to address weather changes on the fly. The options include rain skip, seasonal shift, saturation skip, and freeze skip. I found these features to be particularly useful when I was away from home for work or on vacation.Installation and Set-UpTo install the Rachio 3, it took me less than a half-hour. Plus, I didn’t need to be a whiz at technical installations or have any specialized tools to get it done. I removed the old controller quickly and then connected the existing wires in the same way they were connected to the former controller.Set-up on the app only took a couple of minutes to create a log-in and link it to my smart sprinkler control system. The app offers easy navigation, so it also didn’t take very long to create a calendar and schedule for watering my lawn and yard. The app also contains resources about how the system works and access to tips on optimizing water use.CompatabilityThe Rachio 3 controllers are compatible with most sprinkler valves, including those with 24V AC solenoid valves. These valves tend to be standard across the country. If you don’t have that type of valve for some reason, you can look into updating them to the standard valve type.The Rachio 3 works with the Rachio Wireless Flow Meter. It also integrates with Alexa, Apple Home Kit, and Google Assistant as well as connected devices from Nest, IFTTT, and SmartThings.What Works Well and What Needs ImprovementThe best aspects of the Rachio 3 include its Better Water Intelligence features, which vastly reduced how much water I was using without turning my lawn and yard brown. Other positives are fast set-up, and easy access to manual sprinkler runs through the onboard controls.The only issue I could find is the price. It’s still somewhat expensive considering all the other smart home devices I’m continuing to add throughout my home. However, since first looking at the Rubio 3 — the current price is down a little making it somewhat lower than when the smart sprinkler control system was first introduced. Also, the product may qualify for local rebate programs.What’s in the Box?The Rachio 3 arrives in the box as one unit with a cover and is ready to be wired up. The WiFi sprinkler control system also comes with a two-year warranty.Buying OptionsThe Rachio 3 is available on the company’s website. There is an eight-zone option for $229.99 or a 16-zone option for $279.99. The company currently offers free two-day shipping. Other places where you can buy this WiFi sprinkler control system include Amazon, Best Buy, Apple, and Home Depot.Overall ThoughtsThe Rachio 3 has been integral in reducing water consumption, helping me not to overwater the yard whether I am at home or on the road. The device is highly customizable to match the watering needs of my yard and the impact of the changing weather conditions on a day-to-day basis.Although it was initially more money than I had intended on paying for a sprinkler control system, it has already paid for itself and more in terms of close to a fifty percent reduction on my water bill.One piece of advice I want to share is that since my sprinkler controller is vulnerable to the elements — I bought a weather-proof enclosure to fit over the Rachio 3. Also, I added Rachio’s water flow meter, which helps detect any leaks in the irrigation system that might otherwise use more water than I want, and that piece of equipment cost me more money. Related Posts Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You… Follow the Puck Tags:#water consumpton Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at Blueair 680i Air Purifier: Clean Air For Your H…last_img read more

How Libra Will Change Social Media Marketing

first_imgMark Zuckerberg has already changed the way we market. The rise of Facebook, with its mixture of detailed personal demographics and ongoing engagement, has forced marketers to create new ways of building relationships with leads and customers. As the platform has grown, we’ve all grown used to creating posts, producing videos, broadcasting live, answering questions, and carefully targeting ads. The launch of Libra could change social media marketing.The new cryptocurrency called Libra.The new cryptocurrency, managed by an independent association but closely associated with Facebook, aims to provide an easy way to make online transactions. Instead of using a currency controlled by a national bank and limited by national boundaries, anyone anywhere will be able to buy or sell goods using the genuinely international currency.A basket of fiat currencies will give Libra stability, avoiding the volatility problems that have hindered the use of Bitcoin. The result should be smooth, reliable transactions for Internet-based customers who won’t need to enter credit card details or pay third-parties like PayPal.Libra taking-off as planned; results for marketers a whole new world.One of the biggest challenges for social media marketers has been the difficulty of assigning causation. We can see how far a piece of content reaches. We can measure its level of engagement. We can track how much traffic a post or an ad drives to a website.But it’s much harder to measure the amount of revenue any piece of content produces. We know we’re building engagement, but we can’t always tell the depth of that engagement or how much it’s worth to the business.That’s what Libra can change. By allowing people to hit a Buy button that will take their money immediately. Social media marketing will acquire a whole new action—and marketers will be able to add a new metric to their statistics.Actions on behavior.The quick action will affect behavior. Some marketers will focus solely on the number of sales a post generates. They’ll experiment with different content forms to generate maximum conversions. They’ll worry less about engagement and audience retention and more about the amount of money a post produces immediately.Producers of live video, currently a critical engagement tool often used for product demos and Q&As, may find that it pays to keep broadcasting. They can turn their live videos into something that looks a lot like a shopping channel, with sales coming in as they talk.The smartest marketers will find that the addition of an instant Buy button doesn’t take away from social media marketing.They’ll combine those benefits to produce new kinds of funnels.Some posts will introduce the brand to new markets.Other posts will promote the benefits of the brand and its products.Finally, at the end of the funnel, social media marketers will be able to use Libra’s new functionality to turn those previous efforts into cash.All of this will require a new way of thinking about social media marketing.It will require new sales strategies and new kinds of messages.The exact forms those messages will take will only become clear as Libra takes off, and marketers experiment.We can expect to see plenty of failed hard sales efforts before smart marketers hit on a combination of engagement and call to action that produces the best results.We can also expect that Facebook marketing will become less about branding and engagement and more about conversions.But whether Libra will be successful and trigger this change is even harder to predict than the form of the new social media marketing itself.“Libra Cryptocurrency Gold Coin by Facebook” by orgalpari is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Related Posts Joel Comm is New York Times bestselling author, blockchain enthusiast, podcast host, professional keynote speaker, social media marketing strategist, live video expert, technologist, brand influencer, futurist and eternal 12-year old. With over two decades of experience harnessing the power of the web, publishing, social media and mobile applications to expand reach and engage in active relationship marketing, Joel is a sought-after public speaker who leaves his audiences inspired, entertained, and armed with strategic tools to create highly effective new media campaigns. His latest project is as co-host of The Bad Crypto Podcast, a top cryptocurrency show making the future of digital payments easy to understand. AI is Not the Holy Grail of Sales, at Least Not… Tags:#Cryptocurrency#Facebook#libra Trends Driving the Loyalty Marketing Industry Blockchain – Impending Revolution in Glob… Follow the Puck Joel CommThe Functional Futuristlast_img read more

The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos

first_imgStephan is an internationally recognized SEO Expert, author, blogger professional speaker, consultant, and founder of Netconcepts. Digital Marketing Jobs in the Government Sector Stephan Spencer Related Posts AI is Not the Holy Grail of Sales, at Least Not…center_img Tips to Successful Referencing for Your Assignm… YouTube is the second largest search engine, and Facebook’s algorithms increasingly favor video content. If you’re not posting video to these platforms (and others) regularly, you’re likely missing out on traffic and sales. Remember you can entertain while you educate. Here are the dos and don’ts of brand awareness videos.Creating a brand awareness video is trickier than writing a blog.An ill-thought-out video can go viral for the wrong reasons or simply be ignored. So how do you steer clear of bad or boring videos? Here are a few do and don’ts to help keep your videos relevant and entertaining, and your view counts high. Do: Use Humor, Parody, and Pop Culture ReferencesSince the dawn of advertising, brands have used humor to get their message across. Online, cutting through the noise is even more vital, so effectively using humor is an excellent strategy.One way to use humor is to parody other brands, pop culture icons, or other popular video formats. Dollar Shave Club used this strategy in 2012 and racked up millions of views by parodying explainer videos.Then, The Beard Club (formerly Dollar Beard Club) piggybacked on the original with this parody of a parody. Both videos also gently lampoon the exaggerated manliness that is commonly used to advertise men’s products like razors or deodorant while simultaneously conveying the benefits of their product through a knowing wink.Mattress protectors are a pretty dull topic, but this video from Purple featuring a family of Bigfoots is an excellent example of how humor can turn even the driest information into something entertaining. The script is perfectly paced, balancing out hilarious one-liners with important facts about the product.Don’t: Rely Too Heavily on GimmicksVideo from ShipServ is a prime example of relying on a weak concept (sorry, ShipServ). It uses stop motion animation with Lego figures to explain how their online marketplace works. It’s a cute gimmick, but after a few seconds, it gets old.While a clever gimmick can be enough on its own to get the audience’s attention, beyond the Lego figures, ShipServ made minimal effort to draw their viewers in beyond using animation.The message they are trying to convey, that ShipServ is a cheap and effective way for maritime businesses to advertise, gets lost.Do: Use Subcultural Knowledge to Let Your Audience Know You “Get Them” Rockwell Automation’s Retro Encabulator video from 1997 takes an engineering in-joke about technical jargon and transforms it into a masterful parody of corporate videos. By knowing their audience, Rockwell was able to create a cult hit that is still remembered fondly (along with their brand name) 20 years later.Don’t: Make Things Too ComplicatedRemember, you’re trying to communicate something memorable to your audience. While it’s desirable to throw in unexpected elements, always ensure that the message you are trying to communicate comes through clearly. Although this Stella Artois commercial features Matt Damon and an important issue, the message gets lost due to some clunky math at the end.Do: Use Popular Formats That People Understand, Like DocumentaryVideo content doesn’t always have to be funny or over the top. Sometimes, presenting informative content via a format that people understand can also work, as in this video from Income Store.Don’t: Be Amateurish Producing video content doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re game, you can even try your hand at producing it in-house. An excellent way to ensure you don’t create something embarrassing is to run your concepts, scripts, or rough cuts by your customers first and see how they react. That’s one way to avoid producing shockingly amateurish and un-self-aware videos like this one from Fred and Sharon’s Movies, which went viral for all the wrong reasons.Do: Use Controversy and “Out of the Box Concepts” to Get Attention Underwear brands have always thrived on controversy, but Culprit Underwear takes things to the next level with sex, exploitation, and over-the-top aesthetics in an outrageous video that is sure to shock and offend while it educates.Brands are often afraid to take risks with their ads, but controversy can help you cut through the noise and reach your intended audience in a crowded marketplace, especially if your competitors are playing it safe.It also helped in this case that the creative agency wanting to take the risks was sister company Culprit Creative.Don’t: Be BoringConsumers have so many options for consuming content on the web that the biggest crime of all is simply being boring. If you had a choice between clicking on a safe, sanitized message from a brand, or something that might make you laugh, cry, or even outrage you, which one would you choose?It probably wouldn’t be this mediocre video from Ernst & Young, that’s for sure:Next time you are creating a brand video, put a little thought into it before you start. Are you playing it too safe? Is your concept too bland or amateurish?What’s the best way to communicate your message to the audience? It may mean the difference between a lifetime of brand recognition and merely blending in with the crowd. Trends Driving the Loyalty Marketing Industrylast_img read more

Government firm on implementing Conditional Access System, splits television industry

first_imgAfter weeks of piece meal implementation, frenetic lobbying, election worries and increasingly bewildered consumers, the long-running soap finally seems to be winding down, not with a bang but with a whimper.Bombarded by all manner of information-correct and otherwise- consumers are now marking time till the Conditional Access System (CAS) is,After weeks of piece meal implementation, frenetic lobbying, election worries and increasingly bewildered consumers, the long-running soap finally seems to be winding down, not with a bang but with a whimper.Bombarded by all manner of information-correct and otherwise- consumers are now marking time till the Conditional Access System (CAS) is implemented to see whether it will be worth investing in a set-top box. The broadcasters who had urged the postponement of CAS by a year have now sullenly fallen in line after some not-so-subtle threats.Even the excitable Delhi BJP chief Madan Lal Khurana, who fears a rout in the forthcoming elections, has apparently been told to keep quiet. A week ago, the rollout didn’t look so simple. Even BJP President M. Venkaiah Naidu’s lighthearted comment that he was for “unconditional access” was interpreted as a rebuff to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry. On May 24, when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee called Minister of State for I&B Ravi Shankar Prasad for a meeting, the buzz doing the rounds of the capital was that CAS would be postponed. “All he told me,” says Prasad “is that consumers’ interest was paramount.” (see interview) With Prasad abroad, first at the Cannes Film Festival and then at a conference in Bangkok, the suspense on CAS stretched on forever. CAS: THE SUSPENSE CONTINUESGOVERNMENT SAYS Cable operators have to show up to 70 free-to-air channels for Rs 72.Set-top boxes will cost between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000 after duty reduction.It will not allow charging of Rs 50 for main channel and Rs 60 for the bouquet.Broadcasters have to specify individual pay channel rates by June 15.GROUND REALITYThe limit of 70 was a verbal announcement, not mandated in the May 8 notification.The ministry has reduced customs duty from 50 per cent to 5 per cent only till July 31.If bundling happens, the I&B minister says he will invoke the law. “You leave it to me.”Star and Sony say they will announce only when they are ready-at June-end.During that period, says Ashok Mansukhani, executive vice-president, Hinduja TMT, and a supporter of CAS, “every positive step taken by the Government was distorted in what was an orchestrated media campaign”.advertisementJawahar Goel, additional vice-chairman of Zee Telefilms, who is trying to give the debate a swadeshi (Zee) vs videshi (Star and Sony) spin, puts it more forcefully: “There was a lot of lobbying by broadcasters. This is not how things are done in India.” The Government, he says, “has many tools with which to teach broadcasters a lesson”. Two punitive measures reportedly suggested are an increase in withholding tax (the tax broadcasters pay for operating from off-shore companies) and a possible mandatory uplinking even for foreign entertainment channels.All this will not really matter to the viewers if they get what CAS promises- 70 channels for Rs 72 in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata by July 14. If they want to watch pay channels, they will have to buy a set-top box for an initial deposit of Rs 1,000 and pay more for the channels (Zee has announced a bouquet price of Rs 55). According to Prasad’s benign calculations, the total cost to consumers will not be more than Rs 200 (Rs 72 for free-to-air; Rs 20 as service tax; Rs 30, and not Rs 200 as was initially thought, for the monthly instalment of the set-top box; and Rs 70 for 15-20 pay channels).Sony CEO Kunal Dasgupta is not convinced: “The initial price may be juicy but who is to stop cable operators from raising prices? You know when CAS was introduced in Thailand three years ago the price of cable TV per home was 200 baht. Now, it is 1,600 baht.”With the Government announcing its intention to implement CAS18 months ago, one would have assumed that all kinks would have been ironed out by now. But no. Till March, major broadcasters Star and Sony were ranged against cable operators and the Government. Zee saw the warning signs early and modified its business plan to include Direct-To-Home (DTH), providing an alternative stream of revenue. FOR …JAWAHAR GOEL, Vice-Chairman, ZEE: Says CAS will be in harmony with DTH, and only marginally more expensive.ASHOK MANSUKHANI, Executive Vice-President, Hinduja: Is ready for CAS.Wants broadcasters to sign agreements.AGAINST …PETER MUKERJEA, CEO, STAR: Wanted CAS to be postponed to 2004. Now says he will wait and watch.KUNAL DASGUPTA, CEO, SONY: Did not want CAS at one go. Says people may not buy set-top boxes and opt for only free-to-air. Now, while Zee exults in its “good timing” (its DTH system will be operational by August 15), Sony and Star are pondering their strategies. A delegation of TDP MPs has assailed the letter of intent on DTH given to Star by the Government, which may explain why Star CEO Peter Mukerjea says CAS will be “catastrophic for the TV industry in the short term”.advertisementStar-which routinely makes a clean sweep of the top 50 programme ratings-stands to lose the most with the inevitable initial decline in viewership and advertising revenue.If the broadcasters did not see the writing on the wall, part of the reason was that the Government did not implement CAS at one go. Its May 8 notification mentioned only a minimum 30 free-toair channels and left the maximum limit vague.After representations from freeto-air broadcasters like Sahara TV, SAB TV and TV Today (part of the group which publishes INDIA TODAY), the Government announced that the upper limit was 70. On March 4, the Government said there would be no reduction in customs duties on set-top boxes. Two months later it slashed duties, leaving indigenous manufacturers all dressed up with nowhere to go.Finally, when it was clear that broadcasters had no intention of declaring which channels were pay and which free-to-air, the Government stipulated a June 15 deadline for it.That leaves a month for the consumer to decide what he wants. Will he buy the set-top box? Or will he get used to the “choice” of 70 channels for Rs 72? We will know the next time India plays cricket. All sports channels are pay.last_img read more

HWL: Indian women thrashed by Netherlands, out of Olympic race

first_imgThe Indian women’s team’s chances of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics were quashed once and for all after being thrashed 0-7 by Olympic champions Holland in the quarterfinals of the Hockey World League (HWL) semifinal here.After failing to get the lone Olympic berth at the 2014 Asian Games, India needed to finish in top-3 of this 10-team tournament to qualify for the prestigious quadrennial event. But with Tuesday’s loss, it ends India’s hopes of playing in the Brazilian metropolis next year.The Netherlands went into the attack in the very first minute as Naomi van Ass was successful in scoring the first goal, leaving the Indian eves stunned.Trailing 0-1, India counter attacked three minutes later as forward Vandana Katariya’s shot was saved by the Netherlands goalie. But the World No.1 side reverted in the eighth minute when they got their first penalty corner. Willemijn Bos took the flick and hit the ball hard towards the goal where Lidewij Welten, standing next to the post, deflected the ball in to take a 2-0 lead.In the 12th minute, the Dutch had another chance with a penalty corner but the opportunity was saved by defender Namita Toppo as she ran out to clear the danger.Right in to the second quarter, Netherlands had another penalty corner which was slapped in by Caia van Maasakker to register the third goal for her team. Not wasting time, Netherlands were yet again in the Indian D and a good pass to Ginella Zerbo was converted in the 18th minute with which the three time Olympic champions took a 4-0 lead.advertisementThe seven time World Champions continued their attack through another penalty corner to score their fifth goal in the 26th minute, coming from the stick of van Maasakker. Next minute, Netherlands had one more penalty corner but this time Indian goalkeeper Savita made a save to enter halftime with a 0-5 deficit.With the change of sides, India played better as they did not allow any more goals to be scored in the third quarter. They increased their tempo of attack and also looked for opportunities but proved unsuccessful in finding the net.Despite conceding several goals, goalie Savita also came up with some brilliant saves, especially in the second half to restrict the Dutch. She made as many as two saves in the third quarter.Six minutes into the third session, India got their first penalty corner but they totally missed the opportunity. In the 48th minute, Lidewij Welten entered the Indian D from the left flank and was tackled by Savita but she still managed to deflect the ball into the net, taking the score to 6-0.Five minutes later, Netherlands converted another penalty corner via Xan de Waard as she did no mistake in finding the net to win the match 7-0. While Netherlands progressed to the semifinals where they will play Australia, India will play Italy in the 5-8 position playoff on Thursday.last_img read more