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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How to Globalize your Market - Guest blog by Carolyn Knight

Carolyn Knight is based in Austin, Texas, USA and blogs for Blog Content Guild

As a growing nation, we should be constantly thinking about ways to innovate, progress, and evolve our economies, both personal and national. You can execute flawless inventory management, make revenue, and overall maintain a successful business, but without evolution, your company will eventually die out. That’s why it’s important to establish a global mindset and seek out global opportunities. We live in a global economy and to keep up with the rest of the world, we have to think globally. Here are some considerations you should take when thinking about going global:

-  Establish a strong online presence: Create a website that you believe in--one that is aesthetically pleasing, simple, accessible, and direct. When creating a website, you may want to refer to these considerations, as described in our post, “To have a website or a Facebook page?”

-  Make documents and websites accessible in major languages: This may be tough, but you have to make sure that your website is accessible in major languages, so that those of other cultures can reach out to you for business. You can also look into SEO, or search engine optimization, as a way to drive traffic to your website.

-  Keep in trend: Keep connections all over the world and maintain research of other companies, industries, and business trends. This could mean subscribing to foreign news, global news, or global business magazines.

Overall, if you begin to think about your industry as not just local, but global as well, you will stay ahead of the curve and, ultimately, maintain a successful business.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Can you select all (CTRL+A) to be a Bangladeshi adult?

Yes surprise surprise! We have an adult only post for the first time on this blog. Please make sure you are more than 18 years old and take no offence, personally, emotionally, religiously, spiritually, socially by reading the content that follows. If you think you may be disturbed in any way, shape or form please discontinue reading and close this window now. (But I know chances are very high you will keep on reading). The text of this post is intentionally blanked out to respect our social values and preference for clandestinity, shyness, hypocrisy - whatever suits you. Assuming you are an adult and know how to select all text, only then you will be able to read on.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jolkona - how micro-donations can lead to macro impacts

In a country where we have 26,000+ NGOs, it is always expected that innovative solutions to alleviating poverty will come from within the country first rather than only from foreign aid, foreign know-how and foreign goodwill. If necessity is the mother of all inventions, then it has really produced inventions such as micro-credit and luminaries like Dr. Yunus and Sir Abed. While it is appreciated what esteemed individuals like these have contributed to the world and to the fight against poverty, let us also look around and see what a relatively younger generation, with less grey hair than Yunus-Abed, is doing in relation to fundraising, poverty alleviation and technology. Jolkona Foundation is such an organisation which I have been following for a while now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dhaka Tweetup and Bloggers Meetup Featuring Mark Hillary with ITC and BASIS

Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) and International Trade Centre (ITC) jointly organizing the first ever Tweetup for bloggers, microbloggers, and tweeters in Bangladesh featuring Mark Hillary. This might turn out to be a great event for all bloggers and tweeters in Bangladesh.

About Mark Hillary 

Mark Hillary is a British Blogger running his IT Research Company in São Paulo, Brazil. Being a part of the generation when Brazil was a developing country, he has been widely experienced in technology, outsourcing, and globalization. He blogs for Reuters and the Huffington Post from UK.

Mark has authored a new book on Twitter Features Interviews, which includes case studies that includes many social media elites - including David Cameron, the British Prime Minister. He is shortlisted as the "Blogger of the year" by Computer Weekly, UK's leading technology magazine.  However, the results for  "Blogger of the year" will be announced on November 29th. So, you have the opportunity of voting for him now at

What else to do in a Barista in Dhaka?

Pretty much like aggressively growing mushrooms, I was not surprised to see Barista coffee shops in happening locations in Dhaka. Having walked into the shops in Uttara and Gulshan on two different occasions, it reminded me of my good old days of under-graduate studies in Delhi, India, when hanging out in Baristas with my yaars during 2000-2003 was a cool thing to do. Other than the great coffee experience and checking out coffee lovers of the fairer sex, there were also that acoustic guitar waiting patiently round the corner for a gentle strum, board-games such as chess and Scrabble for people to play and pass away their time sipping over great blends of coffee.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Why Mahfuz Anam's job is easy?

In a bid to encourage me to learn better English, my late grandfather used to urge me to read the Daily Star on a regular basis from when I was as young as 15. So having read the leading English daily of Bangladesh for an ardent 17 years, I have now realised that the job of the editor Mr. Mahfuz Anam has been very easy – almost tantamount to a walk in the park (Ramna, Chandrima etc.). A few hypotheses to support my assumptions are here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Four 'how cow' business tips for this Eid

Eid Mubarak! Now that the major part of day’s Qurbani related activities are done- it is time to reflect on a few ‘how cow’ business tips which could have been really interesting to realise as a run up to Eid ul Azha –as it is celebrated in Bangladesh.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nine trends to prove that we are emerging

Immediately after returning to Dhaka for a short visit this time, I was welcome by a surprisingly blasphemous joke from none other than my seventy year old nani about the ongoing progress around.  She said proudly and with conviction that it was on the newspapers recently that a Christian foreigner had recently converted to the most common religious belief in Bangladesh. I honestly didn’t see what the big deal in the comment was – so I asked still being intrigued. Nani said that the convert was convinced of the omnipresence of the God almighty in Bangladesh as he, along with many government ministers, are confirmed that things here are still in place and going on somewhat smoothly just because its Him who he is running this country – not political parties, the police or the military. Jokes aside, I became conscious of the city where I was born and grew up in and spotted nine trends in Dhaka to prove or be proud that we are indeed coming up as an emerging force.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Oh! (my God) Calcutta

Upon returning to Dhaka after nearly three years, I didn’t make any delay to visit one of the supposedly hip and happening food outlets in town – Oh! Calcutta at Banani Road 11. I have been hearing tales of movers and shakers visiting the premises, great reviews about food quality while horror stories about prices though. So it was kind of on top of my list of things to visit during this trip of mine. All thanks to Rumi for the company.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Inflation of MBAs

I am just a BBA graduate. With a not so mentionable CGPA.
Just had to state the facts before I get into fiction mode...

Flipping through the weekend newspapers (The Daily Star, Banik Barta and Shomokal for the record), my lazy sleepy eyes roamed across the pages looking for something different, a not so news material. I tend to forget at times, the dramatization that exists in our news presentation in general and how we usually have to downplay the actual publication to get a closer estimate of whats actual.

Friday, September 30, 2011

To have a website or a Facebook page?

An interesting development is taking place when your brand is reviewing its online presence – whether to have a website only or have a website and a Facebook page or only a Facebook page or may be none?

Keeping in view the time consumers are spending online and especially in social networks many brands have started preferring their pages on Facebook as an invite to potential customers to go online and know more. So for example even if Nokia has its global websites, for certain promotions and targeted activities – they may ask customers to go visit . While it all sounds very much in vogue to do something like that but make sure you take care of the following four points before jumping into the band wagon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What's in a name? Part 2

Statutory Warning - All names used in this blogpost are purely fictional and are result of the blogger's fertile but idle brain. Any similarity or resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental and out of pure luck.

It is not true that only women change their names in Bangladesh when they get married and append their husbands' surnames. In some instances, some men also do change their names when they get married - not to their wives - but to their professions in some cases. They become so infatuated with their profession that they not only reflect the change in their names as surnames but as forenames - above and before everything they are eventually called as.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Baffling Buffet Effect

How do you react in a buffet? What do you feel like doing when your sense of smell and sight are allured or literally challenged with a vast array of gastronomic delights within the easy reach of your hands and mouth? Think about it as I share my own experiences.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Because We Can, We Must

Around half a century back Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream, where he envisioned a world (America) free of racial discrimination and inequality once and for all. He didn't however live to see his dream turn to reality (I wonder whether we have?). But when Barack Obama said, "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek" the words of Luther King echoed across the American people. For good or for bad they (Americans) had leaders who shared the same dream, 50 years apart!!!

If we look further back, there is the great Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi) who believed in ahimsa (total non-violence) and preached, "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." He was a living legend indeed. In fact Martin Luther King, Jr. himself had once said, "Christ gave us the goals and Mahatma Gandhi the tactics." Such is the acceptance of this Brahmachari that even at this kalyug (modern era/dark times), activists like Anna Hazare take up his non-violent methods to rally against Anti-corruption. Gandhians are still at large in India and across the globe irrespective of race, gender or religion. Idealism is usually the force which drives all progressive change and he had one that won a million hearts (and continue to do so) "Ahimsa Paramo Dharma".

Without further adieu let me get to the point! The enlightened people that you are (reading it) must be knowing about most of what I've highlighted in the above paras. But the irony is that we know the situation, perhaps can dig up a solution but definitely can't execute the desired course of action. Even our  greatest leader Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971 had called upon his countrymen in a thunderous voice, "Ebarer Sangram Amader Muktir Sangram, Ebarer Sangram Swadhinatar Sangram" (This struggle is for our freedom, this struggle is for our independence), inspiring what would turn into Bangladesh Liberation War. 40 years down the line... we still don't shy away from using it in every possible manner or putting his name and portrait in every possible place. These consecutive acts of mockery by successive governments has left us with no leader at all (at least not without acute controversies).

I grew up knowing Bangladesh is a nation of patriots and survivors that are full of optimism and adaptability. By the time I had grown up... I considered myself stuck in a rat hole of corrupt and uncivilized people who ensure nothing social insecurity and spiraling inflation and has no vision but of their own. Gandhian or not, dreamer or not.... I am just another citizen of Bangladesh. And all I ever wanted to love my country and contribute towards its development. I used to feel miserable at times knowing I probably wasn't contributing where is required the most, politics (more specifically student politics). But then when you wake up from that lucid surreal dream, you realize it is nothing but a pothole (like the ones you scrape through everyday). A pothole in a street that's underwater (sewerage preferably) , a pothole that we try to mend temporarily every now and then... a pothole we must we must fix to move forward!!!

Question is, HOW do we do it? by WHEN? and most importantly WHO does it?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Slogans in Advertising!

When well used and off repeated; a slogan can become a part of the fabric of a brand.But , how do You build a strong connection between slogan and brand?It's not simply a matter of tagging a slogan onto an ad,because an ad with a slogan isn't necessarily more effective than an ad without one.A slogan that is merely an end line or sign off to an ad; is unlikely to make a contribution to the success of the brand.The creative must integrate the brand and the slogan in such a way that the slogan can strengthen branding,or have some positive effect.
Lets think about Bangladeshi Advertising arena . As we all know, Bangladeshi ad industry is mostly dominated by Mobile operator first have a quick recap of those particular ads.
....kache thakun..Stay Closer ; current market leader GP has got this slogan and probably most of their creative materials , be it TVCs, be it Printing Campaigns; have an attachment to this motto or slogan.Think , say for example, duniya kapano 30 minute , babu beche thakle tar boyosh hoto(featuring 71)..,or recently the ad opekkha(A village woman waiting for her husband to come) every where we find the emotional attachment of kache thaka , Staying closer to the core of heart, closer to the beloved ones, closer to the beautiful nature. the more these beautiful ads have been aired or published the more GP has increased its customer, increased its brand loyalty.needless to mention beside the country wide powerful network, these slogan led creative campaigns have contributed a lot to GP's growth even though its the most expensive mobile network now. see, one single slogan how powerfully relates the theme of their campaigns to the ultimate effectiveness! A round of applause for the agency and directors behind the success.
on the other hand, with the slogan jekhanei ache din bodoler cheshta , shekhanei ache Banglalink ; Blink started their marketing campaign. and truly the inception was vibrant and one of the best kicking off in BD ad industry.but lately, Blink market share has gone down significantly.One of the main reasons behind this fall is recent promotional campaigns which could not live up to the mark of their slogan ; 'change'. All the TVCs of Blink 'Desh' have shown us nothing but excessive application of jingles , dancing prowess and make-up-rapped models.those couldn't relate anyway to their basic tagline or theme 'change' ;at least, from my perspective.
I am a new comer of this blog, and while going through a lot of recent write-ups here, i found out a good one based on Aktel's re-branding towards Robi. the very beginning it was not clearly understandable why such an unorthodox re-branding pathway Aktel or Robi Axiata has chosen. consequently I thought may be they are targeting mostly the rural market of BD.their brand name Robi itself , some flamboyant color of the logo and the pattern of their promotion compelled me to think so.But what about their slogan??Apon shoktite ujjol..the slogan itself is sort of hermetic to understand and when they try to reveal the meaning of this slogan through TVCs , it becomes harder even for the city dwelling educated market let alone the villagers. recently the new Ad chayar moto network ache shobkhane was good indeed.but when it comes to the perfect blending of Slogan with the creative, the question remains..
finally ..the Airtell Saga... fuhh... seriously! who came up with this cliched slogan : bhalobashar tane , kache ane..may be they targeted mostly the youth generation, but as far as they are going on now (think about incessant text messages from the operator itself too) with a cliched slogan, it is obvious that sooner they might lose a huge amount of loyal users , what Warid built with its flexible VASs.
so we can say, its a must to integrate the slogan of a Brand with the theme of a creative to retain a brand successfully . As I said earlier, slogan should be reflected through the creative in such a way that it strengthens the brand's perceived image by the consumer, not just create a new unmatched might turn into a beautiful artwork , but in terms of brand positioning its just a mistake.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Honey and The Money

50 Cent made the autobiographical Get Rich of Die Tryin' based on his rather troubled life (try getting shot nine times and survive to make a movie on it). Fortunately for a commoner, life is usually devoid of such extremities. We aspire and strive for what most want us to be and at times (very sporadically though) fantasize what we could have been. In this crude capitalist world of ours, we are constantly faced with questions that often end with answers that necessarily aren't what we signed up for.

Take career for example... for a man who wasn't born an Arab Sheikh or a Mogul Emperor, making something out of thyself has been a top priority ever since I developed a sense of life. As opposed to some who can just snore thinking life happens to you while you are busy making other plans, the question I've faced all my life is what? by when? instead of a more vague and casual let's see. The core philosophy during the schooling years it was study hard which progressed to be study hard, party harder in college and finally before reaching its current state of work hard, play hard. Although I slacked quite a bit during the study years, it was largely amended by the time I started to work. As a career choice, advertising seemed more of the underground genre than to the chart busting pop hits like Banking, Law, Marketing or even Teaching. But I was from a different school of thought, the one that played around 'its not where you start, but where you get at the end". And man have I enjoyed my last few years at work... being an adman.

But just as life isn't a bed of roses so wasn't bringing ideas to life. Unlike some of its more esteemed industry colleagues, Advertising as a service made far less money than a law or an accounting or even a management consulting firm did. It gets clearer once you realize that all major law, accounting or consulting firms are partnerships (i.e. McKinsey, PwC) while advertising agencies are mostly owned by holding companies (i.e. WPP). I knew what I had signed up for... and tried extra hard to make up the 0's that were missing. The incredibly flexible workspace, the always entertaining colleagues, the eccentric artists and the glamour of being an adman was simply too good to be true. While my friends were busy selling loans, developing annual sales plans or preparing duty rosters; I spent twice their time at work putting great ideas to good use. The supposed great ideas were not always great and involved a lot of smoke and holy water. I had almost forgotten the reason why we all work... the pay!!!

"Who needs money when life was already great, honey?" was perhaps the question that buzzed my head every time I was offered an opportunity to switch industry. Yet as I readied myself for the next big move in my life... all that's great seemed to be puny. The holy matrimony beckoned the colorful me and handed over a reality check on what life is all about. All of a sudden it was stability of the job and salary package instead of joy of work that mattered. How much? had overshadowed how happy?. And to top it all, bank statement had a greater influence than the amazing score in happiness index.

Men, in not so chauvinistic manner were just expected to be in the money-making jobs. Be it a banker with no life or a lawyer with no ethics; you are just to make money... everyday in every possible way. There lied no alternate to this 'common belief' even after having strong-opinionated and successful working women around. I had to work for I had to provide for a family and not for any of the utopian self-actualization or greater  self-esteem. Lost and confused, I tried to looking for a way out resorting to my fun-filled gang at work; and sadly I realized... if they could, even they would (move on). It was the bite in the back I was least prepared for, the choice I thought I would never have to make, the life I frowned upon!!! The path ahead was precise and concise, marriage is for the one with money...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I thought I was starting to love QUBEE

Qubee is cutting corners!
When I got connected to Qubee last year I was surprised how you can avail good internet service with low prices. I could play games online with friends living in Australia & the US. Qubee really meant business. The downloads would be done before I could think of others stuffs to download! I started thinking, hmm… this could be the dawn of quality-internet-service in Bangladesh, after all.

But guess what?... I was wrong, very wrong.

Before Qubee was flooded with hifi-hispeed-wireless internet loving customers who’d have the privilege to have an active internet connection almost anywhere in Dhaka and in most of Chittagong, it was actually going pretty good. However, now that it has more customers than it can accommodate in their fancy-sophisticated servers, it has started to cut corners.

Let me give you an example. I was using one of Qubee’s 512kbps unlimited internet connection (I honestly don’t understand the gravity of that since I’m not one of those computer geeks you’d find in universities). Nevertheless, I understand this much that when I want to download something, I see on my internet download manager, that the transfer rate is showing a constant transfer rate of 60kbps. Well, it’s not showing that anymore. Having noticed it for several days, I finally called Qubee. What they’ve told me drove me mad.

As they urge, I, apparently, download too much, and to facilitate other users in my area, they have reduced my download speed. I was advised to take it easy on how I use my internet! I’m sorry, but how do you do that? I’m on an unlimited plan allowing me to use the internet pretty much however I want it to. And they have only allocated 60kbps of their bandwidth to me on my contract, I cannot possibly exceed that no matter whatever I do. If Qubee wanted me not to use their internet service all the time they should’ve warned me in the first place. Now, I feel like I’m not getting my money’s worth.

Let’s stop bickering about this. We don’t have enough choices in Bangladesh, I know. But I’ll let you guys know about a jungle full of trees and insect where I used an internet connection that is in a different league! It was so fast that I almost fell asleep on my laptop downloading things. It’s in Chittagong, just on the other side of the Karnaphuli River. My question is, if people can have such hispeed internet connection in a jungle, why can’t they have something similar in the major cities, for example, Dhaka, Chittagong?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Having the PA factor

I am not sure if there exists any empirical human resource research on the skills and expertise of PAs (Personal Assistants) to the company chiefs in multinational organisations in Bangladesh or elsewhere. If there were any, I would have tried to find out if my assumptions regarding the skill-set of PAs are correct or not.

Due to popular beliefs or simple stereotypes of this being a clerical job, hardly any job seeker actively pursues the job of a personal assistant or prefers to keep this option lower in the priority list. Some also assume that this job is exclusively for female job seekers only and in a lot of instances, companies actively look out for all female applicants for such a position to aid the day to day work schedule of the head of the organisation. I believe very few PAs realise before they take up the job what kind of exposures they will get in the course of the assignment and the opportunities to develop their professional skills.

PAs seem to be the most privileged staff to be in the closest vicinity of the think tanks of the organisations. As s/he takes down minutes of important meetings and arranges schedules and activities of the chief executive, s/he notices the important dynamics that take place in board rooms. The way things are communicated, argued on, the rationales that lead to decisions being taken and the body languages of colleagues and counterparts – all are observed and recorded by none other than PAs. Moreover, they are the staff who get to observe the leadership brass from a close distance, often allowing them exposure to the thought processes and actions of an organisational leader – CEO. For a variety of these reasons PAs seem to be having a fast track route to developing core business acumen without actually having prestigious business degrees or actually having any real life business management experience.

Certainly the career growth for PAs might be limited – that is, its very unlikely that a PA, after developing business skills by merely being in the company of company heads, will be promoted as a CEO him/herself. But better still, there are examples that many of them have actually ended up being the owner of their own business ventures.

One of the TV programmes that I try to watch from time to time is the Apprentice, a show about which I have tried to convince a few friends in Bangladesh to emulate – without success. The winner of the last year's show was Stella English, who worked as a PA at a Japanese Investment Bank before being selected as one of the candidates of the popular British show. Similarly this year for series 7, one of the top four finalists in the process of becoming Lord Sugar’s business partner happens to be Helen Louise Milligan, who again works as an Executive Assistant to CEO.

Sure not all the fingers of the hand are of the same size, but surely having a PA factor can take you places and make you win big in business and in life.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Bengal of Gold

Just in case you were wondering, the title is from the famous song by Tagore "Aamar Shonar Bangla". Aside from being the national anthem of Bangladesh, the song is one of the better ones out there encapsulating the true beauty of Bengal.

Representing the branding/communications fraternity of Bangladesh, it gives me no pleasure knowing we have achieved almost "zero growth" in increasing the value of "Brand Bangladesh". While different bodies have been mobilized and some been rather proactive (i.e. Bangladesh Brand Forum) to make amends, the end-results are yet to materialize (or far from being sufficient). The government on its part, has done little to make any sizable impact except coining words like "Digital Bangladesh" (which is more fallacy than facts) as well as incorporating "Beautiful Bangladesh" (a stop-gap measure that none seem to approve of). The BPC (Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation) has been a playing catch-up ever since its inception. Which makes it not surprising that even after forty years of being an independent nation, we lack a proper tourism infrastructure. Albeit there has been sporadic moves from the private parties (some mutually beneficial, whereas some purely commercial), tourism in general is considered a public sector undertaking and yet the government has gone underground on it from the beginning.

I fell in love with Kerala only after "Gods own country" showed me how pristine and natural it was and I can only recall Malaysia as the "Truly Asia" country... but I can never associate Bangladesh with such a one-liner in an instance. Of course the proverbial greenery of Bangladesh (which is supposed to depict the green countryside) exists, but really! how many of us would endorse that with a sane mind and hand on our heart? I believe, the numbers are in hundreds if not 10's...

The point wasn't about how far behind we are (which is true for most advancements, actually) but to appreciate what measures we have taken to better our image globally. Sadly, not too many enterprising spirits (persons or companies) have actually brought about any memorable changes to-date! Be it in terms of image building (may be Grameen Bank and Dr. Yunus, but even that's a taboo now) or actual facilitating (name one resort/place that is truly unique to Bangladesh? Just one...) we have failed over and over again to make any great improvements to the sorry state of tourism in Bangladesh.

But as always (just like any fiction or inspirational true events) there is HOPE! Hope in the form of new media (social media, web marketing). While we (the nation, the government, the ones running it and the people) are stressed to feed our poor, implement ADP (Annual Development Plans) or even keeping inflation in check some evangelist souls (companies as well) have been making the most of digital to promote "Brand Bangladesh". Although the following mentions aren't the latest or greatest, they make way for (what I believe) the beginning of a lot of new beginnings for our Bangladesh!!!

First up is a video made by a student from Dhaka University (which I'm led to believe was developed out on a whim) that created a new kind of buzz (promoting Bangladesh's image to the world) and gained popularity through YouTube and Facebook mostly...

Developed by ZANALA Bangladesh, the next one has been (again) one of the most circulated videos about Bangladesh. It was intended as a part a campaign that promoted Bangladesh at an international conference in Canada. Funded by IDLC Bangladesh Ltd., this video even went on to win a special award for "Nation Branding" at Commward 2009. I was lucky to be at the Gala cheering for IDLC and ZANALA for a very well deserved prize...

The final mention, and perhaps the best of the lot (in terms of quality, story-telling and a genuine communication) is "The School of Life" made by GREY Dhaka for the Beautiful Bangladesh campaign and was aired during the opening ceremony of (another milestone for Bangladesh) ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in Dhaka. Not only did it make a dent in everyone's way of thinking (regarding Bangladesh) it was what I would call, a genuine effort to put an image to "Brand Bangladesh"... I loved how the film ends with a call of action (admission going on...) would genuinely endorse it as a must-watch for anyone seeking to get an idea about Bangladesh!

Obviously none of the above make it to the league of a full-fledged campaign like Incredible !ndia, but its a start! And we all can (at least in our own ways) come together to help these trailers make the rest (of the world) fall in love with the movie (hopefully a planned and comprehensive country branding effort)...

A special thanks to Views On Tourism. We should all be thankful to the ones like Majbritt Thomsen for their initiatives! I for one got inspired to write this from a Ms. Marjana Shammi's blog.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What do you exactly do in one line?

শিক্ষিকা: পিন্টু তোমার আম্মু আব্বু কি করে বল তো?
পিন্টু: আমার আব্বু আম্মু? উমমম......আমার আম্মু বাসায় কাজ করে আর আমার আব্বু চানাচুর বিক্রি করে...

Teacher: Pintu tomar ammu abbu ki kore bolo to?
Pintu: amar abbu ammu? Ummm…amar ammu bashay kaj kore ar amar abbu chanachur bikri kore…

One might wonder that Pintu might be an underprivileged young school boy whose mother must be working as a maid from house to house in the affluent neighbourhoods in Dhaka and whose father must be trying hard to meet his ends by selling crisps and light-bites under the scorching sun in Dhaka city. Where in reality, Pintu’s mom works as a full time housewife taking care of Pintu and his father actually works in Pran Foods in Bangladesh which produces, among other things, tasty and very popular chanachur. Interesting perspectives from a child on how simplicity is applied to describe job descriptions- which might be often misleading and funny too.

Can you say in one line what you do? I mean away from your official designation or the one you use on your visiting cards, can you really explain simply what you do for a living? I keep looking at so many job designations as we get ‘linked-in’ and wonder how we could add a bit of extra information in the space provided to describe what we do other than just saying ‘Chief Executive Officer’ or ‘Senior Accounts Manager’ etc. I have so many friends who have a common story to share that the moment they mention to their relatives that they work in ‘grameen phone’ many times they are faced to deal with direct requests to fix their mobile phones or to deal with their bill related issues – without actually figuring out what exactly the person does in that telecom company in Bangladesh. The moment we hear that such and such works in a telecom company we assume that they deal with fixing handsets and with bills. Same goes for bankers – when we hear someone works in a bank, we either just assume that they must be sitting lifelessly on the other side of the counter counting money or must be sitting in square shaped cubicles pushing papers. Is there really any way to add that extra bit of information to explain in a short space of time and space (both online and offline) what you do?

I have a friend whose visiting card says that he is an SME (Subject Matter Expert) in an IT company. That didn’t tell me anything much really so I asked him what he does there exactly. So he told me in plain jargon free English that he is actually a programmer who codes in C++ to make software for the security industry – that’s it. Its interesting to note here there are thousands like him who must be sharing the same job designation as his – ‘programmer’ – in so many other software companies in Bangladesh – but with that extra but precise piece of information that he provided to me verbally – that he makes software for security industry in C++ made it very clear what he does to earn his bread and butter.

Take the case of someone I really admire – Arild Klokkerhaug of Somewhereinblog – the largest Bangla blog in the world. Plain and simply – he is the CEO of one of the most exciting companies in Bangladesh – but as he puts himself to explain what he does – he is the ‘Head of Opportunities’ – Sure without any context you might not understand what he does but really as a CEO what else you expect one to do? Always on the look out for more opportunities for - growth, more innovation, more profit, more success! So think about it – when you say you are a manager in any company, remember you become ‘just another manager’, just another brick in the wall leaving room for imagination of what you actually do. Also I think our visiting cards are built keeping in view the company only, as if its taken for granted that those outside our companies or simple lay persons will be able to understand or atleast generalize what we do. But we can do surely better than that with some judicious use of space, time and words to say some more things about our work, right?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Digital Bangladesh - Get the crowd involved through crowdmaps

Initiatives related with Digital Bangladesh will be truly successful when UNDP in Bangladesh and the Access to Information Programme at the Prime Minister’s Office start relying more on the ‘crowd’ for feedback and service improvement requests across a variety of services on offer such as information, market price, human rights etc. To this extent, I share my inclination towards ‘crowdmaps’ – which is open source, integrated with a range of technology channels such as phone, Twitter, emails, SMS, web, which is free or at minimal cost, customisable, supports a variety of languages and truly inclusive by involving the ultimate beneficiaries in the full value chain process.

‘Crowdmap’ is based on the ‘ushahidi’ platform, the Kenya based technology for development start up which was first used during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007. Since then, it has been used increasingly after the earthquakes in Haiti, New Zealand, Japan, during the crisis in Egypt, Libya etc. Other than being used after natural calamities and man made crisis, ‘crowdmaps’ – rather ‘mapmania’ is going to be one of the key buzzwords for the year 2011.

For example, take the case of a crowdmap set up for reporting and tracking violence against women say in Dhaka city. Imagine the power it would give to ordinary Dhaka women to report incidents immediately to alert police or social agencies via the crowdmap. It could be a quick call against the shortcode for the crowdmap, or a quick SMS or for even further details, they can always login to internet to report in detail what exactly happened. It would become clearer which areas in the city are more prone to incidents against women thus urging authorities to promptly take measures to prevent such events from occurring in future. Please note that crowdmap doesn’t require internet for interacting with its users – simple mobile or landlines can also be integrated with crowdmap via another useful technology useful for NGOs – frontlineSMS. Have a look at a crowdmap to track violence against women in Egypt.

I won’t go into much detail how exactly frontlineSMS or crowdmap work, you can check the links and innovate a service for your locality anywhere in Bangladesh. The key point I am trying to drive home is effective initiatives for Digital Bangladesh will need to come out of closed door seminars and workshops in government offices or posh hotels and from reliance on proprietary software or platforms. Rather than hiring expensive foreign consultants or taking alms from foreign donors on a never-ending basis to devise technology driven solutions for social change, we should explore open source and mostly free technologies such as crowdmaps to include ordinary citizens in various aspects of services which the Government or other social development agencies are mandated to deliver. At present I am involved in a crowdmap initiative for Bangladesh focusing on economic, cultural and social rights of citizens. Power to the 'crowd'.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ipadio - connecting telephony to the internet, without accessing internet

One of the technologies I have been simply in love with is ‘ipadio’ at When I met these guys at a technology conference in London last year, I knew immediately that this is it, the simplicity of the technology and its potential to reach to the last mile simply made me an ardent advocate. If you check out the website, you will see that it just connects simple telephony to the internet – means you only need a landline or a mobile phone to connect to the internet, by leaving an audio message. That’s it.

During my forming years of working at Swisscontact Katalyst, I learnt a lot about how ICT is being used by rural farmers and small businesses in Bangladesh. Amidst all the fanfare and festivity about the power of ICT in Bangladesh, the reliance on internet and the need to access a desktop computer in a village or union parishad, provided that electricity is intact – always posed significant challenge till now – in implementing seamless access to information. I wonder in a country like Bangladesh where mobile penetration is way ahead that of internet penetration, something like ipadio would work wonders in allowing those with a simple mobile phone or in possession of a good old landline – to leave audio information in the internet. The file that gets generated is in .mp3 format making it easy for sharing, embedding in any other website, blogs, social media etc. Interestingly it can be the other way round as well – you can call up someone else and record that interview as an audio file, incase you don’t want the other party to incur any calling costs. Ipadio has freephone numbers in more than 60 countries of the world but they are still not in Bangladesh. If it was possible for them to obtain a local number in Bangladesh, I am sure the service could have been extended to the mass technology lovers and development organisations in Bangladesh.

Services such as this can prove to be extremely relevant and useful in crisis situations like in the Middle East and North Africa where the government is quick to shutdown internet and block mobiles. However, since its still possible to communicate via landlines phones, ipadio offers a great way out to pass out crucial information to the rest of the world. Governments will have to shut down international telephone gateways and even satellite communications to snap the full power of ipadio.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Shadow Chronicles

Being an established self serving advocate, it was quite unbelievable that I would miss the chance to go up on stage and collect the silverware for my campaign "Mentos Monday" at the Adfest Dhaka 2011. But as ironic as it may be, it happened... and somehow, I really have no regrets about it :) After all, winning is all that matters and my missed chance was soon made up for as I stood on stage collecting the second silverware for the night that we (Ogilvy Bangladesh) had won. Winning feels great... everyone gets to take pride in it, dialogs start about it, criticism goes up by a notch... ah well, its all just part of the package at the end!!!

Beating the mighty Prothom Alo to take the best print ad award (news and publications category) was quite an achievement for Daily Sun. Being only a few months old, the English daily is hardly a match for the no.1 newspaper in Bangladesh for over a decade. And even when it comes to communication, Prothom Alo has been leading the way with some of the great campaigns that we've been exposed to in past few years. However, it wasn't to be the same this time around... the Daily Sun Victory Day (16th December) print ad dethroned its predominant competitor to take away the silverware!!!

The idea was to associate how the "pen" is mightier than the "sword" (or in this case the rifle) and salute the freedom fighters on the eve of Victory Day.

However, as deserving or crappy as it may seem... no sooner had the award been announced that an anti-alliance was formed. As I closely watched people from the creative industry bombard this piece of communication as a "copycat" of a noted campaign from a global brand; I simply couldn't resist to dig deep and actually unearth the practice of using such shadows in advertising around the world.

The campaign from which the one above had apparently taken inspiration (or copied) from belonged to Lego, the colorful interlocking plastic bricks that we all loved back in childhood.
This campaign was all about highlighting the greatest strength we posses as children, "creative imagination". When a child's vivid imagination takes over, even the simplest of Lego structures could stand for the unlikeliest of objects (in this case a ship, a dinosaur, a tank and a plane).

Considering how half a glass of water can stand for both optimism (if seen as half full) and pessimism (half empty) in one single visual representation; its hard to believe that a creative mind would associate the campaigns above to be of the same kind (let alone, dubbing the local to be a "copycat" of the global).

In fact, the use the shadows to mirror the subtext of the image is a common practice that's been going on for ages. Its easy to label a local creative as a knockoff of the global award winning work, but when you see the following, does the same neurons tickle your brains?
And more...
Even movies haven't shied away from ripping the benefits of this shadow-play either... 
Its really unfortunate, that we as a nation are obsessed with defaming the achievements of others (and I'm sure multiple occasions are popping up in your head, too). It would be really great to have something as original and authentic as the Holy Qur'an, but that's hardly ever the case. Because the brains behind such creative work take inspirations from their daily lives; it seems, at times their expressions of different ideas take not so different shapes at the end...

Its always easier to say something is "copied" rather than trying to interpret what the thought behind is, just like the way it is to condemn than to compliment!!!

For more on use of shadows in advertising, please visit

Friday, February 11, 2011

The joy of being served tea and biscuits by Jasim

Wonder if you would agree or not, but one of the silent pleasures of working in a company in Bangladesh lies in the privilege of ordering someone else (usually the office tea boy/girl) for a cup of tea or a black coffee and getting served straight at your desk when you must be crunching numbers with your open excel spreadsheet or are about to start that all important meeting with visitors. I always had full respect for these support service staff but never realised the luxury they used to offer us until I started working full time outside the country. I guess we carry the culture from our households where we grew up seeing our houses being cleaned, food being cooked and cars being driven by ‘others’ who were hired or kept to do such jobs only. So naturally when we get into workspaces, we could not get over that hard-coded habit of ‘being served’ the little refreshments of another day at work.

But honestly, would you really expect the same treatment when you are outside Bangladesh? May be you would silently miss that, like I do, but would you actually go to the extent of bringing someone over from Bangladesh to execute the same responsibilities? I did come across Jasim, the ‘imported from Bangladesh’ tea boy, here in London while attending a meeting owned by a British Bangladeshi gentleman. Most of the workplaces here have a kind of ‘serve yourself’ policy in designated kitchens, or you might see your hosts preparing your desired caffeine option before the start of any meeting. But to my surprise when my host ordered for some tea and biscuits to a nicely dressed young man, he jumped to his routine duty of boiling the water and pouring the biscuits on the plates for us. As I was being served by Jasim, I could not help asking my host how could he afford to have the luxury of having a tea boy in west London for such a small company as his. He explained rather proudly that he had brought Jasim from Bangladesh to offer him a better life. I didn’t ask in detail how exactly he could bring him over. No wonder he wears tucked in shirts and nice trousers but still ends up serving tea and biscuit to his Bangladeshi master. The other Bangladeshi staff at the meeting, young graduates from private universities in Dhaka, jokingly informed me that they also sometimes call for Jasim Bhai’s services as that is what the norm is in Bangladesh, so they feel good when there is someone else to serve them tea or coffee at work – it makes them feel important and in control somehow.

So there you go, order some tea to Jasim, sip it hot in cold cold London, feel good and empowered and continue working.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Discount Shopping News in Bangladesh!

Good news for Bangladeshi shoppers and marketers. Deshbazar.Co.CC offers a win-win service for Bangladeshi buyers and sellers.

Deshbazar.Co.CC is number one source for Bangladeshi shoppers to get discounts, hot deals, special offers, free offers and money savings shopping news from Bangladesh. That site finds the best and latest offers from Bangladeshi market and posts them for public. Have fun and happy shopping!

That website also recommends all Bangladeshi marketers or sellers to inform the site admin about their hot deals. So that the site admin can publish the special offers (consumer promotion) directly from the manufactures/importers/service providers to the target market. Thus Deshbazar.Co.CC could able to communicate to the customers and consumers to let them get the advantage of your latest offer(s).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Money Mongers

Lately, I have been busy arranging and taking interviews of a whole bunch of fresh graduates for my firm. Considering the business is advertising and the firm being Ogilvy & Mather; I genuinely had expected a lot of good buzz from the "graduate market". It wasn't too far-fetched an expectation, since almost all of Hollywood has in one way or the other pictured admans to be the coolest, most sought-after and playful professionals right after George Clooney in any role (i.e. negotiator or thief) and Brad Pitt as a renegade (fight club, troy, kalifornia etc.). Even in our fashion/trendz go-to country India has colorful advertising personalities hitting the headlines quite regularly (Prasoon Joshi - Lagaan, Balki - Cheeni Kum and the critically acclaimed Rahul Bose; all hail from advertising). But when in comes to Bangladesh, just as many other "brainiac" industries; advertising is always referred as an industry in its nascent phase. Saying this, I guess its very clear to the wandering mind how hard it is to recruit good talents for the industry...

At the beginning of my career in advertising (which was not so long ago), I was told by one of my earliest mentors in this industry... your career is like a race, either you sprint start and get juiced out by the middle of it or you could run a marathon and live up to the Aesop's fable of "the hare and the tortoise". In both ways, its a race and running is imperative... there is no easy way out but its not only about raw power and brute strength either. The smartness lies with the "mode" you choose and also how effectively you make the most of the path chosen. Philosophies aside, it is very uncommon in today's youth to be accredited for being a marathon runner. For there is no prize for starting small to make it big one day, but only to start big to be the biggest in no time :) Sadly, we fail to realize... as Mr. Paul Arden rightly puts, "Its not how good you are, its how good you want to be". The word "potential" is more common in people than the word "successful" and one doesn't have to dig too deep to figure why?

The great talent-grabbers of past - BAT, Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser and Standard Chartered are still there at the top of the food chain. But its the more hyena like newcomers who have actually redefined the job prospects of a newbie. Upcoming and promising local banks (Brac Bank EBL, Dhaka Bank), conglomerates (ACI, Rahimafrooz), communications superpowers (GP, Blink, Warid/Airtel, Qubee) are all who operate in the upper-mid food chain and consume the most of talents. I am no communist, nor do I see myself resenting for not starting in any of the companies mentioned above... but I am pragmatic  and in no way can I justify some of the absurdest amounts that I hear of as "starting/basic package".

The US of A, the great capitalist superpower, the mother of dreamlands, the country which sets the benchmark for these "martian" salaries has a PPP (per capita GDP) of $47,123 and a minimum average MBA starting salary of $73,000 (the least a MBA graduate would start with). Makes sense; considering "ivy league" is a word coined by them and them alone, and almost 90% (figuratively) of the world's Top 500 universities are from mainland USA. Interestingly now, if we look at Bangladesh, a developing (a gentle word for poor) country from the third world with a meager PPP of $1565 (that to, after consecutive years of near-to double digit GDP growth), average starting salary for a decent MBA graduate is in and around the region of $5000 (taking in reference the average starting salaries posted in recruitment ads). While the US MBA grads enjoy a nearly 1.5 times valuation (as opposed to the general mass), its an astounding 3.2 times for a Bangladeshi MBA. And just to add more juice to the irony, no Bangladeshi university even features in the Top 500 and there is no sign of one making into that list anytime in the near future (According to webometrics, BUET the highest ranked, is 2916th in the World).

Its really good to be on the receiving end of such astronomic sums at the month's end... and I don't see any harm in watching these children (I couldn't find a better word for the freshlings) become complacent over time. Its not because they are right in doing so, but because in the rat-race of hiring the best talents, we have actually gone beyond the logical sums that rightly valuate a fresher's talent and capacity to contribute to the hiring organization. At the end, these companies do perhaps get the best of the best, but only to lose them in a few years for a better/sweeter deal to a competitor. This chain of offering better to get the best is indeed never-ending (only to the point when one becomes too expensive to maintain or simply, just redundant). The money we make... makes a lot of difference in our daily lives (after all, that's why we work to begin with) but we fail to realize the money cannot be the ultimate decisive factor in choosing careers. Religious Teacher, Doctors, Firefighters, Teachers and Police make the top half of the "most satisfying occupation" list in US. And when you wonder how would these occupations actually suit in Bangladesh terms, all you are left with is a grim expression.

All said and done... there will always be a disparity between the highest paying jobs and the most satisfying ones. It is for us to determine for ourselves which suits us the best, and not only that pays the best. A career is not about how fast you start the race, but how high you actually finish it. And finally to end it, I look back on the the apt words of Baz Luhrmann from the song "Sunscreen",

"…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bangladeshi TV ads in YouTube

One thing I must say I miss watching are the TVCs by the Bangladeshi companies. It has been quite a while that I have been requesting quite a few movers and shakers in the Bangladeshi brand-wagon to have a central archive of Bangladeshi TV ads online, preferably in YouTube or Vimeo. I had even approached academics who preach branding and advertising to undertake some sort of an internship project for a group of students who might volunteer to setup a dedicated YouTube channel for Bangladeshi companies. I am afraid all these efforts have fallen on deaf ears and our representation and exploitation by Bangladeshi businesses on YouTube remains at best – scattered and unorganised. There are individual efforts by some enthusiastic viewers to take the pain to record and upload online the TVCs mostly by mobile telecom operators, but that too, is not planned, organised or even patronised by any company officially. (you might want to read a related post regarding your company being WEBFFYT).

Now why would I advocate that either Bangladeshi businesses think seriously of maintaining an active presence in YouTube or why should I urge the brand-gurus, business magazines of Bangladesh to consider setting up a centralised channel to feature TVCs from all companies whose ads are being shown in the private and nationalised TV channels in Bangladesh? There are a few reasons.

Firstly, the immediate audience of these ads are not going to be Bangladeshi consumers inside Bangladesh, as they are getting exposed to those ads through TV channels in any case. They should be primarily targeted towards non-resident Bangladeshis and foreign investors, advertising professionals, film-makers, partners etc. who might be interested to know more about 1. what are the latest ads 2. their quality in terms of storyboarding, composing, shooting, messaging, execution etc. or 3. even just to know what a certain Bangladeshi company is up to lately with relation to their products, services and offers.

Secondly, uploading and making available TVCs in YouTube or Vimeo or a certain video sharing website will enable the viewers who are the ultimate consumers not only to comment on those ads but also to share it with their networks through social media and other means if the ad is worth sharing or really funny or controversial. I strongly believe that ordinary consumers can come up with interesting insights and observations about TVCs and we always don’t have to wait for Mr. Know All Ahmed to write reviews in monthly business magazines and business newspapers in Bangladesh. The viewers are the best reviewers too.

Finally this might open up another opportunity for event management companies or corporates who love to give away awards as a means of self-promotion, to actually arrange a crowdsourced best Bangladeshi TV ad award. In this case, the voting can be made open to worldwide viewers and not left on the hands of a jury made of business leaders, teachers, gurus who know each other well and prefer to keep a closed-door community.

So what do you think about this? Please share your views.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh - 8 ideas for your business!

How is your business gearing up for the greatest cricketing event of the world when it kicks off in Dhaka on February 17th? As the cricket lovers from all around the world will either get glued to their TVs, computers and phones to get latest updates from the grounds of the sub-continent and while many of them will arrive in person to root for their favourite teams – how as a Bangladeshi business, you are preparing yourself not only to cash in on the opportunity but also to play some role whatsoever in upholding the local norms, cultures and traditions to the world media, to visitors in Bangladesh and to viewers abroad?

Might be a good idea to steer clear of the controversies and chaos ahead of the big event next month. Already quite a lot of chaos has been reported in relation to clashes for tickets, regarding the event managers of the opening ceremony and their involving Indian celebrities and the more serious concerns about adequate accommodation facilities for the foreign visitors. We can’t talk about all these in this post and neither we are in any position to provide solutions for them. Rather lets stay focused on opportunities. Not in any particular order or preference, some thoughts are as following –

  1. Reengineer, rename and revamp your menu

If you are in the business of food, takeaways, fast-food or restaurants, how about renaming some key popular dishes in your menu according to the cricketing themes, teams or even players? We already have seen our love for opponent-named dish items when we had beaten Australia and New Zealand in form of kangaroo curry and kiwi bhorta special! So be innovative and go ahead rename your cocktails as ‘Captain Courageous-Shakib Special’, burgers as ‘Tornado Tamim’ or spicy items as ‘Mashrafee Masala’. Possibilities are endless.

  1. Eat, sip and cheer

Again this goes out to those in food businesses, make sure you have TV screens, large and small, installed and supported by UPS to show matches as they are being played. Quite a great opportunity to lock in your customers to enjoy the match in your restaurants with specially discounted food prices for the duration of the match may be, or for an innings only or even for the first fifteen overs only!

  1. A win for Bangladesh, a win for the food-lovers, shoppers and mobile users

Don’t wait for the politicians and governments to flood our players with accolades and awards incase we steal some thunder during this world cup, you can do it yourself from your business perspective, you can do it early on and by rewarding not the players but their numerous supporters and fan from around the country. Announce early on through your websites, social media pages, or put up a banner and print in your menus that you will offer free meals or free drinks all throughout the following day of a historic home win! This might be your gesture to show gratitude to Tamims and Shakibs incase they bring some much needed glory for the nation form the cricket war fields.

In the same tune, if you are a retailer, the world cup offers you a great external hook to offer discounts for a day, week or based on a match by match basis to your customers. Its just a matter of how you show your brand to be completely drenched in the world cup rain and how passionately you want to share this spirit with your customers.

Finally, the mobile phone companies can always offer their subscribers free minutes or free SMSes incase Bangladesh wins, so that the good news can be shared faster and wider among friends and families at home and abroad.

  1. Freebies with every wicket, freebies with every six

Again this idea might work on a match by match basis and can be limited to the day of the match only. You can announce beforehand that every time Bangladesh is playing a match, every time an opponent wicket falls or everytime a Bangladeshi batsman scores a six, you offer a free coke to all who are present in your restaurant at that moment.

  1. The glorious cricketing moments in DVD

We’ve talked about this before in an earlier post. No occasion will be as great as this to finally showcase in the form of a DVD/CD the historic winning moments of Bangladeshi cricket and make them available for purchase or as prize items competitions in your points of sales, business premises.

  1. Patriotic marketing and patriotism merchandising

A great occasion yet again to print out t-shirts, mugs, key-rings, wrist-bands, stickers, photoframes etc. with the Bengal tigers on it. Even better that if you are a charity or as part of your corporate generosity towards the development of the sport in Bangladesh, you can decide to donate either the full or a certain percentage of sales to skills searching, developing initiatives for Bangladesh cricket.

  1. Tourism and sightseeing – if a festival doesn’t exist – invent it and have fun!

There is no doubt that travel agencies and the tourism board of Bangladesh are gearing up to woo the foreign sports tourists to various scenic locations of Bangladesh. Many among this group might actually arrive in the sub-continent with a view to not only enjoy great games of cricket but also to make a touristic discovery of India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the same breathe, which is certainly a good idea. It might not be the best idea to compare tourist attractions of Bangladesh with other countries as we have what we have and we can change things overnights, merely can try to improve them over time. Something we can certainly do is to innovate rituals or activities at or surrounding our tourist locations and relate them to cricket in such a way that even after the world cup finishes, we can continue with the trend and festivities years after years.

For example, how about a beach cricket tournament in Cox’s Bazar? The format of the game, rules, prizes etc. might require a whole different post but the key idea here is to innovate something unique which doesn’t exist as a tourist attraction related to cricket anywhere in the world- or certainly not in the Indian sub-continent. We have the longest unbroken sea beach in the whole world stretching 120 kilometres. A fun to watch 20-20 cricket match at every 5 kilometer of the stretch over a period of 2-3 days might draw enough participants and tourists alike to visit each location for the fun of it, and thus discover the unique beauties of the coastal Bangladesh in a different sporting way.

  1. The cricket bat of best wishes

Although a bit late for this may or I am not entirely aware if anything similar have already taken place- but it would be nice if a massive cricket bat could have travelled to all district towns of Bangladesh where the fans could have signed in their support for the home team. If travelling to each corner of the country sounds improbable within a month then atleast visiting the divisional headquarters would be nice. In the end of the day, the world cup in Bangladesh will be more about the fans and lovers of cricket than about the players themselves. So the common public have every right to be a part of this festivity from outside the stadiums too.

So just some random thoughts here, let me know how you are preparing for the fun with the bat and ball next month.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Social 999 and Information Dam - How to deal with social emergencies with technology? - Part 1

Today - a post not directly related to businesses or branding as such, something more related rather with my work with social networks, technology,development, human rights - social change in general. Inspired by the latest conversations in the field, especially by the pioneering thoughts of Clay Shirky, I had been thinking along the lines of a concept which I term as 'social 999' and a related concept of 'information dams' and how, I wonder, we could use these to precipitate social change. These are very embryonic thoughts and will require further research, ideas and investigation in days to come.The key question is how would it be if we could use social networking platforms as some sort of a social 999 or a social 911 in which case we could use a combination of existing social media channels where the look-alikes of typical real life emergencies such as 'policing, medical and fire-fighting' could be dealt with by the community members themselves?

If you look at how the emergency numbers and the services that are provided across countries by calling the usually three digit emergency number, you will realise that there are several characteristics related to the emergencies. Firstly they concern with loss, damage or deterioration of properties, health or even life of an individual or a community as a whole. Imagine what happens when a fire breaks out in a block of buildings and there are women, children and elderly trapped inside. Think about a theft or a crime occurring which effect a household or an individual which require police to address the case immediately. In the same breathe, imagine when the paramedics rush with their ambulance to attend to the deteriorating health situation of any unfortunate ailing person in pain. All these circumstances include the threat to health, property or law and order which can influence individuals and communities alike.

Secondly there is this aspect of reaction speed. Imagine what would happen if the fire brigade arrives to a burning block of flats after say 2-3 hours when the whole infrastructure might get reduced to ashes. Similarly what's the point if the paramedics arrive at the scene to attend a heart patient in distress after an hour or so? How quickly the emergency service providers can react is one of the key critical success factors that make 999 or 911 effective and useful for the community.

Thirdly it's important that perfectly skilled professionals are standing by to respond to our emergency calls. How terrible it would be that a bunch of amateurs wearing uniforms would show up with water buckets to extinguish a fire? Even worse if they hesitate to plunge into the fire risking their own lives to save others. The brave-hearts fighting with fire are expected to be brave and well trained. Similarly you will not want amateurs to attend to a patient who have just had a heart attack.

Finally there is this issue of abuse of the system. Imagine the amount of false alarms the emergency services in real life must have to deal with on a daily basis. This can range from old widows calling 999 to help look for their missing cats to panic struck health freak who calls for paramedics after mild chest burns which may be due to trapped wind. In majority of the cases I guess emergency service providers have no other way but to respond and attend to such calls, incase the issues are life threatening, even if they end up with a pure time wasting experience.

Now lets take this opportunity to replace these emergencies with some kind of a social emergency, violations of human rights of some sort against any individual or a community and imagine the services- as actions against those violations. How could we conceptualise a ‘social 999’ like scenario where the user groups, communities of best practices, groups, tribes, tightly or loosely connected networks – whatever you call it, will use social networks to deal with a social emergency, a man made crisis of some nature, which might require urgent addressing by all involved to tackle the challenge. Lets look into some more details of social 999 and the concept of ‘information dam’ in the next release.