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Connect to the digital, mobile & social world using QR Codes – What’s the business value? Is this a fad?

August 10, 2011 1 comment

There are many new technologies that pop-up in the market regularly with a lot of “buzz”. QR (quick Response) codes is one of them

I didn’t pay a lot of attention to this funny looking (maze like) 2 dimensional box with black/white modules and shrugged it off!! I thought this was one more marketing gimmick and was just one more fad.

You must have seen the QR codes in the magazine pages, magazine ads, bus stop, bus sign, business cards etc. For the last couple of months, I am hearing a lot of buzz and seeing how some companies are using and leveraging QR codes in very very innovative and creative ways across all business functions to boost customer experience, sales & marketing campaigns and lead generation. Recently USPS announced QR code promotions and savings on direct mails. So QR codes are going mainstream!! Still want more convincing info, see the following stats from Comscore.

14 million Americans used QR codes  from their mobile phones. Not all of 2011, this was just in June 2011. This is 6.2% of the total US mobile population. The study also shows that a mobile user that scanned a QR code during the month was more likely a male (60.5% of code scanning audience), skew toward ages 18-34 (53.4%) and have a household income of $100k or above (36.1%).

Where were the QR codes scanned from? Print magazines and newspapers were half of them and the remaining were mostly from the product packages (35%) and websites (27%).

From what location were these QR codes scanned? Mostly were from home (58%) and the rest of them were from a retail store (39%) or from a grocery store(25%). This is particularly true in Tesco’s case (as detailed below in use cases).

With the combination of camera enabled smart phones and QR codes, the business value is limitless. For marketers, QR codes can provide them with new, creative and innovative ways to reach their target consumers and also engage them in new ways. When you combine this with Social platform, there are more innovative options (like Verizon’s combination of QR code, mobile and social…it’s simply superb!!, I have listed this use case below).

I started exploring more into QR codes and how this technology can be leveraged for business needs and generate value. Following is my high-level analysis. I will start with the basics…

What’s a QR code?

A QR Code is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera enabled smart phones. The code consists of black/white modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or any other data. This data doesn’t expire.

QR codes have the ability to store more complex information than a standard bar-code. It has been used in the transport and logistics industry for tracking, for over 15 years. However, recently marketers have put their thinking hats on , and came up with ideas to not only measure ROI on certain campaigns, but also spark the attention of some early adopters and get them to scan these funny-looking barcodes, to see what happens.

What usually happens is that the code behind the image is linked to a URL, or a website, with more information on the product or the company. Since the code is scannable by any camera enabled smart phone, scanning the code can start a phone call, deliver a vCard, redirect to a website, registration form, bookmarks etc.

See the following video – brief overview of QR codes

Benefits & Value

Following are some business use cases on how are QR codes are being leveraged and generating value. I will start with some interesting ones.

Storefront displays: Few retail businesses are open 24/7. Don’t disappoint potential customers after you’ve left for the day. Create a Shop Online Now! QR code and put it in your storefront window. One quick scan and you’ve turned a potential lost sale into an online customer who’s going to share a lot more of their contact information with you. See the following video on how Tesco is leveraging this in South Korea and driving commerce. It’s just amazing!!

Cemetry: This is kind of interesting business use case. The following video says it all.

Business cards: This is probably the de-facto way many businesses use QR codes. Rather than overload a business card with all of your contact info you could include the bare minimum for reaching you, then create a QR code that leads people to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. or to your profile on the corporate website.

Labeling: A restaurant patron is enjoying wine from your vineyard. They notice the QR code on the bottle and quickly scan it. That takes them to a mobile site where they can learn more about your wine, your vineyard, and links to where you can buy a case for delivery…all before the bill comes. See the following video – one more brief overview of how QR codes are being used in restaurants, bus-signs, mailers etc

Email subscriber list: Use your QR code to send people to your email sign-up. Just make sure you give people a compelling reason to subscribe to your list, otherwise you will have just wasted their time. Not the best way to engage your audience.

Facebook likes and Twitter followers: Linking your Facebook page or twitter account to a specific QR code, you can use it in product or POS promotion, with a short message: “Scan this code to join our Facebook community”, or “Scan this code to get notified of future promotions on Twitter”. Verizon recently did a “Hipscan” promotion using QR codes. This generated a lot of buzz and generated a ROI of 3500%. Click here for more info.

Brochures, magazine ads and other print media: Have the QR codes in the brochures, product pages, magazine ads for readers to quickly scan and see more information and bookmark it. This will be very useful especially when readers are commuting and don’t have the flexibility to write down the link.

Conferences/Events: Have the QR codes for conference check-ins, session check-ins, take surveys and take polls, exhibitor signage. Attendees can scan the QR code from the conference mobile app and take the poll, survey and register for the sessions. How cool is that? This will engage the attendees in a new way and provide a great conference experience.

More use cases on how QR codes have been used for better conversion rates (source)

  1. Product comparison data on price tags
  2. Feedback surveys on sales receipts
  3. On-demand interactive video support
  4. In-house Facebook “Like” promo
  5. Google Paces – Review posters
  6. Foursquare Check-in posters
  7. Interactive custom maps

Click here to see more details on the above use cases.

QR code in not a fad. It’s real and mainstream now !!! Start leveraging this 2D technology to generate more business value

Appreciate your feedback and comments.

Contact Info

(Download Scanlife app from iTunes/Android marketplace and scan the code below)


Digital and Mobile Magazines – What’s the business value? Are you ready?

August 6, 2011 18 comments

I commute to work by train every day, almost spending 2 hrs on the train. In winter, this may take 2.5 hrs. So I had to spend my time wisely. A year ago, my backpack was a bit heavy!! I carried my laptop, daily journal paper, a novel, a couple of magazines and all the mobile devices (personal & work). That’s a lot!!

Today, my backpack is almost 1/3rd the weight I used to have a year ago. My backpack is light and don’t have anymore back pains. Thanks to iPad, digital newspapers and digital magazines. Today, I just carry my iPad2 instead of all the newspapers and magazines. Not sure how long will I be carrying a laptop…maybe a year or two. I now read all my magazines and newspapers digitally in my iPad. I don’t even need to have strong network connection as I download all the updates at home.

Due to this convenience, I have subscribed to more magazines and newspapers….thereby increasing my knowledge base. Recently I added ‘Zite‘ magazine app to my iPad. This is one of the best digital magazine apps in the market place. You can customize and subscribe your magazine based on your interests and topics. Once you set your profile, this app does all the magic and pulls all the relevant content from all the digital sources in the world. You can share your favorite articles to your social network. This is the future!! I will not be surprised if these type of magazine apps enter the enterprise market soon (just like the Google search appliance). Check out this app!!.

On any given day in the train, I hardly see anyone reading from the “print” newspaper, novel or magazines. Everyone seems to be having either a Kindle, iPad or other mobile tablets and devices. It’s amazing to see how Kindle and iPad have changed the entire publication market in a year. I see kids (including mine) reading more books from iPad.

How can you leverage this digital and mobile technology for business needs? What value can you get?

Digital and mobile magazines offer publishers the advantages of higher circulation, increased revenue, stronger brands and readers coming back for more. With accessing the internet becoming as commonplace as using a smart phone, iPad.. industries of all kinds are finding ways to appeal to customers online. The publishing industry is no exception. Digital and mobile magazines also offer a tremendous experience and value to readers. Your readers will be happy and thank you as they don’t have a carry a heavy backpack!!!

As you may know, the mobile market is growing exponentially and as a result the number of digital and mobile readers is growing as well.

  • Gartner has predicted that by mid 2012, the number of users accessing web from mobile devices will surpass the PC. (My guess, this will happen by end of this year).
  • Gartner has recently decreased the forecast on the number of PC shipments for this year based on the exploding mobile device market and demand.
  • Gartner says by 2015, digital strategies, such as Social and Mobile Marketing, will influence at least 80 percent of consumers’ discretionary spending
  • Gartner says worldwide mobile device sales to end users reached 1.6 Billion units in 2010; smart phone sales grew 72 percent in 2010.
  • Forrester says that there will be 24 Million+ tablets that will be sold in 2011.
  • Nielsen predicts by end of 2011, majority of mobile subscribers in US will have a smart phone. Click here to view Nielsen’s “State of Mobile Apps” report. Great info on mobile trends and statistics.

We recently leveraged this new & emerging technology and launched a mobile magazine (action guide) powered by Texterity’s cloud based platform for ‘Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence‘. This magazine is a compilation many action guides on various healthcare improvement topics. Check it out @ http://digital.hpoe.org.

With the new digital and mobile edition, readers can:

  • Access the information via PC, mobile devices or from any mobile browser
  • Navigate easily throughout the issue via embedded search tools located within the top navigation bar
  • Download the guides, read offline and print
  • Share information with others through email and social networking sites
  • Keyword search of current and past guides quickly and easily
  • Bookmark pages for future references

This is a true example of how you can leverage a new & emerging technology to

enable and transform business

The following videos says it all…

Top Business Benefits and Value:

Increase readership and experience

  • Intuitive Navigation – No learning curve here: the omnipresent navigation bar is simple to master, with easily understood icons.
  • Scanning & Zoom – Quick and easy control features allow readers to scale content to their own comfort level.
  • Rich Multimedia – Offer readers a more robust experience than print can’t give them. Incorporate video, audio, animation and slide shows.
  • Video Channels – Show related videos and video channels without ever leaving the magazine.
  • Embed, Save, Clip & Share – Allow readers to embed, save articles and ads can be saved for future reference without damaging your print copy or accumulating piles of back issues.
  • Search – Readers can search for any key word or phrase in the current issue, all issues, or back issues.
  • Choice of various viewing modes – Let readers customize their viewing preferences.
  • Social Media – Allow readers to share pages instantly on common social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Deli.cio.us etc. Readers can also get the latest updates from the publishers via RSS feeds.
  • Forums and Blogs – Integrate forums and blogs that relate to the issue or article, increasing reader engagement within the issue.
  • Off-line Reading – Readers can download one article or the entire magazine and conveniently take it with them.
  • Cover line Links – Super-fast searching and easy-access table of contents. Respect their time by helping readers find what they need.
  • Mobile Ready – Digital editions run on any modern, web-enabled mobile device like the Android, Blackberry and Apple. Access to Google Maps, live phone numbers for direct dialing, latest news, reviews, and videos, RSS feeds for between-issue updates, Community-building tools for conversations, Interactive modules, such as video, slide shows, 360-degree animation and Twitter integration.

Increase circulation

  • Sophisticated Tracking & Reporting – Know exactly which pages readers turn to, how much time they spend on each page, article, or video and where they are coming from.
  • Look Inside – Allows guests to view pages of the magazine to increase subscription revenue.
  • Virtual Blow-ins – Target blow-ins to new online readers to increase subscription rates or to target renewal offers to current subscribers.
  • Social Media & Integration – Get others engaged with your publication, the first step to converting them to subscribers.
  • Virtual Cover Wraps & Belly Bands – Reach pass-along readers with subscription information intact.
  • SEO & Enhanced search engine visibility – Ensures your publication and its content is seen by a wider audience.

Increase revenues

  • Tracking & Reporting – Offer advertisers the benefit of gathering valuable data on a subscriber level about time spent on their ads and click-through rates.
  • Ads/Sponsorships – Link readers directly to advertisers’ offers or videos, another revenue-generating benefit to attract new ad revenue. Provides integrated support for Dart, Atlas and other major ad-serving networks.

Decrease Costs

  • Printing – According to a BPA Worldwide study, over 40% of your current print subscribers may opt to receive your publication online, cutting your print costs accordingly.
  • Postage – Reach a worldwide audience without paying the high costs of postage or passing those costs on to your readers.

So get ready for the wave of digital magazines and publications. It is coming in full force!!

Want to know what the next wave is? Check out the following videos on how restaurants are leveraging this emerging mobile and digital technology to the menus!! (Not sure how the iPads will be kept clean!!)

Appreciate your feedback and comments.

Contact Info

LinkedIn kchakkarapani@yahoo.com

Document Management & Collaboration over the Cloud – What’s the business value? Are you ready for the boomerang effect?

August 5, 2011 2 comments

Are you ready for the fast approaching Boomerang effect?

We are in the fast growing digital, social and mobile age. Consumer-oriented technologies are transforming the way that people communicate and accelerating the spread of information at the speed of light.  These  trends are driving the adoption of consumer oriented technologies in the business world. For example, BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) is gaining more adoption. This is especially occurring in the mobile device space as more employees want to use their devices at work to get the same ease of use and flexibility.

Amazon recently launched a consumer oriented ‘Cloud Drive‘ solution that allows consumers to store anything digital and access it from anywhere, any device, any time. Apple recently announced their consumer oriented ‘iCloud‘ solution that allows Apple device owners to store anything digital and access it from anywhere, any device (only Apple though), any time. In a couple of months, the term ‘Cloud’ will be commonly used by consumers. Thanks to Apple!! When kids start talking about ‘Cloud’, then we can all say that Cloud is now fully mainstream. Consumers will create content, manage content, share content and collaborate on content through these solutions and will like the ease of use and flexibility to do so.

Cloud based document/content management solutions started within the business world to support various business functions and processes to attain great productivity, scalability and flexibility. This is now entering the consumer space (via Apple, Amazon and others) and will drive more adoption and use of these cloud solutions. Once this attains adoption and wide use in the consumer world, guess what? Consumers will expect to have the same ease of use and flexibility to create content (documents, files,media etc), manage content, share content and collaborate on content at work.

This will drive and increase the need to have a ‘Cloud based Document Management & Collaboration‘ tool in the business world. This is what I am calling it as the fast approaching Boomerang effect? Are you ready for this?

Following are some of the top requirements and challenges that many organizations face today to manage documents:

Top Business Requirements

  • Create & Manage – Create and manage any type of content in an online workspace easily and securely.
  • Access  – Access content from any location, any device, any time easily and securely.
  • Sync – Ability to sync content across content across access points, including offline access.
  • Mobility – Access content on “The Go”.
  • Connect – Connect with others on content and share ideas.
  • Collaborate – Share ideas and collaborate on content with others.
  • Security – Ability to secure content at all levels. Configure access privileges and permissions at all levels.
  • Size – No restrictions on content size limits.
  • Communication – Ability to share links via email instead of the actual files. Avoid the hassles of overloading the email and ftp server and other restriction limits.
  • Integrate – Ability to share and integrate across business applications (CRM, Intranet, Office tools etc)
  • Do more with your content and get the work done easily and quickly.
  • Less training, support and maintenance.

Top Business/IT Challenges

  • Manage file and FTP servers at all locations, 24×7 and within budget.
  • Manage backups and storage at all locations, 24×7.
  • Manage capacity efficiently to keep in pace with the rapid growth of content.
  • Manage network and security infrastructure to maintain integrity and privacy.
  • Comply with many regulations and procedures to safeguard the data.
  • Perform audit operations regularly and provide compliance reports.
  • Perform infrastructure and software upgrades, maintenance and support to all the above.
  • Have 24×7 support staff to manage all the above.

We had many of the above requirements and challenges. We addressed this by implementing a robust “Cloud Based Document Management & Collaboration” platform powered by Box.Net. (Click here for some cool videos). We have been using this solution for 2 years and achieved great business benefits and value across many business ares, functions and processes. I have a listed a few business use cases below that we have leveraged Box.net to the full extent.

This is a true example of how you can leverage a new & emerging technology to

enable and transform business

Project Management

Key to manage and complete a project successfully is to communicate and collaborate effectively and efficiently with all the stakeholders at all times. One of the major tasks in any project is to manage a lot of project related documents. Sharing these documents with all the stakeholders in time and accessing these documents quickly and easily anytime, any device and any location is a huge challenge both for the project manager and the project team.

But most of the times, project documents are managed in ftp sites and shared mainly via email as the main communication medium. Email ends up being the main repository for project related information and communication. This result in email overload, dis-organized communication, lack of version control, cannot search quickly, inability to manage action items etc. All this leads to project failures.

You can address this challenge by managing the project in a cloud based document management & collaboration platform and get the following value:

  • Create, manage and share all project related documents in one online workspace that can be accessed from any device, any location and anytime securely and easily.
  • Always view only the latest version of the document and still have the ability to see prior version.
  • Updates to project documents are automatically synced to all the access points.
  • Assign tasks to team members to take action items. User’s tasks are displayed in a Facebook style activity feed. This helps the team to see all the project activity in one simple format (instead of emails) and take the necessary actions.
  • Embed the entire project folder in the Enterprise Collaboration platform. This will provide team members to connect, share and collaborate on project related info, generate new ideas, solve challenges and be very effective. This results in Content + People + Collaboration which is key to a project’s success.
  • Put an end to the email and ftp overload and email as a primary medium for project communication.
  • Focus on the project rather than spending time and effort to manage and find project information.

Publications

In any publication industry, managing and sharing different types of content is a huge challenge especially when the file sizes are large. In addition to that, organizing the content, finding the latest files, searching/archiving old files are other challenges as well. Key to the publication industry is to publish the print/online edition in time and within budget.

You can address this challenge by managing all the publication related content/files and process flow in a cloud based document management & collaboration platform and get the following value:

  • Manage and organize content easily and quickly – by type, author, location, ads, logos, images, audio, video etc.
  • Share files with the team without overloading the email servers, ftp servers, senders and recipient’s inboxes.
  • Updates to files are automatically synced to all the access points.
  • Preview various files instantly from the browser, avoid the hassles of downloading the files and not worrying about having the right application on your desktop/mobile device to view the files.
  • Manage and collaborate on files with 3rd party applications through built-in integrations.
  • Provide access to advertisers and agencies to view the files securely and also provide them the ability to upload files back directly to the respective folders. (instead of sharing via CDs, flash drives, ftp etc)

Awards & Nominations

The process to manage and collect the nominations for different award categories is a huge laborious task. The nomination forms are typically hosted in the website. Users download the nomination forms and typically send it via email. This results in overloading the recipient’s email. The award team searches and downloads all the relevant attachments from the email. They then sort it out and send it via email to the award nomination committee members to review all the nomination forms. The award nomination committee team then send back the selected nominations back. All this is again a huge laborious task, consumes a lot of time end effort that doesn’t provide “any” value to the process.

You can address this challenge by managing the entire award nomination process in a cloud based document management & collaboration platform and get the following value:

  • Embed the nomination form in the award site and not sending the form to all via email.
  • Users can preview and download the nomination forms quickly and easily.
  • Create and organize folders by award category and nomination committee team in an online workspace.
  • Upload the completed nomination form directly into the respective folders in the online workspace.
  • Get notified whenever a nomination form is uploaded and see all the activity feed.
  • Share the nomination forms quickly and easily with the committee team via links.
  • No hassles of overloading the email.
  • Access the nomination forms from any device, any location and anytime easily and quickly.
  • Focus on the work rather than spending time in managing the nomination forms.

Mobile Applications

The need for sharing content via mobile applications (especially native apps) is a growing business need. The challenge here is to keep the size of the app to less than 20 MB in order for users to download the app via regular network. For conference based mobile applications, providing access to presentations, resources, case studies and product materials is a huge challenge.

You can address this challenge by managing all the mobile application resources in a cloud based document management  and get the following business value:

  • Create and organize the folders by presentations, resources, case studies and product materials in an online workspace.
  • Manage and find files quickly.
  • Updates to files are automatically synced to all the access points.
  • Embed the files or provide links in the mobile apps. Users can preview the files instantly.
  • Avoid the hassles of downloading the files and not worrying about having the right application on your mobile device to view the files.
  • Share files easily to others via social network tools.
  • Keep the mobile app size less than 20 MB and still provide easy and quick access to all the files.

Board Meetings

Getting all the work done for the next board meeting is a huge task and challenge. There are number of documents that have to be created, managed, shared and reviewed. Once the documents are ready, these needs to be shared to all board members and directors who are geographically dispersed in a quick and easy way. The last thing you want to do is send these documents via email, CDs, flash drives or the worst….print!!!

You can address this challenge by managing all the board related documents in a cloud based document management  and get the following business value:

  • Create and organize the folders by categories, agenda, action items, next steps etc
  • Manage and find board materials quickly and easily.
  • Updates to board materials are automatically synced to all the access points.
  • Provide easy way for board members to view the files. Avoid the hassles of downloading the files and not worrying about having the right application on laptop/device to view the documents.
  • View all the board materials via the native iPhone, iPad, Droid apps.
  • Access board materials from any location, any time and any device securely.
  • Search for information, keyword and tags across all board materials quickly and easily.
  • Get updates and notifications on board related materials.
  • Download materials in a secure offline repository and take notes.
  • Encrypt board materials to maintain privacy of sensitive information.
  • Access and view activity logs of all previews, downloads and updates to maintain integrity and perform audits.

The other business use cases are around legal review of contracts, knowledge base repository, resource library, integrated search capabilities in the websites (web content + documents), accessing documents from CRM and other business applications.

The business benefits and value of having a cloud based document management & collaboration platform is limitless. In business everything revolves around content, documents, files etc. Addressing and improving the management of this will enable and transform many processes and functions and generate true value to the business.

Get ready for the fast approaching adoption of the Boomerang effect!!!

Appreciate your feedback and comments.

Contact Info

LinkedIn  kchakkarapani@yahoo.com

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