Friday, February 25, 2011

“Co-creation” within the company

Management gurus, late C K Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy, introduced the concept of co-creation in 2000 in one of the Harvard Business Review articles. Co-creation is the philosophy of involving the customers and consumers in the product or service creation and delivery processes. It requires a new form of interactions between the company and the customers. Customers are no longer passive. They are part of the product creation process. The value created through co-creation is shared by both the customer and the company. Customers get personalized products and unique experiences. Companies enjoy enhanced revenue, superior market performance and learn new things about the consumers. This is a win-win situation for all.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Evolution of Recommender System


While buying something from Amazon.com, many of us probably have seen the section called “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought”. This is the famous recommender system. Amazon was granted a patent in 1998 for this “collaborative recommendations using item-to-item similarity mappings”. This technique has now become ubiquitous. Most of the e-commerce sites currently offer recommendations based on customers’ purchase history. Even the matrimonial sites took up this concept. Alongside the profile you are currently viewing, the sites display a handful of additional profiles under the heading, “Those who viewed this profile also viewed the following profiles”.

This is how it works. Suppose you are buying the book ‘Never Let Me Go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro. The system checks which other customers had bought this same book. Then, it finds out what other books those customers had bought in the past. If the current buyer is yet to buy those books, they appear in the recommended list. As evident, the process works based on a large pool of consumer behavior data, rather than any sophisticated algorithm.

The precision and usefulness of the system increase as the customer base and individual purchase frequency increase. In addition, the more information you share (by way of mentioning your preferences, rating a purchase etc) the more relevant recommendations you get.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Six Thinking Hats


Six Thinking Hats method is pioneered by Edward De Bono. The uniqueness of this method is that it prescribes systematic thinking as against prevalent argumentative Western thinking. In argumentative thinking, people put forward their points haphazardly and make counter arguments as soon as a point is made by the other party. These consume considerable amount of time and result in poor, suboptimal outcomes. De Bono says that the Six Thinking Hat method will result in quick solutions. It can be applied by all be it individuals, corporate or lawyers. Some of the companies which use this method for business decision making are NASA, IBM, DuPont, NTT, Shell, BP, FedEx etc.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

“Self” Expectation Management


I write a blog article and expect that it would be appreciated by the readers. I write an exam and expect that I would get good marks. I send a mail to a friend and expect that she would reply soon. I post a tweet and expect that people will re-tweet  it. I update my status in Facebook and expect that people would comment on it. I expect favorable results from meetings - personal as well as official.

We have expectation from events. We have expectation from people. We have expectation from our own actions. 

Monday, February 07, 2011

Childhood Returns

Yesterday I visited my maternal uncle’s house (mamar bari) after close to a decade.  My eldest uncle is terminally ill. I was to see him.  He is an important figure in my life. I remember learning English words sitting on his lap. He accompanied me when I went to take admission at IIT, Kharagpur.  He always encouraged me to pursue higher studies. If I think a bit more, many such sweet memories will surface for sure. Though the scene was somber, I found pieces of my childhood scattered all over the place.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Crisis in Egypt and its implication

The middle-east countries are in turmoil. Civil war is spreading from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen to Jordon. Freedom has eluded the people of these countries for long. The dictators, be it Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia or Hosni Mubarak of Egypt ruled for decades with the help of the army. They created political parties to suit their purposes and blatantly rigged elections to win year after years. Though the people of these countries are apparently happy and well placed (e.g. Tunisia has 75% literacy rate and GDP per-capita of $9500, whereas for India it’s only $1176), but only at the cost of sacrificing their liberty. Any resentment by the people resulted in torture and detention. These despotic regimes created many extremist groups like the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.