Archive for November, 2010

Social Networking needs to go to the next level

November 18, 2010
A tag cloud (a typical Web 2.0 phenomenon in i...
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Web 2.0 has been a buzzword in the internet for a long time now. It has been bandied around for anything and everything. But, the question remains – how social is it? Have everyone adopted it to the extent they gain benefit out of it? Not enough, I would say.

Yes, there are Facebook Connects that most of the sites now use – connecting your FB profile to other sites. This is mostly used to take one’s profile information from FB and populate the same to the websites. But, is that social enough? NO.

How can one see the adoption of these technologies more than what is currently seen? Various ways.

For example, let us take the case of the hotel industry. I will suggest few changes that can be incorporated based on my personal (business) travel experience that I undertook recently.

I had to go to London for a short trip and for starters, I had to book a hotel for my stay – my travel agent took care of the air-tickets. I did a search on the travel sites for hotels that were budget but at the same time had emphasis on quality. I came across chains like Holiday Inn, Premier Inn and others. From these, I had to search for hotels that were close to my work-place (in this case, Canary Wharf). I had Google Maps open on another window where I searched for the postcodes given on the hotel sites. Probably one reason could have been my lack of knowledge about London – it took me a long time to find out suitable hotels that were comfortable for me on various parameters – proximity to office/tube station/eat-outs, quality of accommodation/service, etc.

If only this was helped by the website of the hotel, it could have improved my search and made me a repeat member of the hotel for my future travels also. How can this be done? There can be a page on FB created by the hotel chain, where I list my preferences about the travel – where I am supposed to travel? what food do I like? what are my choices in terms of theater/cinema/stage-shows? Using this information, the hotel can compare using the tags that describe the various attractions. This will give the end-user a personalized experience that he can refer to, when he is staying in the hotel. In fact, this can be accessed by the In-Room TV service that is available in most hotels.

Similarly, all information about nearby eat-outs can be shown on a map that will be very convenient to any traveler. Access to tube-stations or bus-stations from the hotel can be shown in a neat fashion that will help the users. City Attractions are usually shared with pamphlets at the reception. This can be also customized based on the preferences of the traveler on FB and corresponding ones that he/she is interested will be displayed.

Once the traveler has completed his stint, he can go back to the FB page and rank the service, hospitality, amenities provided, etc – this will provide very valuable insights to his preferences and then help the hotel in providing a better service when the same customer returns the next time. Imagine one’s delight if the hotel provides the same room that the traveler had liked during the previous visit.

Only by doing this amount of personalization to the user, one can say that the site has incorporated Social Networking features. Not by just having buttons on their site like “Like”, “Share”, “Tweet”, etc. What I have explained here is just a simple example – one can build on this and create more customizations that provide customer delight. Again, this can be rolled across various websites in different functions, not just travel sites.

What has been your travel experience ? Do you think there are sites that actually imbibe the Social aspects? If so, what are they?

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Do software developers need to know EBIDTA?

November 16, 2010
Historical financial statement
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Definition of EBIDTAEarnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization

Words that one usually sees in financial reports of every organization. These are usually used by sales team when they talk to customers or by Managers and Senior Management while discussing the profitability of their groups. Other than those with financial background, it is very highly unlikely that one talks about EBIDTA in one’s daily lives.

So, the question that comes to my mind is – Do developers need to know about EBIDTA of their organization? Is it required?

The question does not have a simple answer. The first response that comes to my mind is “NO”. Why should they be worried? They should be more worried about the software they are developing for their customer. That should be their primary focus at work – no distractions from the responsibility they were hired for. They are not paid to worry about the EBIDTA and improve it.

But, on thinking further, there is a need for everyone in the organization (either developer or Manager) to be aware of the financial health of their organization. The developers may not do anything to change the numbers but this number will give an idea of how they are faring in the industry and is usually a parameter to compare with their peers.

My suggestion if one asks is – Take Notice but dont lose sleep over these statements unless you are in a position to impact it directly.

What do you think? Is it essential in today’s date and age?

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