Trends: mLearning Revolution

This is a great article on the impact of Mobile on Learning and worth a read.

The key for successfully channeling the mLearning revolution will not simply be about digitizing current educational systems. The real appeal will be allowing people to choose their own paths, leverage their talents, and follow their passions and callings. MLearning has much business potential, but the most exciting and rewarding aspect of these solutions is that students of any age or background might have the chance to pursue knowledge that is meaningful, relevant, and realistic to achieve in their own lives.

I think it is kind of liberating to learn what you want, when you want and how you want. The tools are not there yet, but there are lots of developments in this space and opportunities as well.  Here are a few stories to confirm some of the observations in this post:

  • My 80+ year old parents and mother-in-law who never touched a computer in their  life are comfortable with iPad and Samsung tablet. They started swiping to see several pictures of their great grand-daughter but some of them moved on to skype with my children and even learn a few things from YouTube videos.
  • In a recent gathering, one of our family members told us about a 1+ year old kid wanting her “Apple” during meals. She meant Apple iPad. She was playing with a game while eating. Another kid of similar age watches his favorite YouTube videos during meals. I am not sure whether this is good or bad. It is just that a whole new generation is feeling comfortable with touch enabled technologies and mobile devices for of learning and entertainment.
  • A friend once told me that his kid used a play a lot with his iPhone. When he bought an iPad the kid made a generous offer to his dad – “you keep the small phone and I will keep the big one”. The kid was barely 2 years old. I heard several stories of kids hijacking ipads of their parents.
It will not be long before kids will shift from consuming information to producing information. How can we power these mobile devices into simple writing, drawing and creative tools? Some of that is already happening but the target population seems to be adults. What would a kid’s version of Photoshop look like?

If you are interested in the topic of Learning, you may also want to look at these links:

How People Learn

Seven Freedoms of Learning and Social Software

Learning About Learning

Learning – A Few Quotes

Social Business Tools

Here is an observation about the internal use of Social Media in Business – News from USA TODAY

Beyond advertising on Facebook or Twitter, companies are using social networks to build teams that solve problems faster, share information better among their employees and partners, bring customer ideas for new product designs to market earlier, and redesign all kinds of corporate software in Facebook’s easy-to-learn style. Social media reinventing how business is done

Heavy use of social tools has a statistically significant correlation to profitability, said Michael Chui, senior fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute. But it’s early: Only about 3% of respondents used social business tools for all three major uses — reaching customers, connecting employees and coordinating with suppliers, McKinsey said.

“You’ve got to let the conversations happen, even if you might not like all of that conversation,” Shurts said. “It’s going to happen around the water cooler anyway.”

if you want to check out more articles and links on Social Business try the Twitter hashtag #socbiz

A few benefits of using  social tools for business

  1. Improves connection with customers and involves them early in the product design process (Dell’s examples of Ideastorm)
  2. Improves internal communication and knowledge (IBM and other businesses)
  3. Replaces HR handbook (with a more dynamic interactive medium)
  4. Leverages knowledge of consumer tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter to provide enterprise equivalents for collaboration, social connection
  5. Using inbound marketing techniques can help validate product ideas and gain early adopters and evangelists
  6. Social is the new word of mouth for spreading news and information and understanding how to do effectively can help businesses gain new customers, amplify their marketing efforts
  7. Using social tools are one of the easiest ways to stay aware of what is happening in your industry



On a Lighter Note: Ironing Clothes and Drifting a bit

My wife and children make fun of my speed of ironing (pressing)  clothes. I seem to take about 3-4 times the amount of time they normally take. After a bit of analysis I came to the following conclusions:

  1. I use ironing time as thinking time. So I seem to mindlessly do the same thing over and over again. I can easily go into an infinite loop and not mind at all since it gives me more time to think/daydream.
  2. I drift into thinking about better design of iron, better design of iron board, ironing robots, wrinkle free clothes and anything but the process of ironing. This seems to be a common pattern in my life.
  3. Ironing and listening to music and day dreaming  seem to be very complimentary.
  4. I think I am spoiled by the ironing service in my street in Chennai. I ping them to see if they are available. I send   a bunch of washed, wrinkled clothes and get back  neatly pressed clothes. This transaction is a bit asynchronous. Ping, request, response, payload trigger images of http request/response.
  5. This drift, if it lasts long enough, gets me to the meta think mode. I notice that tech terms like meta are seeping into my speech fairly frequently –  asynchronous requests, symmetric relationships, lazy evaluation are some of the more common terms.
  6. I bug my wife with some of this terminology and concepts for real life actions. Some times I tell her in a shopping mall – “Let us do this in parallel.  You can do this, this and this and I will do this. We can synch up after we finish”.
  7. I know I drift. This post itself is one of those examples with thoughts triggering other thoughts.

Worth Quoting

From  letter to prospective shareholders, which is included in the IPO prospectus.

Philosophy worth quoting and emulating:

  • “Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission.”
  • “We think it’s important that everyone who invests in Facebook understands what this mission means to us, how we make decisions and why we do the things we do.”
  • “We don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.”
  • “We don’t wake up in the morning with the primary goal of making money”
  • “We’re going public for our employees and our investors.”


Knowledge Plumbs Darkness

A bit poetic, perhaps. But I love this first para in what is termed as “Epic Mission Statement” of Knowledge Mosaic.

Knowledge bends light and splits atoms. Knowledge plumbs darkness and scales heavens. Knowledge witnesses the birth of everything from nothing. Knowledge peers around corners, and heralds the dawn. Knowledge gathers together our partial, splintered reality and makes it whole. Knowledge makes us powerful.

It is true that Knowledge accounts for a lot of what makes us better, smarter and more intelligent. How do we go about gaining that knowledge? How do we know what we don’t know?

Rules of Product Management – Notes from the Book Part 2

I finished reading  42 Rules of Product Management. Here are some snippets from this book.

On Learning and Product Managers

“The most successful product managers I have known were as comfortable reading Michael Crichton as they were reading Applied Economics. In fact, they spent much of their time in between meetings reading the latest analyst reports and marking up the margins with notes.”

On Managing

Take the time to step back and think about the overall context for your product. Here are a few categories of thoughts to consider –  market dynamics, customer and share of market, business model, pricing and value.

On Great Execution

There are thousands of little decisions that need to be made when bringing a new product to market. These decisions can be broadly classified into four categories:

  • Market, customer, product, and functionality
  • Sales and distribution
  • Usability
  • Technical, engineering, implementation, maintenance, and support

Product managers are only experts in the first area but have to drive decison making in all the four categories

On Market Positioning

Large markets represent billions (or trillions) of dollars of opportunity. But they cannot be approached at this level because large markets are really a composite of medium markets which are made up of smaller and smaller markets. Each market segment supports a specific group of market needs.

As markets mature, companies need to put more energy into positioning and choose those market segments which best align with their products, services, and solutions offering as well as core competencies.

Adjacent markets can also represent growth opportunities

On Customer Research

Customer research generates not only good, unexpected insights for your product throughout the lifecycle,
it’s important to remember to use that feedback to manage the internal discussions and debates.

On Marketing approach

The difference between “product readiness” and “market readiness.”

  • What (or who) influences the customer most?is it other people (industry influencers, colleagues, friends), certain publications or news sources, evidence or proof that your product works?
  • Are people ready for the whole product or do they need to try before they buy?
  • What drives your audience to buy? In other words, are they viral, aspirational, data oriented etc.?
  • What metrics does your company need to see in order to deem your product a success?

Customers are now the leading source of innovations globally (41 percent) and are more important than other sources inside companies, including research and development.

you need to make sure that your products are solving your customers’ needs better than your competitors’ products are—and that you are communicating that in a way that they can make that connection themselves.

On Finding Problems

Find market problems worth solving. This is often the hardest part of our job. We can get so close to our products that we no longer have the wide view to see market problems that are bigger than problems that are currently being addressed. Instead, we see the world through our products and often add new features to further enhance solutions to problems that have already been adequately solved.

It is product management’s responsibility to identify customer problems worth solving. It is engineering’s role to identify technical solutions to those problems.

On Research

Research helps you understand

  1. Your customers
  2. Your competitive marketplace
  3. Competitors
  4. Your own product (perceptions)

Two week rule

Never go more than two weeks without putting your product ideas in front of real users and customers

Steve Blank has a great line about this: “In a startup, no facts exist inside the building, only opinions.”

Markets do not buy products, people do; businesses do not buy products, people (several, or a group, but always people) do.

If your market is in the United States, consider using the NAICS database for industry and labor classifications to get your arms around the total market. Step back from your draft segmentation. Ask if this makes sense. Is it clear? Easily understood? Does it map into the real world?

On Positioning Statement

The positioning statement provides the first decision filter because it defines what you are, and any idea either needs to reinforce that identity or move you down a path defined by your vision. The positioning statement is what you say if someone with a minimal understanding of your industry asks what your product is.


This post is entirely based on the  contents from the book and except one minor summarization, I have not written anything. So this post is really dedicated to the authors of the wonderful book. If you are a product manager, it is a must read.

I love the way the book ends. Rules are meant to be broken. So while all these rules are great guidelines, make up your own based on what you learn form applying them.


Growing Influence of Computer Science on the Physical and Social Sciences

Simons Foundation chooses U.C. Berkeley for Computing Center  for  research:

the growing influence of computer science on the physical and social sciences. An interdisciplinary array of scientists will explore the mathematical foundations of computer science and attack problems in fields as diverse as health care, astrophysics, genetics and economics.

Part science and part engineering, computer science has long been viewed warily by scientists in other disciplines. But that is changing, not only because the computer has become the standard scientific instrument but also because “computational thinking” offers new ways to analyze the vast amounts of data now accessible to scientists.

This new approach — what researchers call the “algorithmic” or “computational” lens — is transforming science in much the way the microscope and telescope did.

Computers, Big Data, Distributed Software Applications are the new tools of Science. We can see new types of applications, far beyond the traditional data processing and automation applications used by businesses.

Several factors contribute towards this trend:

  1. A growing array of sensors
  2. Mobile devices which also act as sensors as well as data collection devices
  3. Touch computing lowering the barriers of adoption of tablets and mobile devices
  4. Technologies for processing Big Data
  5. Analytics and Visualization techniques
  6. AI and Machine Intelligence will increasingly play a role too

Applications and Research tend to co-evolve. We can expect to see a lot of exciting new findings from this and other similar efforts.