Author Archives: Vinodh Kumar

Vinodh Kumar
Vinodh has performed a variety of roles at Robosoft including managing client enquiries and ongoing relationships. He is currently the Vice President and Geo Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa markets. In his career he has managed a diverse set of IT projects - from games & entertainment to utility services.
Media & Entertainment Opinion

How Over-The-Top (OTT) Players Can Get Tech-ready to Tap Into a World of New Opportunities

As over-the-top (OTT) matures as a medium, consumers are looking for fresh experiences. Shaping new engagement that caters to changing demands will be key to OTT providers’ profitability.

The time is right to imagine new engaging experiences in media and entertainment (M&E), by taking advantage of the latest technology developments in broadband cellular networks. 5G becoming mainstream means increased bandwidth, no more buffering, enhanced viewing with 4K video, at a minimum. With bandwidth no longer an issue, smart devices can also provide interactive experiences. Newer applications will emerge supporting collaboration, which extends beyond web conferencing.

But there’s more – Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) can enhance the live streaming experience. Gaming is expected to swell in popularity as augmented reality and virtual reality bring the user interface and experience even closer to reality. Participating in conferences and exhibitions will become more realistic. As will online learning and online consulting businesses, which will gain traction in hitherto unexplored areas like medical, legal, or management consulting.

For OTT providers, the way forward is to plan for scale

While OTT is currently making leaps and bounds in entertainment, OTT providers must peer into the looking glass to foretell and prepare for the opportunities that lie in wait. They must revisit the way they view the platform and look for innovative solutions that prepare the foundation for scale, such as:

Agility of scalable architecture: Consumer expectations are volatile; companies need to be agile and not rely on a monolithic framework to build their streaming services. Some companies are strengthening the spine of their platform, making it robust, modular, scalable, and easy to integrate with a microservices approach. They might choose to work with a technology partner such as Robosoft to bring together services like ad servers, recommendation engines, billing services, payment gateways, etc., to offer a holistic solution with complete security.

The right development strategy: In building a platform, OTT providers can choose to offer ready-to-use streaming or bespoke solutions – both have advantages and need to be evaluated based on how they want to position themselves. Off-the-shelf solutions are more affordable upfront, quicker to deploy, and best-suited for OTT providers who want to offer video as a nice-to-have service with just the basic features. Custom-developed solutions, even though they take longer to deploy and have a higher initial investment, offer full control and technology ownership to the OTT platform provider.

Off the shelf or bespoke solutions for OTT platform?

The right monetization strategy: The current monetization models of OTT are nascent, and as young as the medium and technology itself. With new applications such as gaming, television commerce, learning, event streaming, and personal video conferencing, successful experiments in revenue models will spell the next level in maturity for the OTT industry. Stemming from traditional broadcasting roots, advertising and subscription are two prevalent models of revenue – both have their distinct advantages. The OTT provider may prefer one monetization model over the other depending on the nature and format of content and the kind of technology investment they are willing to make.

For example, the advertising monetization model enables free content with ads to consumers across multiple platforms such as connected TV, desktop, and mobile ecosystems. Here, finding new users is easier as it has in-built technology to target opportunities using more accurate data on user preferences. Also, providers can leverage predictive and prescriptive analytics using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and use data for greater personalization of services.

• In contrast, providers choosing the subscription model might be those in the business of entertainment, health, eLearning, etc., and stand to gain long-term value by delivering consistent quality content. Investing in the right technology will help them implement security and encryption integrations that are necessary for this model. In addition, on the web and Android, various payment options can be provided for users to make subscription payments, since viewers may have their own preferred payment modes, and benefit from discounts, rewards, and cashback that third-party payment apps offer.

Stickiness of the omnichannel experience: Both video and audio streaming services are booming. OTT companies can enable multi-channel, multi-device options for a multi-sensory, seamless experience, especially to woo the digital consumer who is migrating from the traditional platforms. They can improve stickiness by incorporating the adaptive bit rate feature for smooth playback, regardless of device, location, or Internet speed, making it best suited for usage in low bandwidth areas. Other features such as ‘download and view later’ can be embedded with appropriate technology solutions to protect Downloads from video piracy or copyright infringement.

If omnichannel is about having a presence in multiple touchpoints and devices, a multiexperience (a term coined by Gartner) approach connects them all.  It is a customer-first & experience centric design that promises a seamless experience to customers. Below is a comparison chart between multiexperience, omnichannel, and multichannel.

Multiexperience vs omnichannel vs mutichannel

Protecting proprietary content through Digital Rights Management (DRM): Protection of licenses and prevention of unauthorized distribution of their proprietary content are major concerns for OTT providers that can be addressed through investing in the right Digital Rights Management (DRM) solution.

Nurturing a long-term love affair with OTT

A PWC study estimated that movie theatre box-office revenues fell 71% in 2020, even as Netflix attracted a record 37mn net additional subscribers. As digital consumption in media and entertainment (M&E) continues to build, OTT is poised to replace traditional media & entertainment channels, in a big way.

By gearing up on different aspects – technology investment, business model, and operations – every kind of OTT provider, from the established to the newbie, can fully cash in on the opportunities that are opening up. By becoming future-ready in an already-crowded market, they can promise a consistently engaging and engrossing experience on their platform/app that consumers come back to and fall in love with, all over again.

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Mobile UX/UI

The Basics of Creator Economy and the Role of Digital Experience

Since time immemorial, there have been a small class of people who were creators and a larger group who ‘consumed’ such content. Books, plays, music, paintings, movies and much more were created and performed to an audience. As new platforms and technologies emerged such content took several shapes and forms.

In the pre-digital world, those who offered and controlled a platform or medium decided which content was to be promoted. A newspaper could decide to promote a news item prominently or push it away to the back pages. A studio could offer a platform for worldwide release or a niche audience. Radio stations played a major role in the popularity of a song. Higher the reach of such a medium or platform, better the impact.

In the digital era, while the content format became different, several old media rules were still at play. Online portals, social media platforms with huge reach either decided or controlled which content went viral. Sure, there was no scientific or empirical way which guaranteed which content bubbled up to the top but user-generated content came into its own. This trend owes a lot to YouTube – its ease of use and popularity. Of course, affordable high-speed data plans and mobile handsets played a role too.

The term ‘YouTuber’ became common and one heard of a select few earning millions of dollars through advertising on their YouTube channels. Ryan Kaji, a 9-year old boy earned nearly $30 million from his channel which features reviews of toys and home science experiments. Marques Brownlee or MKBHD, a popular tech & gadget reviewer has 14.9 million subscribers at the time of writing and earns through advertisements, affiliate income and more. Undoubtedly the content created by such YouTubers benefits from the platform’s popularity and reach. Google, in turn, earns from advertisers who place ads in such videos. In 2020, YouTube earned $19.77 billion – approximately 10.9 percent of Google’s total revenue, from advertising. Monetization through advertising was pretty much the only business model up until a few years ago for creators.

What is the creator economy?

The creator economy refers to 50 million+ independent content creators, curators, and community builders involved in free & paid content creation and distribution on software platforms/apps to their “followers”.

A combination of factors has resulted in a change in the ecosystem leading to what is now called the creator economy. Over the years, a small group of creators (writers, photographers) published content and acquired a small base (mostly) of readers and followers. WordPress, Flickr and such apps enabled such distribution of content.

According to Stripe, ‘the earliest creators uploaded Flash animations to DeviantArt or scanned manga illustrations to Xanga. But they didn’t have the tools to sell their content to earn a living as a creator online.’ The hallmark of such a trend was that most such content was free to consume. Popular YouTubers and bloggers who baked in Google AdSense into their sites earned money through ads, but this wasn’t an option for smaller players. The ‘creator’ mostly never got paid through a regular, predictable business model. The rise of social media and acquisition of a large number of followers, even for non-celebrities changed the equation.

The creator economy and its landscape

While there are many definitions and expressions of creator economy, a simple way of understanding it is to see it as:

“An ecosystem which enables any creator to monetize their output.”

The key difference between the digital era of just a few years ago is that the creator economy has widened the base of ‘creators’ and practically enabled everyone to be a creator and monetize their work. It is no longer only about the famous writer or established filmmakers – regular everyday folks can express their skills and passion – be it in cooking, singing, dancing or teaching. Also, the tools which enable this economy are diverse and easy to acquire and use.

The monetization model too changed beyond just advertising – with options such as subscription, sponsorship deals with brands, one-off purchases and donations. Also, the ability to reach and influence a small group of like-minded people or groups with similar interests is higher in the creator economy. Someone with deep knowledge in say, investing can create a loyal following through a podcast or video series. A writer can acquire several thousands of subscribers through newsletters. In 2017, nearly 17 million Americans earned income posting their personal creations on nine platforms.

Read: Driving Growth by Designing Experience-Based Subscription Models

“A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, video maker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 true fans to make a living”

Kevin Kelly, 1,000 True Fans

The creator economy is also referred to as the Passion Economy as it is different from the concept of being paid for gigs such as driving or food delivery. As Ji Lin says, ‘New digital platforms enable people to earn a livelihood in a way that highlights their individuality’.

Creator economy and the common content types

Below are some of the content types, platforms and tools which have gained popularity enabling the creator economy:

#1 Text: This could include short essays, long form content and newsletters: ‘The home for great writing’ is the simple premise of Substack, which started off as a tool for starting paid email newsletters. While a majority of its newsletters are free, there are more than 500,000 paying subscribers. According to The Guardian, ‘Substack takes 10% of subscription earnings and payment company Stripe takes a further 3% with writers taking the rest. Writers charge around $5 a month (£3.66) or $50 a year for access to their newsletters, although the platform’s many free newsletters also have a big following.’ The Top 10 publishers on Substack earn $7mn per year between them.

Substack creators hub

Source: Substack 

There are several stand-alone portals and newsletters which offer both free and gated content. Niche subjects such as business journalism, especially the investigative kind, find takers who are willing to pay for such content driven by the belief that it’s worth it. The USP of such business models is offering opinions, trends and analysis.

#2 Video content: Short form videos sit well with those seeking casual entertainment on the smartphone. After the success of TikTok several clones emerged in various countries.

Instagram Reels

Source: Instagram 

Instagram’s Reels and YouTube’s Shorts have made video creation easy for many. Google even set up a fund of $100mn as a means to payout to video creators. The biggest advantage of such platforms is they don’t need expensive shooting gear, just a good smartphone and an app.

#3 Audio content: Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, podcasts had a huge fan following (remember the buzz around Serial, the podcast from 2014?). The long stretch of staying at home boosted consumption of both audio and video streaming content. Aside from the pioneer Apple Podcasts, the rise of Spotify and other regional platforms augurs well for content creators. Tools such as Anchor, Podbean and more make it easy for content creators to only record but distribute their content on popular platforms.

Podbean creators economy

Source: Podbean

There are also stand-alone tools like Canva which allow for easy creation of a wide variety of content – from slides to infographics. Even niche interests such as app development, teaching and fitness instruction can now be monetized through relevant app platforms and supporting ecosystems.

Here are a few startups which cater to niche segments:

Pietra: helps influencers connect with designers and manufacturers in product creation.

Trading.TV: is a streaming platform for the financial community.

Stir: is a money management platform for creators.

The role of UX in the creator ecosystem

If all of this sounds as if one simply has to sign up on a platform and be ready to count the money, that is far from the truth. When designing a platform or tool meant to aid the creator economy the following needs to be kept in mind:

Information overload: all of us are facing information load from both traditional and new media. Many in the digital world are opting for a break if not going offline completely. In that context, the content out there has to be truly compelling, slick and convey that it adds value for the intended audience.

Subscription fatigue: consumers have a limit to what they can consume. And when it comes to subscriptions, even more so. So be it an OTT service or a paid newsletter a consumer will face a moment of trade-off before committing to a payment.

Need for educating and guidance: the entrants to the creator economy are not just the digital natives. Many who have established careers may try their hand at monetizing their expertise. The platform they choose to adopt with this intent should be able to guide them on the steps that need to be taken to complete the desired action. It takes a combination of copywriting and design as exemplified by Substack which has a Resource Center with inside tips and expert advice for writers.

The role of technology in the creator ecosystem

Technologies such as Non-Fungible Tokens powered by Blockchain are enabling the creator economy. NFTs are units of data which prove digital ownership. The use cases may include any asset such as a movie, song, photograph or collectibles. Celebrities from the entertainment industry and sports professionals have taken to NFTs in a big way. After all, a winning moment in a sports arena is something a professional would cherish and should be able to monetize. NFTs are also a boon for sports fans looking to own collectibles. NBA Top Shot is a marketplace for the fans to purchase and sell video clips of basketball games.

NBA NFT Tokens

McLaren Racing, the popular F1 racing team, has launched a platform where its fans can purchase McLaren Racing branded digital collectibles or NFTs. The platform, named the ‘McLaren Racing Collective,’ will serve as a destination for future opportunities to own a piece of exclusive McLaren Racing collectables.

Boonji Project, the debut NFT project by world-renowned artist Brendan Murphy has surpassed $15.5 million in its Dutch Auction Primary Sale, anointing the project as the largest NFT primary sale in history.

In India, cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar and others have taken to NFTs to launch collectibles. Reports indicate that the Indian film industry too has shown interest in this trend – autographed posters, clips and more are eminently suited for use of this blockchain technology.

Crafting a digital experience in the creator economy will need to follow the basics of any process to create products which consumers love. First off, scanning the market for need gaps and consumer pain-points to identify the opportunities. Next, defining the intent of the app, the feature set and a road map. The feature set will depend on the domain – such as education, video creation or any other. Profile creation, chat systems, shooting and uploading of documents, ability to complete frictionless payments could be some common features. Intuitive design, the right technology stack are other elements of the process.

Summing it up

The creator economy is still in the development stage but has the power to make a huge societal influence consisting of a diverse set of creators. It provides equal opportunity to all its creators despite large differences in their net worth and fan following. The creators can be celebrities, content producers, and influencers. The advent of the creator economy has stretched the meaning of influencers too as it can further be classified to – key opinion leaders (KOL), brand ambassadors, affiliates, and customer advocates.

This microcosm of creators has led a resurgence in how brands are now finding new innovative ways to reach their customers. The subsequent effects are seen in these creator platforms innovating within their app/platform to attract more creators and brands.

In conclusion, the creator economy is an exciting opportunity for content creators, users and enabling platforms, powered by the engines of intuitive design and technologies.

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Banking Fintech

The Rise of FinTech in Asia: Success Stories and Learnings

The success story of Asia’s FinTech industry is something that the rest of the world is now trying to emulate. FinTech in the US is just beginning to catch up, especially after the pandemic hit and digital channels became a necessity.  This Economist article suggests that in the US the volume of transactions on PayPal was 36% higher in March 2021 than last year. The number of people using Square’s digital Cash App rose by 50% to 36 million during 2020. While the FinTech market in the US is growing, it is yet to achieve the scale and maturity that the Asian markets have achieved in the last few years. 

Asia is a hub for some of the most advanced FinTech markets and it continues to be so. A recent EY survey shows that Asia has retained its global leadership in FinTech adoption this year too. FinTech adoption in Asia-Pacific markets has grown enormously in the last two years. Markets like Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea have seen a consumer adoption rate of 67%, but China and India are spearheading the FinTech growth and are at close to 87% adoption rate.

Factors responsible for this accelerated growth and adoption include consumer demand, market-friendly government policies, high mobile penetration, and reliable internet infrastructure. The rise of Super Apps is also one of the most important aspects that have led to Asia’s FinTech growth. 

Defining Trends From the Asian FinTech Landscape

The FinTech landscape in Asia has matured significantly over the years. COVID-19 is also driving a major shift in user behavior towards financial services. There’s been a rapid increase in the use of digital payments, online shopping, adoption of open banking, and more that have reset the BFSI sector as we know it.

Here are some of the key trends from the Asian FinTech landscape and what they could mean for the rest of the world.

Rise of Neobanks or Digital-Only Banks

Neobanks are online-only banks and do not have any physical branches. In the present context of the global pandemic, it is only natural that neobanks have become popular. However, aside from the pandemic, the other factors that have fuelled the popularity of digital banking in Asia are:

  •  A large unbanked population got access to credit and essential financial services at lower costs through these FinTech players. 
  • The ASEAN population is primarily young, and Neobanks are especially appealing for younger people who don’t want to go to the physical branches.
  • The governments and regulatory agencies support the digital movement in these areas. In 2019, regulators in Hong Kong issued eight digital banking licenses. Singapore has also granted some digital banking licenses while Malaysia and the Philippines are opening up applications gradually. 

The recent player in the field in India is Niyo, committed to making banking simpler, safer, and smarter through its suite of services. Fintech has partnered with some of the leading banks in the country to revolutionize traditional banking services through technology integration.

Niyo - India's leading FinTech company

Various offerings from Niyo 

At Robosoft, we partnered with India’s first cross-border neobank to create an app that allows users to conveniently operate and spend money across the globe. The app enables users to open and operate a multi-currency bank account digitally and instantly on the app.

Growing Importance of eKYC in Digital Onboarding

In the present times, even though consumers want to engage with a bank, they’re unwilling to visit a branch. The ongoing pandemic has been a major driver of this shift. In such a scenario, businesses that offer a superior onboarding experience and digital services are critical.

At Robosoft, we partnered with India’s first virtual private wealth management platform, to create a seamless UI/UX design for the app to allow for KYC-compliant (Know Your Customer) easy registration and onboarding and Touch ID enabled login. 

In Asia, the FinTech market is led by China and India, two economies with already well-established systems of civil identity. WeChat Digital Identity in China and Aadhar in India are leveraged by tech providers to enable eKYC, making the onboarding process frictionless.

WeChat Digital Identity

The Ecosystem Approach to Selling Insurance

Acko is a fully digital general insurance company based in India. It provides personalized pricing to customers using deep-data analytics. It also studies customers’ behaviors and interaction patterns to suggest insurance products accordingly. Another innovative offering by Acko is Ola Ride Insurance. If you’ve booked an Ola Ride, you can notice a checkbox to insure your ride. The service allows you to instantly secure a cover for lost baggage (including laptops), missed flights, as well as unplanned medical expenses. Pretty convenient, right?

This is an example of embedded insurance that solves one of the biggest problems of the industry – that insurance is sold, not bought.

ACKO Insurance – a single platform for Bike, Car and Health Insurance 

We partnered with Aviva Aviva Life – one of the leading life insurance companies in India, to redesign their website. The website revamp changed the perception about life insurance products by connecting them to the celebration of life instead of being a risk mitigation tool. We created a multi-engaging experience design that was engaging and showcased Aviva’s range of products aligned with individual milestones in a person’s life.

Aviva Life Insurance web and mobile platform

Aviva Life Insurance Web and Mobile Platform

Mobile Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Lending Platforms

Asia Pacific has emerged as a leader in the mobile peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfer market. According to data, Asia Pacific is the home to more than half of the smartphone users across the globe. The availability of low-cost smartphones and increasing disposable incomes in the region have fuelled the popularity of P2P financing platforms. Most governments in the APAC region have also been actively promoting digital payment initiatives, which has helped reduce the costs associated with money transfer (such as UPI in India). 

KoinWorks is one of the leading digital lenders in the growing P2P lending space in Indonesia. The FinTech firm has enabled thousands of SMEs to access credit and grow their business through a simple app-based lending platform. In India besides Paytm, players like Phone Pe, BHIM UPI, etc. have become popular.

KoinWorks – cash business loan credit platform

The Rise in QR Code Payments

Alipay and Tencent kickstarted QR code-based payment systems, making mobile payment the most popular payment method in China. Presently, QR code payments have reached Africa, and other countries in the Asia Pacific are rolling out national QR code standards for broad adoption. In the present times, social distancing and personal hygiene have become essential aspects of our lives. In this situation, QR code-based payment systems provided a safe and utterly contactless method for sending and receiving money, which was a great enabler for small businesses in most parts of Asia. During the lockdown restrictions in 2020, India’s 12 lakh robust Kirana retail system drove the cashless revolution in the country. Many shifted to digital payment systems to meet the needs of their customers in a safe and contactless manner. Paytm went a step ahead to launch Paytm SoundBox, a voice-activated POS (point-of-sale) machine for small merchants. Shaped like a small speaker, the SoundBox supported multiple payment methods.

Paytm Sound Box

Use of AI/ML for Personalized Service Offerings

Personalization is the solution to building trust and loyalty for any organization. This is one of the main reasons behind the growing popularity of AI in banking and other FinTech solutions. ML algorithms can help analyze customers’ information and predict the services that would be the most appreciated by them. For instance, Coverfox uses AI-based insights to enable users to compare and choose from a range of insurance plans from various companies.

Paytm, on the other hand, uses an AI-based routing engine to achieve better payment success rates.

“Our partnered merchants spend massively on customer acquisition and retention. The last thing they want is losing a customer due to payment failure. We are excited to introduce an AI-based routing engine that addresses this problem by optimising the payment workflows and routing the transaction to best-performing payment aggregator in real time. Further, this will help online merchants reduce development effort to enable various PG providers and achieve faster time to market.” – Puneet Jain, Vice President – Paytm Payment Gateway 

The Super App Revolution

Super Apps, the “One app to do it all” concept that became popular in China has now become a global phenomenon.

Paytm, India’s largest mobile payments and e-commerce platform can be safely called India’s first Super App. It allows users to do multiple things like transfer money, buy gold, book tickets, and even make hotel reservations. Presently, Paytm has over 150 million+ monthly active users and the highest market share in offline merchant payments with 15% month-on-month growth. Paytm has also invested heavily in its wealth management and investment portfolio.

As rightly quoted by Terry Angelos, SVP, Global Head of FinTech at Visa

‘’There are many lessons to be learned from emerging markets for the U.S. FinTechs, but perhaps the most important trend we’re seeing and could learn from today is the Fintech super app.’’

Lessons from the Asian Fintech Landscape

Here are some key lessons gleaned from the Asian FinTech majors and disrupters that could help you build the next fintech unicorn.

Look Beyond Your Horizons

Ping An, a well-known Chinese FinTech, started as a state-owned insurance company. Today, customers can keep their cash with Ping An’s bank or invest it through Lufax, its wealth-advisory arm. They can also sign up for education services or buy a car and then finance the payments through its consumer credit unit. Lufax also uses a facial recognition tool for account opening, like many other fintech companies in China that are leveraging the power of AI/ML to make digital banking more secure.

Tencent is yet another interesting example in this category. Tencent’s core business is not financial services but social networking channeled through its social messaging platform – WeChat. Using WeChat, Tencent offers users a wide variety of services, such as online shopping, booking taxis, and ordering meals. By integrating these services and designing powerful experiences centered on consumers’ everyday needs, WeChat has gained relevance in users’ daily lives and has almost become indispensable for most Chinese people.

 Create a Frictionless Customer Experience

The rise of technology in financial services has thankfully dispensed the need to wait at physical branches to carry out simple monetary transactions. Modern customers are increasingly looking for personalized solutions to manage their money and other aspects of life. For the same reason, payment apps have become exceptionally popular, thanks to the simple and easily navigable UX/UI.

For instance, Piggipo, a Thailand-based app for managing multiple credit cards via one interface, securely monitors spending and helps with scheduling payments, saving money and time. Besides convenience, Piggipo enables users to see their credit card statement in real-time, set spending limits, and view each card’s due date.

Focus on Creating Engagement

WeChat Pay is one of the best-known fintech disruptors from China. At the time of its launch, Tencent used an exciting gamification feature known as digital red envelopes to increase engagement and retention. These red envelopes could be filled with virtual cash or games and sent by users to other groups. The users in a group would then compete against each other to win the red envelope, making the platform highly engaging and adding to its popularity.

 Here’s another example from Ant Financial that launched Ant Forest to reward customers using AliPay to pay their bills or perform activities to lower their carbon footprint, such as using public transportation.

Engagement is not just limited to customers. The best solutions come from hiring the best talent in your team. To achieve this, Gojek made a conscious effort to make working in the company an attractive proposition. They encouraged content on platforms like Medium, of their designers and engineers writing about how they solved several consumer problems. By highlighting their employees’ achievements, the company gave an insight into its productive work culture that acted as a hook for attracting more talent.

 Increased Focus on Customer-Centricity

Asia is home to a few of the world’s biggest Fintech unicorns, and the venture capitals keep flowing in. Conducive market conditions, including a large number of tech-savvy audiences, along with the disadvantages of the traditional banking model have cumulatively meant that the consumers have been targeted at just the right time. For example, half the population of Indonesia is under 30, and the smartphone penetration crossed 50% very recently. This means consumers are waiting to avail themselves of services through their smartphones and the internet.

Additionally, many of these companies have spent heavily on loyalty and user retention, whether it is through point-based reward systems (Cred), offering discounts and coupons (Gojek), or earning positive equity through various campaigns aimed at genuinely helping people in their times of need (KoinWorks). For instance, KoinWorks launched the KoinWorks Cares program to educate users about safe investment options during the pandemic. They also started a massive donation campaign providing a sizable insurance cover for free to all the donors and used the collected funds to purchase test kits for Indonesian citizens.

In Asia, the appraisal of loan applications, approval, and disbursement have all become simplified. There is no dearth of digital payment options, with giants like Amazon and Google recognizing the potential market for payment in India. Meanwhile, China already boasts three of the highest-grossing digital payments companies in the world. This has also created opportunities in Asia for venture capitalists to fund start-ups that provide FinTech services – something that the US needs to work on. Although the USA has more FinTech startups (5,799) than Asia (2,849), the FinTech deal counts the difference between the two, at the end of 2019 Q3, was 152 (Asia) as opposed to 156 (US).

Uncanny Partnerships Lead to Big Rewards

No business is an island, and cross-industry partnerships could help in optimizing customer experiences across the board. The data interoperability agreement between JD Finance and Tencent is an example. JD uses data from WeChat’s messaging platform to make product recommendations to customers and helps vendors with their products.

The EY Global FinTech Adoption Index 2019 also points to the rise of non-financial services companies such as retailers, technology platforms, and automakers developing their technology-enabled financial services offerings. These organizations have built upon existing relationships with customers to offer holistic propositions accompanied by complementary services, such as insurance and lending that were once the exclusive purview of financial providers, says the report.

Leveraging Emerging Tech to Drive Better Customer Experiences

While the use of AI has become commonplace for Asian FinTech players, many are now dabbling into newer tech like blockchain to disrupt the financial services industry further. While there are only a few examples of companies presently using blockchain in their product or service offerings, technology’s decentralized nature will be a significant game-changer regarding security and speed for fintech companies.

Galileo Platforms, a technology platform company serving the insurance sector in Hong Kong, uses blockchain technology to connect distributors and insurers, enabling them to process real-time transactions. Mai Capital specializes in blockchain and cryptocurrency investments. Their flagship product is the Blockchain Opportunity Fund, a multi-strategy hedge fund deploying quantitative trading and arbitrage strategies.

In Conclusion

The world of financial services has undergone tremendous developments in the past few years. However, a lot of these changes are not attributable to bankers. Instead, people in business, entrepreneurs, and engineers have been chiefly responsible for the FinTech revolution in Asia and beyond. Instead of waiting for the traditional banking industry to evolve, these people took it upon themselves to address customer needs by involving key players.

 Another factor responsible for the growth of FinTech in Asia is the constant evolution and rapid digital transformation. Take the example of China’s Ant Financial: In 2019, the company had a reported valuation of around USD 150 Billion. That’s almost equal to the valuation of Goldman Sachs (USD 79.46 Billion) and Morgan Stanley (USD 79.05 Billion) combined. This was possible after the company shifted from a sole payment provider to an all-around financial services provider in a year. They were able to encompass the needs of the market and predict the upcoming trends well in advance. This ensured they could become a global force by providing convenient finance options to the majority unbanked population in both China and Asia as a whole.

 Even if we look further than FinTech, there’s hardly any industry that can resist digital transformation at this time. Whether it is building efficiencies in product design, employee and customer experiences, or building more transparency into the supply chain – upgrading your existing technology stack is the most viable solution to meet your organizational goals. 

 Furthermore, the pandemic has fuelled the requirement for remote experiences and touchless transactions. As a result, enterprises are increasingly investing in cloud management platforms, digital payment solutions, and employee experience management tools to build more productivity into their day-to-day work.

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Media & Entertainment

How video streaming evolved for industries beyond media & entertainment

With the onset of the COVID-19, OTT and video streaming saw a surge like never before. This rise was attributed to a number of factors: the amount of time people spent at home, fewer avenues of entertainment, reliance on digital media for day-to-day interactions like business meetings, doctor consultations, online classes, and more. Video platforms also became a necessary means to fill the gap of human connections in people’s lives. According to a survey done by Limelight, in July 2020 over 89% of respondents used video to communicate, and over 50% used it daily.

Last year, video conferencing became one of the most critical tools for all kinds of businesses including Edtech, Retail, Healthcare, BFSI, etc. A cloud communications service provider based in the US saw an increase of 843% in the video minutes consumed by its users across domains, out of which Telehealth usage grew the most. The financial services and education sector also saw a significant spike in usage.

In our earlier article, we explored how the new-age LMS platforms are leveraging video streaming and creating innovative solutions across all their offerings – employee onboarding, partner training, customer education, employee training, and more.

‘’As enterprises continue to adopt technologies for remote learning and collaboration for employees, technology companies are amending their features and support. In the years to come, effective use of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, VR, adaptive learning approaches, gamification will increase in LMS.’’ Srinidhi Rao, Senior Vice President – Solutioning and Account Management, Robosoft Technologies

In another article, we outlined how the Retail industry is using video for customer acquisition, retention and engagement.


‘’Out of sight, out of mind,  is more pertinent than ever before.  Hence it is essential for retailers to use innovative approaches to remain on consumers’ radar. Videos play a crucial role in this as it’s a more visually engaging medium.’’ Jay Shah, Vice President, Pre-sales & Solutioning, Robosoft Technologies

OTT and video streaming have become a force to be reckoned with in an age when all the rules of engaging and communicating with customers have changed. In this article, we will outline how video streaming is being used in 5 key industries: Healthcare, FinTech, B2B SaaS, Real Estate, and Manufacturing.

Healthcare: Medical streaming becomes a powerful channel for medical professionals

Medical streaming in healthcare is a phrase that has a broad range of use cases. Starting from providing consultations to patients in remote places to supervising surgeries, live medical video streaming has seeped into every crevice of medical aid to simplify doctor-patient relationships. In response to the COVID-19, the Spanish health authorities implemented Telehealth services at the primary care level. In addition, some private health providers offered video consultations for the general public free of charge. For Vonage, a cloud communications service provider, overall video minutes used by its healthcare clients spiked by 727 percent from February to March last year. The major use cases where video conferencing was used were: telehealth apps providing remote consultations, therapy sessions, online staff training etc.

Even prior to the pandemic, usage of video in healthcare was already picking pace for video consultations, training, and more. Below are some key use cases of how the healthcare sector leverages video streaming:

Telemedicine: Telemedicine is a stream coined to make medical assistance reachable to a vaster population. Medical live streaming, though primarily used to provide consultations, has also been used to share knowledge, research, and equipment demos.

Remote Medical Scribes: Documenting medical records to keep track of patient history and other key details is important but also time-consuming if done by physicians manually. Thus, the medical community created scribes – a virtual medium where doctors outsource these clerical jobs to people offshore. Live streaming these details has cut down a great deal of time and increased work efficiency in hospitals. Apps like SmartMD helps physicians record their visits. While the app scribes notes directly into the patient’s chart, saving everyone time and getting the most out of your EHR.

Image source

Virtual Training: Medicine is an ever-evolving field that needs its professionals to keep up with the catching technologies and other advances. Even practicing doctors are often in need of requiring brief training. Live streaming can help the medical community updated through e-learning options.

Surgeries: Surgeries that do not consist of a senior doctor in the place have been monitored through live video streaming and hold an interactive session to eliminate surgical risks. In some cases, surgeries have also been broadcasted to a larger audience as lessons to educate those who are in training.

Online Consultation: Live streaming consultations have given the patients a wider choice of good doctors, not only for treatments but also for attaining opinions on diagnosed problems. These online live streaming consultations in healthcare can be used to review prescribed medicines, treatments, and other medical records such as scans and X-rays. This feature has vastly enhanced the experience of medical assistance and has also cut down on patient wait time as they do not go to meet doctors in real-time.

Last year owing to the pandemic, many hospitals and health systems launched and expanded telehealth programs in a matter of days. In response to the quick demand in access, HHS healthcare began leveraging platforms such as FaceTime and Zoom for virtual visits covering a wide range of conditions, from urgent care, primary care check-ups, medication follow up and COVID-19 screenings. Owing to the increased usage of video streaming services healthcare providers like Aetna Healthcare, UnitedHealthcare, Humana also starting including telehealth in their reimbursements.

Fintech and BFSI: Video-based content to acquire, engage and retain customers

BFSI and FinTech sectors can leverage the power of video streaming to not just engage with customers but also help them use their products and services with ease. According to a report from Accenture, 48% of US millennials would like their banks to offer video banking.

Here’s how the video streaming is being leveraged in this sector:

Video Banking: As physical branches become less relevant banks are upgrading their digital channels and introducing innovative methods to communicate and connect with their customers. Video Banking is one such innovation, which helps bridge the human-interface gap. For instance, LiveBank offers Virtual Branch Banking for the banking sector. It is an omnichannel communication and collaboration hub for banks that aggregate all communication channels like text chat, video, and audio. LiveBank provides retail banks secure and friendly contact channels for its clients.

Reducing the processing time: the BFSI sector is using video streaming to simplify the paper-based processing of loans, accounts, etc. Ping An, a wealth management company based in China reduced the loan application time to 6 minutes with the face recognition feature of Live Bank. At Robosoft, we partnered with a leading insurance company for the integration of Robosoft’s Video Chat solution to support online claim surveys for motor insurance. The integration of Video Chat solutions helped to personalize the digital interactions between the claim managers and customers and eased the claims process.

Making BFSI more inclusive: SignVideo, a British Sign Language (BSL) video interpreting service, was used by Lloyds to make their customer service more inclusive by making video an integral element of their customer services operations. Similarly, Santander UK and HSBC also use SignVideo to make their services more inclusive.

Better customer service: In a survey done by Accenture, more than half of survey respondents expressed an appetite for a true omnichannel banking experience that would allow them to switch seamlessly between physical and digital channels. In a post-COVID world where physical interactions are limited, channel innovations such as video conferencing, virtual reality, and chatbots can bridge the gap of face-to-face interactions.

“Video banking shows customers that behind the bank, there is something. There are people that can actually help you. It’s not like talking to a machine, it’s like talking to a real person.” Grzegorz Młynarczyk, vice president of virtual banking services provider LiveBank

Video-based marketing: 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool, and of those, 88% of marketers report getting a positive return on their investment. Furthermore, videos can be more engaging learning tools than other forms of content. Service and product offerings in the BFSI and FinTech sectors can be complicated. Videos enable businesses to distill complicated concepts into a short, digestible format and to tell a story that showcases even the most complex technology. Customers can visualize how a product or service can solve their challenges, even ones they may not have known they had.


An example of video simplifying a complex FinTech solution for its customers can be this video from Crypto Arbitrager, a Fintech enterprise that enables investors to make money on the difference in rates of cryptocurrencies: bitcoin and litecoin. The fintech solution video shows how Crypto Arbitrager allows you to profit from exchange rate differences.

B2B SaaS: Embracing the power of video across the sales funnel

B2B marketers have found that video content is more effective than written content. 59% of senior executives said they’d rather watch a video than read an article. Videos can play an important role throughout the sales funnel leading to conversions.

‘’Video marketing, especially for SaaS companies, involves utilizing video through the funnel to attract, convert and delight customers” Ed Laczynski, CEO of Zype

Video isn’t just for marketing anymore; it can play an influential role in the sales process now. The introduction of sales video platforms like Vidyard’s GoVideo and Wistia’s Soapbox has made it easy for sales reps to integrate video from their very first approach email.

These videos can be of various types – product demos, customer training videos, personalized videos embedded in email marketing campaigns, etc. Some examples to take a note of are:

Product explainer videos: Finalsite is a B2B SaaS company with more than 20 products and each one has a product video lasting under 60 seconds. PrecisionLender does a great job of addressing the key product questions in short 90 seconds videos.

Personalized sales videos: The Angle, a B2B tech marketing company used Wistia’s Soapbox to create a personalized video to promote a blog post. The video can be easily shared by the sales team in their emails to engage with the prospect.

Customer testimonials videos: Slack, produced this fun, two-minute video to tell the story of how the company’s platform improved Sandwich Video’s productivity. The video answers the main questions of any good testimonial video addressing the key concerns of decision-makers like quantifying the impact the product has made, product features, and more.

Real Estate: Video-streaming changing the rules of real estate purchase

The buying process in the real estate industry has evolved and Real Estate companies are using new-age technologies to engage with buyers throughout the buying cycle. At Robosoft, we partnered with one of the leading real estate development companies of UAE to create a mobile platform that can help buyers keep a track of their property-related transactions and create an engaging experience throughout the journey of home buying to living. We also worked with a service realty solutions organization that helps manage real-estate for private individuals, landlords and investors. We partnered with the client to create an aggregator web solution for landlords and tenants, for their property management requirements. From looking for a property to managing transactions and legal documents – digital has become a critical element.

Videos can help real estate enterprises engage with their customers better. Various ways in which the Real Estate sector leverage videos are: Virtual tours of the property, provide agent profiles to gain buyer’s trust, educational videos helping buyers learn more about the complex concepts surrounding the housing market like subprime mortgages, depreciation, and foreclosure, etc.

Tools like can help real estate enterprises to take interested buyers or agents on a virtual or remote tour of the house. Another type of video that the real estate sector can use is creating 360 views like Google Street through imaging equipment like Matterport 3D equipment, which is an enhanced imaging software. This camera does a high-res scan of every room in the house and creates a virtual, immersive, 3D experience.

Manufacturing: Customer education to process training videos are simplifying the manufacturing landscape

According to a Video Benchmarking report by Vidyard, High Tech, Professional Services & Media, and Entertainment & Publishing are the top three industries for video production. Manufacturing also ranks high on the list at number eight.

The manufacturing industry is leveraging videos as a powerful tool to show their customers, and investors, how the processes inside their factories work. For example, Rocket International, a national distributor of packaging supplies and equipment, put together a video that showcases the machinery that can be added to a line to place a carry handle to packaging. Similarly EVS Metal – a leading provider of end-to-end metal fabrication and manufacturing services gives a factory tour video that allows their buyers to see the size, conditions, capabilities, and products and services available at EVS Metal.

Another important use case of videos in the manufacturing industry is Process Training. Process training is an integral part of the manufacturing industry and videos are ideal to demonstrate step-by-step instructions that are useful for teaching the operation of a tool, product, or procedures. These how-to-videos pertaining to manufacturing are a better alternative to reading bulky manuals on the process because they provide visual stimulants that are easy to remember.

For the employer, these process videos reduce the time and resources spent on training employees how to carry out a process, while decreasing the learning curve for employees.

The manufacturing industry is also using immersive videos with AR/VR technologies for process tours, training, ensuring safety, and more. For instance, At the UK’s Eggborough Power Station K, tech companies Arithmetica and Transmission TX partnered to create an immersive VR training experience for workers at the power station, which delivers coal-fired power and biomass conversion. The VR experience simulated a real-life hazardous environment, providing a 360-degree video experience via consumer-friendly and fully available Samsung Gear VR headsets.

Ford, which outfits its employees with VR experiences to simulate the construction of upcoming models in its plants, years before the cars start rolling out of the warehouse doors. The intent of this VR application is to encourage workers to create the tools and processes they need in order to create a safer production environment. The introduction of VR in the manufacturing process resulted in an injury reduction rate of 70 percent.

In conclusion:

OTT and video streaming market is growing, while the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this pace, the adoption was already underway. Industries beyond media & entertainment are leveraging video streaming for higher engagement with their customers. Be it educating the customers, communicating with them, or engaging with them – videos have become a critical aspect of strengthening the customer experiences. Additionally, videos are also helping in employee training, communication within enterprises, and more.

At Robosoft, we have the width and depth of experience crafting OTT and video app solutions. Our solutions are anchored on multiexperiencean approach focused on customer journey – providing multi-sensory, multimodal, and seamless experiences. We have partnered with several brands in crafting OTT solutions that have captivated users and delivered business growth through a combination of cutting-edge product strategy, UI/UX, and engineering services.

Know more about our OTT and video app solutions here.

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How to work with offshore teams (17 actionable tips to live & work by and 6 expert testimonies)

Have you ever wondered how you can work with offshore teams effectively? In this in-depth article, we cover 17 actionable ways to make it happen.

Working with virtual/ offshore development teams is as common in the technology space as having fries with your hamburger.

The top two reasons American companies outsource mobile app development are to reduce costs and improve service.

According to the IT Outsourcing Statistic Report for 2016-2017, outsourcing accounted for over 10% of the typical IT company in America.

The same report reveals app development services as the most frequently outsourced function in IT.  Furthermore, 40% of the companies that outsourced mobile app development last year intend to increase the amount of work they outsource in 2017.

Among companies offering a mobile app product, the trend towards outsourcing such work is clear: a staggering 53% of companies with a mobile app outsource their development efforts:

outsorcing work to offshore teams


Source: IT Outsourcing Statistic Report

As US companies increase collaboration with offshore and virtual teams, a new set of challenges and opportunities arises. The greatest worry on every executive’s mind is how to work with offshore teams effectively and productively?

What if I told you there is a series of actionable steps you can take that are guaranteed to help you make the most of your partnership with offshore agencies, freelancers and remote teams you might consider hiring?

For over 20 years, Robosoft has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world to create mobile apps, websites and integrated systems that have wowed and delighted customers, vendors and internal users. We know more than a few things about how to optimize, improve and successfully work with offshore & virtual teams!

If you are a US or European executive interested in productively and efficiently working  with offshore resources, please read this in-depth article.

Our considerations and recommendations are platform, agency and country agnostic. We look at 17 big picture, strategic considerations, along with process and day-to-day implementation strategies to help you get the maximum ROI when working with offshore teams.

Are you ready to learn how to work with offshore teams effectively? Take a look!

Big picture: vision, culture & engagement

In this section we discuss several considerations every product leader should note when working with offshore and onshore teams. Reading this section will help you become successful in building and launching a great mobile product, whether your teams are collocated in San Francisco or across the world.

Make no mistake – these actionable recommendations are even more important when dealing with offshore resources.

Creating a culture of belonging by describing your vision and end goal, clearly explaining what you want and helping to define the success criteria are all critical factors that make the difference between an awful and a great partnership with your remote team.

Share your vision and be inspirational

how to work with offshore teams



Once the ink on a partnership contract has dried, and you’ve selected your implementation partner, virtually all companies and their remote partners go through the same first step: gaining an understanding of what the client wants to build.

In this step, the person or company contracting with a strategic partner has the first opportunity to formally introduce their objectives, needs, and goals.

Too often, though, technology clients simply view remote/offshore teams as the execution partner for a specific feature, function or system. However, fundamentally, people work with people. The more you know about what a client wants to build and why, the more invested you can become in a specific idea or concept and its execution.

That’s why the most successful mobile app products in the world have amazing visionaries behind them. From the moment you start engaging with an offshore team member until the end of the partnership, you should always have a clear vision of your project that you consistently and constantly communicate to the people with whom you work – be those internal resources or outsourced team members.

This image summarizes how to best convey your vision to your team:

Virtual Teams

In short, the overall vision of your project is key to your overall success. When working with distributed team members, it becomes even more important to clearly articulate your idea, your vision and your product differentiator. To be successful, you want people to really believe and become invested in your vision.

Any professional team will work on a project with or without a clearly defined vision. But they will work harder and more effectively if they can identify with the problem you want to solve. Beyond getting paid, they work better when they can feel that they’re really making a difference through their work!

Define exactly what you want

virtual teams

Most developers we have met are analytical, organized and thorough people. If you tell them specifically what you expect to see, they will work hard to deliver a product based on your specifications.

As Antonella Pisani, CEO at Official Coupon Code correctly points out, in all dealings with offshore teams, when clients make their requests as specific as possible, everyone is happier. If the vision is the catalyst for the overall success of your mobile product, clearly conveying what you want is the engine for achieving each milestone required to build the overall product.

Emotional investment and effort from the client’s side is required to effectively communicate (more on that later!) with offshore team members and to articulate, through various means (covered below!), what remote team members are responsible for from an execution point of view.

Help create the definition of success

Knowing what you want from your offshore team wins only half of the battle. If everyone is to stay on the same page, clients and remote teams need to align themselves with the specific criteria for success.

This is true for both the overall success of a project and the intermediary milestones that need to be met along the path of development.  Most mobile app projects take between two and six months. If we accept  Murphy’s law, during that timeframe “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

In order to avoid any discontent when working with offshore teams, it is of paramount importance to clearly define success criteria upfront.

Here are some of the main factors that can have an impact on the success of a project and on which you should spend a considerable amount of time defining and monitoring.

virtual teams


Source: 10 success criteria for software development 

Some of these factors, setting expectations, proper planning, milestones etc., will be discussed and brought up as dependencies by competent technology partners and great offshore consultants.

Remember, though, that success is a two way street. That’s why it is the client’s job to clearly communicate project objectives and requirements and to always be available in a timely fashion for questions and clarifications that may act as impediments for your offshore team members.

Both the client and the offshore teams are in this together and both are responsible for the overall success of any project. Which brings us to our next point.

Foster a unified culture among onshore and offshore resources

virtual teams

Whether you work with internal, collocated resources or with offshore team members, it is always imperative to create a culture of belonging. Most companies and executives stop short of realizing that this concept is important whether a person is a contractor, full time employee or a third party agency providing technology services.

Ultimately,  everyone is working towards the same goal. If a product is successful, everyone wins. Together!  It is this winning attitude we think every client needs to own and promote as part of their engagement with offshore distributed teams.

It doesn’t matter whether a person is sitting in San Francisco, Bangalore or Kiev. What matters is that everyone is aligned behind the same vision and set of goals.

Creating a unified culture of belonging across borders, time zones and employment statuses is, as Vishal Agarwal correctly points out, a product of leadership.

As the owner of a project, you should make it your mission to ensure that every single person contributing to your project’s success feels included, appreciated and part of your greater vision.

Strategic considerations:

All the tips and recommendations in this section relate to issues and opportunities that arise specifically because your resources are not collocated.

Working with remote partners can sometimes lead to disagreements, miscommunication, missed expectations and a culture of distrust.

In order to avoid these unpleasant situations, it is of paramount importance to pay close attention to these issues BEFORE you actually engage a distributed team, independent consultant or offshore mobile app development agency.

“Hire those you can trust”

Source: How to Run a Remote Team

Wade Foster is the CEO of Zapier, a SAAS company with more than 1 million active users allowing customers to link their various web apps and trigger different events from one digital platform. Foster knows a thing or two about offshore teams: their entire company (75 employees at the time of writing) works remotely across eight different time zones.

In an article he wrote about managing an offshore team, Wade makes an excellent point that is worth exploring here.

  • You should only hire people and companies you trust.
  • You need to trust that they will do what is best for your company and product.
  • You must trust that they will work hard, to the best of their abilities to make you and your product successful – unless proven otherwise. 

When dealing with offshore teams this becomes incredibly important. After all, things often get lost in translation – and we don’t mean in a literal way. We mean that with people working in different time zones, most communication is in a written form. When you talk to someone in person, you get a completely different experience because 93% of communication is nonverbal. However, more often than not, communication with offshore teams is done in a written format – emails, chat sessions, project management tools. This, in turn, opens the door to misinterpretations, incomplete information and, sometimes, distrust of your offshore resources.  

Every client who selects an offshore vendor or team member should only sign on the dotted line if they fully trust that partner. Anything less will lead to uncomfortable interactions, bad faith and project failure.

Respect your team’s expertise

remote teams


With trust, comes respect. You cannot have one without the other. With your offshore resources you should absolutely have both.

In the many interactions between a client and an offshore team, there will be countless times a problem can be solved in multiple ways. Some clients and employers feel the need to be very hands-on with their offshore resources. No one says a hands-on approach is bad – but clients should only exercise this right within reason.

After all, you’ve hired a team or a distributed resource for their skills, qualities and past achievements. It’s highly important for remote resources to feel their input is valuable and that they are trusted to make decisions based on their professional judgment during the implementation of a feature.

As Du Nguyen correctly points out in his article, Six Tips for Making Agile and Offshore work in Harmony:

“Showing respect and asking for opinions from the offshore team helps them feel included and could bring up useful actionable insights that can improve your processes. Encourage them to ask questions and get involved.”

When team members feel their input is valuable, they are more likely to take initiative, emotionally invest in your project and go the extra mile to deliver on their promises.

Choose teams that have worked on similar projects

When it comes to working with distributed teams, it is often smart to stick with what you know. In other words, it makes perfect sense to select a strategic partner with previous experience working on similar tasks and projects.

If a team or consultant has successfully delivered on similar projects in the past, it is a good indicator that they can produce similar results with your project.

As we argued in a different article on how to choose the perfect technology partner, most consultants and remote development teams will be more than happy to share their client contact information with you, so you can check their references. It’s downright suspicious, and a huge red flag, if they refuse or otherwise stall when you ask for references.

According to Kim Lachance Shandrow at, talking directly with technology partners’ past clients also affords you the opportunity to ask them how efficiently and reliably the developer worked; both are crucial pieces of information you must know.

In short, when it comes to choosing distributed teams, it sometimes makes sense to do business with companies and employees previously in that situation. If they’ve successfully worked from a remote position with similar clients and have delivered good quality work for companies that launched products similar to yours, they will do the same for you.

Communicate effectively with your virtual team

virtual teams

Great communication is the key to a successful partnership, whether you work side-by-side or in different time zones. It is no different when working with virtual teams. However, as Luke Watson correctly points out, communication remains the number one issue when working with offshore resources.

Fostering an environment in which effective communication between onshore and remote resources becomes a goal in and of itself is the best way to avoid this.

To help offset some of the issues caused by non-collation of resources is to decide how to effectively leverage different communication channels. Here is a ranked list of how to efficiently use various communication methods between onshore and virtual teams:

  • Email – use sparingly for project meeting notes, official communication, schedules and commitments
  • Chats – always have a chat window open ( skype, slack, hangout etc). Use this for quick clarifications, status updates and questions.
  • Productivity tools – JIRA, Asana, Trello, Basecamp, etc. are some of the best tools on the market for proper project management.Whatever tool you choose should be enforced across the team. Having a great project tool reduces friction, improves communication and documents assumptions about a project.

In short, communication with offshore teams can indeed be an issue. However, with the right process and tools set in place, it can absolutely be overcome.

Treat your offshore partner like a partner

virtual team

Choosing an offshore company or individual partner is exactly this: teaming up with a partner someone you respect and who is more than merely a vendor doing business with you. Spend time to get to know the person or the team with whom you will be working.

Steve Mezak had this to say in an article titled “Six Can’t Fail Tips for Effectively Managing An Outsourced Software Development Team” (and we could not agree with him more!)

“If you treat your outsourcing partner as an equal, they are likely to work harder for you. They might feel inclined to stay late so they have longer workday to overlap with you, or forego their own national holidays to work to your schedule. Empathize with how hard they work to meet your needs rather than point a finger of blame.”

When working with a partner agency, the conversation naturally revolves around what should be done. That’s totally fine. However, as mentioned above, when hiring an offshore team you have people working with other people. Beyond simply getting a paycheck, people form connections, become emotionally invested in a project and go the extra mile for the clients and projects they care about. Treating your offshore resources like real partners will pay off in the long run. Every single time!

Look for flexible teams that are not afraid of change

virtual teams


Technology is constantly changing. One decade has passed since the first iPhone was released. In these ten short years, mobile app platforms, frameworks and programming languages have all significantly evolved. Think Eclipse versus Android Studios IDE or Xcode versus Swift, for example.

As technologies evolve, so should your remote teams.

When you have collocated resources, it is significantly easier for your team to attend meetups, conferences and events that improve their collective knowledge.

Of course, with the proliferation of online courses, one could argue that offshore and remote resources can also gather more knowledge, but it is not the same.

In other words, you want self-driven offshore teams who actively work on different platforms, improve their knowledge on their own and “have a broader perspective to view development technologies as tools in their arsenal to build the next great application.”

You want naturally curious, always learning teams and offshore consultants to join your ranks that will infuse your own team and product with fresh and exciting new development perspectives.

Hire companies with representatives in your time zone (hybrid approach)

virtual teams

Offshore teams are oftentimes more experienced and cost effective than local hires according to the IT Outsourcing Statistic Report for 2016-2017. That is why over 50% of IT departments outsource their work for mobile application development to third party vendors and agencies.

One problem remains: if you have an issue or need a clarification during work hours, how do you get your answers if the team you’re working with is in a time zone 8 hours or more ahead of you?

To resolve this issue, many vendors have started offering a hybrid model for business engagements. Hybrids are companies with an offshore development force and a registered presence in the United States as well as some local resources available within the client’s time zone. Local resources are typically project and product managers, design resources and account managers who are available during local work hours to take questions from a client and act as liaisons between the client and the development team.

This model has become so popular that most vendors with a predominantly offshore presence are now offering it to their American clients. This alternative to the traditional offshore model has made many startup founders feel more at ease with leveraging distributed teams to get their products to market in a speedy and efficient manner.

Recognize your offshore team’s achievements & share positive feedback

As we mentioned above, when you are working with offshore resources, it is natural to simply communicate with them about tasks that need to be completed, timelines and bug fixes that need attention.

However, as Georgia Gallone from GG Digital Solutions Ltd correctly points out, when you partner with offshore resources, it’s important to remember you are working with people. No matter where in the world you live, or what your cultural background, positive feedback can go a long way to improving your working relationship.

If the team has done a good job at delivering on time and on budget – express your appreciation. If users love the product, share that valuable feedback with your offshore teams. Treat your distributed teams as you would any other close partner: when something goes well, be sure to tell them so.

Great execution: process, deliverables, expectations

No team, virtual or collocated, can function properly without a clearly defined process that all parties recognize and abide by. In this section we focus on the specific considerations that need to be accounted for when working with distributed resources.

Have a regular check-in schedule

When you are dealing with collocated resources and you need to solve a problem,  the solution is really simple. You walk over to the person’s desk and talk about it. Things get a little more complicated when dealing with virtual teams. But they don’t have to be!

Regular check-ins are recommended for any type of project where there are multiple stakeholders and decision-makers. This becomes significantly more important when working with offshore and virtual teams. As other experts have mentioned, a regular cadence of meetings is critical to the overall success of the project!

To get the most out of regular check-ins with your virtual teams, the best strategy is to maintain a very structured approach so everyone’s time is used effectively, as shown in the image below.

If you follow these tips for productive check-ins, you will likely cut through the noise and get tasks done efficiently in a timely fashion.

Establish one consistent process across teams

virtual teams

If you are a startup working with only one offshore development team, the process is simple. You align on a process of engagement which everyone then executes. Often, however, companies hire virtual teams to augment their existing team or to work on a new project.

We cannot emphasize enough how important it is for executives to ensure that all resources, onshore and offshore, follow the same processes and transfer deliverables in the same format.

In software development, many steps can and will be done differently by various people unless a common set of practices is put in place. From coding to testing, requirements gathering to production release notes, there are quite a few practices that must be absolutely standardized across teams. As others have mentioned, lack of standard practices in the development cycle is one of the biggest mistakes affecting the cost of software development.

Get alignment on monitoring the performance of a virtual team

One of the most frequent sources of discontent between clients and virtual teams collaborating on the same project is missed expectations. As a client, you expected to see something done in a specific way but it was delivered in a different manner.

The best way to avoid hard-feelings when working with remote teams is to agree, up-front, on how the performance of the offshore team will be monitored throughout the process.

Of course, no one expects every single detail to be outlined in the master service agreement. However, it is incredibly important for clients and service providers to discuss how the performance of a virtual team will be monitored and reviewed throughout the engagement.

As Tara Waddle from Allshore Virtual Staffing correctly points out, there should be alignment between onshore project managers and virtual resources on quantifiable KPIs, task turnarounds and feedback mechanisms, so everyone clearly understands what is expected for each step.

Know and learn the virtual team’s process

Another common source of discontent between clients and offshore resources involves how and why virtual teams deliver work products in a certain way. Professionals have different methodologies, processes and work methods of which clients may not be aware.

Of course, distributed resources and virtual teams will adapt their work deliverables to the clients’ needs, within reason. However, it always helps if clients and onshore managers are open to understanding and learning the process used by virtual teams.

In a globalized workforce, professionals come together and work on joint projects while sharing different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Much of the conflict between clients and service providers is due to a failure to understand the other party’s perspective or why something is being done.

Knowing a virtual team’s work process means meeting them halfway on the path to a long and strong partnership.

Humans are visual creatures – use tools to visually communicate what you want

virtual teams

Source: Can a Conference Room be Intelligence

As we all know, most people are visual learners; 90% of information processed by the brain is visual. That is why this article is a combination of text and summary images – to allow you, the reader, the option of skimming through our recommendations or reading them in their entirety.

The same concept applies to working with remote teams. What you write in an email or chat window, or what you say on a phone call may be subject to multiple interpretations. When you visually show what you expect, people can process that information and produce the necessary deliverable faster and more efficiently.

That is why it is absolutely critical to use tools that can help you convey your point in a visual fashion when working with distributed virtual teams. Luckily, many of these tools are free to use or very inexpensive. Google Hangouts sessions have a built-in option for screen sharing. This is also true with Skype. Many companies in the US use or Gotomeeting.

Ultimately, whatever option you choose is less important than making sure you have an easy and effective method to visually convey your thoughts and desires to your virtual team members.


Working with virtual teams is a reality. Whether you choose a development partner with an offshore  base of operation or you decide to hire a professional in a different city, this is an everyday scenario for many companies in America.

Although the benefits of collocated resources are well-known and understood, companies are naturally looking for the best people for a job. Those people may be on the other side of the country or the other side of the world.

In this article, we looked at 17 distinct strategies that have already been implemented in one form or another by different US companies to ensure that teams can work effectively and efficiently, regardless of their office locations .

If you are a company wondering whether a distributed model will work for you, don’t bother. Working with virtual teams has already been proven successful. The only question should be what you can do to ensure that the virtual team model is implemented in an efficient manner. We hope our 17 actionable recommendations provide  a good overview of how you can make it happen.

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Mobile Opinion

Leveraging Technologies to Reshape the Real Estate Industry

Rapid advances in technology have permeated several sectors that anchor a country’s economy. This is a precedent that can also be applied to the real estate industry. Real estate, an asset class worth USD 217 trillion globally, has gradually embraced disruptive technology. It is a dynamic catalyst that will transform the way businesses are conducted in the future. Today, the growing influence of millennials and an investment boom in real estate technology has reshaped this industry around the world, including the Middle East.

Benefits of Technology in Real Estate

Digital transformation in real estate has made it easier for buyers to connect with sellers online and establish meaningful connections. Some of the benefits include:

1. Online 3D Tours

Technology allows global investors to get 3D views of the entire property, which gives the feel of a personal tour, all this at a single click and from anywhere in the world.

2. Real-Time Data

Real estate investors are no longer just looking at the price of a property. Factors such as return on investment, cash flow, and capitalization rate have become critical for investors to make informed decisions. To access such data in real-time, disruptive technologies provide all information at your fingertips. With growing accessibility to such data, the real estate industry has become more transparent and regulated.

3. Portal and Apps

The advent of real estate apps and portals have made it convenient for buyers to search for properties they like, instead of aimlessly driving around the neighborhood. Real estate portals powered by predictive analytics offer personalized and highly-customized data and are rapidly gaining popularity.

Technology in Real Estate in the Middle East

There are nearly 15,000 real estate offices in the Middle East, offering various types of properties, according to Global Real Estate Experts. In an article by Forbes, the UAE is leading the way to embrace digital transformation in the region, creating initiatives aimed at promoting innovation and driving the adoption of digital technologies in the real estate industry. More specifically, Dubai is working towards a strategy focused on blockchain technology to transform its real estate market and implement impactful tech reforms.

According to a plan shared by the Smart Dubai Office, blockchain technology is expected to be implemented for all government documents by 2020. This is a significant step for the real estate sector as most of its investors are seeking innovative ways. According to a study by HSBC, a whopping 72% of buyers in the UAE prefer using technology to gather information about the property, while 67% use technology to check the value of their home, and 64% look at prices of potential homes.

Saudi Arabia, not far behind in its quest to adopt technology in real estate, intends to build its own smart city called Neom. This smart city is part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, a plan to lower the country’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and build public service sectors. Neom will incorporate various smart city technologies and also act as a tourist destination.

How Technology will Transform the Real Estate Industry

How Technology will Transform the Real Estate Industry


Blockchain technology has gained prominence in real estate because it helps lower the fees and processes associated with the industry. It reduces the intermediaries involved and streamlines processes for investors purchasing commercial real estate. This disruptive technology in real estate creates computer-based processes to eliminate paper title deeds, paper licenses, etc. for seamless cross-border transactions. Several companies in Dubai, such as ValuStrat, have integrated blockchain ledgers for the government to issue instant online title deed for properties. However, despite all these benefits, blockchain’s adoption rate seems rather unclear in the near future.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

According to International Data Corporation, in Africa and the Middle East, the VR and AR technologies market is likely to increase from $181.59 million in 2017 to $6 billion in 2020. The use of VR is increasing as it allows visitors and investors to virtually check the properties regardless of their geographic location. The VR experience is not just limited to property touring. It also enables users to visualize any space with various customized design elements, thereby helping the interior design process. Dubai’s real estate giant Jumeirah Group is one of the many companies in the Arabian Gulf Region that are gradually embracing VR or 360 videos to provide virtual tours to buyers and promote their properties.

Smart Cities and Buildings

Smart buildings and cities are no longer a thing of the future. A smart building refers to a structure that deploys technology to automate operations such as lighting, security, and heating. Controlled partly by the Internet of Things (IoT) such technologies help boost efficiency and reduce energy waste. Technology giants like Google, Amazon, and Apple are aggressively investing in the concept of smart home technologies to transform the way people live.

IoT has also paved the way for the Smart City concept, which is being envisioned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Neom. The primary aim of smart cities is to enhance the quality of life using technology. A smart city integrates IoT solutions with information and communication technology to monitor its assets such as schools, water, libraries, waste management, etc. Technology in real estate can also help control parking, streetlights, and monitor air quality and noise.

3D Printing and Robotics

Construction technology, popularly known as ConTech, is revolutionizing the future of construction in real estate. Presently, construction is heavily dependent on manual processes to operate heavy machines. But companies like Komatsu have created unmanned bulldozers and drones to construct buildings and monitor the construction site.

Unmanned drones are capable of monitoring deliveries, inventory, and progress at the site and then create a 3D map of it. The information gathered by these drones is then used to instruct unmanned bulldozers to allot courses around the site. Construction technology in real estate removes worker safety issues, allowing robots to do manual work while humans focus on more strategic tasks. In 2018, HE Saif Bader Al Qubaisi, General Manager of Abu Dhabi City Municipality, launched the trial phase of using drones in engineering inspection of construction sites in Abu Dhabi.

Project Management Software

Several project management software solutions such as Re-Leased, ProofHub, Qube Project Manager are being deployed in real estate to assist in construction management. This is done to boost efficiency, clarity, and accountability of stakeholders involved in the project and aid in real-time conversations between them.


AI-driven chatbots are not new, with several industries leveraging them to enhance sales and marketing performance. Most of the real estate companies with an online presence have started using chatbots to help investors with standard information related to the property, along with pictures and videos without any human intervention. Since chatbots are 24×7 available, they provide support around the clock and assist buyers in filling contact forms even during odd hours of the day. Chatbots lower the overhead marketing and sales cost and results in higher conversion rates.

Property Management Software

Property management software is being implemented to monitor the performance and downtime of building equipment. This information is given to helpdesk support services and used by maintenance teams to carry out day to day tasks. Property management software tracks the asset’s performance to make the whole process efficient.

Final Thoughts

Technology in real-estate has slowly pervaded the industry, with advancements in nearly all sectors. The efficient adoption of relevant technologies can make or break companies in the future. While the pace at which it is being adopted differs hugely across different parts of the world, one thing is for sure, it will become indispensable in the coming years.

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Mobile Opinion

How Technology Augments Gen Z’s Buying Habits and Experiences

Generation Z, or Gen Z for short, is the new generation poised to refine and redefine the way the world shops. Retail brands want a slice of this ever-growing pie, vying for attention from this coming-of-age consumers, predicted to account for approximately 40% of all retail traffic, by as early as 2020.

The global retail industry is predicted to grow to a staggering $31.88 trillion by 2023 (an increase of 5.3% since 2017). Retailers are not only expected to meet the needs of these consumers with slick, user-friendly mobile apps, but also create delightful online experiences, that leave them wanting more.

Let’s explore the nuanced buying habits of the millennial generation, and how technology can create & augment seamless omnichannel retail experiences.

Gen Z ─ The Always-Connected Generation

Gen Z shoppers (born between 1995 and 2014) have been raised in one of the most diverse societies in history, with greater access to information and equality across genders and races. As such, they are steadily changing the way we shop, what products we buy, and how we decide on which brands to support, based on their values.

Gen Z ─ The Always Connected Generation


Generation Z shoppers as a group tend to be:

  • Happier with access to rather than ownership of products
  • Comfortable switching brands if retailers don’t add value to their lives
  • Smart with their money and prefer to price shop to find the best deals
  • Socially conscious and aware of brands that share their values
  • Eager to be co-creators with retailers and be part of the design process

These characteristics are a subtle yet significant difference from previous generations, where the expectation for products were met, but with little to no say in their design, purpose, or creation. However, trends are shifting, and Gen Z is proving that they care more about collaboration and community access than keeping everything for themselves.

“This generation desire involvement in the entire chain of activities that brings a product to market — from conception, design and creation, to marketing and retailing, even to funding and rewarding.”
─ Pricewaterhouse Coopers: “TNS Retail Forward

In this regard, social media has played a crucial role in the lives of millennials and Gen Z, dominating their retail experiences in the past few years. These platforms offer an accessible space for these generations to engage with brands everyday. Users can scroll through their posts while in line at a coffee shop, tap to see the prices and product names, and subsequently purchase them, as shown in these social media posts, all within a few minutes.

On average, people check their smartphones, about 50 times per day. Their interactions may range from browsing social media sites (60%), making mobile payments (31%), to using voice assistants for information (64%); with them being marked as some of the top activities. These numbers back up the business case that retailers must be interacting with customers on their devices─lest their brand be left in the dust.

According to a KPMG survey, Gen Z consumers prefer brands that personalize user experiences and gain loyalty from their customers. For example, Dresden, an eyewear retailer lets its customers create their sunglasses by offering interchangeable lenses and frame parts. Similarly, Birchbox asks its customers to share their beauty preferences, and in return, the company creates a customized box with a mix of different brands for them.

But what specific technology tools are retailers using that get results from a group of consumers that have never known a world without smartphones or the Internet?

Technology That Augments Retail Experiences

With their smartphones being as essential as their shoes, Gen Z believes that retailers exist both on their devices and on the street. That means retailers must be there for them in those spaces as well, encouraging organic touchpoints that feel more like a conversation with an acquaintance rather than a business transaction with a large corporation.

For one thing, the customer service associates that Gen Z customers connect with must be helpful and well-informed about brands, products, and services that are available. In fact, 40% of shoppers state that their in-store experiences would be significantly enhanced by a sales associate with deep knowledge of both the company and its products. Knowing this, it’s easy to understand why Gen Z shoppers value experience above anything else.

These savvy, plugged-in shoppers seek opt-in services, two-way dialogues, and mutual rewards from their retail experiences. IBM conducted a recent study and found that over half of Gen Z consumer would switch brands in a heartbeat, if they felt that the company’s products and services were average or subpar. Those from the Gen Z crowd are more willing to share their data with organizations, when compared to previous generations. However, they need to be aware that it’s being used to add value back into their lives with rewards programs, notifications about sales on products they’ve liked, and incentives to invite their networks.

Some retailers are already successfully capitalizing on the obsession of GenZ with social media and are using it for their benefit. For instance, clothing retailer Hollister regularly connects with Gen Zs on Snapchat to get real-time product feedback.

Voice Assistants coupled with home AI systems is another technology that is reshaping the course of retail. A recent survey suggests that Gen Z is more enthusiastic about voice assistants compared to their predecessors. In fact, in the US nearly one in five consumers have purchased a product using a voice-controlled device in the past year.

For Gen Z, speed and availability are a priority. Tech-first retailers like Amazon understand this and innovate to meet this new-age consumer demand. Amazon has introduced Amazon Go that allows shoppers to leave the store without having to check out or use a credit card to pay. Instead, their account automatically gets charged.

Gen Z values experience and Augmented Reality is helping retailers to offer engaging user experiences. Take for instance, Sephora, a leading specialty retailer in beauty introduced a new 3D augmented reality mirror. This AR-based mirror tracks the precise location of a user’s facial features and applies eye shadow colors directly on the video feed from a camera.

A Case for Omnichannel: Technology Success in Retail

Retail leaders should keep a simple yet important truth in mind when developing their omnichannel experience for the next generation: online for efficiency, offline for experience.

A Case for Omnichannel: Technology Success in Retail

A recent IBM study found that a whopping 98% of Gen Z visit stores to discover products in person; of those, 67% visit brick and mortar stores “most of the time” to browse around, even as they’re on their devices checking out competitors’ offerings and prices to find the best deals.

Gen Z shoppers continue to expect that their in-store experiences will complement their online visits to your brand, not simply mirror it. They are the first generation to be born into a world where the Internet and smartphones have always existed. As such, they intuitively understand that online and offline interactions will be different, and they expect retailers to understand this, too ─ or they’ll take their business elsewhere.

And this is crucial for retail leaders to note, because this generation makes up one-third of our global population, and they’re going to account for approximately $3.5 trillion in annual household spending.

Here are a few examples of how leading brands expertly use technology to create these sought-after experiences for Gen Z shoppers.

Omnichannel Retail Leaders

Walmart has been making impressive strides to chip away at the market share from their primary online competitor Amazon by buying up e-commerce companies, a strategy that enables them to merge both offline and online assets and take advantage of their newly-acquired partner tech experience…instead of building a technology-focused platform from scratch.

We partnered with Digital Mall of Asia to merge both online and offline customer experience in their latest offering, the Virtual Trial Room, which allows customers to browse through and test out products just as they would in a store. This gives them the impression that they haven’t missed out on anything, even though they are unable to visit in person, but rather gain the same value from the comfort of their home or office. Digital Mall of Asia, a first-of-its-kind initiative by Yokeasia Malls Private Limited is an amalgamation of real estate and digital space. It is a unique concept that introduces digital malls with digital shops, where an individual can buy, sell and rent. DMA brings together the best of offline and online worlds – the shopping experience of an offline mall where brands have dedicated shops and convenience of online shopping where we get unlimited selection and benefit of buying anytime, anywhere.

Companies are also utilizing applications such as geotargeting and geofencing to offer clients promotions and discounts via their smartphones while they’re near or in stores. American Eagle, for example, uses geofencing to send consumers loyalty points and rewards when they are trying outfits in the change rooms. Starbucks and McDonald’s both use geotargeting to send coupons and deal reminders when you’re walking within the vicinity of one of their stores.

Whether retailer leaders choose to pursue a technology-forward path using AI or augmented reality applications such as VR mirrors to “try on” outfits, to cover their bases with their in-store interactions to improve customer service and engagement, or even combine the two for a powerhouse omnichannel approach, retailers need to keep in mind that they should be offering valuable, unique experiences to the Generation Z crowd that they couldn’t get elsewhere.


It’s important to stress that a retailer’s omnichannel path is just that – a journey, not a destination. Customer conversion happens across multiple channels, not just in-store or online. Omnichannel options will continue to evolve with both advances in technology and shifting consumer behavior, so be sure to revisit your marketing efforts regularly to ensure you are meeting consumers where they expect to be heading, not simply where they’ve been before.

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Mobile Opinion

OTT vs. Television – tug of war or an era of collaboration?

An entire neighbourhood gathering on a Sunday morning to watch Mahabharata, lazy afternoons with Shanti or insightful evenings with Amul Surabhi; television has a special place in the hearts of Indians.

In a digital world, where we have the flexibility of consuming content anywhere anytime, and across mediums – our relationship with television has changed. With the deluge of digital content, television as a device also serves as an extension of the digital medium via technologies like Google Chromecast and Amazon Stick.

So, does this mean that OTT or digital content viewership will supersede television content viewership and our good old friend will lose its sheen?

While this might be a possibility in the distant future, television medium isn’t going to fade away soon. Yes, the time spent and the way we consume television content is bound to see a shift, television will still be one of dominant medium for the coming few years.

Here’s why:

India has a huge viewer base when it comes to television:

While the growing content on the digital medium and the exceptional amount of time spent on internet might give an impression that the audience is moving away from TV content. That isn’t the case. According to a recent report, India has a massive TV audience base of 780 million. An interesting thing to note is, that despite the growing interest in the digital content, TV viewership has seen a rise of whopping 21% among the young audiences, with 224 minutes of daily time spent.

One of the reasons for this seemingly contradictory trend is audience expectations from both the mediums are different. When it comes to the digital medium most video content is seen on the smartphones. The drawback of this is the dwindling attention span of viewers, where users are constantly switching between apps. Further, most of the digital content is watched while the users are on a commute, and hence, shorter versions of episodes or web series work. However, when it comes to TV people expect longer versions of episodes. Another important aspect is television is a part of the daily family routine of Indians, a place that is difficult for any of the digital media platform to occupy at present.

According to Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC

The unique Indian habit of the entire family sitting together prevails.

Hence, given the current scenario, digital video growth is led by it becoming the second or third screen as 97% of India is still single TV homes.

Largest media spends are on television

When it comes to the digital medium, the time spent in India is lower than that of US and China. Further, according to BARC, youth viewership has grown on TV.

Given the increasing popularity of the digital medium it is surely gaining advertisers’ monies, however, television is still getting the major share. Hence pumping more monies in the television medium to produce content, which isn’t the case with the digital medium. Since traditional mediums like television and print still dominate overall ad spends in India and brand building is still largely happening through mature ad mediums such as television. Given the huge viewer base that TV enjoys, from an advertiser perspective, TV viewership is more valuable than a similar viewership on digital video.

Another reason why television gains advertisers interest is the fact that chances of viewers skipping a channel is lesser than skipping pre-roll or ads. So, brands will have to think about integrating their communications with the content instead of generating generic communications for all mediums.

As Ajay Chacko, Co-Founder and CEO, Arre, rightly puts it

“Advertisers, both traditional and new-age, are welcoming of content as a route to marketing. Brands are evaluating a balance between performance and impact when planning their media spends. There is cognisance of the fact that pre-rolls/ads can be skipped or blocked or muted when pushed down user’s timelines and feeds, but content is what consumers actively seek out and hence, more effective or impactful.”

Digitization yet to permeate the rural markets

When it comes to the overall split of the OTT viewership, the majority exists in urban India. Rural India is still predominantly a television market and a huge one at that.

OTT viewership

One of the reasons for this is the poor penetration of fixed broadband. According to a recent report, while Internet penetration in urban India reached at 64.84 per cent in December 2017 compared to 60.6 per cent in December 2016, the rural Internet penetration grew only a little — from 18 per cent in 2016 to 20.26 per cent in December 2017. However, with the introduction of low-cost network providers like Reliance Jio, this scenario is expected to change. The number of users of Jio is on the rise and video is an important driver for Reliance Jio’s high mobile data traffic. On the Jio network, subscribers watched an average of 13.4 hours of video each month in 2017. While low-cost network providers like Jio will further boost the consumption of digital content it is unlikely to have an effect on the television viewership, as yet.

Best of regional content is still on Television

One of the major reasons why Television is widely consumed is the huge library and options of regional content it provides. According to a recent BARC report

The General Entertainment Channels (GEC) dominates the genre viewership pie with the highest share of eyeballs (51%), followed by Movies (25%). These are the two biggest genres on television.

Further, in the recent years, the share of GEC has declined by only a meagre 2%, which might be a function of increasing number of youth viewership.

Producing high quality original regional content is going to be an important aspect for OTT players to grow. In this case, Indian channels and media houses with their apps have an advantage because of the already available library of content. For instance, players such as Hotstar and Voot have higher access to Star India and Viacom 18 media libraries. According to a recent Deloitte report, currently, 40%  of the viewership of OTT platform comes from regional content.

So far, OTT players like Netflix and Amazon Prime have focussed on pushing global content to Indian subscribers, but they have realised how critical it is for them to offer regional and original content to viewers.

OTT players

Image source:

Amazon Prime is likely to invest around $300 million in the Indian market for acquiring rights of Bollywood films and also producing original content, similarly, Netflix is producing more Hindi content like the recently launched series ‘Sacred Games’.

Regional content is going to be a major game-changer when it comes to changing the dynamics of the OTT market. However, it will not immediately impact the television market given the huge viewership, reach and the library of content available on the medium.

Paying for Television vs OTT

The Indian market is still fairly unaffected by the phenomenon of cord cutting. The major reason for this is, there is no economic reason to cut the cord as yet, since, TV delivers the highest value for money. Most OTT players work on the subscription model.

According to a research the majority of Indian audiences are still stuck to the free or ad-supported model as of now. Further, several options including web-series, stand-up comedies, etc. are already available on YouTube free of cost.

Most OTT players

Image source:

This implies that the OTT players will have to compete with the lower cost of Cable/Dish TV subscriptions and also provide compelling content for viewers to do so. This shift will also depend on the factors mentioned earlier in the article.


In the near future, both TV and digital video will grow in parallel. Television viewership will see a steady increase, video OTT will grow as a second screen. Also, with the growth of viewership of the digital media, we will see advertisers spending more money on the medium, though, television will still get the major share of ad spend compared to the  OTT medium.

Ad-led online video platforms will also grow by manifolds in India (as wireless 4G ecosystem explodes) and subscription led online video platforms will grow as the fixed broadband infrastructure improves.

Further, with the cheap data network providers like Jio, we see a rise in the consumption of OTT content. However, it is unlikely to have a huge impact of the share that television medium enjoys.

We will also see OTT players pushing in more regional original content to suit the taste of the younger generation on the portals since the current viewer base is mostly the youth.

At present the OTT market is highly dispersed with pure OTT players (Netflix), channels and media houses (Viacom’s Voot, Hotstar), telcos (Jio TV, Airtel TV) etc. In the coming years, we will see an emergence of a more collaborative ecosystem.

India is a major market for the global OTT players and the boost in the infrastructure and digitisation is surely going to further shift the way media is consumed across mediums. It is a critical time for both TV and the OTT medium with a plethora of opportunities. Players across mediums will reap the benefits of this growth, and TV & the video OTT platforms will find a perfect platform to co-exist in India.

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Mobile Opinion

From digital banking to citizen services, UAE is leading the way in digital technology

In the past, UAE would have evoked imagery of an economy driven largely by oil and tourism (thanks to Dubai). Petroleum and natural gas continue to play a central role in the economy, especially in Abu Dhabi. The diversification of the economy began 20 years ago, with setting up of several hubs like Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City. While technology was at the centre of these initiatives too, a key pivot happened in a few years ago, led by visionary leadership, to direct the end benefit to the common citizen.

The commendable aspect of these initiatives is that they are meant to make the everyday life of the common citizen easier, better. In 2013, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, said, “We want to relocate citizen service centers into every citizen device, enabling them to obtain their desired service through their mobile phones anywhere at any time. A successful government reaches out to the citizens rather than waits for them to come to it.” So adoption of technology and a customer-centric approach have been the hallmark of digital initiatives in the UAE.

Technology for business and the common citizen

According to a McKinsey report in 2016, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain are among the top countries in the world, with more than 100 percent smartphone penetration and more than 70 percent social media adoption—even higher than the United States. But true technology adoption is beyond numbers pertaining to smartphone penetration – it is about making lives of people and businesses easy. For example, ENOC developed an RFID-enabled fuelling system that allows cashless and card-less automated payments. In 2016, Bank Audi Lebanon launched Novot, a robot powered by Artificial Intelligence which helped a branch welcome and guide customers, as well as promote the Bank’s products and services. A leading medical &health sciences university wanted to automate their university operational workflows and centralized database to generate required reports and get information with ease. Robosoft crafted a solution which automated functions such as application registration, fee collection, time-table management, online exams, faculty-student communication and more through web app. Recently, the UAE Federal Public Prosecution launched an app through which public can report acts that are punishable by law.

The UAE is also considered to be a leader when it comes to digital banking in the Middle East. According to a report, Emirates NBD (ENBD), one of the leading banks in the region has committed Dh1 billion for digital transformation. The aim of banks like Mashreq and Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) is also to make service delivery channels more useful and customer friendly. In fact, UAE is also home to digital only banks like Liv.Me which boldly proclaim ‘No Call Center’ as their USP.

The region is also home for several global airlines – an industry where digital ‘design’ plays a key role in defining customer experiences.

The future is even brighter

The digital ambitions of the region can be gauged by the goal set in 2013: make available all government services accessible through mobile devices within two years. The official portal of the UAE Government lists several eServices of the government – Hotel, Apartment Engineering Drawings, Remote Interpretation Service, Renewal of Business Services and View Insured Employee Details…to name a few.

The vision for Dubai, while being futuristic places the interests of the common citizen at the centre. The Smart Dubai 2021 vision: to be the happiest city on earth.

“We are making Dubai the happiest city on earth by embracing technology innovation making Dubai a more seamless, safe, efficient and personalised city experience for all residents and visitors.”

Smart buildings, smart roads, smart energy, smart justice…and more are part of this ambitious program. The region is rapidly adapting new technologies to make an impact on the day to day lives of citizens.

In October 2017, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum announced the appointment of the country’s first minister of state for Artificial Intelligence.  There is even an ‘UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence’, outlining the country’s aims to enhance performance and productivity by investing in AI. Saudi Arabia has announced the $500bn,  Neom, dubbed ‘the world’s most ambitious project’ – a smart city where citizens will travel in driverless vehicles, have free Internet and live in zero-carbon homes.

According to Necip Ozyucel, cloud and enterprise business solutions lead at Microsoft Gulf, 60 percent of enterprises are planning to adopt AI and AI-embedded use cases including predictive analytics, robotics and machine automation… particularly in growth industries such as retail, finance and manufacturing.  There is a growth in AI adoption not only in private sectors but also in the government services. The customer service chatbot of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Rammas, is a good example. The healthcare industry too offers great potential to embrace AI to enhance its services. Dr Bassam Mahboub of the Dubai Health Authority, believes that ‘the roadmap of future healthcare is a system that is a mix of mobile applications, chatbots, and smart computer analytics that will provide patients with their diagnosis’. The government has even established a ‘Drones for Good’ initiative which is ‘dedicated to transforming the innovative technologies behind civilian drones into practical, realisable solutions for improving people’s lives today.’

A recent report also revealed that UAE citizens express a strong interest in biometric technologies that make their lives easier. They believe that new forms of authentication, such as fingerprint, facial, and voice recognition, can make unlocking accounts and payments much easier and more convenient than traditional passwords or PINs. We at Robosoft have experienced the benefits of convenience coupled with security in a sensitive category like personal finance thanks to our work for online trading companies mobile payments & e-commerce platforms and banks.

In essence, digital technologies will continue to be interwoven into the everyday lives of all citizens and businesses in the UAE. In this context, design thinking will play a crucial role in planning the customer experience by empathising with their pain points. The future bodes well for the citizens of the region as technology is not used as an end in itself but as a means to end – a delightful customer experience.

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