Google+ or Facebook+ ?

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Google+, other than something that makes a mess of punctuation, is the latest social offering by the mighty Google after the failure of Buzz (AKA The Twitter-Killer) and Wave (nobody knows what this was). This has been touted as the next big thing, a Facebook-killer, and as with anything to do with Google, comes with a lot of hype and hoopla. Here’s a look at what it is and what it’s not and perhaps what it aims to be.

We all understand how difficult it is to wean a generation off from Facebook and on to a new offering unless there is some serious differentiation involved. So, Google has its task cut out and how does it fare? Let’s check out some of it’s well-advertised features –

1) Circles: Nothing more than a circular version of Facebook’s “Lists” feature. Now before I am violently accosted by raving Google fan-atics, I understand that “Circles” are useful in segregating your “friends” in mutually isolated containers so that you can force-feed your latest updates.

While interesting in concept, it’s not that well-implemented. Basically, when you write a post, you have to select the circles you have to share it with – by typing out their names (of course with Google+’s assistance – see what I mean, when I said it messes up punctuation?) or from a drop-down list –

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Of course, one can envisage the problems with such an arrangement. Imagine you have too many circles – which is bound to happen. I have circles for Acquaintances, School Friends, College Friends (3 different ones), Work friends, etc. Each time having to choose is a nuisance, especially if operating from a mobile device!

The Circles page itself is cumbersome to navigate –

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As you can see, it’s a mess. Facebook just needs to add it’s “Lists” option to posts and it’s as good or better than Google’s version.

2) Hangouts: While admittedly a nice concept, I am yet to try this one out. You can do video-chats with up to 10 persons and I find this unwieldy enough in real life, so I cannot understand the viability of this feature. Still, a very handy feature and well-implemented.

3) Sparks: It’s just Twitter trending under a different name.

One wonders if these features are enough to convert a sizeable portion of the 750 million+ patrons of Facebook. It is clear to see that these features are an evolution of existing Facebook features and whether a mere cosmetic change in these features is sufficient, is up for debate.

Of course there is the curious nature of the name “Google+”. Google sees it as an extension and unification of all its services – Docs, YouTube, Mail, Reader, etc – most of which are beta-grade stuff, which is often a pale imitation of stuff that already exists – http://www.timacheson.com/blog/2011/feb/imitations_of_popular_tech_products or services which are not recommended for professional use (as Google themselves advise – http://www.engadget.com/2011/07/07/google-recommends-that-businesses-hold-back-for-now-says-curre/). This presents a unique predicament for the end user in terms of the current trend of companies trying to lock the user in their ecosystem, but that discussion is for another day.

The lack of features and the general pre-launch feel of the service may be dealt with during the actual launch, but so much depends on the success of Google+ that it may make or break Google. Even their only truly successful product – the search engine, stopped innovating (and started borrowing from Bing) a long time ago. New paradigms of Social search, as demonstrated in Bing seem to have woken up Google to the far-reaching importance of social networks and clearly Google+ is an attempt to play catch up to that. But, saying you “+1’d” something doesn’t roll off your tongue the same way as saying you “liked” something. This might also prove detrimental to Google+’s cause.

As it stands, Google+ is worthy social network for a new user (a rare specimen indeed), but it presents little value to existing Facebook users who will also get the benefits of association with Skype, Microsoft and integration into a budding mobile ecosystem – The Windows Phone. From the end-user point of view, one can only hope for success of both Google+ and Facebook networks because monopoly of any sort cannot be a good thing. But, I hope Google can offer more than just “Facebook+” as our only alternative to the ubiquitous Facebook.

— Shishir Bhat

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Value Proposition of IIM Tiruchirappalli – A Perspective

Creating a value proposition is a part of our long-term strategy. According to Kaplan and Norton – “Strategy is based on a differentiated customer value proposition. Satisfying customers is the source of sustainable value creation.” (emphasis by me). The key words here are “differentiated” and “sustainable”. The brand IIM Trichy must not only be differentiated, but also sustainable. By “sustainable” we mean enduring, something that grabs the attention in the short term and leaves a lasting mark.

Creating a value proposition is also based on review and analysis of benefits, costs and values an organization can deliver to its customers and prospective customers. It is the latter we are interested in most, simply because all our “customers” are prospective. Understandably, “We are the first batch” has become an overused rhetoric by now, but it doesn’t negate the fact that we do have to face those challenges and persuade our prospective customers to indulge us and invest in us. How do we do this? How do we create an impressive value proposition?

“Value Proposition” involves two terms – “Value”, which means a quantity or quality which only we can uniquely provide and “proposition” which means an offer. Combined together, I hope we can come up with an “offer you can’t refuse” (I know, I know!). In simple terms, the companies – our prospective customers will look for something unique, that only we can add to their organizations.

Now to the actual value proposition itself. I, with my meagre understanding of this concept, believe that the statement should be simplicity itself, should have a certain phonetic quality that makes it retentive and lastly should be something classy. Our value proposition should hinge upon the following qualities:

Enthusiasm: This is the most unique differentiating factor of IIM Trichy. We have that zest, the spirit that few institutes have. While they enjoy the comforts of established practices, we revel in the glorious uncertainties, armed with only our enthusiasm.

Erudition: The most sacred purpose of this institute is to mould us into veritable sources of knowledge. Our every endeavour will hinge upon this quest for knowledge and hence erudition, not just any, but one that contributes to the societal well-being should be unique to us.

Excellence: Finally, excellence. This has been stressed upon us since the very beginning by our mentors and well-wishers, and with good reason! Even Sachin Tendulkar – the best there is, in his field, says – “getting better never stops”. Surely, having started out just now, we should strive to take up the long and arduous road to excellence?

When combined together, these three powerful concepts arm us with a belief and image we can attract our prospective customers with. And the realisation of these concepts will hold them in our sway and build lasting synergistic relationships, which will make the brand IIM Trichy unique and powerful.

–Shishir Bhat

Disclaimer: Clearly, the value proposition presented here is limited by my understanding and ability. This needs to be improved and built upon.

Source: Wikipedia

Belief – The magic sauce behind all success

Belief – It is the strangest of all the capabilities a human being is bestowed with. It is often the source of greatest strength yet can render one cripplingly helpless if misplaced. It is not something that can be called upon at will; it is fleeting, like the apparitions in front of your eyes – lost when you focus on it. Now that we’ve unambiguously established the nature of this ambiguous quality, let’s delve further into how it can be an immeasurable source of strength to us.

Why should a topic which should be relegated to the back pages of poorly written self-help books be of any interest to us, you say? But you would be wrong, for it is belief that led us here, led us to choose IIM Tiruchirappalli over other well-established institutes. It is belief that we can succeed despite the odds being stacked against us that drives us so. Such is its magical nature that a strong belief in success inevitably leads to success. Circuitous logic you say? History is teeming with examples of success inspired by such resolve:

Half-time score: Liverpool 0 -3 AC Milan. Occasion: Champions League Final, Istanbul, 2005. Surely it is game over? How often has a team recovered from such a deficit and gone on to lift the trophy? But that was precisely what happened. When the chips were down, it was the belief armed with tenacity that saw Liverpool through and the achievement left its mark in the history books forever.

The year is 1997 – 12 years after he was unceremoniously sacked for refusing to compromise on his philosophy and beliefs, the iconic Steve Jobs returns to his position as the CEO of a floundering company. His first action was to reinvent Apple according to his beliefs and fortify them under his banner. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Belief is the hallmark of all successes – The indomitable Rafael Nadal, Team India at World Cup, or our soldiers at the battlefront. Belief, like laughter (and slumber) is infectious. This is why it is of utmost importance that we infect ourselves with a strong dosage of  belief – in ourselves and our vision. This is what will carry us through the next two years of uncertainty and the challenges that are bound to crop up for a fledgling institute like ours.

The way I see it, we are in a game where we are betting on ourselves to succeed and belief in ourselves might just be the magic sauce that will ensure that we do!

Shishir Bhat

The Need of the Hour for IIM Trichy (Psst, it’s not WiFi!)

What do Apple, BMW and our mentor institute IIM Bangalore has in common? If you haven’t guessed it already, it is the Brand Image. These are also brands which emphasize quality over quantity. The sense of belonging that these brands inspire and the image that they conjure up in the minds of the non-belongers (if there’s such a word) is awe-inspiring. We should not err in misjudging such loyalty and envy as mindless fawning fanboyism as the market-value of these brands are proof enough to implore us to make our brand-value the topmost priority.

How does one project the brand “IIM Tiruchirappalli”? Considering we are still fledglings of this vast and dynamic field, so I will not be presumptuous enough to suggest what we ought to do, rather I shall just try to articulate what I feel are important for our brand. A brand image has a lot of elements to it. We have successfully overcome the initial hurdle and got ourselves a meaningful logo which is not just unique but has a retentive quality. This is the fundamental mistake committed by most educational institutes when they choose to overcomplicate their logos by riddling them with books, landmarks and whatnot. The logo must be concise, meaningful and simple enough to leave a mark. Most of us can remember the Apple Logo but how many of us can really remember their earlier efforts? Study of Apple’s history is a study in marketing-excellence and it is a credit to the creators of our logo and the vision of our director that we have a really memorable logo. So now that we have started off on the right note, we can focus on the rest of stuff that make a brand so memorable like a clean, accessible website, the catch-phrase (ours is ज्ञानं अनन्तं and is again, very well done), etc.

We must understand that we can ill-afford the kind of monetary power (for market research) displayed by Microsoft when they carefully chose to rebrand their hands-free motion sensor as “Kinect” from initial fan-favorite working title “Project Natal”. The result? Having sold 8 million units in its first 60 days on the market, Kinect has claimed the Guinness World Record of being the “fastest selling consumer electronics device” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Natal ). Of course it would be folly to assume that a mere change in moniker would result in record-shattering sales. The product in itself must be of the highest class.

This is where we come in. We are the product. Ultimately how our brand performs hinges upon the quality we bring to the table. Slowly but surely all the pieces are falling into place. We have all the tools and a pool of experts to rely on, so (despite the lack of WiFi and such), we are very well placed to cash in on the brand “IIM Tiruchirappalli” and this should be the focus of all our future endeavours and I believe we have a motivated bunch of over-performers and maniacs to make our brand a resounding success. After all it would be sheer madness if we aspire to be anything short of extraordinary.

Shishir Bhat

P.S. I shall have more to write about our image in the future, so I must apologize if this post comes across as half-baked simply because it was written in haste under the pressure of travelling home and back 🙂

P.P.S. I must apologize for the same old group pic as I don’t have a pic of all the members of IIM Trichy.

 

IIMT – Awake in a dream

It all started when I first dreamed to be one among the greatest entrepreneurs, about whom, people from the Urbanized-India to Rural-India, spoke with respect in their voices.

Dreams always make you feel sleepless.

This dream followed me until I entered the IIM – Trichy campus, and then the same dream has been transformed to a much mature thought of be not only being a respected-entrepreneur but a much-more-respected human being.

Relationships are what a human is made of – No human exists without a relation and when I speak of relations, Friends occupy the crucial role. Even before I entered the campus, I already have a good number of friends, which gave me insight of how my next 2 years would be.

Always being the First of anything is a tough challenge and we all are ready to take up the challenge. The words First batch of the premier institution THE IIM of the fast-growing nation makes me proud.

We are friends and we would always be.

We would learn being good and responsible citizens of the country.

We would carry the responsibility of creating legacy and we are ready to take it.

We would build our dream careers and We would build the organization.

– Sharath Devulapalli

IIMT – A New Beginning

My first day, rather night – since I had arrived in the late hours of a lazy evening on 14th of June, at IIM Trichy was filled with mixed emotions – alright, maybe a touch biased towards the negative side. Before reaching the college I had the excitement usually akin to people on the eve of an adventure – once on the campus the zeal mellowed down a bit; a familiar lump had swelled up in my throat rekindling the memories of my first day of the hostel life in VIT University. Yes, I was embarrassed to have to deal with such trivial issue especially when you take my thirty four months work-ex into account.

Initially I was apprehensive about my colleagues – I did not know whom to talk to, never mind the idea of befriending a soul which didn’t even occur to me at that time. All I could see was apes in human forms – I am sure this is a feeling which many could associate with once an alien environment in impressed upon them – unless they exhibit astounding xenophilic characteristics.  However, once the initial few days got over, and I was forced to interact with these so called ‘apes’ – I started to get to know them – it was pleasantly surprising to witness the extraordinary rate of evolution which these apes exhibited and became almost human! I am sure Mr. Darwin would have been rather impressed!

The batch of 86 at IIM T – as IIM Trichy is now being addressed as, boasts of a diverse cultural mix, comprising of people from various nooks and crannies of the country.  The director is encouragingly enthusiastic, the credential of the faculty can render you awestruck,  but more than that it is the quality that I see in these 86 that has given me a feeling of comfort and has vindicated my decision to join IIM T. I know, being the first batch of this institute, we are entrusted with a tremendous responsibility and the onus rests upon us to create a legacy for others to follow, at the same time we mustn’t forget that at the heart we are students and one must enjoy this student life to the fullest. Life is too short to be serious and too costly to be careless.

Today it’s almost ten days since my first at IIM T and almost all the apes have evolved into humans – and use of the word almost, and I say this with utter frankness, is no accident!

Apurva Shikhar

Stay Classy

Stay Classy

Being the first of anything is matter of great opportunity and adversity. But this line is so hackneyed that it barely registers on us – who are on the cusp of something special, that we’re not yet gripped by the fear of squandering it all away. Being the first batch of an IIM is matter of great responsibility more than anything and I have this niggling feeling that more than all the stats & achievements, it is our legacy that will truly endure and it behooves us to behave in a way that befits the standard-bearers of this potentially great institution – hence we have to stay classy.

Fortunately enough, our IIM has started off in a great way, in no small part due to the efforts of our illustrious director and his team. Their enthusiasm and participation has been infectious and it has us stoked for the future. Most of us have chosen this institute over other well-established institutes for a simple reason – it’s an IIM! Now, what does this entail? According to me, the IIM’s have an x-factor, an aura around them which sets them apart. Aside from the fact that they have the best course-work, faculty and placements, IIM’s are unique because of their unique students and culture. But this is our handicap – we have nothing to fall back on, no one to learn from. While each one of us is capable of greatness, it’s more important to this institute than any that we call upon all the forces in our command to carve out a unique image for ourselves – one that oozes class.

Now to the word I am excessively fascinated by – “Class”, while there are many meanings, I’d like to assert the following two – “People having the same social, economic, or educational status” and “Elegance in dress or behaviour”. We are going to be the privileged persons who will be bestowed with an educational status, not just any education, but the best we can find in India and the world. Let there be no doubt about this. There is a sloka in Sanskrit – “Vidya dadaati vinayam”, which means education begets humility. This nicely dovetails into the next definition of “Class” that is the elegance of behaviour. The onus is us to be the best we can be in terms of education and behaviour – the two things that’ll define us and our institute for the rest of our lives.

Added to these factors, we are also beset by the responsibility of being the role models for the thousands of undergraduate students who will be arriving shortly. While fraternizing with them is not only necessary, it is absolutely essential. But we should conduct ourselves in a way that inspires them to emulate us, to reach the same plane as us and if it is not too presumptuous of me – hold us in wonder and amazement. We, of an IIM have a class, a standard to adhere to and this should show in our every action – be it the democratic formation of committees or our academic performances or our creative activities. At the end of the day, we want ourselves and the institute to transform into something we will be extremely proud of and we – the first batch have the greatest of honors to be the ones setting the trends. And at least for this reason alone – we must stay classy.

– Shishir Bhat