Monthly Archives: February 2011

Blink and Flash

Let’s add context first to keep things under control. I am talking about how one reaches to the Eureka moment or that Aha-feeling.

A blink is an expert intuition. You get this intuition when you are doing the same thing again and again and are able to look at a problem and relate it to the solution based on your expertise. Flash on the other hand is strategic intuition. This is the intuition you develop when you are able to connect the dots.

How can you develop the power of blink? From one Malcolm Gladwell’s book (Blink) to the other (Outliers), by becoming an expert. Gladwell explains it as the rule of 10,000 hours. You put 10,000 hours or 10 years into something to become the absolute expert in that. And then when you look at a problem in your space , you get a blink that directs you towards the solution. It’s that blink that tells you that you have what it takes to do it.

Flash or strategic intuition is essentially connecting the dots. You develop the power of flash by studying the history and having a presence of mind, both of which together will help you connect the dots and find the solution to the problem. The idea is to correlate what is happening currently with something that happened in the past. It is easier said than done because the most crucial thing here is a strong presence of mind to draw the correlation. But if you are able to do that, it shows you the way to do what is otherwise not possible.

Are blink and flash mutually exclusive? I believe they are not. They are in fact tightly related to each other and the best decisions are made when you apply both expert and strategic intuition together. The reason being, you often make decisions in the area of your expertise. In making those decisions when you think intuitively, you subconsciously use a combination of strategic and expert intuition. You draw from your expertise and with a strong presence of mind are able to connect the dots using examples from history. That’s when you reach the Eureka moment and go on to do something great and inspirational!

How Microsoft can earn mind share of the next generation tech buyers

It’s awesome, it’s cool, I love it…these were some of the common phrases students attach to a couple of Microsoft product. But to top it off, these cool, awesome and great Microsoft products are not some glamorous gadgets, but the must have software known as Microsoft Office Excel and PowerPoint!

Spending last two year at a business school campus, I saw folks carrying all kinds of cool electronic gadgets from laptops to smartphones. Some people love their Macs, others love their ThinkPads. People swear by their iPhones and Blackberrys. The funny thing is that everyone has got their reasoning to prefer one over the other, and they are of course right from their perspectives, but if there’s only one product which holds up to true (Microsoft) monopoly status, it’s Microsoft Office.

I believe Microsoft Office is the coolest product Microsoft has got in its arsenal at this time. Replacing Excel and PowerPoint is not an option for anyone anytime soon (some might defer, but I believe realistically it won’t be that easy to get rid of them). The best thing for company to do is use these products to the fullest extent to show Microsoft’s coolness to the future generation.

The point here is for the company to build up on the already proven products which people love and build an ecosystem around them. Excel and PowerPoint should be linked to every productivity tool there possibly is ranging from email to instant messenger. Microsoft should take the lead and proactively market the fully featured office collaborative tools focusing on these two products (the keywords here being “fully featured”). Not doing that is pushing people to use competitive products for collaboration.

All these technologies are already there in the expensive version of the software where you can use Office Live Communicator and SharePoint. But these are not the tools a normal college going person use on a daily basis. They use the ones which are more commonly available and can be used for both work and fun. The only way to captivate their attention is to go where they are.

Talking in terms of numbers, let’s look at the cost of acquisition and map it to the Life Time Value of the customer (very stripped down, simplistic back of the envelope calculations). Consider a business school student who’s going to be there for two years. If Microsoft gives away a fully featured version of Microsoft Office with communicator, SharePoint and what not, it will be equivalent to giving away $500 worth of software per student. Microsoft releases a new version of Office every four years. A b-school graduate will be working in the real world for about 30 years on an average. That’s about seven releases of Microsoft Office software if it keeps up the current pace. If the investment made on the customer during two years at b-school makes him or her a loyal customer, with a 40% loyalty retention, the company can expect a return of $2000 per individual for whom this customer is making a software buying decision.

Microsoft: think of it more as a customer acquisition and retention opportunity than an additional software sale opportunity…it will work because you are earning mind share of the audience that is going to make the buying decision tomorrow!