My Idea Book

Adding this post to consolidate the opportunities for innovation. I intend to keep this entry active for ever and others are welcome to participate in increasing the list.

APR 2014

Personal CRM app: Help you manage your contacts intelligently and generate insights.

Shoppers Wallet app: Allow users to share the shopping items along with traces to the store and better offers.

Mail Merge in Gmail: Allow mail merge option for gmail contacts.

External keyboard entry for Mobile Apps: In case you are on your laptop, mobile apps should be accessible for keyboard entry. I amy not prefer to go back to whatsapp for replying the messages.

Speech recognition from hangouts and targeted ads the next time user logins to the G+.

 

MAY 2014

Market Place for Skill: Something like skill swap. In between Quikr and Craigslist. Shift to market place (or mandi) model.

Cross Sell:  Tie up with complementary product companies. If a person has bought microwave, send a voucher for microwave-safe bowls or eating items.

Intelligent CRM: Price & Discounts based on how frequent customer is on the online store.

Social Commerce: Introduce social commerce (via Facebook)

Collective buying through eSales Shop (Collaborative consumption): For remote places, setup franchises with online access and collective buying patterns.

Last Mile Delivery: Open a warehouse and become a shared service provider for all eCommerce Players for last mile delivery. Alternatively, tie up with Petrol Pumps from where customers can pick up at per their convenient times.

 

JULY 2014

Reverse Auctions: Introduce Reverse auction for services.

Smart Move: Help you organise the moving with tags on boxes and inventory list, GPS etc

Collaborative consumption for insurance: Collaborate for group buying of insurance (like companies do for their employees). Negotiate with insurers on group quotes.

 

AUGUST 2014

SpaTaxi: Taxi with a Spa – If you are tired after a long flight or shopping, relax on your way back to home in our SpaTaxi.

Swap Toys: Option for parents to donate toys or swap for something else.

 

 

SEPTEMBER 2014

OmniChannel for Retail: Why should I be able to add items to the shopping cart from the online portal only? Make it accessible through all channels – online, social media, partner portals, ads.

Leveraging Social Media in Insurance Product Development

Heightened customer expectations, demographic shifts and increasing usage of new technologies are creating new opportunities. Of late, I have been researching on the role of Social Media in new product development. It seems some industries (Retail) are leading in this area whereas others (Insurance) are still warming up to the idea. Insurers can exploit the opportunities by leveraging Social Media, not only to reach out to the customer (Participation mode), but also completing the feedback loop to improve or create insurance products (Integration mode).

Creation of an insurance product generally follows the below process.

Insurance Product Development

Product Development in insurance can take 3 forms:

  1. Re-pricing or Refinement
  2. Add-on Features
  3. New Product

Although Social Media is already playing the role in maintaining the brand image and marketing of insurance products, it can also play a huge role in Idea Generation, Evaluation and Prototyping phases for all 3 aforementioned forms of Product Development.

Social Media is already becoming an important channel for ‘voice of customer’. A great product can take off easily whereas the news about the bad one spread much faster. Insurers can leverage Social Media to listen to customers. Using advanced analytics and techniques like Natural Language Processing for Sentiment Analysis, insurers can do trend analysis and demand assessment. Insurers can get insights about the lifestyle, buying behavior, social behavior etc. about users, which can help in further refining the segmentation. Product Managers can also directly interact with the target customers and prospects and can do dip stick analysis and competitive assessments.

Whether Insurer’s marketing strategy is being a ‘Leader’ or a ‘Fast Follower’, social media has something for both the strategies to aid in Product Development. The role of Social Media in understanding customer better and thereby developing customized products cannot be neglected for long.

Mailbox full of Spam

3rd post in the Fraud series – email spam!

The first spam message was sent in 1978 to 600 people. Today, approximately 100 billion spam messages are sent every day. You might have encountered one within last 12 hours. Spam messages not only choke the bandwidth and mail boxes, it also affect businesses.

To fight spam, email providers like Yahoo, Google, Microsoft etc. deploy Spam Filters which detect spam. There are 2 key methods of spam detection:

  1. Rule based detection (Host filters, Client filters, White Lists, Real time black hole lists)
  2. Probabilistic detection (Bayesian Filters)

 

Rule Based Detection

Generally the first level of detection where mails are validated against certain rules, such as:

  • Email Header analysis
  • Email Subject analysis
  • Blacklisted URL check
  • Email body text analysis

Probabilistic detection (Bayesian Filters)

Bayesian filter is a wonderful method for fighting spam. The beauty of this technique is that it adapts to the Spammers’ behavior, making it difficult for spammers to beat the system. This filter is used in almost all server side / client side mail filtering products.

Bayesian filters use Bayes’ theorem, which calculates the statistical probability of mail being a spam. In its simpler form, the probability of spam will be:

Bayesian Probability

The Bayesian filter is ‘taught’ to identify spams (based on keywords, phrases and analysis of messages previously marked as spam). Once trained, based on the spamicity of the word, individual probabilities are added up. Filters these days also use the sliding window concept to identify the phrases of words rather than single words. Like any other method, Bayesian Filtering is also vulnerable and might be prone to ‘poisoning’.

 

Government Laws

To fight spam, governments are also establishing the anti-spam laws. The Canadian government passed sweeping legislation in 2010 that has become known as Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), which comes into force on July 1, 2014.

Click frauds – Handling fakes

You might have heard / read about Facebook or Google ads not giving the full returns on the ad spend. There are fake likes from the different parts of the world which is hurting advertisers (businesses) as much as Facebook / Google.

Click Fraud can be Manual or Automatic. Also, there could be 2 motivations for click fraud – someone aiming to deplete the ad budget or someone trying to increase their revenue share. Based on the source of fraud, the mechanisms for Detection, Prevention and Containment are to be identified.

Click Fraud 2x2

The various sources of click fraud attacks are:

  • Manual clicks
  • Click farms (people hired to click on ads)
  • Botnets
  • Click bots

So how to manage the click frauds?

To answer the question, the first thing is to understand the anatomy of click. As depicted in the snapshot below, there are 5 key milestones in the ad click-process [Ref. “ViceROI: Catching Click-Spam in Search Ad Networks”].

Click AnatomyThe second step is to understand whether the click is from Human or a Bot. There are many ways to find out the answer – Browser Type, Mouse click positions, IP, Bounce rate etc. The sure shot way is to check the useragent (browser) – bots have empty useragent.

Once the source is identified, companies take the following approaches to contain them:

  1. Proactive: Statistical analysis of the clicks to proactively contain fraudulent clicks
  2. Reactive:
    1. Algorithmic, rule based route to automatically track fraudulent ad clicks
    2. Manual verification for exceptions.

So Google / Facebook might be using Statistical Analysis and filters based on following parameters to identify the fraud clicks:

  1. Location: Identify the location from where the clicks are coming. There could be a pattern.
  2. Click Through Rate: If the number of clicks are high and CTR is below average, we need to do a deep dive to check the source.
  3. Referral traffic: What is the source website of the traffic
  4. Cookies: Check the cookies set on the system.
  5. IP Address: Check the IP Address source. Validate it against the White and Black Lists.
  6. Clicks: Check whether there are random clicks
  7. Time on site: How much time is spent on a particular site (what is the Bounce Rate). Are there any return visits, how often were they?
  8. Behavior: What is the behavior of clicks / visits – Are there daily revisits from same IP? Are the visits made during specific hours of the day?

Use of Botnets and ClickBots

Fraudsters are leveraging Botnets and ClickBots to automate the fraudulent click process. Bot operators provide Bots-on-hire or Fraud-As-A-Service for programmers to leverage the existing C&C module. To further understand the anatomy of a Clickbot, refer to this very interesting paper by Neil Daswani – The Anatomy of Clickbot.A (https://www.usenix.org/legacy/event/hotbots07/tech/full_papers/daswani/daswani.pdf)

Even though ad-networks do their best to create these walls to stop fraudulent clicks, bringing in complete transparency in clicks might be tough due to interests of different parties involved.

Got cheated online?

cartoon-dilbert-phishing1

Internet, on the one hand offers a vast market for businesses and on the other, also attracts the crooks who recognize the potential / attractiveness of online fraud.

Online frauds can take place in multiple forms – Email Spams, Click frauds, Search hijacking, Identity theft, phishing etc. Company like Google must be spending millions in fighting these frauds. If we talk about Google, various frauds that can take place in their product portfolio could be:

G+
• Content not as per the guidelines
• Fake accounts
• Fake hangout invites
• Emails to followers

Adwords & Adsense
• Content not as per the guidelines
• Click frauds (Bot Clicks, Click farms)

Search
• Wrong SEO techniques
• Search result hijacking

Email
• Spamming

Google Wallet
• Data Security of a lost phone
• Phone Rooting

Google Maps
• Listing Spam (Locksmiths listings)
• False reviews

Companies employ various techniques in fighting online fraud. Over the next few blogs I’ll cover each of the aforementioned frauds in more detail and how / what companies are doing to fight them.

Incremental innovations in Google Products

I was just wondering, some of the smaller innovations Google can do (a few of them might be coming out of beta):

GMAIL

  • Provide the option to create templates and Mail Merge
  • Threads – Option to remove them.
  • While replying, subject field should be made visible by default.
  • Forward – allowed from individual email. Should be given at top-level so that multiple msgs can be selected and forwarded.
  • Mimic folder structure from drive (currently functionality provided via labels) AND let people create rule to move messages to those folders rather than automated tabs.
  • Out of Office to people other than contacts / groups.
  • Option to select who can see me online in the embedded chat in Gmail.

SEARCH

  • Windows App for Google Search.
  • Extend it to the internet of things. I tag my things and enter those in alerts. Search for those tags (location).

SPAM

  • Credit to original content sources.
  • Notification about bad links.
  • Checklists or help for new businesses that are just starting out.
  • Periodic reports with advice on improving areas like mobile or page speed.

HANGOUTS

  • Speech keyword recognition from hangouts and then showing targeted ads.

OTHER

  • Extend Energy sense to provide power usage dashboard for each device.
  • Allow users to type through desktop / laptop keyboards into Android screens

 

The value of Likes and Measuring Social Buzz

Facebook’s home market growth has stalled, whereas capacity to pay for online ads is still less in other parts of the world. To maintain the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), Facebook, thus, needs to keep on growing in Rest of the world (which they have succeeded in doing so far).

For business owners, this means that the value of Like (or for that matter +1) is still there to capture; And that’s why the need for Social Media Listening tools. Although the market for such tools is pretty crowded, I still feel that there is a scope for targeting Small enterprises.

Social media listening tools can be bucketed into 2 categories:

1. Listening tools for large organizations

2. Monitoring tools for Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

We can pick the tools based on multiple parameters such as:

1. Suited for company size – Small, Medium, Large

2. Price Point – Free, <$30/month, >$30/month

3. Monitoring – [Social networks]; [Forums & Comments]; [Facebook, Twitter, Google+]; [Web pages & Web apps]; Events.

4. Reporting – Emails or RSS Alerts; Custom Reports; Searches, Downloads

5. Engagement – Ability to Identify Influencers; Update Social Media Accounts; CRM Integration

 

Created a wireframe for one of the options –

Social Buzz Monitor Wireframe