Category : Opinion


What is product management – myths, core values, methodologies, and scope

Various definitions of product management have been floating around for more than two decades now. In fact, product managers themselves may have varying definitions of product management.

Martin Eriksson’s representation, though overused, remains extremely relevant to the present day. The product manager’s role oscillates between gathering customer needs/wants, aligning business objectives, hand-in-glove relationship with the tech and design teams; and extensive data crunching. Product managers can perform these roles by interacting with business stakeholders or meeting users directly. He can also do market analysis, competitive analysis, derive impact of product changes and more.

“A product manager is essentially a person who is tasked with identifying the customer needs and the larger business objectives that a product or feature will fulfill, thereby articulating what success looks like for the product, and drives the team to turn that vision into a reality.”


Myths about product management

Over the years several myths about the function have surfaced. It is influenced by the fact that there is no exact definition and job description of Product Manager or PM. Some of these myths are listed below –

PM is CEO of the product – Unlike the CEO, a PM gets pulled in all directions by various stakeholders. The PM commands minimal authority as the stakeholders try to incorporate their own suggestions into the product. Even the team the PM rallies, do not report to him/her. Hence the reality is far from this loosely thrown moniker.

PM should be creative – The primary role of the PM is to solve the customers’ problems. It is their responsibility to pull all the strings together to deliver a quality product. So rather than having abundant creativity, a PM must pay attention to all minute details.

PM should be a visionary – The PM looks for the most efficient way to solve customer’s problem. He doesn’t go deep into the future problems or solutions the customer may face or need. It is futile to expect a prediction of exact date and time of migration of entire Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 from a PM.

PM needs to make every stakeholder happy – The only person a PM should look to make happy is the customer. It doesn’t matter whose suggestions and needs get more priority as long as the customer is happy. Due to this, many times some key stakeholders will not be happy. But a PM must always look at the ultimate goal.

PM must know coding – Technical knowledge does help when allocating tasks and assigning timelines. But that doesn’t mean only software engineers can be exceptional product managers. You can do very well without knowing how to code via the help of various software tools.

Product Manager and Project Manager are the same – Product Management and Project Management are loosely interchanged in corporate parlance but essentially, they are worlds apart.

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Some common methodologies/models in product management


The idea is to set product strategy and create product roadmaps in an agile environment. Agile methodology encourages an adaptive approach to product planning and implementation. It enables organizations to quickly respond to feedback and build products that customers love. At its core, agile product management is a response to the widespread use of agile software development methodologies. These methods emphasize evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement.



Scrum is a type of agile development methodology. It is used in the development of software based on an iterative and incremental process. It is an adaptable, fast flexible, and effective agile framework used during development.

Scrum delivers value to the customer throughout the development of the project. It creates an environment of transparency in communication, collective responsibility, and continuous progress.



Waterfall model can be best put as a linear product management approach. Here the PM creates a sequential project plan after gathering stakeholder and customer requirements at the beginning of the project. It is named the waterfall model because each phase of the project cascades into the next, flowing steadily down like a waterfall.


General Structure of Product Manager/Product Owner Squad

The basic structure of the Product Manager Squad remains the same despite having a fluid headcount.

  • The Scrum Master handles picking up the tasks for the developers and designers and clearly capturing them in time bound sprints.
  • The Business Analyst helps in writing user stories that are captured in product management tools like Jira. They also help with data crunching – market and competitive analysis, how the changes in the product are faring, etc.
  • Then there are development team members – the ones working on the front end, back end, and middleware. They comprise of Developers, Testers, Solutions Architects and DBAs. The profiles of developers vary according to their expertise in specific technologies.
  • And last but not least comes the creative lot – the designers. They comprise of Design Architects, UX Designers and UI Designers.

Now these team members could be working on the payroll of the product organization, or they may be outsourced.


What makes a ‘Great Product Manager’?

Before deciding what makes a great product manager, we need to understand and appreciate their role. A product manager’s role is truly a people’s role that involves taking inputs/ buy-ins of numerous stakeholders and getting work done through multiple team members.

Hence, we can say that although technological know-how/ core competencies are imperative, the one skill that really distinguishes good product managers from great ones is – stakeholder management.


And if one wants to shift organizations for personal growth, the following aspects must be looked at with great detail:

  • The current stage of the organization – introduction/ growth/ maturity/ decline
  • Industry analysis- which sector the company operates in. The learnings in one industry will vary from the other. Hence the decision to shift should be made by weighing the learning trajectory and not just the compensation on offer.
  • Culture fit- All companies have different ways of working. What works for one product manager might not work for the other and vice versa. Look into the company philosophy and vision.

Thus, we can argue that it’s the “product management mindset” that helps you grow in this profession rather than just having skills.

List of popular tools used by product managers worldwide

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What is MVP and its significance beyond the set features?

Of all the milestones in the career span of product managers, the MVP is arguably the most important milestone.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) can be graphically represented as below:


This graph takes the assumption that customer expectations remain static with time, which usually is not the case. All the skills, tools and methodologies are applied to arrive at this milestone. It further lays the foundation for incremental features in the product.

A timely MVP is hence the validation of all the inputs at play. These are – stakeholders’ inputs, market research and data crunching done to arrive at handpicked features, the effectiveness of the design and development teams, and of course, the dexterity of the omnipresent PM. A great MVP is reflection of a team which is working like a well-oiled machine. It is bound to achieve great heights with its vision and execution capabilities.

Why does product management continue to grow in relevance?

With the increasing adoption of tech in all spheres of life, the relevance of the PM will continue to grow. As we can see, traditional companies continue to invest in and augment their digital infrastructure. Top tech companies are pivoting their business strategies. The final execution of all these responsibilities comes on the shoulders of the PMs. Hence this is one role that keeps you at the cusp of technological innovation and the steepest learning curves over any spectrum of time.

When the flamboyant richest person in the world purchases a top social media company, it is the role of the PMs to turn things around and that too quickly.

Since closing on his $44B acquisition of Twitter, Musk and his advertisers have discussed many product enhancements, which are all in the public domain:

  • One product team is working on paid direct messaging. It would let users send private messages to Very Important Tweeters or VITs. According to seen mock-ups, the users would be able to send private messages to their favorite celebrities for a nominal fee.
  • They have also talked about adding “paywalled” videos, which would mean that certain videos could not be viewed unless users paid a fee.
  • There were also discussions to revive Vine, a one-time short-form video platform, which would attract a younger audience of coveted advertisers.
  • The billionaire announced the “Twitter Blue” subscription service, which will offer enhanced features for a monthly $8 fee.

This gives a clear indication of how intricately the pressures that Musk, the world’s richest man is under to deliver immediate results. And all these initiatives are linked to the frenzy of product development initiatives. Product Management is hence at the core of all technical innovations/ disruptions occurring in the world at any given moment.

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Design Thinking Opinion

How To Sell In The Digital Era (Hint: It’s Not About Technology But Human Emotions)

Contrary to popular belief, humans aren’t inherently rational when making decisions. Our buying decisions stem from the subconscious mind 95% of the time. The rational mind is good at justifying what the emotional mind has already decided.

A good brand understands this well and builds digital products and experiences that tap into the emotional and irrational side of the users’ brains. They apply design principles and theories of psychology to understand what resonates with users and create digital platforms and apps around it.

To build a successful digital product, you can start by understanding and applying the following design theories and frameworks.

1. RWW Framework: The real-win-worth it (RWW) framework is a go/no-go screening method that helps you eliminate bias from the decision-making process and maintain objectivity. Ask yourself questions such as:

  •  Is it real? Is there a market opportunity for my product? Is it feasible to build it?
  •  Will it win? Is there an opportunity for the product in the market? Can it help my brand gain and sustain a competitive advantage?
  •  Is it worth the effort? Is the idea worth implementing? Will it help me achieve my business goals or open doors for future opportunities?

2. Tim Brown’s Design Thinking: Tim Brown defines design thinking as a set of cognitive, strategic and practical processes that help you develop design concepts. The five components include:

  • Empathizing with the users and understanding their challenges.
  •  Defining the core issue that they face while using your product.
  •  Ideating potential solutions to solve the problem.
  •  Building a prototype of the solution to check if it can address the user’s problem and work on the product if it’s successful.
  •  Evaluate the outcome of the solution by defining the metrics and measuring them regularly.

3. Don Norman’s Three Levels Of Design Appeal: Great products always make users feel things. They trigger an emotional response and spur behavioral changes based on those responses. Don Norman calls it the three levels of design appeal in his book Emotional Design. The three levels are:

  •  Visceral: Evoke the proverbial love at first sight response within your users by targeting their old brains with your product design.
  • Behavioral: Build an immersive experience that helps users feel empowered and derive value. They should feel happy or productive after using the product.
  • Reflective: Target the logical side of the human brain by making the users feel proud of using the product and enabling them to share their experiences with others.

You can implement these principles by:

#1. Demonstrating trustworthiness. Most users (66%) revealed that they would purchase a product because of positive reviews. Request users to rate and review your products and publish them on all channels. Offer them freebies or discounts for their unbiased reviews. Use pictures of real people endorsing the product to build trust. An A/B testing experiment by a web company revealed that using real, happy people’s pictures on a landing page increased sign-ups by 102.5%.

#2. Facilitating snap decision-making. Facilitate quick decision-making on your digital platform or app. One in five users abandons their purchases due to an inconvenient checkout process. But one-click checkout options, for instance, can allow users to save their address and payment methods as a default option to accelerate the checkout process. Find out what stops your users from completing the desired action and eliminate those deterrents to create a seamless experience.

#3. Addressing by name. The bystander effect theory states that if one person sees someone in distress, they are likely to help them 70% of the time. If multiple people see distress, that number would be around 40%. Eliminate the bystander effect by addressing the user by name. This will elicit their response faster. You can do it through personalization. Research shows that 60% of people want personalized offers in real time.

#4. Using the power of commitment. Social validation compels users to complete a task. Allow users to make their private commitment public. If the user is participating in a 30-day fitness challenge, for example, give them an option to share their progress or completion badge on social media platforms. The response from friends and followers will boost engagement.

#5. Talking to the reptilian brain. Humans have three regions in the brain: the reptilian brain, the emotional brain and the rational brain. The reptilian brain works on instincts and controls the behavior for survival. Talk directly to the reptilian brain to improve conversions. Tap into emotions such as fear and greed through images and text. Center the experience around the user, such as their challenges and victories, through stories and powerful words like trust, safety and love that imply an emotional connection.

#6. Performing usability testing. Always perform usability testing to understand the interaction between your users and the product. Empathize with their challenges to build a better human-centric product. You can conduct various usability tests, such as the thinking aloud test, in which you ask the participants to express what they feel about the product as they use it to get firsthand, undiluted responses. You can also use eye-tracking technology to track participants’ eye movements. This allows you to record areas where the eye movement stops or moves faster. Observe and collect empirical data such as how long it takes for users to complete the desired action to identify the possible bottlenecks and fix them.

Ad guru Bill Bernbach said, “Advertising is fundamentally persuasion, and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.” His words still hold true in today’s digital era. New technologies and platforms have come, and the metrics to measure effectiveness have changed. But selling is still about how we persuade and sell to humans centered around users’ experiences.

As Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group put it, “True user experience goes far beyond giving users what they say they want or providing checklist features.” So, understanding human psychology and appealing to their emotions is key even in the digital era.

This article was originally published in Forbes Technology Council.

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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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Opinion Retail

What’s Next For Q-Commerce: The Golden Child Of E-Commerce

Fast & Furious. It is not just a reference to the famous franchise, but a principle the time-scarce millennials today live by. Whether it is content to be streamed, coffee or noodles – everything must be instant, and the sooner it is, the more appreciated it is. The latest to join this trend is Q-commerce, promising to deliver customer delight in 30 minutes or less.

Valued at around USD 20-25 billion in 2021, the quick-commerce industry is expected to grow to USD 72 billion by 2025. A major contributing factor for this is the ongoing pandemic, which has not just fast-tracked digital transformation by decades for businesses, but also altered consumer behavior, a shift that will stay for years to come. Consumers who were earlier willing to step out and visit their neighborhood mom and pop stores or malls now prefer to stay home and be served. Add to this the work-from-home lifestyle for the busy professionals and the concerns of the aging population to step out, the consumers today are willing to pay a higher price for on-demand instant delivery. As shifts like urbanization, rising disposable incomes and single households continue to grow, this number will only multiply.

Beyond US, quick-commerce is a global phenomenon. According to a report, 30 new quick-commerce companies have emerged in ten months in Western Europe alone. Berlin-based Gorillas became the fastest company to achieve unicorn status in Europe – just nine months into launch. In India, while existing delivery startups are overhauling their operations & supply chain to cater to this segment, specialty players are now targeting this segment, with a promise of 10 to 15-minute deliveries. A consumer tweeted that a brand delivered groceries in unbelievable 2.5 minutes – which was then used on its billboard.

The Q-commerce ecosystem consists of:

Third-party delivery platforms: existing delivery platforms who deliver items from neighboring retail outlets, usually just fulfilling delivery or picking the order. From promising one-day delivery, they have now moved to several hours to 30 minutes or less.

Popular retail giants: both offline and online giants have initiated the shift to an omnichannel experience & Q-commerce with drone deliveries, faster processes

Vertically integrated specialists: These companies create neighborhood warehouses, called dark stores and delivering often-purchased items to shoppers, typically within 10–30 minutes. In India, many of them target the ‘top-up and unplanned purchases’ of Gen-Z and millennials, by solving inefficiencies of the familiar neighborhood store.

With the threat of further lockdowns looming over the consumers, convenience and safety will be paramount, leading to a large influx of consumers ordering online. It will also subsequently lead to more players & investors entering the ecosystem. However, players will be under immense pressure to acquire customers as fast as possible and with low profitability margins, especially on grocery items; this will be a challenging exercise. The key will be to find a differentiation factor outside of similar items, offers and prices for the brand.

Here are some trends apparent in Q-commerce in 2022:

Diversification of inventory: While grocery items today form most of the stock of a Q-commerce setup, the premise of <60 mins delivery can be extended to other categories like medicines, books, food items and even electronics & accessories. With the right infrastructure & logistics, this is a plausible option with startups like Glovo a Spanish quick-commerce start-up, leading the way with electronics & furniture.

Better inventory & supply chain Management: The constraint of a rapid delivery makes inventory & supply chain management an essential part of the equation. The supply & inventory management for dark stores will be more tight-knit in 2022, with the delivery partner able to check in real-time the nearest next store option in case of stock-out. Real-time inventory management tools will have a critical role here- constantly updating the status of inventory, calculating & estimating times for delivery and freshness of products (especially for perishable items) to ensure that the delivery partner does not waste precious minutes figuring this out.

Personalized customer experiences: In a market where everyone has the same inventory, offers, and prices a personalized & seamless customer experience will be the key that differentiates a brand and makes them a market leader. With AI & ML, tailored customer preferences based on past purchases and frequency can be suggested. Personalized messages & notifications can help users feel more connected to the brand and lead to user retention. A distinct UI, intuitive design & hassle-free user journey can also drive retention. For instance, here is how McDonald’s India enhanced their delivery experience & conversion through a revamp of experiences on their website & app.

Brand Partnerships & Influencer-based marketing: Brands have already started to see Q-commerce as an opportunity to get their product to their consumers the instant they think about it. Even premium brands like Estee-Lauder signed up with Uber in 2021 for a 60-minute delivery of their products. 2022 will see a rise of many brands trying this out. Another prevalent trend might be the rapid delivery of brands promoted by influencers

More strategic warehouse hub locations: At the heart of q-commerce lie the dark stores, the mini-warehouses located conveniently across delivery points. The strategic location of various hubs and their proximity to each other can determine the efficiency of the delivery process. AI & ML have a vital role in providing valuable insights about the purchase volumes & values, suggesting locations where a new store can add value.

Sustainability & eco-friendliness: As Sustainability & Net-zero emissions initiatives take global center stage, sustainable options must be chosen in every process. Some low-hanging fruits here can be using eco-friendly or reusable packaging options for delivery and electric vehicles for delivery executives to save unnecessary strain on the environment.

Quick commerce is a great opportunity globally. The right mix of technology, infrastructure and an unwavering focus on customer experience can succeed in this rapidly evolving landscape. 2022 promises to be an exciting watch-fest, with popcorn delivered in 15 minutes or less.

This article was originally published on Forbes Technology Council.

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Media & Entertainment Opinion

How OTT providers can shape engaging content experiences for the empowered consumer

Over-the-top (OTT) is a medium where customer is king and content rules. The pandemic served as a catalyst for greater OTT adoption, driving home this truth stronger than ever. OTT channels exploded, providing many hours of entertainment at home, and on any device. As the global pandemic took hold in 2020, 36% of consumers say it was a direct driver of them taking out a new OTT subscription.

Propelled by the widespread distribution enabled by OTT, companies are in a race, pursuing content in various ways – generating their own content or turning aggregators, working with small creative houses to produce short films, increasing localization of content, or crowdsourcing.

However, today, to develop a platform and enable OTT is only completing the first lap. The market is crowded with players, big and small, jostling for a toehold. Today’s empowered consumers crave engagement, which means, providers need to build targeted content that will reel in customers and keep them hooked over time. To be a marathoner, the OTT provider needs to be able to both engage and retain.

Building sustained customer experiences led by content

The empowered consumer is spoilt for choice – avoiding both app fatigue and subscription fatigue will be important. This approach is backed by a 2020 Deloitte survey of US consumers – their reason for choosing a particular brand of service seemed to indicate a preference for both a broad range of shows & movies, and content not available elsewhere.

Deloitte OTT streaming video subscribers survey

OTT providers can look to win the war for viewers through a number of ways including:

  • Top of the mind recall: optimizing AI-based tools and segmentation will be essential for targeted content consumption. For instance, huge success of Korean TV series “The Squid Games” has shot up the demand for similar drama TV series in local languages. Thus, enabling AI to push localized content to a wider audience and providing them with new content areas to explore.
  • The right positioning: carving out a unique selling point through a niche segment or a curated experience targeting a hobby or lifestyle preferences will be key. Discovery+ for its unscripted content targeting lifelong learners, Disney+ Hotstar for family entertainment and sports viewing, Netflix for premium or affluent audience, BritBox for British TV shows, Hayu for reality TV shows could be examples.
  • New content forms: as more physical events and activities move online – learning, exhibitions, business consulting etc. – podcasts, edutainment, gaming will augment the experience and bring it closer to reality.
  • Socially relevant content: With more consumers moving away from traditional platforms, content that integrates the social elements will be in demand.
  • Tough going for smaller companies: with their content limitations, they face reduced DAUs, flattening out of subscriptions, and reduced or stagnating advertisement revenues. One way out could be to form alliances to provide variety and choice to viewers or get acquired by larger players.
  • Loyalty/Gamification: It will play a role in keeping users engaged. In fact, Netflix has already started to offer exclusive gaming options varying from simple card games to theme based games based on popular TV series like “The Stranger Things” to their subscribed users.
  • E-commerce website for entertainment a no-no: over time, intake of users, consumption, revenues, ad revenue are bound to fall and wave of subscribers will flatten or taper.
  • 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 DRM solution.
  • Super Apps: Super Apps mostly need business collaborations and partnerships to offer various services. Thus, the rise is largely driven by large conglomerates and huge e-Commerce companies to have a sophisticated app addressing all the basic needs of a consumer. Amazon Prime Video launched Prime Video Channels in India in collaboration with 8 OTT partners to showcase premium content from them and make all content available inside the Prime Video App. These partners include Discovery+, Lionsgate Play, Docubay, Eros Now, MUBI, Hoichoi, Manorama Max, and Shorts TV.

Prime Video Channels super app

Irrespective of the specific genre or direction, the OTT provider chooses to follow, the mandate is clear – shape engaging content experiences for the consumer. The provider can’t become complacent but needs to be ready with a roadmap for retention as well. By investing in technology to build content, engage and elevate consumer experiences, they stand a better chance to gain the elusive competitive edge.

Enabling the X-factor with right experience

The instant global success of OTT as a medium, and is a turning point and milestone in the history of entertainment and broadcasting technologies. There is no other medium that allows a wider potential reach, yet puts the audience in charge. With digital re-shaping the way we interact with each other and how we entertain ourselves, the success of OTT is only the beginning for this medium. From training to gaming to keeping in touch with family, the potential is limited only by imagination.

CX/UX/Personalization: Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence power up algorithms and predictive analytics to identify consumer behavior, viewing patterns, preferences etc. and tailor the user/customer experience down to the individual consumer. These technologies are already helping the biggest in the business, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, offer unique experiences through product or content recommendations that are most relevant to that individual.

Becoming more ‘immersive’ with 5G: As 5G becomes mainstream, increased bandwidth will support more immersive streaming services such as 4K video and Virtual Reality (VR). Newer applications supporting collaboration – beyond Web conferencing – will emerge as a result. By combining 5G with OTT services, the provider can ensure less buffering and faster streaming, and therefore, venture into 360°live streaming of events etc.

Online gaming: The increase in Smart TV viewing means that passive consumption needs to be supplemented by gamification engines, interactive live television, real-time polls and more – these can be implemented with the help of 5G that promises up to 10Gbps speed and faster response times. With near-zero lag, better connectivity and data speeds, the gaming experience can be truly enhanced.

Shared OTT experiences: consumers realized the importance of spending time with family/friends during the pandemic. This led to the success of events such as Netflix’s Teleparty and Amazon Prime’s Watch Party. Powered by high-speed internet technologies, such services – consumers staying apart, watch movies together on the same video chat, or stream simultaneously within their social networks – could soon become the norm.

Multi-device, multi-platform experience: Consumers can enjoy immersive experiences on different mobile platforms, switching between devices seamlessly – including iOS & Android mobile phones, iPad and Android tablet, Apple TV, Amazon Firestick, Roku or any Android-based smart TV.

Building a multiexperience OTT

Implementing analytics and monetization strategies

The current monetization models of OTT are nascent, and as young as the medium and technology itself. Still stemming from traditional broadcasting roots advertising and subscription have been the existing models of revenue.

Advertising monetization vs subscription monetization: both models have their unique advantages. The nature/format of the content and the kind of technology investment can be deciding factors in the model that the provider chooses eventually.

Learn more about OTT monetization models in detail

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 targeting opportunities using more accurate data on user preferences. Providers can leverage predictive and prescriptive analytics using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

In contrast, providers might choose the subscription model if they are looking to gain long-term value by delivering consistent quality content such as those in the business of entertainment, health, eLearning etc. Investing in the right technology will help them implement security and encryption integrations that are necessary for this model.
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.

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Web 3.0: Technology’s Next Frontier

A little over 30 years ago, the first web page was created at CERN, imagined by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and fellow scientists. They wisely determined that the web should remain an open standard for all to use. Web 2.0 transitioned the internet from sharing information to the age of social media, allowing users to create, share and collaborate without needing web design or technical skills. As the euphoria dies down, we’ve now encountered the flipside of this social revolution, with its power to influence and misinform, and the issues of data privacy. The Cambridge Analytica scandal proved the power of data to literally elect world powers.

Dubbed Web 3.0, the third generation of the web is already making waves, because it promises to return to the initial euphoria of the World Wide Web, and give the power back to users. This means:

  • Users have more control over content
  • They manage all internet activities with just one account per user to hop from one platform to another, shop, browse, manage devices etc.
  • Innovative use of AR, VR, sensors will elevate their internet experience, ushering in the era of connected things

Why we need a paradigm shift in the way the internet works

Through massive innovation in mobile, social media, and cloud technologies, Web 2.0 touches the everyday lives of billions of people across the world. The dynamic nature of its pages means that users consume information, communicate better, enjoy interactive experiences, and generate content that can, in turn, inform creators and developers on areas for improvement. However, its fundamental shortcomings cannot be dismissed lightly. Apprehensions around the lack of autonomy users have over personal data, increasing government control, and the predominance of a few, large intermediaries over web content are well founded.

Web 3.0 aspires to be even more life-altering in expanding the scope of internet applications. Plus, it aims to address these pain-points in a comprehensive manner and by becoming more human centric. Web 3.0 will be underpinned by blockchain technologies that enable, edge computing, and artificial intelligence. Its operations will rely on decentralized and autonomous data networks, public digital ledgers, peer-to-peer communications, cryptocurrency, smart contracts and tokenization. All of this means fundamental and welcome changes for users.

How will Web 3.0 give the power back to users?

So how will Web 3.0 take away the power from data monopolizing corporations and authoritarian, anti-social governments and give it back to users? By re-structuring the transactional nature of the World Wide Web and re-defining the value that users extract.

The biggest differentiators for users are:

  1. The ability to create and share personalized content
  2. Data will no longer be owned by a single entity but be a shared resource, developed and owned collectively

A safe and transparent, yet personalized and seamless user experience with Web 3.0

  • Users of the web will protect their personal data in non-fungible tokens, which are cryptographic assets on a blockchain. Each token comes with a unique identification code and metadata, indicating that the user owns that particular virtual good or digital asset obtained through cryptocurrencies. Even if the system is breached, the user’s original sensitive data will not be compromised as the tokenized data becomes undecipherable and irreversible while preserving its business utility.
  • Content on sites and pages will be chiefly derived from what users provide on various media including online, voice, text sources. Drastically different from the current version, each user will view the same content differently as it will be processed, customized, and presented based on insights and feedback that are unique to them. As the back-end aspects of development will get their due share of attention this time around, visual appeal of the content will not be the only consideration – its ability to cater to user requirements, relevance of the content, and personalization will be defining factors.
  • Applications will use open-source software created by an accessible community of developers in a completely visible, open, and transparent manner.
  • Another giant leap forward would be in the way communities are built and operate – from business communities to social communities to private communities. Interoperability is one of the primary goals of Web 3.0, which implies that users can move or extend their personal accounts or avatars from one community to another, seamlessly.

Web 3.0 envisions a new order – a democratic, permission less system

Blockchain will ensure all transactional data is verified and immutably stored in a public, digitized ledger that is available across the peer-to-peer network. We might even think of the system as being permissionless since anyone, a user or provider, should be able to engage in consensus validation within the network without taking explicit permission from a governing body or an intermediary. Such a system is inherently trust-less as no single entity owns or has authority over it, and none of the participants need to know or trust each other or rely on an intermediary for the system to function. They only need to trust the system itself – this trust is built and distributed between participants through redefining the economic transactions and incentivizing ethical and honest behavior of those complying with network security guidelines, for instance.

Incentivization of operations, transactions, and behavior – in short, everything that makes the system work smoothly – is a desirable outcome of such a network and offered to service, data and content providers, which includes users as well.

The vision for Web 3.0 is to

  • Decentralize and cut out the middleman and challenge government-imposed control and the monopoly of large tech corporations such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter
  • Make room for smaller, more players to emerge and thrive in the content generation market.
  • Restore content control to the user
  • Manage data as a collective, shared property
  • Incentivize engagement, data contribution and behavior for greater people participation and build a sense of earned ownership and value towards it.

Are we there yet?

We see blockchain being adopted across a widening range of services – from managing individual land records, passports/visas, social security to applications that intersperse multiple entities such as banking. A step towards the new reality, Opera recently brought out a beta version of its Web3 Crypto Browser with a non-custodial wallet to support blockchains.

There will be a greater prevalence of computing resources pushed out to the edge of the network and closer to the source of the data (such as phones, computers, everyday appliances, sensors, and vehicles) in lieu of/addition to centralized, legacy data centers. Incentivization will be a major factor here – for example, a user would be encouraged to barter or trade their personal data on their health, vehicle location, performance reviews on appliances etc. without having to give up ownership rights or privacy and operate independent of an intermediary’s intervention.

While the web’s newest iteration has many gaps to be bridged and its share of sceptics who consider it vaporware, Web 3.0 aspires to bring together the best of both worlds – the human-centric and machine-driven – to democratize the internet. In the attempt to breach technology’s next frontier, it continues to evolve and is more likely to coexist with, rather than replace Web 2.0 in the near future.

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Mobile Opinion

Webinar overview – Mart to cart: role of digital experiences in online delivery

Changing consumer behavior in the ‘new normal’ is not just the talk of the town, but the world. In the last few months, some of the major shifts that we have seen happening in the way consumers shop include – less confidence about in-person or in-store shopping, consumers seeking safety and hygiene assurance from the stores and a rise in online deliveries for grocery and pharmacy products.

In fact, according to a report by Apptopia, Walmart Grocery services saw an increase of 55% in average daily visitor numbers during March and April, grocery orders on Instacart were 10 times higher than usual and e-pharmacy portal PharmEasy had a 10% surge in online orders.

In this scenario, services like food & online delivery are seeing great opportunities to gain customer loyalty by re-inventing their digital experiences, as that takes center stage as the key consumer touchpoint. With contactless deliveries, ghost kitchens, drive-thrus, drones, digital payments, and more, delivery services have accelerated their pace of digital shift to meet the evolving customer needs. The changes can be categorized into:

  • Strategic changes
  • Operational changes
  • Engagement/Communication methods

Some such examples are:

  • In India, Swiggy rolled out safety badges for those who comply with the highest standards of hygiene. The badges will be given to restaurants following best practices and that have features like temperature control, masks, sanitation after 4 hours, and safe packaging.
  • Doordash introduced a new program to deliver essentials. They partnered with a broad range of stores in the U.S region such as Casey’s General Store, 7-Eleven, and CircleK, etc.

There are many such online delivery platforms that have reinvented their business and operational processes to address consumer concerns and offer services that they need the most during these times.

In our recent webinar, Mart to cart: role of digital experiences in online delivery, Srinidhi Rao, SVP and Head of our US operations and I discussed the evolving consumer behavior and key factors that can help delivery services in crafting great digital experiences

Discussion points included:

  • Evolving consumer behavior in the ‘next’ normal
  • How delivery services are re-inventing and responding to consumer demands
  • How brands can engage & communicate with end-consumers
  • Adoption of Digital and low touch activities
  • Future outlook

You can watch a recording of the session here.

If you want to know more about how we can help you create digital solutions that can help you simplify workplace management for your enterprise, please drop an email to Srinidhi Rao at [email protected].

I hope you found this webinar overview useful and look forward to joining us in our future webinars on other topics pertaining to creating delightful digital experiences that can simplify lives of your consumers.

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Mobile Opinion

WWDC20 announcements: what it means for enterprises and digital experiences

The annual Worldwide Developer Conference is a great opportunity for the developer community to learn about new possibilities in the Apple ecosystem and to interact with specialists from Apple. The platforms and devices have grown over the years – iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV with iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS. The combined ecosystem provides a great opportunity for developers to create a unified, seamless experience across devices and use-cases. The experience of a news channel custom-created on Apple TV is vastly different from its native app experience on a phone. Similarly, a bank’s digital experience on a phone and the Apple Watch will have to be treated differently both from a design and engineering perspective.

This year, due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the format of the Apple Keynote event to kick off the WWDC week was different – it was entirely shot on video without a live crowd inside a hall. The format came in for much praise for its slick production value. Let’s take a look at some of the announcements and its implications for developers, product owners and enterprises.

Boosting the developer ecosystem on all fronts

In this segment, we will explore how Apple is empowering developers by offering programming flexibility, simplified UI designing, extended support outside the apple framework, interoperability, and much more.  Let’s start with the major updates that were announced across the developer platforms in use:

  1. SwiftUI: Build 100% SwiftUI-Based Apps

Launched last year, SwiftUI came as a beautiful gift from Apple that allowed you to bring your wildest app UI ideas to life in the most hassle-free manner, by leveraging the power of declarative programming. This year, Apple is making things more exciting by offering the ability to design 100% SwiftUI based apps. This means you can now design an entire app interface using the SwitfUI platform, instead of embedding the SwiftUI code in AppKit, UIKit or WatchKit.

With the all-new Lazy Stack, developers get to implement more efficient scrolling in their designs. This allows you to integrate beautiful toolbars, lists, grids, and shapes, along with cool new visual effects, as the Lazy API ensures efficient handling of enormous data sets to offer great performance. The code built-in SwitfUI can be easily shared across all Apple platforms.

  1. Xcode 12: Redesigned for a cutting-edge app building experience

Apple has launched Xcode 12 (BETA), which comes bearing a slew of awesome features, making it one of the top highlights of WWDC 2020.

A great feature in Xcode 12 is the StoreKit tool. This takes designing paid subscriptions and in-app purchase experiences to the next level.  It allows you to manipulate in-app payments in the iOS simulator with a new menu available in Debug > StoreKit.  This way, you can simulate subscription setup, in-app purchases, and even refunds, all locally on your Mac. There’s also a new StoreKit testing framework that allows you to automate testing of purchase workflows.

Along with that, the new Xcode version comes with a fresh new look to match the macOS Big Sur update. New document tabs make the opening of multiple files super-fast and lightweight. It allows you to open interface files, logs, and project files in their own tab. Navigator fonts can now be matched with the system size or can be set to small, medium, or large. The best part is that Xcode 12 builds macOS Universal apps by default to support new Macs with Apple silicon

  1. Web Development: Make web experiences more powerful and flexible

This year’s WWDC event has witnessed quite a lot of announcements on the web development front, allowing you to build great experiences for your users when they use your website, home screen web apps, or embedded WebKit views.

Apple has made it very easy for developers to build new extensions for Safari, as extensions from other browsers (developed in Java or HTML) can now be imported into Safari using its all-new Web-based API. There is only one thing you need to do, that is, to package the extension using Xcode and distribute it through the AppStore.

Along with that, Apple announced major improvements in performance, media features, and Web APIs.

1. Inter-operability: Apple has pushed the envelope for cross-browsing experience as Safari has passed over 14,000 interoperability tests.

2. Browsing performance: Your web-apps will get a major performance boost as Safari, yet again, sets new standards such as

  • 3x lower CPU usage while scrolling
  • 10x faster IndexedDB operations
  • 2x faster JavaScript Promises
  • 5x faster for-of loops
  • 12x faster JavaScript delete operations

3. Media features:

  • Support for WebP image format
  • Default image aspect ratio and orientation
  • Mac HDR display support
  • Remote Playback and Picture-in-Picture APIs

4. CSS: A new line of system font families were announced; system-ui, ui-sans-serif, ui-serif, ui-monospace, and ui-rounded

5. Integrations: Apple has enabled various useful integrations for a more seamless web experience:

  • Face ID & Touch ID: your websites or web apps can make use of Apple’s authentication system in a secure manner using Web Authentication API. It uses the secure enclave of the iPhone or iPad to provide the private keys, and guarantees they cannot leave the device.
  • AR Quick Look: You can customize the AR Quick Look feature for your web experience using the ARKit.
  • Payment: New Apple Pay updates with new button types and redacted billing information.
  • Web Animations API:  Play around with animations in web platforms with Web Animations API.

Unifying app development experience across Operating Systems

 Now let’s get down to the specific OS announcements.

1. iOS

Widgets: As the new iOS 14 was announced, the first thing that must have caught your attention must be the all-new widgets. Apple has indeed revamped its Springboard platform for a fresh new Home Screen experience. Widgets can now be a part of the Home Screen and can be completely customized as per one’s taste.  And as you guessed it, Widgets are built completely using the SwiftUI platform, allowing you to build, customize and share widget codes across all iOS devices.

App Clips: With App Clips, Apple has transformed discoverability for Apps. It allows users to experience small portions, or rather, a clip of an App and interact with it. This way, it allows them to avoid downloading full apps to just try them out and have more ephemeral experiences with apps. With over 2 million apps in the App Store, this is the perfect time for developers to leverage this feature. App Clips use “ephemeral” permissions to push notifications within 8 hours of the Clip launch and are built using a subset of the full project’s code (up to a 10 MB limit). A StoreKit view can be used to prompt the user to upgrade to the full version. Initially, Apple will allow users to launch clips by way of a QR code, but a new “App Clip Code” arriving later this year will allow users to find App Clip suggestions from the real-world using location tagging.

ARKit 4: The new ARKit introduces new a new Depth API to combine sensor data to map GPS data to points in a virtual world; Integrating Location Anchors to connect virtual objects with a real-world longitude, latitude, and altitude.

Picture-in-picture: Apple has finally brought Picture-in-Picture (PiP) to its devices. You can add PiP playback to your custom player by using the AVKit framework’s AV PictureInPictureController class.

2. macOS

The macOS Big Sur and the ARM-based Macs have been the highlights all along. But there are quite a few important updates that you might have missed. Let’s take a look at all of them:

  • Smooth Transition: The MacOS Big Sur has been optimized for a smooth transition from Intel-based Macs to ARM-based Macs, as ARM-optimized code is generated by Rosetta 2 without any changes or I/O slowdowns.
  • Apple’s hypervisor: It has been updated for ARM Macs to discourage the kernel extension requirement by VM tools.
  • Unmodified iOS Apps on Mac: This feature will be available on Macs with ARM processors, and be exclusive to those devices.
  • Custom content: Custom content extensions for Notification Centre are available to both Catalyst and AppKit developers.
  • Mac Idiom: The Mac Idiom allows iOS apps built using the Catalyst Project to be run on Macs in a full-blown native Mac resolution.

Improving user-experience across devices

 Now let’s get down to the device-specific announcements

1. iPadOS

  • Virtual Object Placement: With the all-new ARKit 4, Li-DAR enabled iPads now have instantaneous object placement that allows for entirely new types of apps, such as on-site architecture, design, landscaping, and manufacturing.
  • PencilKit stroke API: This API gives apps access to location, angle, and pressure data. Multi-tap and drag-to-select selects handwritten words and lines for manipulation in PencilKit apps.
  • Sidebars: 2-column to 3-column sidebars made from SwiftUI List are now available in both landscape and portrait orientation.
  • Scribble: PencilKit now features Scribble, which makes it easy to create apps with text entry fields that users can write in with Apple Pencil.

2. WatchOS

WatchOS 7 gets a makeover with new personalization features, health and fitness configurations for Apple Watch

  • Multiple Complications: Apps can create and offer multiple SwiftUI complications for each complication family, powered by the new CLKComplicationDescriptor object.
  • Edit Previews: Xcode 12’s live-updating complication previews feature lets you define example complications.

3. tvOS

Apple has released a slew of new features in the tvOS SDK, allowing you to enhance a user’s movie-watching or gaming experience even further.

  • Multiuser support: Using the new multiuser support for gaming, users can now switch dynamically between users and use both the Game Centre and iCloud to keep track of multiple players’ information. Use the new GKAccessPoint class to let users view and manage their Game Centre information from within your game.
  • Controller inputs: Allow users to play your game using their favourite controllers, by accepting inputs from additional types of devices, like a touchpad, a keyboard, or a mouse.
  • Picture-in-Picture (PiP): tvOS now supports AVPictureInPictureController, allowing you to implement a custom video player that offers PiP playback.
  • Custom Player Controls: A new SwiftUI VideoPlayer structure lets you add system-supplied playback controls to your custom player.

Bringing together the global developer community

Apart from all the software and hardware updates, there were some other announcements that also delighted developers across the world.

  • Virtual Lab: In-view of the on-going pandemic, Apple is creating an online version of the App Store lab to further support the Apple developer community across all of its platforms. Developers are encouraged to share their feedback at the virtual lab.
  • More accessibility: To integrate your apps into core platform features and deliver powerful functionality, Apple is launching a new Find My network accessory program. This program lets third-party device makers take advantage of a network with hundreds of millions of devices while continuing to offer end-to-end encryption so that only the user can see the location of their item.
  • AppStore guidelines: Developers will be able to appeal decisions if an app violates a given guideline, and also challenge the guideline itself. For apps that are already on the App Store, bug fixes not be delayed due to guideline violations (except for legal issues).

With this year’s WWDC event, it is clear that Apple is aiming to revolutionize app development across all devices and foster an ecosystem that allows developers to create applications for the future. With its continuous efforts, Apple is attracting more developers to build for its devices and leverage the latest tech innovations using its open-source tools.

More importantly, it allows both enterprises and developers to provide even more seamless experiences across devices and screens. Enterprises which have native apps on say iOS can now explore possibilities of bringing alive the app experience on other devices within the ecosystem, if there is a strong use case. This will further lock in customers making user retention easier.

At Robosoft, our experience on the Mac platform spans two decades. We were among the first to offer mobile app development as a service. Today, we are well poised to offer end-to-end digital experiences across platforms, devices and emerging technologies such as voice, chat, blockchain and more. The possibilities are even more exciting after the announcements at WWDC 2020.

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Webinar Overview: Art and Science of managing workplace and employee skill management

Enterprises are grappling with challenges of a rapidly evolving business environment, due to the impact of COVID-19. We are also witnessing major and unanticipated shifts in workplace models.

In this scenario, business leaders are looking for digital solutions that can help them address the challenges of managing teams, up-skilling and re-skilling employees, streamlining employee communication, and ensure business continuity. Further, the current remote-working scenario has only highlighted the need for ensuring workplace agility as an imperative for enterprises.

Both business leaders and employees have a lot of questions regarding how the current situation will unfold and the kind of transformations we will see in the context of workplace and employee management.

In our recent webinar, ‘Art and science of managing workplace and employee skill management’ our Srinidhi Rao along with Daniel Masata, CEO and founder Volonte, a workplace agility platform, discussed and answered critical questions around workplace management.

Daniel Masata has extensive experience in the HR domain as a senior executive at the $25bn Adecco Group, leading Global Strategy & Transformation. He has also served in leadership roles in 4 different countries (US, Germany, France, Switzerland) and with full P&L responsibility for up to $550m in revenue & 600 employees.

During the course of the discussion, Daniel helped participants understand how a combination of technology, people, and behavioral science can make workplace and employee management a proactive, positive, and data-driven experience, thus creating a win-win situation for both the talent and the enterprise.

Some of the questions that were answered during the course of the webinar include:

  • Key challenges of enterprises today in a remote-working world
  • Role and need for empathy in today’s workplace
  • The need for up-skilling & re-skilling – and the difference between them
  • Role of technology in creating positive digital experiences
  • The process to achieve workplace agility
  • Key success factors for product development in workplace management

You can watch a recording of the session here.

If you want to know more about how we can help you create digital solutions that can help you simplify workplace management for your enterprise, please drop me an email at [email protected].

I hope you found this webinar overview useful and look forward to joining us in our future webinars on other topics pertaining to creating delightful digital experiences for the internal and external stakeholders of your business.

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