The Final Countdown

As I write this, we have 7 weeks and 4 days to go for the TFM&A Conference. At this point there’s a beehive of activity behind the scenes to put together the conference. Internally, we have different teams of people driving booth sales, sponsorships, strategy,  marketing, event promotion, social media, delegate sales (visitors), conference program, partnerships & affiliations, and operations. It’s akin to launching a space ship — teams of people at mission control working on a plethora of systems, in perfect coordination. Everything’s mission-critical and has to be perfect.

Looking around, I have to commend the hard work put in by my co-workers here at UBM India (Tech Media). All these folks have given it their best shot to put this show together — simultaneously working on other shows (like 4G World, INTEROP, IGD, and Cloud Connect India) that we do here at UBM Tech Media. I am proud to be working with such a talented team!

Our TFM&A website (http://www.tfmaindia.com/) looks beautiful with its orange, rust, beige, grey, and navy blue livery (logo and colors) — with all the speaker photos jumping out of the home page. Scroll down the page and read our speaker articles, or watch our speaker videos (more coming in the next few weeks).

Our speaker line-up is looking strong too. Do take note of the recent addition of keynote speaker Nellie Chan, Director – Marketing Solutions, South East Asia and North Asia, LinkedIn. We waited months for this to happen and the patience paid off!

I also welcome Varun Sharma, Industry Head, E-commerce, Google India, who has just joined our e-Commerce panel discussion that’s moderated by Deepa Thomas, eCommerce Evangelist, eBay India.

It’s also wonderful to have Romi Mahajan, President KKM GroupAnkur Warikoo, CEO, Groupon India, and Kunal Bahl, CEO, Snapdeal. A few days ago Snapdeal received $50 million in funding from eBay. So I am hoping Kunal will elaborate more on this during his Fireside chat with Romi Mahajan, right after the first keynote.

Sundeep Kapur, Evangelist, NCR is also speaking on day 1. We had a warm long-distance chat the other day about different issues. Every time I speak to Sundeep, I learn something new — he has diverse knowledge and is well traveled.

Jessie Paul, the CEO of Paul Writer, is busy putting the finishing touches to her very own magazine for CMOs. I am happy to have Jessie moderate our CMO-CIO panel discussion. On one of my follow up calls to Jessie I learned about the challenges (and platform shortcomings) of launching a magazine on the Digital platform. Jessie also authored the book “No Money Marketing” on frugal marketing.

If you go through our conference agenda, you’ll notice that we have CMOs and Brand Managers speaking in the general sessions and on the panels. There’s also a session exclusively for CMOs on the agenda.

Conference Programme

If you plan to visit our conference, don’t miss our knowledge sessions in Theater Two. We have Aaron Kahlow from the Online Marketing Institute doing a workshop titled, “Global Social Media, Meet Local ROI: The Secrets to the Strategic Thinking & Tactics Driving Social Success Across the World“. And Pradeep Chopra, CEO & Co-founder, Digital Vidya is leading a workshop titled “Digital Marketing for Customer Acquisition.”

Pradeep tells me that organizations tend to use social media mainly for brand communication. But how do you use it to acquire new customers or to get repeat orders from existing customers? Attend this workshop and learn to use Social Media to analyze customer behavior and customer sentiment. The case studies that Pradeep is doing during his workshop are sure to throw light on many of the challenges that marketers face today with this medium.

Scroll to the bottom of the TFM&A site and you’ll see logos of all our partners, notably the CMO Council of India and DMAI (Direct Marketing Association-India). I also welcome our other partners.

Well, with the pace picking up and something new happening here every other day, I am sure I will have more exciting news to share with you in my next TFM&A blog — a fortnight from now. By then we’ll be much closer to launch, and our baby would be on the launch pad, all systems go!

(The Final Countdown is a song written and performed by the 80s band, Europe).

Brian Pereira

Conference Chair – Tech conferences

UBM India

Technology is coalescing into personal devices

Not long ago, one carried any combination of these devices as one commuted or travelled: personal digital assistant, calculator, pager, cell phone, wristwatch, glucometer, stopwatch, alarm clock, radio/CD player/Walkman/MP3 player, laptop, camera, handycam — and of course credit cards and a wallet.

However, it became too cumbersome to carry so many different gadgets/devices (not to  mention the risk of misplacing or losing these).

So R&D teams worked to merge these devices — pager functions were included in mobile phones (SMS), for instance.

You won’t carry credit cards or cash in future — your phone with Near Field Communication (NFC) and m-Commerce technologies will do the job.

Today, we carry a few devices that blend well into our personal effects — a wristwatch, smart phone, and perhaps a tablet.

All the gadgets/devices that I mentioned earlier are still there — in these three devices. But they are virtualized and available in the form of apps.

The next devices in your personal effects to undergo a transformation are the wristwatch and glasses. Sony has already launched a Bluetooth enabled smart-wrist watch. I am guessing that Apple will have theirs out this year (See: Why Apple’s iWatch will change the world!). And Google’s Glass (the future of eyewear) is now undergoing trials.

If you watched any of the Star Trek TV episodes (especially those from the 60s) you’ll see the widespread use of multifunction devices like Tricorders.

I think the next big apps for personal devices are personal healthcare monitoring systems — embedded right into your phone, watch or whatever else you are comfortable carrying around with you. These will of course communicate with servers in hospitals and clinics, to send back data about the status of your vital organs.

So don’t be surprised if your doctor calls you one fine day and tells you to go slow on that cheeseburger.

“Your LDL cholesterol levels are alarmingly high, Pete. You need to come over immediately!)

Oracle prepares for next-generation Cloud

Those tracking the IT industry will recall how IT moguls like Larry Ellison and Bill Gates once dismissed Cloud Computing, to protect the interests of their best-selling on-premise software. Well that was around the years 2005 – 2006. Today, both Larry and Bill have done a volte-face and changed their opinions about the Cloud. In fact Oracle (and Larry) suddenly began singing hosannas about the cloud at Oracle events in recent years. Then Oracle spokespersons began talking about their cloud strategy and the cloud enablement of products. Delivering a keynote at the Oracle CloudWorld 2013  event in Mumbai, Sandeep Mathur, Managing Director, Oracle India spoke about Oracle’s “next generation cloud”, shared the company’s cloud strategy, and spoke about trends in the market, and new Oracle solutions.

Sandeep Mathur_croppedMathur began his keynote by revisiting some of the current market trends that are driving cloud adoption. He alluded to the splurge in connected devices (9 billion), of which 2 billion are smart phones. And all these smart devices are generating data — posing a Big Data explosion. And by 2020, research shows there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet.

Mobility is also a trend that has accelerated in the last few years. As if to drive the point home, one of the Oracle speakers showed a photo of Pope Benedict’s election in 2005 — with crowd’s in St. Peter’s square. And then he showed a similar photo of Pope Francis’ recent election — this one with a lot of backlit mobile phone screens!

Another trend is social media. Customers are now on social and can express their views about your products and services on social media. Also, the young workforce is more comfortable communicating over social media, rather than email.

“There are 930 million mobile subscribers in India. By next year most enterprise applications within a company will support mobile. When you have close to a billion users (in India) in mobile, clearly your applications need to support mobile. And Social media is now driving one-to-one relationships between businesses and its customers,” said Mathur.

Mathur alluded to the declining average age of the workforce. He said the young workforce is used to a different experience (for instance young people  are using less of email and more of social media to communicate). And the platform for this communication is mobile.

“Enterprises continue to use applications developed 10 – 15 years ago, that are not ready to address these market trends; this calls for a new set of applications. Most businesses leaders believe that cloud is the way for us to embrace this change and make your organization more available,” said Mathur.

Product Strategy

Problem: There are too many best-of-breed products used in organizations. Integrating all these products and managing them using a plethora of management consoles is a nightmare for IT managers. Organizations also need to spend on R&D to integrate these products. Oracle (and other IT solutions vendors like SAP) are trying to simplify and reduce these costs — by offering one product with a suite of well integrated applications — all from the same company. Oracle believes this approach also makes it easier to manage the licenses and upgrades.

“We are going to keep reducing best-of-breed technology. We have 80 plus products, and are leaders with 60 of these. We will continue producing better independent products and then we want to make sure that we vertically integrate those products so that customers do not have to spend that cost on R&D. These products will be quick to deploy and make for agile platforms. And of course, these will be cloud-ready,” said Mathur.

According to Mathur, Oracle is spending USD 5 billion this year, just to ensure that its products interoperate well with each other. Oracle is also developing a new set of applications that are ready to run on the second-generation cloud. It is also acquiring companies that have the technology and products that match its application objectives. It believes that the current set of applications cannot cater to the needs of the next generation workforce, which will be using mobile devices and will communicate through social media.

“By next year most enterprise applications will support mobile. The new set of applications will be business intelligence aware and socially aware.  We are also acquiring applications, and acquiring the best of breed in those particular categories. Our applications will run on-premise, in a private cloud or on a public cloud,” said Mathur.

In March Oracle quietly acquired start-up Nimbula, a maker of cloud management software. Interestingly, Nimbula’s co-founder, Willem van Biljon, also helped build the Amazon cloud.

In the past Oracle produced large applications like ERP and CRM that were broad-based and general — for all verticals. Businesses bought these and then invested in R&D to tailor the application to its specific needs — a laborious, time-consuming and expensive affair. Oracle is also going after niche segments and bringing out “verticalized” suites that are tailored for niches like Human Capital Management (HCM), talent management, health sciences, taxation, banking & financial services etc.

Long innings

Oracle is the world’s largest provider of enterprise software and now also a leading maker of enterprise hardware used in data centers. It also offers systems and services to enterprise customers. The software behemoth entered the Indian market 20 years ago. To date it has more than 30,000 developers or R&D specialists based in India. It has grown its customer base to 8,000, and it enjoys a rich ecosystem of partners.

“India is an important market for us not just from a business standpoint but also for R&D, engineering, shared services — and you can expect us to be here for a long time,” said Mathur.