Category Archives: Doing Business

Why messaging apps may be a key prong in India’s digital payments push

Money at the speed of a message. Perhaps this is the mantra that social media companies, internet companies and even a business process outsourcer are following as they eye a slice of the 95 per cent-plus cash economy that could potentially go digital. Many of those cash transactions — like person-to-person (P2P), person-to-merchant (P2M) or consumer payments — could be done on digital platforms such as chat rooms or messaging apps. Accelerating the shift from cash to digital is the government’s ..

Can Netflix Survive in the New World It Created?

Ted Sarandos, who runs Netflix’s Hollywood operation and makes the company’s deals with networks and studios, was up first to rehearse his lines. “Pilots, the fall season, summer repeats, live ratings” — all hallmarks of traditional television — were falling away because of Netflix, he boasted. Unlike a network, which needs shows that are ratings “home runs” to maximize viewers and hence ad dollars, he continued, Netflix also values “singles” and “doubles” that appeal to narrower segments of subscribers. Its ability to analyze vast amounts of data about its customers’ viewing preferences helped it decide what content to buy and how much to pay for it.

Hastings and Sarandos realized that Netflix could become, in effect, the syndicator for these hourlong dramas: “We found an inefficiency,” is how Hastings describes this insight. One of the first such series to appear on Netflix was AMC’s “Mad Men,” which became available on the site in 2011, between its fourth and fifth seasons. Knowing from its DVD experience that customers often rented a full season of “The Sopranos” in one go, Netflix put the entire first four seasons of “Mad Men” online at once. Bingeing took off.

“When the folks at Sony said we were going to be on Netflix, I didn’t really know what that meant,” Vince Gilligan, the creator of “Breaking Bad,” told me. “I knew Netflix was a company that sent you DVDs in the mail. I didn’t even know what streaming was.” Gilligan quickly found out. “It really kicked our viewership into high gear,” he says. As Michael Nathanson, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, put it to me: “ ‘Breaking Bad’ was 10 times more popular once it started streaming on Netflix.”

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Embracing Agile

Spotify, the music-streaming company, exemplifies an experienced adapter. Founded in 2006, the company was agile from birth, and its entire business model, from product development to marketing and general management, is geared to deliver better customer experiences through agile innovation. But senior leaders no longer dictate specific practices; on the contrary, they encourage experimentation and flexibility as long as changes are consistent with agile principles and can be shown to improve outcomes. As a result, practices vary across the company’s 70 “squads” (Spotify’s name for agile innovation teams) and its “chapters” (the company term for functional competencies such as user interface development and quality testing). Although nearly every squad consists of a small cross-functional team and uses some form of visual progress tracking, ranked priorities, adaptive planning, and brainstorming sessions on how to improve the work process, many teams omit the “burndown” charts (which show work performed and work remaining) that are a common feature of agile teams. Nor do they always measure velocity, keep progress reports, or employ the same techniques for estimating the time required for a given task. These squads have tested their modifications and found that they improve results.

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