Sunday, 28 January 2018

Dear Past Me

I know life has been quite difficult being inept at handling daily errands and we have always wanted to have a personal assistant like those in hot shot movies, who could just do all the tiring work for us. I call us ‘we’ because you are past and life is changing, we’re entering into a different era altogether. I am going where the world is going, and I recently had the privilege to fulfil our dream of making life easier. So, I came across this great invention by the fast-paced technology that is that of Google Assistant. It is a virtual personal assistant developed by Google that is primarily accessible on mobile and smart home devices, and it can also take on a two-way conversation which is its USP. Users can interrelate with the Google Assistant through natural voice or via keyboard input is also supported. In the same nature and as Google Now, the Assistant can search the Internet, schedule events and alarms, adjust hardware settings on the user's device, and show information from the user's Google account. Google has also announced that the Assistant will be able to identify objects and gather visual information through the device's camera, and support purchasing products and sending money, as well as identifying songs. 

The incredible thing about this technology is that it has now been included in Gooogle VPA enabled Bose QC35 II headphones. And these are the first to have Google Assistant. You see dear self what world has to bring in for us in this life. You know also it’s effortless to use Google Assistant, we just have to press the “Action” button on the headphones, and further one can easily talk normally like one does while on a call. You remember dear self how many times you missed out on important incoming messages and appointments? This is a solution to all such life problems as you can hear incoming messages and calendar appointments too. Further, we can also control music regarding skipping, shuffling tracks and switching playlists. Now isn’t that as good as a life hack! It also improves the music experience as it then gets used to your preferences and taste. Also, we have always been lazy to read news on our own and given that the world is facing a lot of advancements, you must have dreamt of keeping someone to read news for you. So, I’m going to spill the beans now; the Google Assistant also reads the news for you on a single click of the “Play the News” button. Similar to this is its calling experience where you don’t have to go on searching numbers. The headphones also make noise cancellation, and I know you wish you had something like that too, to save yourself from all the lies you spoke to parents. 

Google’s VPA indeed has limitless benefits, and it has made the interaction with the world more accessible. Everything is just a click away, and I finally have an assistant to give orders to, this is the coolest thing you can look for in the Bose QC35 headphones. Never thought everything that I have ever wanted would come in a headphone and it will make my daily life errands fun and easy. The headphone comes in our favourite colours- black and silver, and I can’t wait to suggest my friends about the same, now that I am done telling you how cool it is! 

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Decrypting Vitamin E

We all are constantly looking out for something that could keep us as healthy as possible. But what if one comes across something that could not just benefit a particular organ or disease but has multiple benefits and can literally give people branding other vitamins a run for their money. 

Vitamin E is one such nutrition that has multiple benefits. It plays many roles and not just takes care of health but naturally slows aging. Now, isn’t that great? 

I have been trying my best to keep the most appropriate amount of vitamin E in my diet as I heard a lot about the good it does and not just to one’s body but also skin and hair! Mostly, vitamins and other nutrients tend to only add to the goodness but vitamin E also protects the cells from damaging. Vitamin E also plays the role of antioxidant, preventing free radical damage to specific fats in the body. Vitamin E is also known as fat- soluble vitamin that’s required for the proper function of many organs. Further, vitamin E-rich foods also helps in treating and preventing diseases of the heart and blood and is found only in plant foods, including certain oils, nuts, grains, fruits and wheat germ. 

So, I recently increased vitamin E intake and that included taking more almonds and avocados. Almonds lower blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, reduce hunger and promote weight loss. On the other hand, avocados are nutrient-dense fruit. Further, I also started using olive oil not just as my cooking oil but also for my skin and hair where I use it with carrier oil. This makes skin and hair texture better. Vitamin E s also known for making vision better and one of the good sources for that is palm oil. And it also boosts immunity and prevents cancer. Palm oil is mainly used as cooking oil. 

It’s not just oils and fruits but we also have healthy snacks to munch on and also get the best out of it. Sunflower seeds are one such snack that has plenty of vitamins E. It is known to reduce risk for heart disease. So, you can always grab a nutty bar covered with sunflower seeds and have it to improve your energy level on the go. 

And how can I forget to mention spinach that I have increased intake of. The best part about this particular food is that you can eat spinach raw or toss it up in salads and consume all the goodness. 

For the people who love to munch on non-vegetarian delicacies, shrimp is one good source of vitamin E. Shrimp may be high in cholesterol but it is a low- calorie food which is rich in minerals and vitamins, especially Vitamin E. To get the maximum vitamin E intake one can combine shrimp with chopped onions, tomatoes, chilli peppers, garlic, lemon juice, and put olive oil on a bed of romaine lettuce. 

Vitamin E intake can always be fun and easy for kids and adults to consume and take care of themselves from many diseases and it’s not only only about the cure but vitamin E also prevents! With the right amount of Vitamin E intake in the diet and doctor-recommended Evion supplements - India's No.1 Vitamin E Brand, one can live a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle. 

Go #Evion to win over Vitamin E deficiency. 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The MQL Trap and What Marketers Should Measure

The effectiveness of marketing in a B2B provider firm can be increased by focussing on metrics that reflects entire sales funnel. A marketing qualified lead (MQL) implies a lead that is ready to hand-off to a sales person has been viewed in recent time as definitive way to measure marketing’s effectiveness. However, it wouldn’t be intelligent to focus all of marketing’s time and budget in top-of-the-funnel activities and limit the department’s capability to impact to help impact in later in the sales funnel. This is what Gartner calls ‘MQL Trap’. Marketers are required to broaden their scope from generating leads to contributing in actual revenue generation. 

Moving Beyond MQLs — Other Ways to Measure Marketing Performance 

MQL Conversion Rate: A typical inside-out sales funnel encompasses qualified leads (MQLs, SALs), prospects, opportunities, and concluding at closed deals. If the conversion at each step is tracked and looked over time, it will give a fair idea of the bottleneck and businesses accordingly can model campaigns to improve their performance. 

Competitive Win Rate: How is the performance against competitor on a quarter-over-quarter basis gives an important metric to track for sale success. However, it's important not to measure only the overall win/loss rate. A more holistic measurement includes: 
1) Win rates against the most common and direct competitors 
2) Win rates against competitors in other parts of the Gartner Magic Quadrant (As a Leader, it is important to track against Visionaries and Challengers as you would ideally like to prevent them from moving into the Leaders quadrant). 

A majority of revenue comes from renewals (especially with cloud solutions) and upsells/cross-sells, so retaining customers (with their recurring revenue) and growing account revenue are vital. More than 70% of respondents in a Gartner survey rated interaction with marketing as extremely important in their willingness to remain customers and increase their spending with the provider. Hence, it is wise to include several other metrics that measures the role of marketing in this front. 

Customer Retention Rate
Upsell and Cross-sell Rate
Average Revenue Increase/Customer
Reference/Case Study Growth

A Big Data Approach for Predictive Lead Scoring 

Case#1 DocuSign, a provider of digital transaction management solutions, was faced with a challenge of having four times as many qualified leads as it could handle with its existing sales team. So, instead of hiring more salespeople, DocuSign implemented a predictive lead scoring application that helped classify leads based upon propensity to close. As an example, the model determined that companies from two specific industries were far more likely to buy than were companies that used a specific lead management system, while venture capital-backed companies were less likely to buy. Since the implementation, DocuSign has seen a 38% improvement in leads that converted to closed deals. 

Case#2 SolarWinds spends a lot of money with external lead generation vendors, and it was critical to optimize that marketing spend so the right types of leads got into the top of the funnel. Now, when it gets a batch of leads from, for example, a white-paper campaign, it runs them through the models created by Mintigo to see how they score. For example, the model found that a company was more likely to buy if it had to deal with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance or had a call center, and SolarWinds could look for leads that scored well in those categories. 

Case#3 Citrix, a provider of virtualization, mobility management, networking and cloud services, built its own regression models using existing data, and then utilized Demandbase to clean up and append that data. While its internal models helped improve conversions for individuals, the emergence of buying teams meant that it needed to look at company level data, which it didn't have internally. It worked with Lattice to get proprietary and social media data about attributes, including a company's job postings on LinkedIn, regulatory actions, credit information and Web traffic, and built those into the predictive models. The leads were given a score from 1 to 5; leads of 4 or 5 were indicative of a high propensity to buy. In fact, those with a score of 5 wound up converting into opportunities at a 70% higher rate compared with all leads, and the value of the deal in the pipeline was nearly double.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Homecoming of Terror - House of Cards

Frankly speaking, House of Cards (HoC) has been one of the best TV series on political drama in the recent past. It is based on the novel by Michael Dobbs and deals predominantly with themes of ruthless pragmatism, manipulation and power. Frank Underwood kept us hooked to the screen in its last four seasons of manipulation and politics of fear. It is now back with a tinge of terror in an all new season. 

Frank Underwood is coming to India with the television premiere of House Of Cards Season 5 on Saturday, 3rd June, 5 PM onwards, only on Zee Café! 

Here is a sneak peek at what you can expect in this homecoming of terror – 

**Spoilers Ahead**

The episode commences with a message from Claire Underwood. She appeals to the nation to be observant of unusual activities and report it to the authorities. There is an intense look on her face, and the gravity of the message send a chill down the spines. Frank Underwood then plays a masterstroke in the congressional session and declares war on terror. He delivers a powerful and a compelling speech on the floor in the backdrop of an investigation demand on the crimes he committed as vice president. However, like always, Frank Underwood knows how to turn the tide. 

I am on my way to the funeral of an American patriot. A good man, a husband... a father... who was beheaded on American soil. And this chamber chooses to debate me?”, says Frank Underwood in his fierce speech. 

Claire Underwood chooses to make a public appearance at the convenience store in North Carolina that possibly saw a terror attack. It shows how she is trying to influence the public opinion and use anti-terrorism sentiments among the masses to get votes in the upcoming elections. The funeral scene when Claire breaks down and tries to hide her tears but is stopped by Frank highlights the extent to which he has gone in manipulating sentiments and opinions of the people. As when Claire Underwood says, “We need to dial up the terror”, it reminded me of Donald Trump’s campaign that carefully managed apprehensions and staged ‘anti-muslim’ hysteria to garner votes and eventually won the election. In one of the scene, Catherine Durant and Frank Underwood talks about restrictions on visas and closing down the borders that draw striking similarities in thinking and policies of the reel life and real life POTUS. 

The episode ends with Frank Underwood uttering the words “You have nothing to be afraid off” to a large public gathering outside the White House. However, it is frightening when he pronounces those words facing the viewers. I firmly believe it is just the beginning of the reign of terror under the President Frank Underwood and a lot more exciting but terrifying events and plot twists are about to happen in the coming episodes. Let’s wait and watch as it is revealed on Zee Café. Lay all your cards on the table with the Homecoming of Terror this season! #HOConZCafe

Friday, 12 May 2017

The Mountain Story - Kedarkantha Diary

I want to go someplace where I can see snow”, she asserted. 

It was last few days of the college, and mandatory graduation trip was already in place. Our group was heading Indonesia for possibly the longest duration, but we craved for more and thus began the search for a snowy destination as she desired. We explored options from Sikkim to Everest base camp and finally zeroed down to Kedarkantha trek. It wasn’t easy to convince the lazy bones in the group for a trek, but we managed to establish a consensus. Just when everything looked fine, the plan received its first jolt when one of us had to drop because of early joining date. However, it didn’t stop the rest of us, and we embarked on the journey. 

“If anything can go wrong, it will”, says the Murphy Law. A quick stop in Delhi to buy trek gears looked impossible even when we had buffer time, all thanks to the great Indian railways and the dreadful journey that continued for 36 hours. It can be a whole new story on how we did everything just in time and managed to catch the connecting train to Dehradun. Early morning, we reached Dehradun railway station where we met the rest of the trek batch. Our transportation was ready, and it took 8-10 hours to reach Sankri village. It wasn’t a pleasant ride. It was almost evening when we checked-in to our hotel. A quick batch meet was called, and we were introduced to trek leader and the staff. It was followed by a session on detailed rules and scenarios in trekking. Later after dinner, I thought of going for a walk to explore the place, and I was accompanied by my friend. However, there was nothing much to see except few open shops and basecamps of other trek organisers; therefore, we mostly spent time chit-chatting while discreetly strolling the street from one end to another. It had been a long tiresome journey in past three days, and I dozed off early. 

The next morning, after quick breakfast and a mandatory group picture, we started our trek. The destination for the day was ‘Juda ka Talab’. It is approx. 4 KM from Sankri at an altitude of 9100 ft. Though the distance sounds less the steep climb and slippery track made it look like never ending path. The queries about distance kept coming, and there was always one standard reply from the guide – ‘another half hour’. Perhaps that was true for someone living in the mountains but for city dwellers like us that half hour was taking hours. A much-needed break came halfway when we stopped for lunch in an open meadow. A small Dhaba served us bread omelette and Maggi. It gave us some energy and with renewed vigour we continued. The first glimpse of campsite finally brought a smile and an end of today’s journey. I spent the evening sitting idly near the lake shore. The body was yet to acclimatise the mountains and the night wasn’t easy as almost everyone struggled to sleep. I had a sleepless night too but for an entirely different reason. 

Juda Ka Talab
The girl who yearned for snow got sick and had a restless night, but she recuperated by morning. “I drank a lot of water, and that’s how I recovered”, she said. It is true that hydrating adequately is an essential aspect while trekking as it keeps body and mind energised. It was time for us to march ahead and move to the next campsite, the Kedarkantha base. It is approx. 1.5 KM from ‘Juda Ka Talab’ at an altitude of 10,800 ft. Everyone was expecting another hectic day, but this was the easiest part of our entire trail, and we reached there even before we realised. There I witnessed the most picturesque sunset, and it was pure bliss. I spent next one hour trying to capture the remarkable moments. The darkness engulfed the entire place soon after sunset, and we headed to our tents after early dinner. 

A starry night greeted us at 3 AM in the morning as we got ourselves ready with crampons and gaiters to push for the Kedarkantha summit. I had started showing weariness, and my health card readings went alarmingly low in the morning. 
I told you to drink more water. Why don’t you listen?”, rebuked the girl. 
It is so scary to go out of the tent in that darkness.”, I replied sheepishly. 
Under the moon holding a torch in hand, we began hiking in the sleepy trails of the snow-clad Himalayas amidst the dark trees. I saw moon fading slowly as the sunshine engulfed the sky and the summit was visible but still far away. The trail was getting steeper, more inclined and challenging as we marched ahead. However, the landscape in front of us was getting more beautiful, and that kept us going. As we reached halfway, a sumptuous treat of deliciously baked omelettes came from the Barfani Dhaba. There we stopped for a while to fill our stomach and regain lost energy before continuing to the summit. The last leg of the trail was toughest where at some point inclination was almost 70 degree, but it didn’t deter us reaching the peak where at 12,500 ft. altitude breathtaking 360-degree views of mountains welcomed us. 

The descend started after spending 40-45 minutes at the summit. I felt exhausted and weak. However, it didn’t stop me as going downhill was comparatively easy and was more fun when we had to glide down. We traced our path back to Kedarkantha base and continued to our next camp in Hargaon. It was at an altitude of 8,450 ft. but not very far from Kedarkantha base. The body was drained but a jubilant mood wanted to celebrate the successful summit, and we continued playing games till late night. The next day we began descending back to Sankri. It was the last day of the trek, and we slowly but steadily followed the trail that was mostly through forest cover. 

Hargaon Camp
It felt good to see roads again though we started missing the harsh terrain soon. It was a relaxing stay in the hotel in Sankri, and we geared up to leave for Dehradun next morning. I looked out the car window as we ran parallelly to the river amid continuous drizzle. It was time to say goodbye to the beautiful landscape, the never-ending trail we covered on foot, the bonding and pain we shared. Though our journey ended we’ll continue to cherish the lifelong memories made in the woods and mountains.