Improvising Grant Management Process with Blockchain- U.S Treasury Department leads the way

The U.S Treasury Department recently announced that it would engage in a six- month project utilizing Blockchain in order to streamline the agencies’ financial processes – this is a huge step towards the adoption of the technology and the use case that we have been talking about!

Why is it a big deal?

As widely known, Blockchain is a technology that’s associated with three key advantages – transparency, immutability, and trustworthiness. Blockchain’s ability to track the provenance of transactions, and assets in a decentralized environment makes it a perfect fit for what the department is probably trying to achieve – transparency in payment tracking. The Blockchain for Grant Payments project that has been initiated by the Bureau of the Fiscal Services Office Financial Innovation and Transformation will utilize Blockchain technology to explore its implication on operations and legal aspects to track grant payment-related activities. This project is a continuation of the effort that started back in 2017 focusing on how the grant recipients could use blockchain technology to transfer, and redeem grant payments. The benefits would include “increased transparency, reduced financial and labor burden, and enhanced internal controls.”

With Blockchain technology, there is a higher possibility of making reporting less burdensome, and timely payments for recipients, and for the entities, auditors, and public, it will bring in transparency, and timely approvals of grants and performance information.

So what could have possibly led the agency to explore Blockchain in the first place?

Clearly there are pain points for the two major stakeholders here – Grant Recipients and Grantmaking agencies, Auditors/IGs, and the public. The grant recipients experience burdensome and redundant reporting and payment processing while the latter group experience lack of transparency, and timeliness in grants financial and performance information sharing.

Existing Grants Management Business Operating Model, Image Courtesy: MITRE

Let’s highlight some of the major challenges of the grant management system often faced by federal agencies and grantees

  • Accurate measurement of grantee performance – For the federal government project performance is absolutely more relevant than simply monitoring compliance with regulations. According to a Government Business Council (GBC) that conducted a research study of public sector employees involved in agencies’ grant programs, only 58% of the agencies successfully track the grantees’ achievements. The ability to accurately measure the performances has another advantage. It would help agencies to close out grants at the end of the performance period of the grantee so unused funds can be redirected or returned.
  • Streamlining the process – Existing processes that duplicative, burdensome, and conflicting require additional resources which can be an additional burden on grants recipients.
  • Transparency in the process and system – The Office of Management and Budget, the Department of the Treasury and other federal agencies have to adhere to the requirement of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) requiring information on spending and grants be available. While there has been progress in standardizing and reported data being more available, but there is still inconsistencies and incompleteness in the quality of the data and information as per the Government Accountability Office (GAO). 
  • Information sharing and collaboration – Collaborating through information sharing is a critical factor to ensure an effective grants management process. The GAO found there was inadequate communication with grantees that could affect the implementation and prioritization of programs and initiatives.
  • Lowering costs – Duplication and overlapping among grants awarding can end up increasing costs considerably. Processes and systems that can avoid this could help in saving these costs and increase efficiency in grant programs.

With Blockchain technology, there is a higher possibility of making reporting less burdensome, and timely payments for recipients, and for the entities, auditors, and public, it will bring in transparency, and timely approvals of grants and performance information.

Desired Future Grants Management Business Operating Model
Image Courtesy: MITRE

Thus improvements in grants management are absolutely possible if some key areas are addressed –

PII and sensitive/proprietary information – Control and access to and protection

Effective information usage – through the application of artificial intelligence and analytics.

Responsibilities and accountabilities – clearly defined through changes in regulations, policies, and processes.

Fund flowing and appropriation – Identifying centralized grant management solutions and laws that pose as barriers because of the requirement of funds flowing through state treasury, and appropriated by state legislation before awarding.

U.S Treasury’s engagement with Blockchain technology is a clear sign that the public sector is steering towards an efficient functioning of the processes and systems that has a larger positive effect on the broader federal community. The agency evidently wants to achieve clarity in the grants management process by way of tracking –

– Peer- to – peer asset transfers via a digital representation of assets on the blockchain

– System resiliency and close to real-time transparency in the event of a transfer of assets between parties.

Earlier The Treasury Department finished testing blockchain-based letter of credit as a push to explore the capability of the technology in streamlining operations. In another small PoC project, the department initially forayed into the technology to track mobile devices. The latest PoC will build on all the previous ones where some elements are related and will enable grant recipients to harness blockchain to digitally represent, transfer, and redeem grant payments. The project is expected to be reviewed based on it ability to impact the reporting burden associated with federal grant funding, particularly at the subgrantee level.

It will be an interesting use case to watch out for especially as far as the acceptance of the technology and whether it would be able to add value for the agencies as well as beneficiaries. Based on feedback, the agency will enhance the blockchain-backed grant payment application and post-completion a go / no go decision is expected to be made about the next phase.

PODCAST: The Power of Diversity in building a Creative Team – Are marketing teams doing it right?

The ability to integrate different viewpoints enhances creativity or brings a creative solution to a problem. But why is it more relevant today? The world is way more diverse today, and the need to gauge the various groups’ dynamics is by building a team that has a better understanding of the mindsets. Crafting messages and setting a tone that resonates with these groups are no more an option.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 10.7% roles in PR management is held by blacks, 3.1% by Asians 3.1% by Hispanics or Latinos, while Marketing and sales positions make up of 6.7% Blacks, 5.4% Asians and Hispanics and Latinos make up 9.7%. The good news is the former positions are held by women 73% women and the latter 48%. Get this – the total buying power of the adult U.S LGBTQ group is projected at $917 billion! Are marketing team equipped to understand the mindset of this group? Will simply representing the group in ads be enough to get their “buy-in”? Without making this political – let’s get to the real issues and explore what we may be missing out on by not accepting and addressing the gap.

Listen to the podcast where I had the opportunity to talk about the role of diversity in building marketing and creative teams on WVU Marketing Communications Today (from West Virginia University).

Marketing Communications Today

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Determining the Right Cloud Services for your Enterprise – from Determining Adoption Goal to Uptime!

Globally the public cloud services spending is expected to reach $370 billion in 2022 according to IDC – which is a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.5%. Undoubtedly cloud adoption is the normal scenario in enterprise IT, and its adoption spent is one of the fastest growing among segments in organizations. With the impact of Covid19 – cloud migration literally became a blessing for companies that had to work remotely, and along with that came new scenarios to deal with – security, and accessibility for example. However, here’s something we often forget to consider- adopting a cloud strategy is probably more critical than the actual implementation to achieve the goals. Chances are with no strategy in place, organizations will fall behind their peers in witnessing success and ROIs. With the economy impacted and possible budget cuts, it is all the more important to get the cloud strategies right to leverage on the investments.

Cloud business boomed during the pandemic.  Azure’s cloud business grew by 47% which is good news for them – but it also means for many cloud users the costs went up.

So what do organizations need to understand before picking the right cloud services for their environment that will help achieving the larger business goals?

  • Align your IT Strategy with Business Goals – Identify the areas that is of importance to help the IT strategy support achieving business goals. It’s essential to engage the IT and business team and have open conversations around objectives. Often times creating a merged team consisting of business and IT executives is helpful or have a dedicated person to liaison in order to bridge the gap. Once this alignment is in place, it is easy to identify the parameters that would form the process of the cloud platform selection.
  • Determining the Internet Environment – When it comes to cloud architectures, there are essentially two architypes of network infrastructure. The one that is dependent on the internet for user to hosting region traffic, and Internet-intensive, which primarily relies on the Internet for user-to-hosting-region traffic, and backbone-friendly, which leverages the cloud provider’s private backbone network for user-to-hosting-region traffic. AWS and Alibaba Cloud, for example, are Internet-intensive, while GCP and Azure are more backbone-friendly networks. IBM Cloud is the only provider to alternate between the two, depending on the hosting region. The Internet is a best-effort medium and made up of a constellation of ISP networks that are vulnerable to security threats, DDoS attacks, and outages. Thus it stands to reason that assessing the environment before finalizing the cloud structure is crucial to mitigate the risks.
  • Setting the right expectations – So you want cloud infrastructure. That’s great. But do not consider it’s a product with end to end security taken care of completely – cloud is a process. Continuous monitoring, scanning and fixing even the smallest issue becomes a priority to achieve the larger goals of achieving a robust infrastructure. Thus setting the right expectation for the team and getting the buy in from the leadership team to understand the same is critical to pick the right cloud platform.
  • Hyperscaling your cloud strategy – Has scaling up been considered in your cloud strategy? Consider the Covid19 pandemic that required organizations to suddenly scale up security for example when most employees needed to work from home. Thus a cloud platform that is agile enough to meet sudden demands is critical to consider while figuring out the provider. Additionally ensure you identify the most critical areas that need support and work on proof of concepts so you don’t end up overspending and also have a solid alternative plan on scaling up in case the PoC fails.
  • Consider Multi-Cloud Strategy– You heard it right. Cloud business boomed during the pandemic.  Azure’s cloud business grew by 47% which is good news for them – but it also means for many cloud users the costs went up. When not managed well cloud costs can go up and thus having a multi- cloud strategy is a good idea. For enterprises that adopt public cloud services most prefer to use multiple providers. – 81% of public cloud users work with two or more providers. Some of the biggest advantages of multi- cloud strategy is better disaster recovery, easy migration for some data and applications, avoiding vendor- lock in, cost saving, and lowered risks of DDoS attacks.
  • Determining which data to be migrated to cloud and which shouldn’t – Organizations need to consider that just because it is possible to migrate to cloud doesn’t mean you have to and all of it have to. Once the reason to moving to cloud has been determined clearly, determine which data or application should be on cloud and which should be on – premise to make it more cost- effective. A lot of times the assumption that cloud will make things easier is a mistake – it depends on a lot of factors.
  • Research Uptime – When researching cloud options, find out about the uptime or operational resiliency that a public cloud option can provide. Outages lead to higher costs and losing customer confidence for many organizations, and thus cloud uptime is extremely crucial for any business. Cloud services are important and it can be expensive and will require businesses to hire a standby dedicated personnel to manage downtime – but how much the providers will put in effort to reduce downtime should be an important criteria to search about – because the risks of losing revenue is probably higher than the cost of cloud itself.

The Covid 19 situation has accelerated cloud technologies adoption by IT decision makers globally, and this is expected to continue in future. About 82% respondents in survey indicated ramping up of cloud as an immediate response to the pandemic and the sudden increase of remote working. While the growth of the cloud market due to pandemic has shown the how a crisis could completely transform the operations, it has also got businesses to spend more on cloud and security to support the remote working employees. Businesses will need to do a much more deep dive into its cloud adoption goals and strategies once situation settles down and assess the investments and returns to ensure that cost and quality of performance is not hugely impacted.


Combatting Food Supply Chain Challenges with Blockchain and IoT Integration – A powerhouse amalgamation scaling business processes and systems.

A report by Cointelegraph Consulting and VeChain forecasts that it will be possible to trace $300 billion worth of food items in the supply chain within seven years, and could save $100 billion a year. The food supply chain has been long witnessing continuous pressure to enhance its processes to address the gaps and points of failure and the recent COVID19 pandemic has furthered the need to level up the food safety and availability game.

The U.S food supply chain that so far had been considered resilient. However, the pandemic opened up one major weakness – it’s didn’t respond to the crisis as quickly as needed. But what led to the slow response time? A highly disconnected supply chain – where agriculture, food service, and the supermarket chain is not connected effectively. If data on produce and other food items were easily visible and available to players in the industry – produce from the farms wouldn’t be wasted, and supermarket shelves wouldn’t be empty.

Let’s get to an example to understand the disconnect a little better. About 1/3RD of all the fresh produce is delivered to the foodservice industry in the U.S and EU. It has been a challenge to shift the focus of supply chains in this pandemic. When agriculture suppliers lost business with the foodservice sector shutting down, they had no access to information to pivot the products to the other potential buyer – the supermarket sector – which could have been a huge opportunity by way of re-routing the supply to another buyer. That’s one of the reasons vegetables were not harvested and milk was being dumped while at the supermarket stores, shelves were empty – the suppliers had no available information on other potential buyers who desperately needed the produce. The milk and foods heading to the restaurants could have headed to the stores but instead were wasted.

Now let’s picture the same scenario with the use of Blockchain technology and IoT. An ecosystem built on a platform like Hyperledger Fabric where participants like growers/suppliers, distributors, providers will have known identities. When produce packing is coupled with IoT sensors there is immediate data available for example on location, temperature, weather, and freshness. Now, this data can be accessible to providers who are in the ecosystem, from the foodservice and retail market sector. They would be able to determine who would be able to access the produce fastest let’s say in times of crisis where the product has the least chances of spoilage – let’s say during a crisis like the pandemic.  

Hyperledger Fabric and IoT when integrated also have the power to offer more food safety. How? By way of monitoring food safety data points, to reduce foodborne illnesses through enhanced data collection and automated reporting. Hyperledger Fabric is often recommended as a preferred blockchain platform because of some key advantages –

  • An open-source, vendor-neutral blockchain – which is often the foundation to build a network of participants including parties like suppliers, and even direct competitors.
  • The framework is for permissioned networks.  In the case of blockchain use cases where data protection regulations need to be adhered to, the Hyperledger framework provides access in accordance with data protection regulations.
  • A robust platform where participants have known and verified identities. Thus levels of trust and verification required are less, and it offers optimized performance and network scalability (helping to expand the ecosystem as need be).
  • Super easy implementation because it offers components, such as consensus and membership services, to be plug-and-play.

Legacy data systems when integrated on to a distributed ledger enable end-users like distributors, manufacturers, and retailers who are able to seamlessly integrate data sourced from IoT sensors to track products throughout the supply chain in real-time. The information gathered from different data points through the use of IoT sensors is the Holy Grail for identifying possibilities of waste reduction, keeping effective records, and analyze more data for improved operations. When the data received is entered on a blockchain like Hyperledger Fabric, users will know to trust this data, knowing that the participants are verified, the data is traceable to the one who entered it, and is immutable because every change/edits to a data are captured in the blockchain.



The food supply chain teams across the globe are facing the mammoth task of not just reducing food waste due to recalls. In the current situation of the pandemic, the problem of employee safety in processing plants, visibility of smaller farmers and processing plants, problems related to logistics and transportation disruptions in a pandemic suddenly are in the spotlight. The stakeholders in the food supply chain are many – and blending IoT with Blockchain would probably be a great start to bring in a cultural shift in the way the food supply chain is managed. The concept of co-operation, trust, and transparency is a long term vision and strategy are just the onset towards ensuring the industry is prepared to deal with future crises.

How will Blockchain shape enterprises in 2020?

Will 2020 finally be the year when Blockchain will see a trigger of actual blockchain applications? This has often been discussed during many conversations within our team. Some executives feel while the narratives of use cases actually achieving an ROI will still take some time, and some feel that there would be a lot of interesting facts that will finally be revealed in 2020 about the technology.

So how will blockchain shape enterprises in 2020?

In 2020 the industry will witness a more realistic approach towards blockchain and its implementation. So does that mean it wasn’t approached realistically in the past? No – it just means that teams that were engaged in blockchain projects will take a more informed and strategic approach based on their learnings so far.

Blockchain as a Service

Blockchain will emerge as a service like that of a “plug and play” that will be accepted largely for its ability to solve a bunch of business problems like supply chain tracking, securing transaction storage, personal data managing, and others. Companies like IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, Amazon, Alibaba, and many others have introduced their blockchain platform. IBM’s blockchain platform allows businesses to “develop, govern, and operate” a blockchain ecosystem through a flexible cloud platform quickly and saves cost. Walmart is already taking advantage of IBM’s platform for traceability and tracking in the food supply chain. Paramount Software Solutions launched Farm to Plate – a blockchain-based platform, for provenance and tracking for the food supply chain, and the platform can be customized for other industries that engage in provenance and tracking of products relevant to the industry.

The shift to hybrid & federated blockchains

There will be a shift from the more familiar permissioned private & permissionless public types. The permissionless, transparent P2P public blockchain often doesn’t work well for companies. Private Blockchains being cheap and fast, offer organizations the operational efficiency. The year 2020 will witness the emergence of hybrid blockchains, which will try to use the best of both public and private. It will allow participants to leverage decentralization seamlessly, and also protect sensitive data and improve performance.

Interoperability solutions like interchain, bridges will support public and private blockchain to work together, and as blockchain matures, the hybrid is set to become more and more mainstay. Facebook is set to launch Libra which will require a public network for consumers who will make purchases using digital wallets and a private blockchain network for the banks that will back the digital currency.

A more realistic approach

In 2020 the industry will witness a more realistic approach towards blockchain and its implementation. So does that mean it wasn’t approached realistically in the past? No – it just means that teams that were engaged in blockchain projects will take a more informed and strategic approach based on their learnings so far. There will be a rise of demand in delivering a particular solution to specific problems that could help existing projects get closer to production. The blockchain applications will shift from R&D or PoCs to a more focused end to end process with blockchain application.

Blockchain teams will emphasize on how the frameworks will perform, and integrate with existing systems, which in turn will see more successful implementations, and finally improving the functioning between blockchain and business management solutions.

Large Corporations & Government agencies will finally welcome Blockchain

In 2020, around 56% of large enterprises are expected to adopt blockchain-enabled technology based on a survey conducted across 780 business technology buyers in North America and Europe. Experts are predicting a surge of adoption of Blockchain in areas like data security, supply chain and electronic health records, relevant for both large corporations and governments. Healthcare companies would be investing heavily in blockchain options in the drug supply chain, clinical trial data, and electronic health records where the chain of custody or events will be the focus area for use of the technology. In the supply chain, large enterprises will see the PoCs expanding into full-fledged implementations in the area of provenance and tracking that will lead them to vouch for Blockchain.

Fitech firms, software makers, telecom providers, and other businesses will join forces to develop blockchain-based networks to prevent exposure of private data. Increasingly Know Your Customers (KYC) applications in Blockchain will be immensely adopted by large corporations in banking and finance for smoother and secured onboarding.

World Economic Forum forecasts a collaborative approach from the public sector, as 2020 progresses by witnessing an increased willingness from the public sector agencies to share learnings and challenges.

Blockchain will amalgamate IoT & AI more than ever

Network hacking and security breaches will surge in the 2020s, with more and more devices and IoT devices becoming mainstream. It would be on the network operators to stop intrusions and protect the privacy and security of users. Large enterprises dealing with network security will see the use case of Blockchain being able to mitigate the risks of the centralized architecture of IoT. Public blockchains will help participants in the network of nodes see the blocks and transactions stored that can be approved while still having the option of having private keys to control transactions. With Blockchain’s decentralized feature, the single point of failure weakness of the IoT network can be managed.

According to IDC, in 2020, almost 51% of businesses will be making the transition to Artificial Intelligence with blockchain integration. Why? Because with AI integrated, a blockchain application will result in tremendous improvement. Blockchain can help enterprises track, understand and explain decisions that are recommended through AI. Blockchain records all the data, and variables that go through a decision-making process – which then helps AI to make a decision. Thus for enterprises, the integration of AI and IoT in Blockchain application will leverage the business processes and systems objective of scaling up considerably.

Until 2019 Blockchain was more about identifying the right use cases, development of PoCs and toying with the idea of implementing the technology more with a “let’s see” approach. There was a lack of education, and understanding, and many myths associated with Blockchain made it harder to penetrate the mainstream adaptability. For enterprises that want to scale up and focus on transparency, immutability, traceability, and security of its document, events, and data management, 2020 would be the year of enormous importance because actual applications will see results

Could Emerging Technologies Be a Solution to Combat the Massive Food Recall Problems?

Sadly food recalls have become a norm and increasingly consumers are getting immune to the recall announcements! Fact check – in 2018 alone, there were 125 food-related recalls that included more than 20 million pounds of food being recalled according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Recalls have a huge impact and are undoubtedly a huge threat to the food industry overall. Most recalls are often because of the complex food supply chain that goes through oversight from the regulatory bodies. Not only it impacts public health, but the cost due to the losses incurred for the company is enormous.

Companies could lose between $30 to $100 million in food recalls – which includes direct costs like

  • Notifications to Stakeholders – Regulatory bodies, supply chain, consumers.
  • Retrieval of the Recalled Product/s – bringing it all back from across the country.
  • Storage & Destruction
  • Wastage of unsold products
  • Labor to get all of the above, taken care of.

The indirect cost which actually is the most significant cost to the company includes –

Could Emerging Technologies Be a Solution to Combat the Massive Food Recall Problems?

Thus comes the obvious question – how can food recalls be prevented or at least controlled effectively, through the use of technology as a proactive measure. The value of prevention and control have a lasting positive impact on consumers, and brand perception. So while the number of recalls means the ability to detect foodborne contamination has improved, but it also means that there haven’t been enough ways to control or lower the contamination probabilities.
Is there a possibility of all the emerging technologies when combined well could be a solution to the problem at the source? The answer is yes!

Big Data & IoT
One of the toughest challenges for providers in the supply chain and regulatory bodies cannot track the point of contamination – basically the source where the contamination took place. RFID tags and barcodes have been good to identify products overall and their locations, but details on the environment, temperature, exposure of the produce/product have been hard to capture. And this is where IoT and Big Data could be potential problem solvers. With high- tech sensors that are connected with surrounding environments to record every activity related to the product can be tracked – irrespective of the geographies. The sophisticated sensors are able to provide data about the products and its surroundings like temperature, and environmental conditions that impact quality and safety. Being able to track all these factors could provide useful insight into being able to identify the probable points of contamination. Big Data then comes into the picture where all the data when captured could help in assessing records, patterns, and thus predict. Imagine being able to collect all the data and be able to find the maximum number of recorded points of pest infestations! The storage providers would be able to fix the infestation problem, thus solving the issue at the root or even collecting enough evidence through data about a certain type of bacteria that only impacts certain produce. The possibilities of finding breakthroughs to produce related problems through IoT and Big Data is immense, and organizations could derive tangible ROI!

Automation of Quality Review Process
In the supply chain, many processes, labor, and other touchpoints are involved. It can be a lengthy and difficult job to keep track of the food as well as monitoring the quality. With automation, through appropriate systems, many defects and issues can be identified while the product involved with food production is still in the supply chain. Automation and analytics through real-time and continuous data availability will enable quality control teams to access information faster and earlier before shipment. The processes within the quality review that are routine and repetitive can be effectively automated, saving a significant amount of time, effort, and throw light on the blind spots that can be associated with manual work.

Use of Immutable Digitized Record Keeping
Once all the tracking, monitoring, and data collection have been done – what can be done to gather all the data that has been entered by different members in the supply chain? Enter the digitization of record keeping that is transparent, immutable and easily accessible – Blockchain. When Blockchain is used along with IoT, analytics, data, quality review reports, a commendable wealth of data can be gathered to be used in the field – for improvisation, as well as reducing the number of recalls, thus saving a lot of wastage! Whether it is farmers or consumers, everyone who is a participant in the supply chain and thereafter would have access to the information, and thus food safety can be improvised considerably.

It is a long way however for Food Industry to take the gigantic leap; particularly because of the limited availability of success stories, concerns, and myths surrounding various emerging technologies. 

Embracing Emerging Media

The last 8 weeks have been extremely overwhelming but undoubtedly an extremely learning experience and opened my world to Emerging Media which was limited to only social media till I explored more about IoT, Voice- Search Assistants, Wearable Technology to name a few. Today we have access to not just information but digital marketing tools that are convenient to use and can also support marketing to develop and implement creative plans based on the findings.


Image Source: Smart Insights

The research, discussions, writing assignments and the lessons led me to explore in detail some of the key aspects of Emerging Media which as a marketer I plan to consider and implement whenever possible while developing a marketing strategy. While all the different aspects are key in context to a successful 360-degree communication plan, but there are few areas which I may have overlooked before but intend to consciously consider in future. These are as follows :

Data Security & Data Privacy – Include more communication to the target audience on how as an organization, we intend to protect customer data and value them. At the same time, communicate clearly with transparent and easy to understand disclosure on how the customer will have opt-in and opt-out choices in receiving

Internet of Things– Explore different opportunities to take branding through the IoT route. Explore opportunities with Smart Cities, Smart Parks, Smart Shopping Malls, Smart Events, including business networking or conventions where B2B branding can be initiated through smart kiosks that help locate booths, events, or schedules etc.

Live Streaming – Live video streaming of webinars, events, product launches, user/ customer experiences, communication during crisis situations would play a key role in any communications strategy.

Voice- Search Enhanced Content – Content creation that is voice- search optimized along with local search enhanced through long tailed keywords. While in Business to Business communication, voice- search is yet to the momentum, however, the focus on content creation should be after a deep understanding of consumer pain points that they often come across, which in all likelihood is what the consumer is going to ask a voice- search assistant about.

Emerging Media Analytics – While a gamut of emerging media routes and channels can be incorporated into branding initiatives, but it is also important that how these routes are going to be measured for impact analysis forms a crucial part of the entire strategy. Clear impact analysis and measurement through several analytics tools have to be defined in the plan.

A huge thank you to my classmates and Professor Marisa for sharing their views, examples, and insights, which helped me embrace emerging media that today forms an integral part of any IMC strategy.

Globalization of Emerging Media

For global brands getting into an emerging economy or a new geography is always a deliberation of whether to invest in the amalgamation of the local environment or stay with its global positioning.

With emerging media bringing the world closer, and cultural melting pot seeing existence in the virtual world, marketers’ job of  global brands’ messaging has got a little bit easier especially among the internet- savvy, educated urban societies of the world irrespective of the country. A majority of the brands which may not have been launched in  particular geography may already be building a brand recognition, thanks to the global audience being exposed to trending topics in social media. Globally consumers are more connected than ever, and mobile devices are increasingly becoming a way of life for the upper middle class in developing economies. A 2016 Nielson report came up with some interesting facts on the trends of mobile usage in different geographies where Asia- Pacific seems to be the leading user mobile devices for purchases. In a study by Experian in 2013 in China, it was found that “The most common tactics in use are SMS campaigns (with 71% of marketers using this tactic), m-commerce (64%) and mobile-optimised websites (60%).” 

Source : Nielson

The reach of social media and mobile marketing is no more limited to developed economies but rather touching the lives of people in remotest of places. In rural and tier- 3 towns in India, smaller brands who sell basic smartphones predict that this group will make up 60% of the mobile phone market thus increased the potential of penetration of emerging media in the rural environment.

So while before the age of social media ALS Ice Bucket challenge would have been limited to the western world, but it was due to social media it reached Philipines, Taiwan, Srilanka, India and many other geographies that one may not have quite expected.


Siri, tell me about “Voice-Controlled Search Engines and SEO”

It was fun playing around with Siri. As an experiment, Siri_Screenshot.pngI tweaked my question on finding activities around Atlanta that are good for kids and here are the findings.

Note how the search results are different for the same question asked but the way it has been structured is slightly different. The moment I did a voice search with “around Atlanta” the search result was more generic and the first four results didn’t even have Atlanta in its result. This is probably because of the way the voice – search results content has been developed, which is probably more optimized for “in Atlanta” than “around Atlanta”. Atlanta has metro- Atlanta area and suburbs and thus it is not uncommon for residents to search for things and events around Atlanta. The take away from this experiment was that brands need to adopt and implement very strategically planned Voice- Search optimized content that would rank high in voice- search results – relevant to the searches conducted by a consumer.

Voice Search Engine Marketing is as critical today as the traditional SEM. Many companies launched their voice-search  assistants almost simultaneously, and the adoption rate of these assistants were pretty fast. A 2015 study by MindMeld found that Siri had the highest number of users as the primary voice assistant followed by OK Google.However, I still remember when Siri landed up with search results which had no relevance to the original search made. There was an urgent need of accuracy fix in voice search results. According to an article in C-Net (2014), Google Now had an accuracy of 86% for all questions answered that it heard correctly, while Siri scored an 84%  – which was a big improvement since most of these assistants had an accuracy that was hovering around 70% around 2010. And today Siri enjoys an accuracy of 95% (the highest among its competitors), while Google Now an impactful improvement in search result accuracy that stood at 92%.

Source : Search Engine Land.

Voice- Search engine has come a long way in a very short period of time and for marketers -there is no choice other than adopting it at the earliest.If a marketer hopes to draw traffic based on information that’s within the public domain there is  a need for a very focused and sustained strategy. In a study conducted by Stone Temple Consulting, it was found that of the 850,000 search queries Google supplied direct answers to 42,160 of them using “public domain information,”. With the increased “direct answers” expectation in the search result, a marketer has the daunting task of continuous optimization of their content for voice- search to receive the desired effects.

How Social Media could kill Consumer Relationship.

Yes. There is no denying that social media is building a level of consumer relationship that would have been unimaginable. Relationships are real time, personable, and in most cases extremely engaging.

Source: Adweek

Social media is transforming CRM, with increasing expectation from brands to be more involved and responsive. One in four Facebook and Twitter users feel brands should respond to their complaints in social media in an hour! With this level of engagement, it is not impossible for social media to actually kill a brand’s relationship with its consumer. Here’s how –

Lack of synchronized social media presence : Consider this. You have one brand under one parent company but have multiple social accounts in multiple social networks. There are high chances you will miss conversations. Thus it is important to synchronize teams with social media presence, with proper assignment of teams to handle the different categories of customer relationship and customer service.

Enhanced Social Media Management Process : There will be different levels of consumer involvement or complaints. An organization should have a structure and process that does not delay the responses. Teams that are assigned to manage different categories should also have a seamless response management approval process.

Integrating CRM system with Social Media : Imagine if a customer who has a complaint on social media, and the social media team doesn’t have a system to track if this customer is one-time or a regular customer? 66% of social media users expect same day response to their inquiries, thus integrating social media platform with CRM system is almost unavoidable if you want to be able to be able to link consumer social profile with consumer information, to continue to build that relationship with the loyal customer who is also on social media and is engaging with you.

Lack of Real-time engagement during a crisis : This one can be the ultimate suicide for any brand when it comes to customer relationship management. The Home Depot’s “closed-door crisis management” during its security breach did not help the brand. There was no engagement on social media in real – time which could have been a huge opportunity for The Home Depot to address its customers directly.

A Hootsuite report states that only 36% of consumer who sent an inquiry through social media reported having their issue resolved quickly. Deloitte maps the customer journey very interestingly where (for most consumer product category) the following are the key milestones in their journey, and where social media engagement could thus play a huge role in the final decision.

  • Finding Inspiration
  • Browsing and Research
  • Selection and Validation


Thus there is no way a brand could afford to miss any possible gaps that have the potential to kill the brand just because of  lack of a proper social media management strategy.