LIFE @ZERO DISTANCE

By Gopal Krishnan, Chairman, Ninestars

The continued global uncertainty around COVID-19 feels like an elaborate adaptation of a Stephen King novel with the right amount of suspense, horror and drama. By now, we have realized that even the most carefully drafted crisis plans are inadequate. And that there is simply no playbook.

The world is at ‘zero distance’ and our true tenacity is coming to fore.

Work @zero distance: Home is the new office and work-life blend is the new reality. The saved time in commute is going straight into stretched hours at work. Everyone seems to be working 2x.

Family @zero distance: The work pressure combined with challenges at home need to managed. On the bright side, we are spending more time with family. Let’s make the best of it, support each other and come out stronger.

Wellbeing @zero distance: Health, immunity, wellness, spirituality – all are imminent priorities today. Never have I seen such a keen interest in yoga and Ayurveda to tap into inner wellbeing. Wellness sessions streaming live, experts and gurus sharing insights, and a growing digital audience – all at zero distance.

Events @zero distance: With prestigious events and popular shows going virtual, our social and business calendars look very different. Would the zero-distance networking help us keep connected in a world devoid of travel and conversations in person?

Entertainment @zero distance: One of the worst hit industries in the current crisis, the road to survival for entertainment seems digital. Big budget movies are premiering on OTT platforms. The digital content consumption understandably has grown in double digits across channels. The show indeed must go on.

Retail @zero distance: One click to everything on a wishlist. The increasingly seamless, interactive and intuitive experience not just takes the hassle out of shopping but even makes it enjoyable within the comfort of home. Prompted by social distancing, direct to consumers to their doorsteps is growing rapidly even among traditional shoppers.

Home dining @zero distance: Recently I had an exclusive dining experience at home, thanks to a five-star hotel chain in Bangalore. It was an amazing service, from food to hospitality–so signature of the brand–but now served right at my dining table. It was the premium hotel brand’s way of ensuring its valued customer does not miss out on the dining experience. Go where the consumer is, did you say?

Healthcare @zero distance: Your doctor will see you now, online. Telemedicine has been around for a while, but it has pivoted with a new sense of urgency. On-demand healthcare is on the rise and so is the transformation through AI-enabled systems and wearable devices. Add predictive healthcare and blockchain electronic health records, and you start to see the picture.

Sports @zero distance: Stadiums might be empty, but the world of e-sports is buzzing with excitement. We are yet to hear the updates for the year from big-ticket sport event organizers but I’ll not be surprised if they check in to digital arenas.

So, there it is. From work to social life to services we rely on, zero distance is reshaping not just our business but life at large.

COVID-19 – The mother of all disruptions

COVID-19 has disrupted the rhythm of our daily lives and business, bringing some unique challenges. Despite all the challenges, it is my firm belief that when we come out of this crisis and meet on the other side, what will matter most is how we persevered with grace, camaraderie, and compassion. Here is my take on “the mother of all disruptions – COVID-19” #disruptivethinking #disruptions #covid19 #covidkindness # #futurethinking #innovativethinking #businessinnovation #innovationstrategy #valuecreation Ninestars Information Technologies

Written by
Gopal Krishnan, Founder & Chairman, Ninestars

 

When I am writing this note, COVID-19 has already disrupted our lives on an unprecedented global scale. With more than a million reported cases across countries and nearly 75,000 deaths, COVID-19 has brought the world to a screeching halt. As we go through the throes of the lockdown, the pandemic has pushed the world into a health emergency, showed the cracks in healthcare systems, questioned business models, slowed down the economy, and exposed the vulnerabilities of even developed countries like Italy and the US.

To me,  COVID-19 is the mother of all disruptions. I believe leaders who will rise to the challenge to be resilient and adaptable and won’t let the crisis stop them from moving forward will come out stronger and wiser.

Disruption as an individual

Social distancing has brought forth a lot of anxieties, fear, and uncertainties for all of us. Most of us are facing added pressure from remote working. Instead of being discouraged by the situation, I urge all of you to find ways to manage stress. In my organizations, we have introduced the concept of  5H (Happiness, Health, Habits, Hard work, and Harmony) for WFH where we discuss important elements like happiness and health through virtual sessions on yoga and meditation. With the help of experts, we share techniques and tips to keep anxiety in check. These people connect initiatives that instill in us the power of camaraderie and hope. In these trying times, it is important to practice empathy not just towards others but to ourselves too. Invest time in yourself and emerge as a stronger person when the crisis is over.

Disruption to business

Shortly after the government’s directive to reduce capacity at offices, we rolled out remote working for our staff. What made it possible? Apart from the dedicated effort of our IT infrastructure and administration teams along with the leadership, we have our pioneering effort on workflow automation and cloud infra to thank for. We started on the automation journey much before it became a buzzword in the industry. We have worked systematically, embracing advanced technologies to reach a high percentage of automation, regardless of the diversity or complexity of processes we deal with on a daily basis. Some of our Operations teams work in continuous shifts with extremely tight delivery schedules. These teams are able to continue to deliver customer promise, with minimal interruptions at the beginning of this crisis, due to the technology backbone we have built and continue to make stronger.

However, the crisis is a disruption that would trigger innovation, not just in how we apply technology to deliver better but how we will reshape business models and rethink people engagement. I will not be surprised to see accelerated change, both in small and medium enterprises where change is inevitable and larger businesses who will be forced to rethink priorities.

Disruption on a global front

Upending lives across the globe, shutting down entire cities and countries in a matter of days, only an immediate threat like COVID-19 could bring the world to its knees. With this deep collective vulnerability, it is time to lean on and lift up each other to weather this storm and come out wiser, stronger and kinder than before. Our frontline healthcare practitioners, policymakers, research agencies, private sector, governments at all levels and international organizations will have to work together and reevaluate priorities. If we have to build readiness to manage future health crises, we have to build a new normal in terms of responsive healthcare systems and investments in the right initiatives so that communities worldwide, and not just a privileged few, have access to life-saving measures. If nothing else, the pandemic has taught us how interdependent we really are.

In conclusion

It is not a time to panic but observe caution. Stay strong and invest time in yourself and family. Stay alert and explore new ways to deliver business outcomes. Stay hopeful and build a new world around you.

Earth Day Celebration

Because of coronavirus restrictions, we turned our Earth Day celebrations online. We asked some of our nature enthusiast colleagues to send in their entries for home garden and received a ton of beautiful pictures. Check out these images here.

Leading through the crisis

By the time you read this blog post, COVID-19 has brought the world to a pause. All of a sudden, and sooner than anyone could have envisioned, it was time to go remote. From 4 March, Ninestars announced work from home, starting from the city of Bangalore where our technology and corporate teams are located. On 12 March, immediately after the World Health Organization’s announcement that COVID-19 was a pandemic, remote working was initiated in all our locations.

Challenges are plenty. Our IT team along with delivery team are stretching hours and adopting innovative approaches to ensure we return to business as usual at the earliest across all projects. On the other hand, working from home and working together virtually is a new experience for most of our teams. It is a transition which is difficult but necessary at the moment with India and several other nations opting for lockdown to contain the virus spread.

We reached out to our colleagues to see how they were doing. Some like Dimitar Mitrev, Managing Director of Ninestars Bulgaria, sure knows how to make the best of challenging times. Let’s hear from Dimitar himself:

On finding safety and something to cheer about: Just before our government declared the quarantine and the state of emergency, I moved with my family to my grandma’s house in the countryside, not too far from Sofia. I decided to benefit from the situation and spend my time before/after work in farming, prepared the land for planting and seeding vegetables. So we’re all good and happy here!

Changes at work: Nothing much changed since here in Bulgaria ‘work from home’ program is very popular, but now in isolation it is different. Knowing you can’t go anywhere or meet anyone without the risk of meeting the virus too – my daily routine changed significantly! I love my family, so safety comes first – in the past two weeks I had to adapt to working from home.

Key benefits from remote working:

  • Learn how to manage your time at your best and do as much as possible in so little time because I often got my little helper around me! Growing your patience is something you master after two weeks of WFH!
  • Learn how to communicate at your best because it’s very difficult to coordinate and manage operations in an entirely virtual environment (Skype and Teams are your best friends!)
  • Learn how to follow up on the assigned tasks. In the office, it’s super easy to solve anything while virtually it requires a proactive approach and a well-organised schedule of tasks.
  • Discover the invaluable treasure I have at home and how many moments I’m missing while I’m away – looking at my wife and my boy I just feel happy! My wife is helping me so much in raising our son and he is on the fire of curiosity all the time! 😃 So without her, I wouldn’t have had even half a day of proper working time.

Employee Spotlight: The stars of Ninestars

The wall at the cafeteria in our Bangalore office features a detailed mural full of characters from your favourite comic books. And when you walk down to the 3rd-floor reception, the stark grey wall also flaunts beautiful chalkboard styled motifs featuring doodles that changes every quarter. All this is the artwork of our Graphic Designer Abhishek A.

 Abhishek develops engaging concepts, layouts and on-brand pixel-accurate graphics from brochures, posters, logos, infographics, et al to ensure a consistent brand perception.

We caught up with the artist behind the Graphic designer whose style merges a storytelling impulse with semi-abstract art. Abhishek incorporates elements of repetition, texture, stillness, and rhythm in his artworks.

When did you first know you were an artist?
As early as I can remember, I always drew. I still remember those days sitting in my room drawing and creating imaginary worlds on paper. I didn’t consider myself an artist until high school. I went to Chitra Kala Parishat, the fine arts school in Bangalore, which is where it all came together for me as an artist.

Which artists have played a role in influencing your style?
Salvador Dali, Paul Gauguin, M F Hussain, and S H Raza are my favorite artists. All of them are amazing with their unique style. For my work, I like doing semi-abstract work blending realistic and semi-realistic art. My favorite artworks are:
Salvador Dali – The Meditative Rose
Paul Gauguin – Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
S H Raza – The Universe
M F Hussain – Horse Sketches

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not painting?
As I am a visual designer, I love creating art-pieces whenever I get a chance. I also teach drawing and painting skills to kids in my free time. Several of my students have won State & National awards (Student categories). I also love Badminton which is a huge stress buster for me. I love playing a game of badminton every morning.

What is it like working at Ninestars?
Working in Ninestars is a great opportunity in terms of freedom for my creativity, to bring my artistic skills in digital work for event collaterals, UI designing and illustration. I also get to create artistic wall murals here!

Reflection from FIBEP 2019

Our CTO Mohan Doshi recently attended FIBEP World Media Intelligence Congress, an annual media monitoring event, held in Lima, Peru. FIBEP Congress is one of the largest events that brings together communications professionals worldwide to share best practices, industry developments and innovation. The theme for the event was exploring and expanding the media intelligence world. The three-day conference helped the Ninestars team gather insights and connect to the industry. We showcased PRANA, our flagship product for media monitoring, at the event. We caught up with Mohan soon after the conference and excepts from our conversation are provided below.

 Did this year’s event meet your expectations? Why or why not?            

I am a firm believer in attending events where our customers frequent. It is not just to get more customers, but these events give us a sense of belonging, helping us connect with one another, humanizing what would otherwise be just transactional. No amount of business transactions can replace a human touch. FIBEP helps me reconnect with my acquaintances and friends from the industry and also help gather insights that would help us offer personalized services to our customers. This year’s FIBEP was a small event with fewer people. But through my tech-talk presentation and panel discussion, I was able to drive home the point that innovation requires bold aspirations. Media Monitoring has invested heavily on content (with amazing results) but now it is time to invest in data engineering.

Tell us more about the tech talk. 

The topic I chose was “Tapping data and analytics to innovate faster and at scale”. Data engineering has been gathering momentum across industries and it is important to focus on it. The content automation had its momentum for the past 15 years. Media monitoring organizations have invested heavily on software solutions to automate their processes. Today content automation is baked in and efficient. Social media and online content have however made archaic the older technologies used for content monitoring. The volume and streaming nature of such content need very different technologies to monitor and measure them. The need for information in real time to add certainty to decision-making is key. PRANA as a platform addresses the veracity, volume, velocity, variety and drives the momentum toward value.

What impact do you see FIBEP having on our immediate business goals?                       

In FIBEP 2017, we had unveiled ‘PRANA’ as a solution to all things data and this year, we presented an updated version of PRANA. PRANA is a modular data platform that makes it easy to analyze data in near real-time. I feel that media monitoring organizations are overwhelmed with non-stop stream of data, most of which is creating an information clutter. With PRANA, they can bring all relevant data under one data point, eradicating inefficiencies and improving processing capabilities which leads to better customer experiences. PRANA has evolved in the past year to provide a bouquet of services which are relevant to the industry. The use cases PRANA caters are well-formed. We see an immediate demand for organizations to subscribe to the platform as a whole or a set of services which integrate with their existing workflows.

What is Momentum Mindset and how PRANA will help organizations get into that mindset?                   

Momentum is the fuel that drives an organization toward its goals. Momentum allows us to evolve from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, helping us open ourselves to more opportunities.  Organizations with legacy systems need an immediate process upgrade  to cater to the demanding outcomes their customers are willing to engage in. PRANA can provide that upgrade in a short time and at an affordable budget. Organizations can focus on delivering the value their customers are willing to pay for instead of spending time on engineering solutions. Data being the paradigm of choice for their customers, PRANA can help organizations accelerate toward adopting this paradigm.

Which elements of the event did you like the most?

FIBEP discussed some key areas with a focus beyond media monitoring.  There were topics on risk management, customer experience, World PR Report, deep fake AI and post truth, fact checking and communications-based product offerings to get attention from C-Suite.  The city of Lima, its culture, heritage and the weather were memorable.

Centre Stage – Executive in the spotlight

In an interview with us, our Chief Staff – Corporate Development, VidhyaShankar shares his thoughts on Ninestars’ refreshed strategy, handling corporate development and the importance of strategy planning to accelerate innovation.

Q. You recently joined Ninestars as Chief of Staff. Tell us a bit about your role.

A. My role largely involves activating and bringing together the brain trust of the organisation. The founders have managed to build a true legacy in the form of people, clients and a stellar reputation – we need to leverage our strengths and capabilities as a pioneer in the digitisation space into a new future as we face a brave new digitalised world.

Q. What are the areas of focus, short-term and long?

A. Focus is on People, Patrons, Processes and Positioning: Breathe new life to content; Execute our business growth plans; Ensure continued Client successes and Establish leadership in the Content Tech space globally.

Q. Ninestars is transforming to a content tech company. What does that mean to our customers?

A. As the world around is fast changing, we need to be relevant to our clients and they in turn to their customers – we are becoming a data led intelligence & Insights organisation supporting our clients in their digital transformation.

Q. What are you looking forward to in terms of challenges?

A. Working with Ninestars People and global clients is something that I am looking forward to; and ensuring the legacy continues as we move into top gear, excites me.

Q. What is your leadership style?

A. I am adaptive and try to lead from the front – listening a lot with focus on empowering people. I believe in meritocracy and expect team members to give 100%. Totally, believe in the power of TEAMS and the credo that We Can & We Will achieve and grow a lot more together.

Q. This might be a tad early but what’s your favorite part about working with Ninestars?

A. The office and people have great vibes; Working with Gopal as a Chairman is a fantastic learning experience in leadership, business acumen and imbibing the traits of a visionary. Interacting with Gokul as a MD is a humbling experience in operations and implementing visionary objectives.

Q. What inspires you?

A. A sense of adventure and joy in discovering new ideas, people and manifesting the improbable or the so called impossible – get a total high out of channelizing passion in News, Brands, Technology and unravelling what makes the world go around.

Q. What are you hobbies and interests outside of work?

A. Yoga, Calisthenics, Motor Biking/Driving, Mountains, Music, Movies and GOLF!

Media Intelligence in today’s Digital Age

Do you know what your customers are talking about your brand? Can you find out their hidden needs easily? Have you successfully integrated your media monitoring functions with your business strategies? If you answered ‘yes’ to all the above questions then congratulations your organization is on the right path of exploiting media intelligence.

For all those who were unable to answer the questions above, it calls for the need to expose your enterprise to media intelligence. Media intelligence, a term often confused with media monitoring, is gaining huge importance in the current business scenario..

What exactly is Media Intelligence?

Media intelligence involves gaining insights from data captured by monitoring media and using it in driving strategic decisions, for example, product development, market releases, targeted marketing campaigns etc. Media intelligence helps you understand not only what your customers are talking about your business but also understand what is the buzz around your competitors.

A good media intelligence strategy helps you gain the competitive edge in providing solutions for your customers’ needs and helps you gain higher value.

Media intelligence detects the anomalies across data gathered for example, social media, and search engine marketing. These anomalies equip your organization to changes outside the company and increase the predictability of future happenings.

Media monitoring = Media intelligence?

Media monitoring forms an integral part of MI as it assists you in understanding the tonality, trending themes, and media mention spikes around your own brand. It also lets you know about other players in your market segment. When looking at media monitoring from a perspective of gaining quality insights it is essential that you know the following,

Share of voice: The amount of mentions you have received as compared to your competitors. (Including print, outdoor and online media.)
Trending themes: What are the keywords used in the discussions? (Look for the negative trends too as this will help you understand the most common complaints faced by the customers)
Sentiment Analysis: What is the tone of the conversations? Is it positive or negative? How is it with respect to your competitors?
Media Exposure: How is the brand awareness across segments being affected?
However, MI is much more than just monitoring responses gained across platforms and using natural language processing programs. Having a good media monitoring strategy does not guarantee quality MI.

What more do you need?

Let us have a look at what all can be done to gain effective consumer insights:

Integrating geo-location with coverage: Doing this can help you understand consumer discussions real time and help curb the negative feedbacks before it blasts out on media. (how this happens i.e help curb… is to be pointed out)

Fast redressals: Replying to online discussions revolving around your brand is essential, this can now be facilitated by use of various chatbots providing the human touch therein too. It’s important that companies understand that people talking with them are equally important when compared to the people talking about them. By developing a habit of fast replies on the web ensures that the consumer is involved with you throughout the conversation which helps you stay in control of how the situation evolves rather than losing the customer and resorting to damage control later. This provides you with unique inputs about your respective products and services, which serve as important takeaways when looking at changes.

Tracking referral traffic: For those who want to understand which channels for example, press releases, landing pages, blogs etc. are driving most of the earned coverage referral traffic is an essential element. The data obtained via this can be used to formulate your content strategy and make necessary changes, based on the consumer preference of language and themes. This can also help gain direction with respect to where you want the content to be published or which pages will give you maximum hits when used as landing pages.

Media Intelligence to Business Intelligence

Business intelligence comes into the picture when there is strategic decision making that takes place due to quality MI. Hence, it bridges the gap of just obtaining insights to actually implementing them effective for better value creation as compared to the other market players. Business may use the data gathered and so it’s necessary that you keep the metrics and the reporting format standard. As major media intelligence players dive into consulting we see MI turning into BI in the near future, calling for organizations to take cognizance of this and invest in quality media intelligence resources accordingly.

For a complimentary, no-obligation discussion around ideas on how to leverage Media Intelligence to understand your consumers better, contact us now!

How Internet of Things (IoT) is Going To Impact Your Business?

Technology is constantly evolving at a lightening pace that we can hardly keep up with. The old sci-fi movies wherein everything could be controlled with a press of a button no longer remains a realm of fiction, it has become a reality. A decade ago, words like “smart-fridges” and “self-driving cars” which could only be considered a part of stretched imaginative mind-set have now become an intrinsic part of our vernacular. Considered technical jargon a few years ago, ‘Internet of things’ or ‘IoT’ no longer remains a buzzword. For the uninitiated, IoT is a network of everyday objects that makes life easier, from wearable devices, medical sensors, etc., allowing network connectivity to collect and exchange data.

Is IoT (Internet of Things) a new Concept?

No! The term was coined way back in 1985 by Peter T. Lewis. Although the phrase of “Internet of Things” has a fuzzy description, it basically aims to redefine our digital experiences by adding internet connectivity to anything to collect data that can provide value. And providing value is the key element here. We are entering into a semantic era, which is poised to be more intelligent, connected, and personalized and IoT is driving it.

How to make sense of it?

According to a Gartner’s report, IoT is estimated to account for over 25 billion devices by 2020 with a significant impact on the way we live and interact. It is important to note that IoT is not just a network of objects but it is about building experiences. For a business to capitalize on all that Internet of Things has to offer, it needs to understand how it can provide meaningful value and useful experience to its customers before plunging into the nitty-gritty of technology interface. Knowing how to make the most of the torrent of data pouring out of IoT platforms and using it to provide valuable business insights is the real business game.

How your business gets affected by IoT?

If you are someone who still thinks IoT doesn’t affect your business, it is time to wake up! For a company, a wake of any unfamiliar technology can be overwhelming especially an entity like ‘Internet of Things’ whose definition is still ambiguous. IoT is ushering a new era of digital revolution and if businesses are to survive for long term, they need to start implementing IoT technologies.

How Ninestars can help?

Our strategy at Ninestars operates at the juncture of technology and business by bringing together our capabilities and years of experience to help our clients execute industry-specific strategies for B2B, B2C, and B2B2C to gain sustainable profits, efficiency, and growth. Our innovative products and services help us visualize, seize, and lead the market. We do not follow the market trends but create them! With over 18 years in the industry, Ninestars Information Technologies Pvt. Ltd. has been instrumental in revolutionizing the media industry with innovative projects in newspaper archive digitization and contributing to the digital transformation journey of more than 150 organizations worldwide.

Ninestars is a forward-thinking, agile company that has evolved with the digital content industry, responding to market requirements and innovating consistently. We continue to sustain long-term engagements and exclusive partnerships as well as successfully deliver projects across the world.

At Ninestars, we specialize in harnessing the power of technology to drive greater customer value. We offer custom-built AI solutions that learn and think like humans. Our AI solutions connect our customers with their day-to-day work and empower their growth by providing unique insights, innovation and growth and better business outcomes.

Digitization and Microfilming of Archival Records of Delhi Archives

New Delhi, India, – 3rd August 2017 – Ninestars today announced their collaboration with Delhi Archives to help restore and digitize their 4 crores documents. For the first time, these historically valuable text and images will be preserved and made accessible onlineThe materials will be digitized over a period of five years, preserving them for future generations and making them accessible to the public through website.

The records to be digitized include rich documents collections like the trial of last Mughal emperor, photos of freedom fighters, old heritage buildings, content about how the British government establishment infrastructure, the establishment and expansion of railway, establishment of electricity and telephone departments, growth of education. It also include records of major heritage buildings in Delhi such as the Legislative Assembly, Metcalfe House, Ludlow Castle, and Commissioners Office (now known as L.G building), several maps and plans of Delhi, etc. Other treasures of the Archives include 300-400 years old manuscripts on Ayurveda, medicine and religion.

Mr. Gokul, co-Founder, Managing Director, Ninestars, said, “We feel honored to be a part of such prestigious project. Digitization of Delhi Archive is a significant aspect of history preservation and a huge step towards transforming India into a digitally empowered Nation. We are excited to contribute towards this initiative and are committed towards excellence in all the segments of all our projects.”

About Ninestars

Founded in 1999, Ninestars is an IP-driven Digital transformation industry leader. Ninestars helps Media, Publishing, Communication & PR, Government, BFSI and Publishing industries to redefine consumer experiences, strengthen their digital core, embrace digital transformation, and realize the full potential of their content. With over 18 years in the industry, Ninestars Information Technologies Pvt. Ltd. has been instrumental in revolutionizing the media industry with innovative projects in newspaper archive digitization and contributing to the digital transformation journey of more than 150 organizations worldwide. Ninestars partner with some of the most effective organizations in the world like ProQuest, IBM, Jastec, IISc, Abbyy, Hewlett Packard, Quark and Adobe InDesign to help achieve their shared values.