Monday, March 26, 2012

Brand API's

After going through the articles regarding APIs, I feel that APIs are here to stay. WHY??? Because they bring positive outlooks towards organizations. API enables your brand to connect with customers, to involve them in their future and yours, and to deliver to them the freedoms they need to grow. It is a way for applications and systems to talk to each other and they enable this conversation by defining a simple and standard way for developers to directly access data and functionality and integrate it into their experiences.

 When a brand creates an API, this data and functionality which represents everything the brand has to offer digitally can start to reach new channels and new consumers. It enables  access, teamwork, collaboration and that is what is needed is this era where competition is everywhere. In this new era of the “Brand API,” marketers can extend their brand reach now while also preparing for future technologies and the new consumer touch points they will create.

API can help in various was; from promotions, to reaching new markets and most importantly create mobile apps. like any other asset, the API is defined and controlled by the brand. It can be used to provide business value in several ways, whether it’s internal or external to the public. Brands can jump into the fray at whatever level they are comfortable and where they can reap the most benefit. For example. software developers are out there working on the next killer app and if you enable them with your API, they can include your brand in it. This can allow your brand to be experienced in new and innovative ways, potentially in entirely new channels, without any additional investment on your part. In conclusion, Brand APIs are here to stay as they are helping more brands and developers connect and innovate every day

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review on "The Design of Business" by Roger Martin

I found the topic that Roger Martin introduced, "The Design of Business"  was very interesting. He talks about how to design systems that work to help organizations grow and take their businesses to the next level. After all, businesses that make it through each decade are the ones who are constantly evolving with the changing times and the customers needs. Roger Martin introduced a few concepts that I felt were relevant and  that I could easily relate to. Here are the ideas I picked up.

Reliability vs. Validity explains how organizations take a winning formula and get stuck in it. Most of the world incentives reward reliability, even when it becomes the wrong answer. Organizations are often hyper focused on reliability or algorithmic thinking. They resist validity and new ideas. That explains a lot about my experiences in trying to drive change in organizations stuck in algorithmic thinking.  Adapting practices from the design world is a trendy thing to do right now in consulting firms based largely on Proctor and Gamble's recent success. There are some things to learn from this field and indeed as the author suggests, some businesses are living in the past and are too risk-averse if they rely solely on analytic models of past behavior for forecasting future success. 

The Funnel - mystery, heuristics, algorithm describes the natural life-cycle of an offering from innovation to driving towards the lowest cost production of it. It describes how that actually happens. The funnel is like a mystery that can take an infinite variety of forms. To innovate and win, companies need design thinking. This form of thinking is rooted in how knowledge advances from one stage to another-from mystery (something we can’t explain) to heuristic (a rule of thumb that guides us toward solution) to algorithm (a predictable formula for producing an answer).

Throughout the book, Roger Martin provides relevant examples by showing how leading companies such as Procter & Gamble, Cirque du Soleil, RIM, and others use design thinking to push knowledge through the stages in ways that produce breakthrough innovations and competitive advantage.  This book has helped me see things from a new perspective and how design thinking is the right tool for companies to use to give them a competitive advantage from their competitors.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Review on "Game Frame" by Aaron Dignan

Gamification has indeed made our lives more interesting and engaging. Gamification was in action in the book itself. I liked how the author titled the chapters as levels as it made me feel there was some progress and I was actually getting to a higher level intrinsically. The 3 chapters basically described how to create a gaming process. Here are the main points I got out of it.

While the player is carrying out the gamified activity, he creates something that has long lasting values. When the player begins to realize these values, the extrinsic rewards will become less important to him. The whole reward system becomes secondary and serves to reinforce the value he creates, which will become the primary motivator. Subsequently, the long term value created by the player (together with the secondary extrinsic reward) will self-reinforce the gamified activity. This creates a positive feedback loop that ultimately turns the gamified activity into something intrinsically motivating for the player.

So even though gamification doesn’t work long term, it doesn’t have to. It just has to work long enough for the player to realize the value he creates. The crucial requirement for this strategy to work is that the gamified activity must create something that has long term value to the player. In other words, gamification won’t fix your business problem, if your products and services don’t bring enough value to the customers. In fact, blindly applying gamification may even lead to adverse consequences. You may still drive a huge increase in awareness, but everyone will be aware of how bad your brand is.

While the player is performing the activity, he leaves behind many digital footprints in the form of activity data. All of these data must be recoded and analyzed, because this strategy attempts to discover the intrinsic motivation of the player through data analysis and statistical inference. Then external rewards are used only as secondary motivators to reinforce the inferred intrinsic motivation of the player.

Again, gamification doesn’t need to work long term in this strategy. It just needs to work long enough for the gamification platform to collect enough data to accurately infer the player’s intrinsic motivation. This strategy is quite challenging, and there are some basic requirements for it to work. The gamification platform must provide the player a very wide range of activity, so he can choose what he likes to do with full autonomy, and eventually discover his intrinsic motivator. If none of the activities on your platform are intrinsically motivating to the player, then clearly this won’t work at all.

I believe that gamification can’t possibly be sustainable; and therefore it cannot be a long term business strategy. It is unfortunate, but this is the fact of life: Gamification won't solve your business problem; it only solves your (short-term) engagement problem. Gamification alone will not work in the long term, especially those that use extrinsic rewards.

However, there are also tried and true strategies that employ gamification in a sustainable fashion. The key realization is that gamification doesn’t have to work long term to create sustainable value. It just has to work long enough for some other processes to take over as the primary driver of value.