SAP SAPPHIRENOW 2012 – some expectations


The annual pilgrimage to SAPPHIRENOW is only a couple of weeks away from now.  SAP CEOs have announced a five pronged strategy that includes mobility, analytics, database, cloud and apps.

Right off the bat – I am not a fan of this “5 market” strategy, given the “kitchen sink” approach. SAP just comes off as trying hard to be everything to everybody, and does not give the impression of having a value proposition that differentiates them. SAP has clear leadership in Apps and Analytics, and has a fair shot at databases. Cloud and Mobility are not in that league yet. Consequently, I am just looking for SAP to clarify its plans for mobility, cloud and database.

Nearly every time I have asked such questions, SAP has kindly responded to me with answers – usually GREAT answers. Sad to say, it was always under NDA and usually that did not get lifted in a useful time frame, and sometimes – like with HANA questions I asked in my blog – the NDA was NEVER lifted. So I hope this time around, SAP does the needful on that front so that I can share with you folks what I learn.

Database

Yes we know HANA is the next best thing to …well, everything 🙂 . We know it is fast for sure. So what more should SAP say and do?

1. Can SAP show during the keynote that it has great DR/HA features? As in –  can Hasso/Vishal pull the plug on the box while keynoting and show us nothing will happen to the data?

2. Now that BPC etc runs on HANA – can Bill and Jim come on stage and show how they run their business on HANA? May be simulate an ops review with their team for 5 minutes on stage?

3. Has SAP figured out more business apps on HANA that make sense for broad customer base?

4. What is the current thinking of going after “we will be the number 2 DB vendor by 2015” ? Is that still the goal? or like how Vishal explained in the San Francisco meeting few weeks ago – will SAP shift messaging to become the fastest growing DB vendor?

5. How will all the DB offerings work together – like IQ, ASE, HANA etc? Why should customers take SAP seriously in DB?

6. How many start up companies have come forward to use of the multi million dollar fund SAP announced in San Francisco event last month?

Cloud

All eyes will be on cloud, especially with the SFSF acquisition. I saw Lars Dalgaard presenting at DKOM in Santa Clara, and he is full of energy, and is very different in approach from what I have typically seen of SAP executives. I am looking forward to how SAP makes use of his talent in the big stage. OK, so on to questions

1. What is SAP’s differentiating message for cloud? For being a relatively late entrant to the business – what does SAP tell customers to convey that they are not just a “me too” player in this space?

2. What does SFSF acquisition mean for SAP customers and SFSF customers?  What changes for them?

3. Since we know Lars Dalgaard is the new leader for cloud, what does that mean organizationally? How does SAP ensure architecture and product consistency across all its offerings if Cloud has its own separate team?

4. What is coming up in near term as SaaS offerings from SAP that customers can buy?

5. As an outside coming in to SAP leadership team, what does Lars think of SAP’s cloud performance so far? What is his vision of how SAP should move forward in cloud, and with increased speed?

6. What is in it for partners and developers in the cloud business?

7. Will SAP’s cloud offerings on mobility be made free?

8. What is SAP’s strategy for collaboration with multiple products now in portfolio?

Mobility

With Sanjay Poonen in charge, I do think mobility will be a great area for SAP going forward. SAP made some good partnership announcements with phonegap,Sencha etc which is all good. And now on to questions

1. What is SAP’s message to mobile developers? I think that message is best delivered by Sanjay Poonen, and I hope Sanjay does a keynote on this topic.

2. Having announced the storefront last year, how is SAP doing on that topic? How many apps are there ? how many have been sold ? How many are working on all devices?

3. Last year we heard developers have to make use of SUP if their wares have to be sold via SAP store. But with newly announced partnerships with Sencha etc – obviously that does not make sense anymore. So what is the story now?

4. HANA had a big VC fund announced by SAP. Will Mobility also have a similar fund?

5. Will mobility be a platform play or an apps play? or will SAP do both?

6. I know I am not the only one with this question – what is John Chen’s role at SAP now? I have hardly heard anything from him in public while SAP made announcements on DB and mobility.  With the emerging focus on Asia, John is probably best used to grow the business there. But all the same – I am very curious on what is his role now.

If you have additional questions for SAP, pls leave a comment and I will try my best to find answers while I am in Orlando.

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Will SAP get a second chance to create a good first impression with mobile developers?


I was part of the judging panel on Thursday for SAP’s HANA innojam at Palo Alto. And I had a chance to think about it some more on my plane ride back home Friday morning. Thanks to turbulence, I did not get a chance to write this during the plane ride as I usually do, so I am doing it now – cuddling with my little daughter and our 2 dogs on the sofa.

At least 3 senior guys at SAP – Jim Snabe, Vishal Sikka and Sanjay Poonen – have me convinced over the last year that they will do something about making the developer ecosystem whole. I have a ton of respect for all three, and I am sure they will do the needful. But as I think more about this – it does feel like quite a steep climb for SAP.

First things first – how do you get a developer started?

As Tobias Hoffman mentions in his awesome SCN blog scn.sap.com/community/portal/blog/2012/03/09/why-makes-sap-this-so-complicated , SAP has a lot of road to cover to even get developers access to all of its software. SAP are not just waking up to these issues – they have been aware of this at least since Sybase acquisition.  And a lot of analysts and bloggers have been harping on this for a while.  Granted SAP is a big company, and have legal challenges as we are often reminded- but if IBM, ORACLE and MS can all do it, it is hard to make a case that SAP has to do something that has never been done before in the industry.

SAP can do the developer outreach incrementally or in an all-out fashion. I am not holding my breath on SAP going all-out since it has a nice annuity from maintenance, and a large corporate inertia to over come. But they have made a bold statement  that their vision is to have millions of mobile developers. Other than partnering with Adobe and Sencha and others who have millions of developers ( majority of whom probably have no interest in the enterprise world SAP operates in) – I cannot see how SAP is going to get to that number, and in what time.

Who should SAP target ?

Some time ago, I had already outlined my thoughts on how SIs fit into this picture.  https://andvijaysays.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/sap-mobility-solutions-should-sis-play-or-stay-on-sidelines/ . My thoughts have not changed much on that front.

There are 2 constituencies of developers in my mind, of course with some overlap, that SAP needs to cater to.

First Group – the bird in hand

This is the traditional community that plays primarily with netweaver and business suite. For this group – their major concern is to see if all the cool new stuff that comes out of SAP will solve some problem they already have in their projects. Generally, I expect majority of them to do consulting/enhancements type work – and less of product development with SAP.

At the moment, SAP is only trying to attract the first group in my opinion. It is probably the right first step for SAP. The good thing with this group is that they are already very passionate about SAP, and they provide a path of least resistance for SAP to get to a large number of developers. There are exceptional independent consultant types in this group who would appreciate better access to systems to keep up to date with skills. The rest are customers and SI/ISV types who generally have some way of downloading software and playing in their company sandbox via . They participate eagerly in innojams/demojams and generally will try out anything SAP throws at them on technology front. I count myself squarely in this group.

Generally this is not a group I would bet big on to create a large number of “products” based on SAP’s technology. They will mostly contribute to incremental addition to existing license revenue. More over, this is a group that already knows many work arounds in SAP – and might not need Gateway or SUP to make mobile applications.  They are also generally weary of SAP’s existing licensing model, and the speed at which SAP moves on these topics – so their instinct might be to not even try commercializing mobile apps. But they are still a viable group for SAP to target as a first step. If SAP makes access to software easy for them – via downloads or a hosted environment, or a combo of both – this group will do all they can to keep the old SAP flag flying high. With this group, it is SAP’s game to lose, unlike the next one below.

Second Group – tempted to say two in the bush, but may be not…yet 🙂

This is the zillion other developers who mostly don’t know much about SAP, but are up to speed on a variety of non SAP technologies. These people typically have a product mindset – and not a project mindset.

If SAP needs to make it big – they need to make it worth the trouble for the second group of developers to jump into the ring. This group needs a subset of everything that the first group needs for access to software, but in addition they will need to see a rapid path to monetization. From mobility side, Apple has set the bar high with their development ecosystem. It has an easy-to-understand way of how to build an app and make money off it. Any model more complicated will make it near impossible to attract this group to SAP.

While we are on the topic – I wonder if SAP’s mobile store is the way to go for selling mobile apps. If I have a smart phone – my instinct is to check the app store I have for SAP mobility apps. I might not even be aware of SAP having its own app store.  May be it is enough to have a free SAP shopping app on things like itunes which points to what all SAP has to sell.  But then, Apple might not like that at all.  I have to think through this some more – but curious on your thoughts on how you see people buying SAP apps in future.

Innojams/demojams – can they help?

SAP has a neat idea to generate developer interest with innojams and demojams. At the moment, only the first group of developers takes part in jams.  However, jams in its current form have limited utility in the bigger picture. Innojams definitely stir up the pride and technical curiosity in developers . But then what? once you present on the big stage, or you win the prize – there is not really a real second step, that I know of, to take it forward. Also, the world outside the first group hardly knows about innojams today. It will be good to expand the reach of innojam to a larger target audience in near future.

What is in it for developers any way?

I cannot stress enough on the licensing and monetization model to be figured out upfront – without that, access to software is practically meaningless. Developers have a lot of choice today, including many OSS choices. SAP needs a compelling story for them to use SAP technology. With the announcement of the VC fund for HANA – SAP has shown that it is serious about this. But I could not understand why they would want to restrict such a fund to just HANA as opposed to all SAP technologies for DB, mobility and cloud. End of the day – isn’t the value of DB+Cloud+Mobile together better than just DB alone?

But not all developers will want to get into the start up business. So SAP will need an additional model to attract the majority who just care about building and selling  many small apps. In this regard, I really liked what they did with the partnerships it announced with Sencha, Adobe etc.  Their model is simple – a free SDK for HTML 5, an MVC paradigm for development, flexible licensing and some paid options, and OData connection with SAP backends.  Like my daughter says – easy piecy lemon squeezy 🙂

Except, we are not sure how SAP handles the licensing/pricing in this scenario . And without that clarity coming real quick – I doubt if scores of developers will jump in and start developing cool apps.  Sanjay Poonen responded on twitter few days ago than SAP will get it right quickly, and I totally  trust him to do so – hopefully by SAPPHIRE in Orlando.

 

SAP’s announcements on April 10,2012 – and Vijay says…


SAP very kindly let me participate in their analyst day on April 10th, and a dinner the night before in San Francisco Westin. I particularly enjoyed spending some time with Irfan Khan, who is the CTO of Sybase, and an SVP at SAP. SAP paid for my flights and hotel too. Here are my thoughts coming out of the meeting. As always, these are just my personal opinions and not that of my employer.

GA announcements were made for BW on HANA and BPC 10 (also works on HANA). SAP said they have 80 live customers – although I have not seen a number of how many have switched off their old disk based BW systems, if any. Vishal also showed impressive performance stats on a 100TB 16 node IBM system running HANA. https://twitter.com/#!/vijayasankarv/status/189764752694722561/photo/1
It was also impressive seeing how much performance improvement has been attained on the new Sandy-bridge processors . All of that is commendable – and something SAP should be proud of.

There are a few things I would like SAP to address at the field level. Customers want benchmarks – and SAP should give them some benchmark as part of certifying the hardware. SAP should also prove out the data center readiness of HANA – things like DR/HA, power consumption etc. I told Vishal Sikka that it will be awesome if he can pull the plug literally on HANA system during his SAPPHIRE keynote and show on stage that nothing will happen to data, and that fail over works. He seemed to be in agreement. Same with concurrent users – it is a common question on how performance will vary as concurrent users work on HANA. If these questions are quickly answered, SAP has a good chance of capitalizing on the momentum.
I was also pretty psyched to hear that Vishal had designed some parts of HANA himself – hats off to him. That is true technical leadership.

Steve Lucas explained SAP’s vision on being a database company – and reminded us that it is not just HANA, but also EIM products, ASE, IQ etc. First off – SAP could not have found a better guy than Steve to lead the charge on DB. He is terrific and has a great team behind him. I was not a big fan of SAP’s original message of trying to be the number 2 DB vendor on the planet by revenue. That is not only a rather unrealistic goal given ORACLE, IBM and MS will go all out and protect their turf, it will also weaken important partnerships SAP has with IBM and MS. Vishal played down the number 2 DB vendor message, and instead put this idea forward that SAP just wants to be the fastest growing DB vendor out there. Now that is a credible message, and I am sure the partners will not feel so bad about it. Nevertheless – it will be naive to think that the three other DB vendors will stand still. It will be an interesting play off.

SAP also announced a fund to subsidize HANA implementations which is worth 250 million Euros. The idea is that if a customer buys HANA, SAP will throw in free consulting up to some % of their license fees. I seriously think this is a terrible idea on many levels. Of course I don’t deny that I work for a big SI, and hence I have a serious bias.
1. It will shut off SI partners from HANA for next couple of years. And if they have nothing to gain from HANA, why would they help SAP sell it to clients where they have relationships?
2. If HANA is truly easy and simple – why does it need SAP to implement it? And after SAP walks out of the implementation – who will support HANA ?
3. If SI partners are kept out of HANA work, what will be their confidence in investing in training and IP generation for HANA and everything else SAP comes up with?

Obviously, SAP needs to capitalize on HANA momentum now before ORACLE and IBM come out with something that makes it less of an attraction. So I get why SAP has to go all out now. But I truly believe that taking SI partners along with them would have been a superior strategy. In any case, there is a chance that SAP might in turn “outsource” some of the free consulting work they give to clients to partners. I will be watching this action closely.

SAP has also come up with a VC fund for HANA based start up companies for $155M . This is a brilliant idea – and I hope many people will make good use of it.

Sanjay Poonen spent some time explaining the mobility vision. They are not going to use SUP any more – and stick more to SAP Mobility Platform as the branding. They also announced partnerships on mobility with 3 companies. I got a chance to talk to the CEO of one of these companies called Sencha. I readily admit I like the Sencha partnership more than everything else I heard during the event. If anything, SAP missed a chance to showcase them more prominently. They have a free opensource SDK for HTML5 based mobile and desktop app development. They have an OData connector too for accessing SAP systems. They have a flexible licensing model, and have millions of developers. Now – that does not mean those millions should be claimed as part of SAP ecosystem. But it gives SAP a chance to attract those people to build SAP apps. I would encourage everyone interested in mobility to check these guys out – I am planning to do a hello world on that SDK when I get some free time.

Not a lot of clarity was given on the SAP’s mobile pricing models, sandboxes of SAP systems for mobile developers to make sure their apps work etc – but we should know more from SAPPHIRE.

Here is a parting thought for SAP – at the next teched, could you get Sanjay Poonen on stage to do a bit of keynoting for mobile ? From what I have seen and heard at other events – I am sure Sanjay will surely capture the attention of SAP techies, and he is one of the most articulate people at SAP.

All things said – it was one of the best run SAP events I have been to. Well done, SAP

Long term future of IT in India


When I went to college in India, all I wanted to do was take the first job that will send me to US. And a dozen years later, I am starting to think of where I will retire, where I will work the latter parts of my career and so on. This makes me ponder on the long term future of IT in India. I might as well think aloud here, with the hope that I get some insights from the readers. As always, these are just my personal opinions – not that of my employer.

India’s IT scene is dominated by about 20 to 50 companies or so, and the rest is fragmented by smaller shops. Amongst the big ones – and I mean big in terms of head count – the biggest ones are in services. A large number of people make their living doing production support and BPO type work. There is also some design and development type projects in the mix. Outside the services work, there is some product development too. Most big product companies in the world have some presence in India, and they pay better than the services companies to attract top talent. So in short, there is plenty of companies where an IT job can be found.

One thing I do like about the workforce in India is that it is fairly inclusive. Although I don’t have stats officially – I have seen several more women in offices of IT companies in India, including in leadership roles compared to other countries I have visited. 12 years ago, only certain states had fair representation in IT jobs, but by now – people from all parts of India are getting better opportunities.

I think IT pays better on an average than most other jobs in India, and as a result a lot of people have better quality of life. Most youngsters are now able to buy houses and cars early in their life, which is also pretty good. There is a lot of good restaurants and bars and gyms and movie theaters and all that, so life outside work is enjoyable too.

That is the bright side, but I have my worries on the flip side.

How about the supply side of the picture? No issues here either at first sight with plenty of college grads coming out of the education system every year. From the time I joined the workforce – and possibly a few years earlier, IT jobs attracted away a lot of talent from the top colleges, especially engineering colleges. IT companies at that time ignored non-engineering students. They were not exactly looking for comp science grads – any engineering degree was fine. I am a mechanical engineering major, and it never mattered to my first IT employer . I never could put a finger on why engineers were considered at the expense of every one else. I would just as well gladly hire a math major or a physics major or a liberal arts major with the right attitude – since I have to train the engineering grad also to work in IT. Being an engineering grad myself – I am not convinced that education gave me something extra as a programmer, that I would not have gained if I took say Chemistry as my major. I hope this has changed, or is changing.

After a dozen years since I left India, I still have not seen the engineering colleges tune their education to the needs of the IT market. Text books are still the same as what I learned and what my dad learned before me, with very little updates. And people still join mechanical engineering degrees with the sole purpose of getting a job in IT – with no interest in becoming a mechanical engineer.

There are also plenty of IT educational institutions that train people in programming. I try to check out their course work and teaching methods when I can, and honestly have not been very impressed. They teach many different languages in one course – like C, C++,Java, ORACLE PL/SQL, MS SQL, HTML, javascript etc, but with hardly any focus on good basic software engineering. I am even more dismayed when I see a lot of the teachers have never worked in real projects. It gives me the same awkward reaction I had to the guy who taught me power plant engineering who himself had never set foot in a power plant. As a result, employers give a very thorough training after people are hired , and before they can be put in a project. In my specialization – SAP – in which India has a lot of talent, I doubt how many colleges teach SAP. I know plenty of people who have been cheated by expensive “mom and pop” SAP coaching centers.
Someone recently told me that there are classes at these places for HANA too.

The good thing despite the above is that thanks to internet, working in global teams, and the ability to go abroad for projects – Indian IT workforce has access to almost everything that others have, and hence could keep up well with the global pack.

There are some societal side effects – since the best and brightest grads do not seem to want to go to the government services, military,banking and so on which were the coveted jobs for the previous generations. I often wonder if this will have an impact on society over the next several years.

Infrastructure has been a long term problem. A visit to Bangalore will prove the point. It is near impossible to drive in Bangalore at peak hours unless you have lived there for a while. Pollution is also pretty high. Yet, I know several companies who send work to India insist that it be done out of Bangalore. There are physical limitations to expanding the towns where IT is concentrated now – not just Bangalore. Thanks to political structure of the country, the private sector is fairly limited in what it can do to make the situation better. Thankfully trade unions have not yet taken over IT in India and destroyed it, like they have for manufacturing sector etc.

A big advantage India has held over other emerging IT power nations has been the proficiency in English. Companies in the west readily pay a premium for it. But this is not a long term advantage – I have many friends in Vietnam, China and South America who speak very good English, and it is just a matter of one more generation when this becomes less of a differentiation.

Cheap skilled labor was a big reason why western countries outsourced work to India. Well, it is not exactly cheap any more. Salaries have increased manifold. My first job paid me INR 150,000 a year or so. And that is after I did my engineering and MBA. Today I know my nieces and nephews make more than 3X or 4Xthat in similar jobs when they enter the work force. The rates charged by Indian companies to their clients abroad have not increased 3X or 4X – if anything, competition has forced them to keep it down. They still thrive because of volume and exchange rates and so on. This does not mean other countries will readily over take India in near future – that is like saying 25 years from now, Daddy and I will be the same age. India has tremendous experience and skills now and will carry that edge for foreseeable future.

I am also worried seriously about the credit card debt that many of the younger folks carry that I know India. Just based on personal observation – peer pressure has driven many a young IT employee to spend beyond their means and incur bigger loans than they reasonably should take. I have seen this movie before in US from the front seat, and I would hate to see a replay in India. On second thoughts, I am not very sure if this is an IT only issue or whether others are affected too. I guess every one needs to make their own mistakes and learn, and that learning from someone else s mistake is harder.

Bangalore – and other IT hubs – have one thing missing that stops them from being the next silicon valley. And that is a good VC system. It might be a chicken and egg problem since a large part of the IT business is still on services side, and not on product side. I am yet to have made a trip to India where I have not had a conversation with a bright eyed young guy (or gal) who would tell me that he/she has this amazing idea, but can’t move forward without capital. The De-facto capital raising mechanism is to run to a local bank and convince them to give a line of credit. It is an ineffective process to put it charitably. Off late, I know some VC friends in Silicon Valley who lend a hand to budding entrepreneurs in India, but it is a drop in the ocean compared to how things move in the US. It is certainly not a lack of liquidity in India that investors are not supporting these companies – I think it is one of a cultural difference. Since a lot of people from India who worked in US have now moved back to India, I do see some change in this behavior. I am looking forward to see VCs and Angel investors doing more in India.

One last thought before I go back and plant the last few plants in my front yard ( this is what was accomplished before I started typing this post https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.3381192563120.151791.1068608267&type=1&l=48b8a0feb8 ). If cloud is truly the future – and if most companies move heavily to SaaS etc, what will happen to the majority of IT people in India, who make a living doing services projects?

Let me know your thoughts

Online Social Media – how much does it actually influence buying decisions ?


As a consumer, I am influenced by online social media. But the bigger the purchase, the less I am influenced by “online” social media, and more by “offline” social media.

I won’t try a new restaurant without checking yelp reviews.I won’t buy a book without reading what others say in Amazon. I won’t buy a widescreen TV without checking 15 sites and then talking to store clerks, friends etc. When I bought a house (the biggest purchase for me), I did comparisons online – but eventually I had to walk in and out of 50 or so houses before my wife and I agreed on a place. The bigger the purchase – the less I trusted social media, and the more I trusted “real” people and my own “physical experience.

When I say social media – I am typically thinking only of “online” media – twitter, facebook and sites like that. I am excluding other “offline” social things like hanging out with my buddies at the water cooler, chatting with other parents at my daughter’s swimming lessons, talking to others on phone and stuff like that which we don’t associate with “online”, despite being totally “social”.

It never fails to impress (ok, and scare) me when I log on to a site, and find context specific advertisements. I have seen a lot of SAP ads,Pet product ads, Cricket (the game, not the mobile phone thing, and not the creature ) and Tennis ads and so on when I use my yahoo email, google searches and facebook. Fantastic – yet in all these years, I have not clicked on even one link that these sites showed me. If anything, I get some pleasure in not clicking on them – since in my mind, I think of them intruding my private space.

And although not prolific by any stretch – I am fairly active in online social media, and spend some time every day on it. At best, it must be having an indirect effect on my buying decisions, since my gut feelings over time are surely influenced by what I read, and I read a lot of stuff online.

I started to think that maybe direct advertising is what is not working in social media – and that vendors can influence indirectly using social media by sharing information via blogs etc. But Forbes advoice single handedly ended that theory for me. I honestly cannot stand most of what gets published there by vendors and now it has gone to an extent that I don’t take any time to even glance at it when someone says “Forbes says” and point to an advoice link. No thank you.

TV advertisements influence me more than social media ads. I am not sure exactly why this happens. My hypothesis is that people have more experience making them and tuning them over years that it makes more impact. But even then – when it comes to big purchases, I still prefer the offline social media . It could also be that I grew up watching TV and not online social media, and hence am more influenced by TV. Others who are younger might not look at it the way I do. Yet another theory I have is that while video is more impressionable for me, since I consume most of the online content on my mobile device, low bandwidth decreases the user experience of video ads online, there by making me tune out quickly.

Enough about me as a consumer, what about me as a professional consultant and a seller of consulting services ?

All my clients know that I blog and tweet, and that I share some (hopefully useful) content with them – and some of their CXOs tease me on what I write. So, on the bright side – they do read what I write. I also have on occasion benefited from name recognition from my blogs, where I walk into a room and someone googles me and checks out the content that I have authored in past, and (so far) giving me some credit. But I cannot imagine (yet) any one who has given me business primarily because of what I have done in online social media. Not by a long shot.

Buying decisions for consulting services are still mostly influenced by past performance on delivery, trust,price, word of mouth publicity (even fierce competitors talk to each other when it comes to quality of consulting services or product maturity).
I am yet to see a multi-million dollar deal signed with a CXO saying – “it is your online ads that finally persuaded me”.

Even the big cloud players who sell the idea of “online sales” will readily go in person to meet the clients and sell them on their cloud wares. Sales people can be very superstitious. I have a friend who insists she needs to wear her “closing heels” to get ink on the contract, and another friend who insists on wearing his “deal making tie” for the same purpose. I keep wondering what will be the equivalents when it becomes virtual.

“Digital eminence” as my employer refers to it, is a big deal these days. Clients do google about consultants – and check out linkedin profiles and all that. And I have been rewarded to some extent in my career for my online social media activities. But when I think about it – I think what gave me some credibility in online social media is the experience I gained (and continue to gain) in the offline world. That outweighs the reverse situation of online credibility helping me in the offline world. It will be interesting to watch if this balance will ever shift in future. I am not holding my breath on it.

What about big companies who tried innovative online social media advertising? Couple of years back – Pepsi had such an initiative that I read about. I believe it was called “Refresh”. I am typing this on my flight to Portland, so I cannot google it to confirm. They took their foot off the gas pedal for TV and print ads, and focused heavily on online social media – primarily facebook I think. I do not follow superbowl, but I did hear they even pulled out of advertising there for that year. How did it work out for them ? They got tremendous coverage from analysts and marketing experts for being innovative and all that. But it did not exactly help them increase the sales of the pepsi softdrink. Not only did classic coca-cola remain the number one drink, pepsi lost the second spot it long held, and that spot was taken by diet coke. Pepsi went right back to heavy advertisements on TV etc quickly after that. The irony is not lost on me – since I followed this story using online social media 🙂

I am not saying that this experience will stay the same for other companies. It probably will improve over time. If I am a representative consumer – then companies will do well to pair TV and online social media to work together. I say this because I forgot the last time I watched TV without multi-tasking on an online device at the same time. In fact, I usually check out things I see on TV at real time on internet, and make buying decisions depending on size of purchase.

Now there is one last thing – I have no idea if my view is shared by any one else on the planet 🙂