Saturday, June 02, 2012

Rant is Good : Someone is listening

A satisfied customer tells 10 people. An angry customer tells 1000. 

This is a fact. Accept it and move on. As humans, we are wired to vent out and express our disgust with as many people as possible. Partly because we want to be heard, comforted and use the outburst as a mechanism to release our frustration.  

In an age, where twitter breaks the news faster than the always-on-hunt TV / Web news channels, it has become rather customary to have your rants as a part of the Social Network feed. More so, the way the Social structure is built , we get more Comments when we rant than when we appraise. I recommend people to do this social experiment : Rant on something and check for comments / Likes ; Appraise something and do the same check. For the most of the times, what you will find is the number of Likes will be far more than Comments for something good. This is reverse when we rant. We ought to attract more comments and ofcourse less of Likes.

But ranting is good. Its good for digital age. Its good for the twitter age. Its good for the social age. And its good for you, and your product / service provider. All around the web, you will find tons of examples on how companies are employing big data, tools like LivePerson, automated chat bots etc. to mine the sentiments of their customer and detect anamolies. It is as if your provider wants  to hear, and wait for the next rant on the social feed. GigaOm carries an interesting piece on this recently.

So Rant is Good. Go express yourself. Its how you can make the provider listen to you. And guess what, they want to hear you more than ever - for good and more for bad !

Don't just Present, Enchant !

My presentation at BarCamp Bangalore 2012 on "Don't just Present, Enchant !" - A guide to be a Presentation Rockstar.
View more PowerPoint from Vivek Juneja

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What 27 hours taught me, that 365 days couldn't : Part 2

Behind the Brainstorm :-

I was able to describe the process of arriving at CafeBabe's idea at the Global Service Jam 2012 in the form of notes. The notes describe the steps taken to arrive at the final implementation of the idea.

Page 1 - Origin of Idea 

Page 2 - The Conclusion

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What 27 hours taught me, that 365 days couldn't

Shot 1:- More Curious than....
I was excited since the day I registered for Global Service Jam 2012 in Bangalore. But I think, I was more curious than excited. Curious to know about Service Design Thinking.

Shot 2:- Hyprocritically true
I have always been thinking about how India being a service oriented economy (a large amount of money being pumped in through services industry via the likes of big european and american consumers) is still so nascent in its understanding of service excellence. Its more hypocritical in a sense.
We do not value services. We want products that instantly gratifies our hunger for owning something. But it hurts when you have to shell out 12k for Apple CarePack :)

Shot 3:- Hand in Hand
Service Design Thinking was the panacea I was looking for. Its only when we care for service delivery and excellence, that we can provide the same to our customer.
Its evident, isn't it ?
Products without Services is one-dimensional. Products need to evolve. Service drives that evolution.

Shot 4:- What the mind says
A Global event in Bangalore targeted around Designing services with like-minded people in a close setting - a perfect cafenine shot for the weekend. Atleast that's what my mind said to me.

Shot 5:- Still curious... 
I was out of station, and travelling. So with whatever limited opportunities I had to discover the basics on the topic, I did. I looked over the topic of the 2011 event - Super Heroes. And the videos posted by the GSJ organizers really condensed the essence of the event and opportunities it could hold for me.
Yet I was curious and intrigued.

Shot 6:- Journey into the Unknown
Day of the Event - Friday evening. Being able to finish my work early is a good thing. Atleast it was good for me, travelling from a totally different part of the city to the venue.

Shoty 7:- One among the Unknowns
I walked in to the floor of the ThoughtWorks office, and first thing that made me smile - Pictures of participants and their profiles hung on a wall. Service excellence starts very early in the customer journey - even before the actual service starts. Eating your own dog food - well done GSJ Bangalore.
I tried searching for my picture, only to find Dushyant - my old friend since college. I was surprised, happy and felt more at home.

Shot 8:-  Somebody came in...
Me and Dushyant added ourselves to the team 8 of the event. Dushyant was worried that even after 10 minutes of putting our names on the team, nobody else onboarded. And suddenly, the first name dropped in. A lady by the name Archana.
Archana was the linchpin - as I told Dushyant. Other members started coming in as soon we turned 3. In the words of Malcolm Gladwell - The tipping point was reached. It turned out to be a team of 7 people to start with.

Shot 9:- Not much to care about
A fellow jammer asked me the programming language I used recently. I replied without a blink - Java. And this thought stayed in my head for some unknown reasons.
We realized we need to have a team name. And out came in my mind - CafeBabe. Inspired from the Java language. More on this at
CafeBabe got a good response from the female members of our team.  We made a point to keep it. Not that everybody was happy with the name, but people hardly cared if it would matter. Atleast for a while.

Shot 10:- Amused
Neeraj was amused. CafeBabe was not the usual names of team he had encountered before.

Shot 11:- The fight within
A team as diverse as our country. Engineers, Entrepreneurs, Designers, Managers, Students. A perfect mix. That's what GSJ was all about. It didn't take a while before we started bonding with each other. The topic that we started bonding upon was the obvious fight of the left brain with the right. We started pouring upon the difficulties of communicating ideas in a left-brain centric industry. I had my own such tricky times.

Shot 12:- The mystery makers ...
"Hidden Treasures" was announced. Yes, that was the topic of this year's Global Service Jam 2012 - Conceive and prototype a service on the idea of Hidden Treasures. And with us, were the 100's of others around the world. The team CafeBabe looked for an empty space to huddle around. We needed ways to find our own adjectives around Hidden Treasures. When you are in the vicinity of the smartest among us, it doesn't take too much time to induce the same in you. Ideas started pouring in. The adult supervision of the team came in the form of two awesome designers - Rana and Archana. Two right brain thinkers but with amazing diversity of thinking and personalities. Dushyant was the devil's advocate - always ready to bring perspectives and helped us each to stop loving our own ideas but the problem in focus. It's interesting how we humans tend to bring out so much in defense of our own ideas. Ideas that were not real a moment back. Awesome isn't it ?

The next part is available at

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Door and the Message

I reached Jaipur today. I am here for a family get together and my eye looking for design implications in the real life did not disappoint me.

The first thing to notice, was the entry door to the Rest room at the Departure section of the airport. This is a new airport, developed not long ago. The entry door had a handle, indicating a Pull behavior required from the user (here - passenger). The handle on a door also indicates the door being heavy and requires considerable force. Therefore the user needs to push the door at a certain area helped by the handle. 

Using these ideas in my mind, I first applied the pull principle, and it didn't open. I thought that the door is closed for repair or other personnel usage. I even enquired with the security of the airport for the same. 
Then I came back to try the push model. Suddenly a large man barged in from behind and opened the door by pushing the handle. Push worked.

But this made my mind wonder - Why the need to have a handle for a door which requires a push model. The door for this rest-room was not heavy at all. If there would have been no handle on the door, my mind would certainly agree for me to use the push mechanism. Having a handle created a confusion. A confusion that arises because of the inherent memory of the Push or Pull mechanism and the physical object that ascertains that behavior. Do we need that handle ?
Interesting, isn't it ?

The second event. I saw a sign board inside the wash-room that said - "Paying Bribe is Wrong" or something near to that. This again sparked a thought in my head. Why do we need people to be aware of message like this in the wash-room of all the places. And it brought me an interesting inference. At the time, when a user is in the wash-room, he / she feels relived and relaxed. At that state of mind, the user is gullible to accept any ideas. With mirrors inside a wash-room, the message is reinforced more prominently. The user sees himself  in the mirror, and becomes a judge instead of being judged. The message of "Not paying bribe" strikes more sharply than it being at any other place.

Two different events, and two different outcomes - speaks at length about human behavior and the way things around us influence action from human. 

Signing off for now, till I find something interesting to share. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Summary of "Don't Just Present, Enchant"

Here is it. The summary of entire talk at BarCamp 11 held at Bangalore 2012.

Somebody asked me to share the presentation, and I replied - "You won't find it enjoyable unless its me who is delivering it".  So I compiled the slides into points that talk about the content covered in the presentation. Hope all of you will enjoy it. Go out and Enchant ! (BTW, Love the book - Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki)

Don't just present. Enchant! 
11th Feb 2012, BarCamp Bangalore

Summary of the session :-

0. The Real Problem of the world is NOT Global Warming, its Global Yawning. Millions of minutes are wasted each year in presentations that do not create any impact, thereby leading to Global Yawning problem. A solution to Global Yawning can solve all problems of the world.

1. Bad presentations are awful. They waste time, energy and create moments of despair. They kill people.. literally.
  a. Why do people suck at Presentations ? Some say
    - They don't have time to prepare
    - They do no have any idea about the topic to present
    - They need to cram as much of information in one slide
    - They feel they are color blind i.e. they do not know about     design and color.

2. Three BIG ideas to change your presentation - AWARE, STORY, PLAN: "Aware of the story and plan of your presentation."

3. The AWARE aspect of the becoming a presentation rockstar includes having a fair knowledge of the:

a) Audience
b) Content
c) Message
d) Body Language
e) Style
f) Story

4. Know Your Audience: Each presentation is different. Every audience is different. Knowledge of the type of audience is the most important key to creating great enchantments.

5. The power that any speaker has over any audience - The speaker should be in control of the NEXT. In other words, the speaker knows what comes next. (Inspired from the book Confessions of a Public Speaker - by Scott Berkun)

6. Audience wants to be entertained. They want to learn, and they want the speaker to do well.

7. The Density Theory - To increase the impact of the presentation, it is essential to increase the density of the seating arrangement of the audience. This creates a better setup to enhance the energy of the talk. For example, its essential to bring the audience closer to the speaker in a room where people are seated evenly and far apart.
Note: The speaker needs to always have the front row occupied - that's the moral booster.
In a room where people are seated far apart and are less in number, it makes sense to bring them together in a semi-circular arrangement.

8. There is absolutely no escape to having thorough knowledge of the content of a talk. Knowing the topic is in itself a confidence booster. In-depth knowledge allows the speaker to take risks and use creative ways to impart the idea.

9. What is the core of the message?
The core of the message is the very nucleus of the presenter. When weighed against the presenter's content, this weighs slightly more than the content in importance. Finding the core of the message is a difficult task. People may forget the content, but they will always remember the core message.

10. Key ways to find the core of the message :

a) Learn to let go - The core of the message is a singular concept. The way to reach to it requires filtering down the content. Content is noise as opposed to message which is peace- its tranquillity.

b) Focus on the important parts of the content: Interrogate yourself with this question- What is one thing and the only one thing you want the audience to remember if they don't get anything else?

c) Use the 'so what?' principle: Instead of asking what - focus on so what. The so what principle allows you to zero in on the point that the audience really would care about.

11. Read the book Made to stick - The book provides 6 simple ideas to find the core message. The core of the message should be simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and cushioned with a story.

12. Body language complements the 'AWARE' aspect-
a) Hands are an important vehicle to transport messages. Use them to your advantage.
b) Do not be a robot. People want to see the human side of the speaker - they make mistakes, they laugh, they have emotions.
c) Do not show your back to your audience. Face them!
d) Always use verbal emphasis.
e) Just Relax: Presentation is not the end of the world. Be your natural self - not a copy-cat. Do not be someone else. The world needs you to be the real you.

13. Find your style: Every speaker has a style. Develop your own style through practice.

14. Always think about the good and bad presentations that you may have attended. Learn from them. Keep a Journal that you can use to collect these ideas.

15. Story: Stories need to be emotional. They better be true (not always  :)). Stories come out of experience. Stories impact remembrance. It enforces ideas into our memory.

16. How can you tell a story: The key to a successful story telling is to:
a. Find the Hero - element of the idea that needs to be sold
b. Find the obstacles for the Hero
c. What is at stake for the Hero ? Why is getting rid of obstacle so important ?
d. Create the big climax for thero

17. Don't enforce story telling techniques: The story must match the mood, message and the type of audience.

18. How can you be good at story telling: Here are some tips:
a. Think of how your grandma or anybody else who used to tell you stories did it
b. Listen to people
c. Read as much as possible
d. Travel to new places
e. Interact with local culture

19. Plan: Planning for a presentation includes:
a) Being analog
b) Planning the layout
c) How to involve/engage the audience
d) Use visual medium to impart ideas
e) Using the right tools
f) Designing your presentation

20. Always start analog: Avoid the need to use PowerPoint, OpenOffice or any machine in the first place. Use pen, paper, pencil, whiteboard, paper notebook. Collect ideas first.
Remember: Ideas come when we are analog. So, first be analog and then go digital.

21. How can you be analog?
a. Find some time alone : Take some time out of your schedule to reflect on the content and message that you want people to remember.
b. Scribble: Use analog tools first. Figure out the entire story and then start off with the computer. Remember: PowerPoint is not the presentation.

22. We are all fascinated by bullet points. Did you know? There are ways to avoid them. Bullet points if used incorrectly can make your presentation look like a document.

23. What are the alternatives to bullet points? Typography can be your answer: Use a mix of varied sizes of text and a proper lay out. Use icons, shapes and images. Look at good presentations on

24. How do you engage the audience? Involve the audience by asking questions, views and feedback.

25. Use visuals instead of text as much as possible. Visual imagery has a larger impact than text. They evoke emotions and guarantee a better learning experience.

26. You can use varied tools to accomplish a presentation:
a. For images: iStockPhoto, Flickr and etc.
b. Newer ways to create presentation: slideRocket and Prezi
c. Alternative to ppts: movies and animations
d. Look at Impress.JS - fascinating tools for developing presentations for geeks.

27. Design is universal: Everybody is a designer.

28. Things that you can best avoid (as much as possible, if not completely):
a) The tendency to fill every space on the screen
b) Usage of text animations: Try not to make the text fly, jump etc.
c) Usage of footers in your presentation: You do not need footers. Page numbers are a visual clutter. Avoid anything that is not required in the presentation. Read, re-read and edit your presentation.
d) Usage of brand Logos on each and every slide is a passe. Nobody uses it. Its a clutter and does not add any value to the presentation. Instead, it adds to the visual noise.

29. Everybody is a designer. Learn about design, i.e, fonts, colors and human psychology.

30. Lastly, CARE about the audience. Care about their time, patience, limited levels of concentration we all have. Care for them.

31. And again, PRACTISE. There is no shortcut to success. You got to practise like crazy. It really makes things for the presenter near to perfection (in not completely perfect)

30. Get more information at:

31. Learn more from the following books :

a) Slide:ology
b) Presentation Zen
c) Made to Stick
d) Confessions of a public speaker
e) Zen of creativity
f) Resonance

32. Conclusion:-
Presentation is not about powerpoint. Its about you!
   Sometimes the best presentation is NO Presentation

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Geeks Day Out

It was a foggy Saturday morning on 11th Feb and geeks from all around Bangalore headed to SAP Labs for the 11th edition of BarCamp. With around 600+ people registered for the event, it was a day destined to be exciting and eventful. For me, it was the first time I was attending the event. Being in Bangalore for so many years, it was weird why I missed it all the time.

There were talks on almost every topic that concerns the geek in each one of us - Electronic Product design, User Interfaces, Programming languages, Cloud, Mobile, Web, and everything that matters. There were even sessions on Cooking, Interactive Fiction and guess what.. Hypnosis. Wow!

I was blown away with the variety of information flowing around in all directions. The venue of SAP Labs was an awesome stage to host the geek congregation.

The event also marked my first stint as a speaker at BarCamp. I was talking on the topic close to my heart - How to enchant the audience with your presentation. Being in software business for sometime, I was surprised how bad presentations really are. Each day people all around the world, people spent time listening to presenters that bore them to death with their slides and speaking skills.

It intrigued me for a long time till I took a shot at it. I have been a passionate speaker since my college days. Me and my gang going around the colleges in Bangalore evangelizing technology. It was a tough task but something that taught me a lot on how to enchant the audience.

Lately, I have been talking to groups helping them become good speakers and create enchanted presentations. And BarCamp was a perfect opportunity for sharing this to a wider audience. The session was titled : Don't just Present, Enchant

The crowd was brilliant. I was surprised to see so many people turn up for the session even when there were so many good sessions running in parallel. The session turned out to be a good venture for me. Loved every bit of interaction from the audience. I want to have a separate post just on the topic summarizing the presentation.

 I was happy to see so many enchanted faces and loved the feedback I received about the session. Some of them are mentioned below :-

Please Note: I have hidden the twitter handles to protect privacy of the audience. 

Thanks again to all who turned up for the session. It was a great learning experience for me. And Thank you BarCamp Bangalore.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Audience is the King : DroidCon India 2011

I wanted to share the success of my stint at speaking at the popular DroidCon conference in Bangalore last year. It was a fantastic conference with high rated speakers and amazing content. More than anything, there was immense energy among enthusiastic Android geeks to network and partner for their projects.

My session was on User Experience and patterns adopted by popular apps on Android market. The talk was titled : Humanize the Android. I was glad to hear positive feedback from the crowd, and how it helped them think about building experiences for a Mobile device.

Below is the feedback I received via twitter for my talk :-

Please note, I have removed the twitter handles to protect the privacy of the audience.

Thanks again to all of them and others who provided me with wonderful feedback. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Don't just Present, Enchant !

Don't just present, Enchant! This is the title of my next outing as a presenter. I had recently undertaken a workshop at my organization on the same topic which got great reviews. The intention of the workshop was to give the audience a toolkit to create and deliver extraordinary presentations. The focus was not limited to creating powerpoint presentation, but covered the intricacies of delivering a great talk. This included Style, Body language, Clarity, Stories, Visual Emphasis etc. 

I soon realized the importance of this workshop extends beyond an organization. Every day we spent millions of hours around the world giving presentations. Each presentation has the ability to change the world we live in. If we can focus on few important areas of this art, I believe we can create wonders in our career. And like all aspects of art, nothing is impossible or magic. It can be learned, practised and, over the period of time , excelled in. 

 I am planning to speak at the upcoming BarCamp-XI Bangalore edition to be held at SAP Labs, Whitefield on 11th Feb 2012. The topic will be the same. However this time, it will be more interactive. I would attempt to involve the audience to understand this important need of modern workplace and look at simple ways to create enchantment for your audience.

If you are interested in this talk, or want to chat, join me at BarCamp XI - Bangalore on 11th Feb. Register and vote for my talk @

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

PaaS is here and its Real

I was encouraged to write this post by the influx of articles relating to predictions about Cloud computing in 2012. A common theme surrounding most of them is the rise of PaaS (Platform as a Service). While 2010 and 2011 was spent in understanding the real impact of IaaS and the value it brings, 2012 is destined to be the year when PaaS comes out of the closet with mass acceptance. Following are my ideas on what PaaS would be like in 2012 :-

1. Domain specific PaaS 
A domain specific PaaS would allow organizations of all types to build software infrastructure over existing domain platforms. Lets talk about Telecom domain. There are various IT implementations that need to be built, maintained and supported on a daily basis for a telecom provider. These include provisioning, charging, customer on boarding, analytics, customer service and support, value added services etc. All such application environments need to have a common infrastructure of reusable components ready to be deployed and orchestrated to create solutions.  A Telecom PaaS would provide telcos an unprecedented access to scale, grow and utilize the best practices of the industry without reinventing the wheel. This would create level playing opportunities for telecom providers of all sizes. Imagine how it would affect other verticals - Manufacturing, Egovernance, Logistics, Retail etc. 

2. PaaS enabler buzzword
IaaS platforms would attempt morphing into PaaS enablers. This would allow organizations to create PaaS platforms for the specific business needs at will. Currently the approach the organizations take in this regard : Use existing / Implement an IaaS layer, create application provisioning infrastructure, support deployment of apps on demand etc. However there are challenges that stand before a perfect implementation of PaaS environments using the traditional means. No longer organizations need a bespoke implementation of application provisioning and deployment automation. IaaS players would allow customers to start building these platforms. A lot of traction is already visible in this space. More on this in the next point.

3. Platform-enable anything
The rise of API enabling eco-system to drive the functionalities over a service has been the biggest driver of innovation. Social networks are the living breeding example of such a revolution. PaaS enablers and newer platform services would create opportunities for organizations to platform enable their services at a fast pace. This would allow a faster time to market and easier setup process. Currently this process requires a strategic cap-ex based approach for its implementation. Its not for the weak hearted. A sustainable process to create platforms for service eco-system is the need of the hour. Take example of an Ecommerce enterprise :- With PaaS enablers, the enterprise would be able to create platform for hosting applications built by third-party developers using its services. 

What do you think of this trend ? Share your comments and ideas. 

In the next post, I would like to touch upon Domain specific clouds in more detail. More on this later.