It is becoming increasingly evident that companies should be establishing labs inside their entities, for exploring new deep tech independently.
The labs should have the autonomy to go far-out into futuristic new deep tech without having to worry about current limitations.
The research function should be independent and should encourage creativity.
To a large extent the labs work should not have time pressures.
Productising these research ideas would be the key to differentiating the companies offerings in this hyper-competitive space.
These labs should not be led by architects or EMs. They should be led by people who have experience in doing research, preferably PhD.
Research rigour is important.
Some companies have been doing this for a very long time – Mercedes, Airbus, Sabre etc. Ixigo Kitchen Sink is a classic example from a few years ago. I am hearing of more newer companies starting to do this – Amadeus Labs, Rivigo labs etc.
It would be refreshing to see this happening in all the unicorns. For instance, I would imagine Swiggy would benefit immensely — so much funky stuff can be done on IoT, route planning, kitchen optimization etc. Similarly Go-MMT does a lot of research along with the day-to-day work. I believe that this is not the right approach. You should separate these two out – for best optimality. Else, engineers and PMs are permanently at a conundrum to see which is more important – long term research drivers or short term revenue drivers.
This idea just struck me today evening. This is in close heels to the IoT usage with the gas cylinder post that I had done a few weeks ago.
Problem to be solved: Get an accurate state of groceries that is stocked in the kitchen and potentially order them (online?). This is a very common task that is done on a fairly regular basis in most households (typically on the day when ‘monthly shopping’ is done,
All grocery items to be stocked in identical pre-calibrated clear jars.
Item stored in the jar is bar-coded.
Threshold for ordering is to be set initially – by a sticker or using marker pens.
User invokes a smart phone app.
Snaps a picture of the shelf with the stacked clear containers.
App automatically figures out the jars with groceries lesser than the threshold set by the user.
The details of what is stored in the jar is obtained from the bar code.
User either adds the list of items to buy to his to-do list (Google keep? Wunderlist?) – or – directly adds it to his grocery list on the Bigbasket app.
The current proliferation of Hyperlocal is awesome. I love it because of at least 2 reasons:
I get stuff from my local area – a lot of times I am used to getting stuff from nearby where I live. These goods may or may not be available elsewhere.
I get it from the local grocers and shopkeepers – so they are not affected by the so-called “e-commerce boom”. In fact hyperlocal enables ecommerce for these local guys who cannot afford to go and sell online.
Now, with that, out of my mind, let me get to a problem that every household faces. The problem of getting milk (and related items) every morning.
Daily home delivery of milk can be categorized into a couple of types:
People who always order the same type of milk (full cream or toned or slim) and the same quantity every day.
People who have coupons given by the milk guy for different quantities and types of milk. They drop these coupons in a bag outside the gate, and the milk guy delivers per the coupon dropped.
Even the first category guys have an on-demand requirement for other dairy and other bakery products such as curd, ghee, and bread (which, ofcourse has varieties – sandwich bread, milk bread, wheat, brown etc).
If you notice, one thing that is uniform across all the requirements is the fact that, in most times, the requirement is remembered only at 10PM the previous night and is required the next day morning.
This is the official pain-point that is to be addressed.
This is not an extensive mockup, but you get the drift.
Additional features could be:
Location could either be the address that you signed up with, or can be configured using the GPS in your app.
The Date screen could have a way by which you can add recurrence. This would make it slightly more complicated, but might be useful for those who order the same thing again and again.
For best ease of use, I would recommend an online wallet. The delivery is most likely going to be very early hours in the morning, and hence could be cumbersome for COD.
Need for a new special logistic solution
The one thing different about the logistics of this delivery problem is that, in most cases, the delivery would need to be drop into a bag/basket tied on the gate and leave. If the delivery is going to be at 5AM, this would probably need to be the case. This goes against the traditional delivery logistics of getting an ack from the customer.
This could be potentially be solved using:
Trust method. The customer trusts the hyper local delivery guy completely that he would delivery what he had asked for. He would just get an SMS or a push notification that the goods have been delivered.
Proof method: The delivery guy has some kind of a proof method that he did deliver the goods at the appropriate time. Perhaps he could place the goods in the appropriate location, click a snap with his logistics app which would imprint date/time on the snap and send it to you as part of push notification. More sophisticated RFID technologies could also perhaps be used – but I cannot think of any at the moment.
Well, @grofers, @amazonIN are you listening? Can we see this happening any time soon?
I notice User Experience (UX) differences and how they affect my productivity. I love products who focus on great UX. I love products who continually evolve their UX to become better and better. You know what I love even more – products who recognize good UX behaviors and adapt it to their own. And I recently came across a fine example of the latter – Twitter.
This is the android twitter app. Do you see the “New Tweets” button at the top. This is very new. Facebook has had this for ages (it is called “New Stories” and it the button has a more oval structure to it). Clicking on the “New Tweets” button lets you know that there are new tweets and that you can click on that to scroll up to the latest tweets. This also saves you a pull down gesture, which is kind-of hard to do if you are holding and operating your phone with one hand (which is a pretty common use case).
My principal point here is that, if you recognize a good UX mechanism, it is my personal believe that, there is nothing wrong in adapting the mechanism to your product (unless it is patented ofcourse). It helps standardize UX across classes of apps. There is also a sense of sharing between the companies. I am sure FB spent quite a bit of UX effort coming up with their equivalent.
Request: As always, I have one request, which I am sure Twitter will not see, but that is fine, I will indulge myself. I would love to see the “New Tweets” button enhanced with the number of new tweets – example – “132 New Tweets”. Twitter has the underlying algorithms for this, since it is present in their webapp.
I have been a big fan of BigBasket.com for quite a while now. While I love walking by the supermarket aisles and ‘discovering’ new products, bigbasket has taken away the stress of monthly grocery shopping for the family. To be fair, I should also disclose the fact that, we alternate buying weekly vegetables from bigbasket and our local HOPCOMS vegetable store (walking distance).
I had been thinking of a few things that bigbasket could introduce to make it even better. Having been a program manager (in a previous live at Microsoft), the first thing you do is to write a feature set / requirement spec. Here goes!
Weekly vegetable delivery. This is something similar to Amazon Fresh in select areas of the US. Most of India shops for veggies once a week, for a week. There is usually a preference on vegetables in most households. The vegetables could be a randomized set. (This is a common pain point when you buy veggies – what veggies did you buy last week – no one wants a repeat, leave alone several repeats). Ofcourse, no one minds repeats of favourite veggies (um, potato?). Send an email on Friday or Saturday listing a proposed selection of vegetables that would be delivered on Sunday. This would let the user to potentially tweak the order set. Guarantee freshness delivered at your door step, every weekend morning. I am sure you will get a bunch of customers asap.
Grocery is something that is fairly predictable too. Pulses, masalas, and other house hold goods are typically purchased at a roughly similar frequency. There is some infra that is already available with bigbasket for this – in the form of smart basket. I got this idea from looking at my own shopping analytics that is available at bigbasket right now. If I can see it, so can the system, and make a prediction.
Festivals and Diets: You can incorporate all kinds of smarts into this too. Suggest more ghee and sugar during festive seasons like Diwali maybe? Suggest baking accessories during Christmas maybe? How about incorporating your diet plan into this as well? If you get broccoli every week, would you throw it away? Always suggest low sodium salt?
Recipes: Hey ! You are throwing in a bunch of veggies, and you know the other groceries that you have delivered recently, why cant you put together 2 recipes per week using these ingredients. Simple pictorial ones. Easy to understand, and prepare. Even better, add one or two more exotic ingredients (for free), which in conjunction with the veggies delivered and the groceries that you recently delivered, would make a super exotic meal. This is marketing for those two exotic ingredients. If they like this recipe, now, you have a regular customer for 2 more of your offerings.
Secret box: There are a few start-ups in the US that are attempting this now. For a monthly subscription, they will deliver a monthly surprise box containing cosmetics or snacks, or other similar consumable stuff. This is a great marketing tie-up opportunity with partners. Drop in a couple of satchets of the newest flavour of Saffola Oats – carefully concealed in some secret wrapping of course (to enhance the interest) for free with your delivery. Notice the delight in the customers attitude. You can also link this line item with the previous (recipe) for even more customer delight goodness.
Delivery: What if the customer does not really want you to deliver home? Get up early on a sunday morning to a doorbell? Really? I bet the idea of bigbasket kiosks are already running the rounds inside your org now. You should, and yes, I mean, you should, introduce kiosks for ordering and taking delivery of orders. Best place for these kiosks for the yuppie crowd would be malls and IT parks.
Well to paraphrase ‘Sound of Music’, these are a few of my favourite things. I would love Big basket to come up with these features. And I would be the first one to trial these out !! And well, yeah, to be fair, thanks BigBasket for letting me do some PM stuff that I had not done in quite a while.
Another super idea from Ideo – the design firm. Basic premise is to help folks take their medicines correctly at the right dosage at the right times. Without having to sort through medicines by yourself and figure what to take in the morning, afternoon, or night, pillpack works with your prescription and gives you these small tearable pouches with the date and time printed on them. You just tear the appropriate pouch and take the pills in the pouch. Nice. Another real world problem solved.
Mumbai businessman rethinks the pizza box. Rather than thinking outside the box, he rethought the box. Apparently the reason why Pizzas arrive soggy is because, they dont have a way by which the steam can be ventilated out. This box has been judged the worlds best pizza box by the renowned Scott Wiener (author of a book called Viva La Pizza – The Art of the Pizza box).
It’s the biggest challenge of pizza box designers to design something that retains heat without trapping steam and I think this box has just achieved that” – said Scott.
Gotta love this guy. Check out the full story here -> [link]
Fantastic interview with Richard Branson at TED – Monterey. The humility of the man blows me away.
My biggest takeaway quote from this:
Genuinely, if I bought something or had a particularly bad service in something that I did, I would go and do something myself to fix the problem. Like the time, I flew an airline, and I got really bad customer service, and Virgin Atlantic was born.