Where Are Electric Vehicles Headed?

 

https://unsplash.com/photos/HjV_hEECgcM

2019 was the year that the sale of battery-electric as well as plug-in-battery cars first crossed the two million mark according to a report by Deloitte. This very significant milestone of the automotive industry  lost its sheen, however on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 
Falling Electric Vehicle Prices to Be on Par With Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles in 2024

Among the important trends that are likely to emerge with regard to the demand for electrical vehicles are their falling prices in keeping with an accompanying drop in battery prices. This is borne out by the fact that the average price of an EV battery pack fell from $1,160 per kWh in 2010 to $176 per kWh in 2018. Going ahead this could fall to about $94 per kWh in 2024 and $62 per kWh by 2030 according to BloombergNEF. Furthermore they estimate that there will be price parity between electric vehicles and internal combustion engine vehicles as early as 2024.

 

 

Electrification of Vehicles to Extend to Heavy Vehicles 

Right up to 2019 most of the electric vehicles moving on the roads of the world comprised cars and two wheelers. A year earlier the total number of electric cars in the world stood at more than 5 million, while the number of two wheelers was 260 million. In comparison there were only 460,000 electric buses and 250,000 light commercial vehicles worldwide. These numbers are expected to increase substantially going forward, thanks to cheaper and more efficient batteries as well as the more stringent emission norms being put in place worldwide. BloombergNEF further estimates that electric busses will comprise just a little less than 70% of the total number of busses in the world by 2040.
Zero Emission PolicyCountries around the world are pushing for a transition to electric vehicles by moving away from cash purchase incentives to mandatory zero emission mandates or other regulations covering fuel efficiency, pollution and GHG (Greenhouse Gas Emissions).

Better Access to Public Charging

Increased access to efficient public charging is going to drive the move to electric vehicles to a very large extent. Things like super fast chargers, wireless charging, as well as battery swapping are going to cause a paradigm shift in the way the whole battery charging business is viewed. They will increasingly be viewed no more inconvenient than the time it takes to fuel up an internal combustion engine vehicle.

 

IPL 2020- Annual Marketing Extravaganza Nonpareil To Put Some Cheer Back into The Economy.

 

                                          https://unsplash.com/photos/bY4cqxp7vos

 

The year 2020 is proving to be worse than the worst annus horribilis, one could imagine. With the Covid-19 pandemic raging unchecked, the economy has decelerated massively and people have more or less stopped spending money on anything other than the bare necessities.

 

 That is bad news for the economy, as the people need to spend a fair amount on goods and services to get the engines of the economy to rev up and gather speed. Can the three-week-long IPL 2020 which kicks off in Dubai on September 19th, enthuse the audience to shed their reticence and go ahead and splurge on all kinds of consumer goods and services?

 

For as much as the IPL is an annual sports and entertainment extravaganza, it is also the definitive annual advertising and marketing event. Certainly, the advertising industry can look at much-enhanced revenue on account of a months’ long pent-up demand due to the long lock-down and the continuing restrictions afterwards.

Besides, the IPL is happening around what is the peak festival season, when consumer spending is traditionally at its highest.With most people staying largely indoors on account of the new work-at-home normal, the television ( and other streaming gadgets) audience for the matches being played in the tournament is expected to be considerably higher than usual this year. 

For brands, most of whom have as good as lost two quarters of the year, on account of the pandemic, the IPL coinciding with the festival season gives them a huge opportunity to work towards regaining their market share.

On the other hand industries like food essentials, healthcare, education and insurance that fared quite well during the months of pandemic induced inactivity would also like to leverage the huge reach of the IPL amongst a captive audience.

That apart, there will be whole new categories of advertisers, who have emerged thanks to the times that we live in comprising of ed-tech companies, hygiene products like hand washes and hand sanitizers, as well as dishwashers.   Also a lot of the advertisers this year will be indigenous startups who have made it big in the recent past and established themselves as brands to reckon with that are more in tune with the demands of the contemporary world.

 

They would be able to more than makeup for those legacy brands who might no longer have the wherewithal to be a part of the IPL extravaganza this year. Sponsors and advertisers like Dream11, Unacademy and Cred, who are part of this brave new world of tech entrepreneurs are the front-runners in this year’s IPL giving everyone a foretaste of things to come.

 

That is not to say that the legacy players are going to miss the bus, in so far as capitalizing on the advertising and marketing opportunity presented by IPL 2020 is concerned. Telecom major Vodafone Idea who re-branded themselves as VI recently, thought that the IPL was the best platform to announce the fact to the world. 

 

They did this by becoming the co-presenting sponsor of IPL 2020. Clearly, the fun is just beginning. Let’s hope that by the time this edition of the IPL ends on November 9th the mojo will be back in the Indian consumer markets. 

 

Are Electric Cars Really Good For The Environment?

https://unsplash.com/photos/4xM5cytsdMo

Electric cars are the favor of the times and are often touted as the definitive solution to curbing pollution in the towns and cities of the world. But are electric cars really as gentle on the environment as they are made out to be?

 After all, as many would tell you, the electricity used to charge electric car batteries may not have come from a clean source at all!

 

As is usually the case, there is merit in both the arguments in favor of electric cars and those against them.

Let’s take a look at both the sides-

 

 

The Battery is the Problem!

 

 

 Surprisingly, it’s the battery, which is really the heart of an electric automobile that is a source of environmental pollution. That is on account of the fact that there are a number of rare earth metals that make up a car battery whose extraction as well as handling can lead to carbon emissions.

 

 

 However, there is evidence that by using the right kind of technology, one can cause considerably less environmental pollution in the manufacturing of electric automobile batteries. American and European manufacturing techniques, for instance, are known to cause as much as 60% less environmental pollution than Chinese ones.

 

 In any case the pollution caused by the manufacturing of car batteries is the same or at worst just a little higher than that caused in the manufacturing of petrol or diesel engines for automobiles.
It’s the Lifetime Difference in Emissions that Makes the Difference .

When it comes to emission during the lifetime of an automobile, an electrically powered one with its zero tail emissions is a clear winner over one that uses an internal combustion engine. That does seem to tip the scales in favor of electric cars, but there are other factors to consider before one arrives at a definitive answer about whether replacing fossil fuel-powered cars with electric ones will prove to be better for the environment or not.

 

 

Judging by the way that governments around the world are actively promoting electric cars at the expense of the conventional internal combustion engine-based ones, it does seem that there is some kind of consensus about the former’s environment-friendly credentials.  In fact, the International Energy Agency reckons that there will be more than 300 million electric vehicles worldwide at the end of 2040. 

 

 

 At the same time, it has to be understood that the electricity used to charge the batteries of these large numbers of electric vehicles will have to be generated with the help of clean non-fossil fuel for there to be any real environmental gains. All the same, it is important to note that the process of creating electric cars is quite polluting in itself and needs to be improved as we go along.

 

 

 It is expected that increasingly efficient technologies will make it possible to substantially reduce the pollution caused by the manufacturing of electric car batteries. Advances in technology that enable efficient reusing and recycling of batteries will also contribute towards reducing the overall pollution caused by the manufacturing of car batteries.

 

 

 All things being considered, even after taking into account the negative environmental fallout of generating the electricity required to power electric cars, they create considerably less carbon emission than petrol or diesel-run cars do. According to research carried out by the European Energy Agency , this difference in the level of carbon emission is as high as 17 to 30%.

 

 

To the question, whether electric cars are really good for the environment, the answer is a qualified yes. With the expected advances in technology leading to more and more reduction in their carbon footprint of electric cars, the chorus of support in their mass adoption is only expected to grow.

 

Time for Delhi Vehicles to Go Fully Electric?

 

Delhi with more cars than Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata put together naturally grapples with immense pollution and its consequent ill effects. It had almost 11 million vehicles on its roads two years back in 2018. Mumbai, in comparison came in a distinct second at nearly three and a half million vehicles in the beginning of 2019.

If there is any city in India, indeed the world, where a case can be made out for an en masse migration to electric vehicles, it’s Delhi.

A study by IIT, Kanpur found that vehicular pollution contributes as much as between 20 to 25% of the PM10  and PM2.5 particulate matter found in Delhi’s air. It therefore makes eminent sense for a concerted and immediate move to zero emission electric vehicles to help make the air that the people in the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT) breathe actually breathable.

 

That Delhi’s vehicular traffic is a conglomeration of buses, cars, two-wheelers and three wheelers (including human powered rickshaws), means that the authorities have their task cut-out for them.

 

Electric Scooter-Bjorsa / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

 

The first thing that strikes one is that cars, though an important components of Delhi’s vehicular traffic lag behind two-wheelers in terms of sheer numbers. Of the 10.9 million vehicles on Delhi’s roads 7,078,428  were two-wheelers in comparison to 3,246,637 four-wheelers(cars and jeeps) . In addition there were 1,13,074 three wheel auto-rickshaws plying on Delhi’s roads.

Therefore, any talk of making Delhi vehicles go fully electric has to factor in two wheel and three wheel vehicles comprising as much as 65 % of the traffic in the NCT of Delhi.

So, it follows that a major part of the electrification of vehicular traffic in Delhi would have to focus on electric two wheelers and the already ubiquitous three wheel electric rickshaws.

Not surprising in a country where car ownership stands at a modest 20 cars per thousand people. To put this in perspective, the corresponding figure for the United States is 800 cars per thousand people.

 

Electric Car-Photo by Andrew Roberts on Unsplash

 

One would not be wrong is assuming that this is an idea whose time has come, in light of the growing popularity of e rickshaws as a “last mile connectivity” option.In fact, there are already  an impressive 1.5 million e rickshaws on India’s streets.

Considering that the largest number of petrol powered vehicles in the Delhi region are two-wheelers, the newly announced  EV (Electric Vehicles) policy of the Delhi government is looking at incentivising the adoption of electric two-wheelers by the vast number of people who use these petrol driven vehicles to get around the city.

The idea is to wean off as many as 50% of such people from using their conventional two wheel vehicles and make them opt for electric ones by March 2023.  A generous purchase incentive of  Rs.30,000 ($403)for changing over to electric two-wheelers is expected to provide the much needed fillip to the drive.

The purchase of electric cars too has been incentivised by way of a Rs.5000 ($67) per k/Wh  or Rs.150,000 ($2,020)on the purchase of a four wheeler.  Besides, the road tax and registration fee waiver extended to all electric vehicles, too makes choosing electric mobility over conventionally powered vehicles very attractive.

All in all the Delhi government is looking at registering an ambitious 500,000 electric vehicles in the coming five years.

 

 Charging an Electric Car/Video by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

 

 

How far Delhi is able to successfully implement the ambitious, but well-intentioned EV policy will in many ways decide the fate of the electrification of vehicular traffic in the rest of the way. Delhi had shown the way in the past with the launch and astounding success of the Delhi Metro rail network, under seemingly impossible conditions.

This led to a veritable revolution across the Indian urban landscape, what with the Delhi Metro model being replicated across most of  the major cities and towns in the country.

If Delhi could go fully electric with regard to its vehicular traffic in the next ten years, it would be a trail blazer amongst the megapolises of the world, with a cascading impact on cleansing the major population centers of the world of a major source of air pollution.

 

This would set in motion a virtuous cycle comprising of a healthy workforce contributing more to the world economy, which in turn further improves their lifestyle. Besides, the industries supporting the new clean energy based transportation system would have created a whole new ecosystem of growth and prosperity minus much of the ill- effects associated with the old fossil fuel based one.

Of course, a lot would depend upon how clean the source of the electric power consumed by the largely electric transportation system  would itself be, but that is the subject of another article.

 

The Past of Our Cars and Why Electric Cars Are The Way Forward

 

The unchecked use of fossil fuels has brought the world to its knees. Make no mistake about it. The world is facing an existential crisis that doesn’t brook any delay in its solving. The cars we drive have unfortunately become a symbol of all that is wrong with the way we have been interacting with our environment for more than a century. When the automotive industry was in its infancy there were all kinds of technologies being relied upon to power the vehicles being manufactured- steam-based, petroleum fuel based and electric. That all automobiles came to run on petroleum by-products was the outcome of a lot of reasons.

Steam had in fact been a reliable energy source for some form of self-propelled vehicles since the late 1700s. Steam run cars made an appearance by the 1870s. But the unduly long start-up time, sometimes as long as 45 minutes, and the need to refill them with water at short intervals made them more than a little impractical to use. Post improvements in the internal combustion engine, gasoline or petrol-powered cars made their first appearance. These weren’t without their share of problems either, what with one having to crank start them and change gears in order to drive them.

Electric cars of the time were quite easy to drive and didn’t reek of the smell of the pollutants emitted by a gasoline car. So to start with, it were the electric cars that were quite the rage. In fact Ferdinand Porsche, the founder of the legendary Porsche car company came out with an electric car as early as 1898. He also went ahead and rolled out a hybrid car that ran on both electric power and gasoline. Even Henry Ford had at one point thought of partnering with the famous inventor Thomas Edison to manufacture an electric car.

Ironically, it was Henry Ford, who sounded the death knell of the hitherto very popular electric car with the introduction of his mass-produced and highly affordable Model T in 1908. The incorporation of the electric starter invented by Charles Kettering, made crank starting unnecessary, thereby giving a boost to the sales of gasoline-powered cars. Moreover, the discovery of plentiful cheap Texas crude oil and the proliferation of gas stations throughout America made gasoline-powered cars the norm. By the mid-1930s there were hardly any electric cars visible on American roads.

The domination of the internal combustion engine has continued right into the second decade of the 21st century. The overwhelming majority of cars running on the roads around the world continue to use that tried and tested automotive technology. Electric cars, however,  made a reappearance in the 1970’s during the 1970’s OPEC oil embargo. The perceived shortage of the hitherto abundantly available oil made people look to electric cars to bail them out.

Though technology had improved substantially since electric cars had first been introduced in the 1800’s, the old problems of limited speed and range meant that the revival was short-lived. Electric cars saw a true revival in the beginning of the 21st century when environmental concerns over the polluting nature of internal combustion engines sparked an interest in alternative technologies to power cars, of which electric power seemed to be the most viable.

Cars like Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster redefined what the electric car could do. The last one was the first of the three to come out in 2008 while the other two were launched in 2010 causing nothing short of a mass-produced electric vehicles revolution.  That Bolt and Chevy were mainstream cars from legendary automakers added to their allure. With decent power, driving range and spaciousness, these cars were able to change people’s views about electric vehicles.

Tesla Inc the Elon Musk funded electric car company turned in an electrifying(pun intended!) performance managing to go 394 kilometers on a single charge. With its ability to match a sports car kind of acceleration ( 0 to 96 kilometers an hour in less than 4 seconds) and a top speed of 200 kilometers per hour, electric cars were finally serious competition to conventional gasoline-powered cars.

 

Why the Internal Combustion Engine Needs to Go

While the internal combustion engine shows no signs of going away, there are growing reasons reasons why it needs to be jettisoned for good. The age of the internal combustion engine,  glorious while it lasted needs to end. It is not just due to the fact that internal combustion engines use fossil fuels contributing to the devastating phenomenon of global warming and climate change leading to dire environmental and economic consequences for the planet. There are other very compelling reasons in the eyes of the consumers that will cause a groundswell of change in favor of electric cars in the near future.

The fact that oil is finite and will run out one day is not something that is likely to have an impact on an average person’s decision to buy a gasoline/petrol-powered car. As long as he or she knows that there will be enough supply available in the near future, they are not going to worry about what’s going to happen years later.  What will make them cross over is the fact that electric cars finally seem to make more sense than the gasoline-driven ones both from the city driving and long-distance driving perspective.

What do Electric Cars Offer

 

Both from an every day driving perspective and a road trip one,  a modern electric car offers a host of benefits over a conventional internal combustion-powered one.  Let’s look at what these might be-

– Electric cars, also known as plug-in electric vehicles, offer substantially lower fuel costs than conventional gasoline or petrol ones. This happens on account of two factors- electricity costs less than gasoline does and the fact that electric cars are more efficient than those that have an internal combustion engine.

-The long-term economics of owning and driving an electric vehicle, undoubtedly, work out way better than an internal combustion one.

-With an electric car you don’t need to queue up at the gas station/petrol pump as you can plug in at home, work or wherever opportunity presents itself. Why you could even install solar panels to generate the electricity required to charge your vehicle!

– Electric cars are quieter both inside and outside making for a much smoother rider. Imagine a world where there is no traffic. Just the sound of nature to serenade you while you drive!

-Electric cars provide better performance than conventional cars on account of the high torque and acceleration they generate. It is no surprise really that Formula E racing is fast catching up with motorsport aficionados.

– Advancements in battery technology like electric regenerative braking systems have meant that the driving range of electric cars is quite comfortable and no longer a reason for not choosing one to own.

– An electric car has practically negligible maintenance headaches as it has fewer movable parts. There is no need to get these cars regularly serviced or their oil changed like in the case of gasoline-powered cars.  You may have to get the brakes serviced, but not as frequently, as on conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. You do need to change the battery eventually, but with car manufacturers providing an 8 year or 160,000 kilometer warranty, that is not something that would unduly worry anyone.

Besides, with battery costs expected to fall further in the coming time thanks to government subsidies, one can expect more variation in the prices of electric cars in the future. One can expect several types of models being sold at different price points to suit every budget.

-Electric cars need to undergo safety tests of the same stringent standards as conventional cars and are therefore as safe as they come.

– The fact that electric cars are zero-emission vehicles makes them ideal for city driving what with many large cities of the world adopting measures like zero-emissions zones and congestion tax.

The expected crackdown on conventional vehicles is expected to get increasingly stringent in the times ahead and it might make eminent sense to switch to an electric car already.

 
 
 

 

Some Effective Tips on How to Reopen Economy Post Lockdown

 

An Open Business Establishment

COVID-19 has changed the world as we knew it. Every stratum of our society has been hit hard by its ferocity. A looming health emergency on the one hand and a shuttered economy on the other make it a two-pronged attack upon us. Re-opening of a stalled economy is not exactly a walk in the park. It’s tough! But the economy has to be revved up to re-generate it. Let’s dive right in and see for ourselves what the different ways and possibilities of reviving our economy are.

Since the lockdown is being lifted in phases, we can see some industries gearing up to re-open. The government on its part is offering a massive stimulus by way of loans and packages. But, the more they do the less it seems. Such is the magnitude of the disaster caused by the pandemic.

Given the enormity of the health crisis and the extreme measures taken by the government to contain it, we cannot expect the economy to come back to its original shape anytime soon.

Come out of the situation we have to, but first, we have to make a beginning of sorts.

Let’s look at a few steps for the re-opening of the economy-

  • Killing the Confusion

The cloud of gloom hovering on the business horizon can clutter our minds with despair.

We scramble for solutions, options and alternatives and with no rule book to follow that is easier said than done.

So, what do we do?

Become your own teacher. Contemplate. Yes!

Take advantage of this quiet time to re-assess your life. This way you can prioritize things concerning the changed scenario. Chalk out a plan.

  • Planning

With high costs, dwindling demand and the challenges of maintaining hygiene and social distancing to deal with, companies will need to re-model their businesses to keep them alive.

This requires planning and you would do well to keep a few things in mind-

  1. Hygiene and Social Distancing
  2. WFH and Digitization
  3. Diversifying and Cost Cutting
  1. Hygiene and Social Distancing

 

 

With the opening of establishments/offices, the highest level of hygiene protocols has to be maintained.

The same goes for social distancing which is to be practiced in totality. Offices can call to work those employees who are required for the functioning of the office. Social distancing can also be practiced by calling people to work in shifts if it is a viable option.

A lot of emphasis needs to be laid on hygiene and social distancing. An occurrence of a single infection can lead to your office being shuttered. That too for weeks, possibly! So, take care of these two things and make them your top priority.

If these two things are taken care of, you can move forward with the operations part of your business.

  1. WFH and Digitization
  • WFH

Work from home (WFH) is becoming increasingly popular because it’s your savior in these uncertain times. It delivers!

Frankly, what better option do we have in these times of lockdown and social distancing? WFH is just what the doctor ordered for coronavirus situation and the pun is intended!

On the one hand, the employees don’t have to worry about the commute and the traffic issues and on the other, the employers don’t have to be concerned about sanitizing the workplace and put in place the necessary hygiene protocols. Talking of social distancing, WFH is social distancing at its best.

So, WFH becomes a cool option!

The companies with no WFH in place can seek help from professionals and find ways of enforcing it. It can help you revive your business in these times.

  • Digitization

The internet ecosystem is tested and proven, hands down!

Smart businesses have thrived in the digital world. People who had dismissed digitization as a fad are at a disadvantage now.

Having said that, there is no room for resistance to digitization in the times of everything remote. These uncertain times call for digitization in a big way.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently said that 2 years worth of digital transformation has taken place in 2 months.[1]

People are quickly pivoting to digitization.

Depending on the needs of your product/service one can visualize-

  1. i)Complete digitization of the supply chain
  2. ii)Adoption of cloud-based systems

iii)             Leveraging data, IoT, AI to develop new business models

As Digitization, WFH takes the center stage, Engagement has become the new buzzword.

Why?

With the increased use of video-conferencing (Zoom and Microsoft Teams), things are becoming easier and manageable. From morning huddles to meetings with bosses and clients, a new way of doing business has come into play. Since all this is happening online, interconnectivity amongst the different layers in an organization becomes a necessity. This gap requires some form of engagement.

                      Video Conferencing is Quite the Rage

Now that more and more people prefer to work from home, the need for engagement management is on the rise.

Companies are using social media as an engagement platform more than ever before.

With digitization and WFH, we can expect some changes in the way companies conduct themselves.

All these changes shall lead to a crisper, more efficient and secure workflow.

Two Circles, a London-based sports marketing agency has estimated that the sports industry may lose the US $61.6 billion of revenue this year[2].

These are mind-boggling figures!

The Sports industry is already experimenting with holding big-ticket events remotely.

It can work like this- the broadcasters can work from their homes, while the sporting event takes place outdoors. There shall be no live spectators watching the proceedings. They can instead enjoy the game in the comfort of their home.

All this is quite challenging! I hope they pull it off!

Digitization is already a thing! It’s our future so invest in it.

  1. Diversifying and Cost Cutting
  • Diversifying

E-tailers, healthcare and life-science professionals are working overtime. The demand for their products and services has seen a major upsurge in recent times. These sectors are contributing enormously towards the economy.

What about other sectors?

While some sectors have partially opened others will require more time to start again. For instance, travel & tourism, entertainment and other such sectors shall have to wait for some semblance of normalcy to return, before they can pitch for business again.

This waiting for normal times can take a toll on us for sure!

One of the solutions could be innovation and diversifying.

Since the re-opening of the economy is in the interest of everybody, people can surely find ways of staying productive.

You must think out of the box to keep your business afloat. Innovation in these times can be your savior!

Smart entrepreneurs have already diversified into products and services which are witnessing huge demand. For example, companies who have no track record of manufacturing masks, sanitizers, PPE’s, face shields, ventilators are eying their share in the new market.

Some brick and mortar establishments can start taking orders online by investing in an app.

People are coming up with unique business ideas to contribute positively to people’s needs.

Since the demand for WFH and virtualization is an all-time high, some people are busy catering to that. They are for example providing background screens for video-conferencing calls and meetings and renting out laptops and furniture.

The demand for such products can only grow in these times!

One can take a cue from these smart business ideas and start something of their own.

Investing time and resources in some niches promising high growth can be a gamechanger for you! Look around and see what the consumers of today are looking for.

Our economy needs innovators and thinkers.

  • Cost-Cutting

                                                             

A by-product of digitization can be cost-cutting.

How?

With more and more meetings happening online, there will be less business travel happening.

With uncertainty around us, business houses shall certainly be cutting corners in whatever way they can. This is no time for frills and superfluous spending. These are the times of maintaining caution and restraint.

If all these measures are taken up, they can surely help in giving our economy the required boost.

Wrapping Up

Different economic sectors have their own stories of fear and insecurity. With the supply chains having gone for a complete toss and layoffs and furloughs coming in force, there is a kind of hush descended on them.

Then there are some industries whose survival depends on normalcy. Take for example the entertainment, travel and tourism and construction sectors. These are all waiting for some good news to help them pick up where they left off.

They will surely start whenever the time is right but they will have to maintain those strict protocols.

There is no escaping the fact that a new-normal has set in, in our lives and we will have to live with that.

People want oodles and oodles of positive signs and assurances to gear up and participate in the re-opening of the economy.

All these fears and scares have to vanish!

Till then we can contribute to the economy by opening some sectors with caution.

Tenacity and resilience will make us stand tall amidst these chaotic times.

In short, there are no quick fixes in the offing, no ready answers for every sector. The crisis has impacted all of us differently.

It is a process which shall require all of us to contribute in whatever way one can by

  • Staying Safe
  • Opening some sectors
  • Adopting Digital Solutions and WFH
  • Innovation and Diversifying

Stay healthy! Stay productive!

[1] https://www.livemint.com/companies/news/satya-nadella-we-saw-2-years-of-digital-transformation-in-2-months-11588219678520.html

[2] https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/tech-news-technology/remote-production-the-new-normal-for-post-covid-19-sports-events-6407438/

WORK-FROM-HOME IN THE TIMES OF CORONAVIRUS

 

Covid-19 the new strain of coronavirus has caught us all unawares. Nobody knew of it until it surfaced recently in Wuhan, China, Dec’2019. The uncertainty that this infectious disease has caused, leaves us all bonkers! The question on everybody’s mind is how to stay productive in these times of immense upheaval. We live in the age of automation where work-from-home is a viable option and companies are pushing for it.
Nobody had any inkling that coronavirus would hit us so hard. Sadly, the whole world is in the grip of this virus outbreak now. Experts fear that it could spread exponentially and indeed it has in some countries.  It’s already done a lot of damage.
Health advisories are advising us to maintain social distancing. This way we can minimize our chances of getting infected.
Now, that the threat of coronavirus looms large, no amount of stress, panic and other negative emotions will get us anywhere. Let’s us be calm and focus on what really needs to be done.
Some companies are already encouraging their employees to work from home.
Social media giant “Twitter” has made it compulsory for all the employees worldwide to work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic[1]. Amazon has told its employees worldwide to work from home if they can[2]. Alphabet, the parent company of Google has requested its workers in 11 offices in US and Canada to work from home.[3]
All these tech giants are taking the threat seriously. It is likely that more and more companies ask their employees to start working from home. That’s how social distancing can be implemented in full force. We are certainly witnessing extraordinary times. Caution at all levels has to be maintained.
Employers and employees have to be united in this fight . The resolve has to be there.
Challenges for employers…
Employers need to provide a conducive atmosphere for their workers to work from home. This requires a lot of strategizing, necessitating the companies to take steps like
·       Upgrading their networks
·       Ensuring adequate home connections
·       Pressing on internet service providers to relax band-width (in case there is any) at employee’s homes.
·       Bearing the cost of computers and the required furniture to run a work station at home.
·       Addressing security issues
·       Providing the necessary tools for remote-work
·       Keeping employees motivated and happy by providing virtual coffee-breaks etc;

Though some IT companies have already prepared or are preparing for this new setup, it is not hunky-dory everywhere.

Companies have their reservations and insecurities. Some companies are facing issues because they are not used to too many connections over virtual private networks (VPNs). Then there are companies who are already frowning upon the whole scenario as an increase in overhead costs.

 

Companies can seek professional help to upgrade and work upon their systems.
Re-orienting the way we work is certainly not a small issue. If road-blocks are there, I am sure solutions are also there for those who seek them.
It is in the interest of everybody that productivity does not take a hit.
Work-from-Home made easier….
 
There are some tools and freebies being offered by some companies to help
people work smoothly from their homes.
 

·       Slack, which makes business chat software are holding free consultations for companies who want to shift to remote working.

·       Allowing conversations to exceed 40 minutes on its own free tier is a gesture by Zoom, the videoconferencing service.

·       Microsoft has offered a service plan cloud “Productivity Suite” free for 6 months to small businesses.[5]

There are other tools available for remote working that you can check.
How may employees view this …
Work-from-home or Remote-work can be viewed differently by employees. Some of them might actually like it for the following reasons:

·       No long commutes

·       Work flexibility hours

·       No nosy colleague to waste your time

·       A much-needed break from the office scenario

Believe me, all this can result in increased productivity!
Work-from-home is a new concept for most of us.
It requires utmost discipline to get your work done in homes.
 
Why?
 
You can take it easy because you know it’s just your home not an office. Distractions are too many. You can get carried away and then your work can take a hit. Since you are not used to working from home, you may not know what went wrong.
That’s why it’s good to follow some rules. Abide by them in totality and you are good!
 
·       Workstation
First and fore-most get your workstation set up in a separate room. In fact, choose a room which is a little away from the living room. This is to cut noise which comes from the household.
Working on a sofa or lying down and working at the same time means you are not serious.
You are most working for some company/brand, so work with full seriousness.
·       Sticky Notes
Yes, the famous post-it notes, which you use commonly in your offices must be used. Stick them in front of your desk so that they are easily visible. You can prioritize your work according to the points mentioned in the notes.
·       Dress Code
Ensure you are dressed properly in your working hours. See, your boss can make that video-conferencing call anytime during your working hours. Leave a good impression as a thorough professional.
·       Bar Entry
This is one area where you have to maintain complete discipline. Remember this is not your office. You are operating from your home and your family members are also there. There can be a million distractions, especially if you have kids around. Leave strict instructions for everybody in the family to not disturb you in the working hours.
·       Working hours
Never relax or compromise on your working hours, otherwise your work will pile up and it will take a toll on you later.
·       Refreshment break.
Yes, this is what everybody wants after working incessantly for a few hours. So have your tea/coffee/snacks so that you get stimulated and refreshed. Its important to keep yourself motivated and happy.
Remember your targets, deadlines and work pressure are going to be more or less the same ; it’s just that the work environment has changed. So, being organised from day one, will relieve you of any unnecessary stress later.
 
Now that you are through with your work commitments for the day; the rest of the time is all yours.
Hey! You could me missing your office, your way of life! Well, here’s a few things you can do to lift your mood!

 

  • Just sit back and relax.
  • Read a book.
  • Chat with your friends on social media.
  • Catch up on some movie that you always wanted to watch.
  • Pursue some hobby-maybe you can draw, paint or anything else.
  • Practice Yoga and Meditation.

You can always try working on an online gig. Maybe you will end up making an app or acquire some new online skills.

Do whatever catches your fancy to unwind!
Well, I know some of you out there, are really no big fans of the work-from-home model.
You feel it will lead to isolation and loneliness. The biggest argument is that not everything about human beings cannot be automated and regimented. They need to interact physically with people as well.
We are social creatures, we need to meet and discuss business, have our lunch and coffee breaks together. It is this bonding that helps us to be creative and get great ideas.
 
We view success as a balance between productivity and happiness quotient.
 
 
Agreed!
 
But these are not normal times. Desperate times, desperate measures!
 
We have to make these lifestyle changes now for a better tomorrow.
 
 
Remember not everyone is fortunate enough to get their work done from their homes in this pandemic. Malls, theatres, restaurants, school and colleges are all closed. Daily wagers have been hit hard by coronavirus outbreak.
CONCLUSON
 
As a responsible citizen of the world, pay heed to all the health advisories. We don’t know how long this virus outbreak shall last. Countries are locking down.
 
Social-distancing helps in the slowing down of the spread of coronavirus.
 
Working-from-home is an efficient way to stay productive in these trying times.
 
Maintain social distance! Stay Safe!

 

WHY MY BUSINESS NEEDS SEO IN 2020

 

The idea behind writing this blog of mine is to give you a fair idea of SEO from a business perspective. The acronym SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. As a business person, you must know what to expect from SEO in 2020. The idea, here is to nudge you towards implementing SEO for the immense traffic and credibility it brings along.
 
If your business is already into SEO, great!
 
But, as you climb up the SEO ladder, you will discover newer insights. So, this blog shall help you discover and understand what these might be. Adding fresh ideas and perspectives helps a business keep moving.
 
You may be surprised to know that there are still those who dismiss SEO as a fad or a gimmick. That’s so not true. How, can you dismiss something without giving it a chance?
 
Well, a vast majority of people manage to make a website and then somewhere forget about it. What an opportunity wasted! The argument that the business is doing fine, and they shall do SEO sometime later when they need it is absolutely the wrong one! The paucity of time is often cited as a reason and they keep postponing it indefinitely.
 
My take is that if you can’t invest your time in a fundamental marketing technique that has the potential to expand your reach globally, boost your brand and generate traffic then whose loss is it anyway?
 
The fact that the online world has taken over our lives is no exaggeration. People are connecting and communicating like never before. Businesses today have a global reach. They are making the most of it and increasing their profits. Isolation can only harm your business.
 
So, get out of the comfort zone!
 
Take advantage of the digital boom!
 
I sincerely want all of you to give SEO your best shot, otherwise, you won’t know what you are missing!
See, nothing good comes easy. No marketing tool can be implemented without dedicating time to it, and going through its share of hassles and yes, plenty of hard work too. SEO, like any other marketing tool, comes with its own challenges.
 
 
I hope that you have created a website for your business.
 
What next?  Customers, right? As a smart businessperson, think of SEO as a wonderful marketing opportunity.
 
Before we discuss the various facets of SEO vis-à-vis your business, let’s get a quick understanding of the very basics of SEO.  

What is SEO?

 
SEO as a process is an evolving digital science which optimizes your website in order to push traffic to it through un-paid(organic) means.

Understanding SEO

 
Now let me explain and elaborate on that. We are living in a digital world, where information is just a search away. With smartphones in their hands and laptops on their desks, people are conducting billions of searches a day. Imagine the traffic that generates!
 
People don’t make these searches without intent. A search can be done to gather information about a restaurant, a holiday destination or just with the intention of buying. The list is endless!
89% of consumers end up purchasing on account of a web search, as per Business 2 Community.[1] 
 
That is the Power of Search!
 
Here’s an example to simplify it further.
 
Suppose I want to buy a phone. I won’t head to the market straightway to do the purchase. I am a smart consumer and I live in the digital era. I’ll do my complete research on Google. I’ll make comparisons of prices, latest models, features and so on. Only then will I take a final decision. As a businessman, wouldn’t you want your business to figure in these searches? This is achieved by SEO.
 
It’s quite obvious for you to ponder, as to how does all this information reach us?
 
It’s through search engines.
Let’s Get A Basic Understanding of Search Engines               

 

 
A Search Engine is a type of software which enables us to find information in the web world. The function of search engines is three-fold:
 
i)  Crawling – Scanning the net to find information.
 
ii)  Indexing – Storing and organizing the information in an index.
 
iii) Ranking –  Providing the most relevant or the best matching information, when a query is                    made.
 
You must remember that users trust search engines. Google is their topmost choice because it receives the maximum traffic and has the largest market share.
 
Bing and Yahoo are other well-known search engines. They have a reasonable following and hence cannot be ignored.
 
Now that we have some basic knowledge of SEO and the search engines, we can dig further to get an insight into how SEO functions.
 
SEO is Not Static …..
 
SEO is not a one- time formula to be applied to get the desired traffic. It is quite complex and is guided by various factors. These factors evolve/change with changes in technology. So, SEO becomes an ever-evolving process to be updated, applied and checked /analyzed until it gives us the desired outcome.
 
The fact is that one has to experiment with a combination of different factors until results are achieved. In the process, we may have to leave some tactics, adopt others and experiment again and again till one gets it right.
 
As a businessperson, you can expect a lot from SEO, provided it’s done properly.  There are some business people who are not sure about the importance of SEO. They are not sure what to expect from it.
 
Here are a few points which will make it easy for you to understand SEO from your business point of view.

IMPORTANCE OF SEO

1.   TRAFFIC

When it comes to online business, everybody wants traffic. This traffic has the potential to get converted into revenue.
 
The question is how does one ensure a good flow of traffic? The answer is SEO. Getting traffic is the responsibility of SEO.
 
In fact, it is responsible for getting traffic which is 20x more than PPC (pay per click). [2]You can imagine the reach of your product/service if SEO is done the right way.
 
Remember, it’s this traffic which can eventually lead you to sales.

2.   BRANDING

SEO exposes your brand to the users over a long period of time because it’s done organically. Your brand gets global exposure. Isn’t that great?!
 
Once people start doing business with you, they can recommend your brand to their friends. They can share information about it on social media as well. They can even leave a nice comment on your website. It becomes a sort of a chain reaction, where one thing leads to another. In this process, your brand gets a terrific boost.
This eventually helps in generating traffic.

3.   LONG-TERM BENEFITS

Advertisements run for some duration and then dry up once the campaign is over.
 
SEO, on the other hand, if done right, keeps giving you dividends for a long time. You will keep showing up in organic searches. These searches can be your potential customers.
 
It’s a good practice to keep introducing fresh content so that the users keep coming back to your website.
 
Let them have expectations of useful and updated content from your site. Raise the bar of your content for your users’/customers’ sake. This is a good way of having them drawn to your site.
 
All this can result in making your users’ loyal followers/fans of your brand. You will have a long association with them.

4.   MARKETING

 

SEO in 2020 has become bigger and better. It has evolved into a wholesome marketing tool.
 
A lot of successful business houses are already reaping its benefits.
 
Why should you shy away from it?
 
You are a forward-thinking businessperson. You must realize the full potential of SEO. In so doing, SEO will become an integral part of your marketing strategy. You will benefit from it like no other marketing tool.
 
SEO gives you a wonderful platform for marketing.
 
Here’s a bird’s eye view of what all you can expect from SEO-
          
  •           Appear in search engine results.

 

  •         Try and get a top ranking in search engine rankings.

  •         Write blogs on other websites to publicize your brand.

  •         Write on other blogging platforms where users can find you.

  •          Email outreach to your audience.

  •          Offline business activities to be pushed to the online world for boosting your brand.

  •         Give users the best experience when they visit your site in terms of content, loading speed and so on to get them interested in your product/service.

  •      Give customer satisfaction your top priority by having tailor-made content answer customer queries.

  •        Provide appropriate content as part of sales support.

The idea is to get traffic, customers and repeat customers
.

 

If you have a little knowledge of SEO under your belt, you can leverage it on your own. Alternatively, you can hire an SEO professional to meet your needs.
 
As a businessperson, nobody knows your business better than you. So, put on your thinking cap and be totally involved in the SEO process. SEO is not just a few links and keywords here and there, it’s much more than that.
 
Since your inputs/ideas are extremely important for your business, you should get familiar with the different types of SEO which have been summarized for you below:
         Technical SEO
         On-site SEO
         Off-site SEO
                    
Technical SEO-    It caters to the crawling and indexing of your website by search engines as mentioned earlier.
 
On-site SEO-       It deals with the structure of your website, title headings, metadata, internal links and other techniques which provide relevant information to search engines so that they know what your page is all about.
 
Off-site SEO-      It’s about ranking your website by search engines. Here the backlinks play an important role.

5.   AHEAD OF COMPETITION

SEO must be tweaked all the time to keep pace with the ever-changing algorithms. There is not a single surefire method of perfecting SEO. Things are changing/evolving fast. It makes sense to keep yourself abreast of the latest trends to secure your present and future.
 
Some points need to be emphasized here so that you take them seriously. I have touched upon a few things so that you are aware of them and include them in your SEO plan as per your need.
 
i)                User Intent
 
Today, everybody who knows about SEO is talking about it.
 
See, your business needs customers and these customers make queries/searches. So, these queries are really important to you.
 
What are these queries? How are they searching? This is exactly what you must work upon.
 
Search engines are adapting to natural language, so long-tail queries/keywords can be one solution.
 
Another solution is to reach out organically by talking to your target audience and asking them how they carry out a search. This would give you an insight into the user’s intent.
 
Accord the power of search your top priority.
 
Optimize your content for it, by keeping users’ queries in mind. Let your content provide the most accurate answer for these. That way you can capture their attention.
ii)              Optimizing for Speed
 
We are living in a super-connected world. People want everything this instant.
 
In this scenario, if a user searches for your site and your site fails to load instantly, the user will return to search results. 
 
Oops! That’s bad news for your business.
 
This is the reason why you have to ensure to optimize for speed. You must make site loading super-quick by removing all the obstacles. Talk to your SEO guy or maybe your developer for this. They will certainly find a solution.
 
Once your site loads fast, users won’t leave just like that. They will likely spend some time on your site. In this process, they might like your product/service. This can result in conversions.
 
It’s all about revenue at the end of the day.
 
So, make sure your site loads fast, maybe in 2 seconds or even less.
 
iii)            Mobile-SEO
If you worry about the fact, as you should that mobile traffic has superseded traditional desktop traffic, you will make your site mobile friendly.
 
Be a smart business person and join ranks with the forward-thinking SEO tribe. Mobile search is already huge. Get your mobile SEO done to capture this immense traffic.
 
Let me explain this more…
What is mobile SEO?
 
Optimizing your website for users on smartphones is mobile SEO.
 
Now the question on your mind is…
 
Why do I need mobile SEO?
Google cares for the immense traffic that comes from its users. 58% of all searches on mobile devices are done by Google users. Google cannot ignore this. [3]
 
In fact, Google has already announced that mobile-first indexing shall be applied to all websites in the next 6 to 12 months. [4]This means the sites will be crawled by Google from the mobile browser’s point of view for indexing and crawling purposes.
 
So, in case your website is up and running and it is not mobile-friendly, it’s time for you to move to mobile-first indexing.
 
Well, if you are one of those whose websites have just come up or are in the construction stage, then get it optimized for mobiles first. It makes sense because then you won’t have issues concerning the loading speed of sites on mobiles, cropping up later.
 
How to get mobile SEO done?
 
  • Mobile users have their devices in their hands and they want everything in real-time. So, make sure your site gets loaded quickly by getting rid of any impediments.

 

 
  • Customize your mobile content for your users. The content should be easy (i.e., not small- in -size) to read. Don’t expect users to adjust to your font size because if they find it difficult to read, they won’t spend a second more engaging with it.

 

 
  • Video content is quite popular amongst mobile users. If your video is working good on the desktop, there is no guarantee that it will run fine on your mobile. Check for this, and take the necessary action if required.

 

 
  • Since mobile devices are also used outdoors; so be sure that there is a significant amount of contrast between the text and the background. This will ensure a good reading experience.

 

Be sure about the fact that users will look for your website more on mobiles and less on desktop computers.
 
In short, optimize your content for your mobile visitor, pay attention to speed and other issues. The idea is to give your users a fantastic experience. So, make your site mobile friendly.
 
 
iv)            Voice Search
Another thing that is catching on with users is Voice Search.
What is Voice Search?
 
It is a speech-technology which allows users to search by a voice command.
Why is it gaining popularity?
 
It’s gaining in popularity because of two simple reasons:
 
.  Convenience: Users are falling for voice search because they find it so convenient and easy. Well, it is easier to speak than type.
 
    . Results: The results of voice-search are faster.
 
In fact, in the US alone 55% of teens and 41% of adults use Voice search as per Northstar Research.[5]
How to carry out Voice Search SEO?
 
. First and foremost, ensure your site is mobile-friendly.
 
According to Google, more than 20% of all mobile searches are voice searches.[6]
. Use natural-language phrases with user intent in mind. Optimizing your content with long-tail keywords around customers questions needs to be done.
 
Be an early adapter so that you get the chance of tapping into this traffic.
 
v)              User/Customer Satisfaction
Google is evolving its algorithm all the time to give users the best experience. It’s time for you to turn your attention to this.
 
Shoppers when visiting regular shops or malls, check the product/service, their terms and conditions thoroughly before making the purchase. Customers expect a similar kind of assurance when buying anything online.
 
Today’s users are well acquainted with the digital world. They expect a few things from your brand before they take a final decision.
 
.   They will go through the reviews/feedback of previous customers.
 
.  They would expect solid content as part of the after-sales support to give them much-needed assurance and confidence. Anyway, keeping them in the loop shall keep them happy.
 
.   Up to date and quick responses from your end.
 
Ensure providing your customers with amazing experiences. This will translate into nice feedback, social shares and above all trust. That follows an increase in traffic.
vi)            Think Big
Being short-sighted doesn’t pay
 
 If your focus is just on making quick bucks or if you are playing for short-term gains and ignoring your customers, then, I am afraid all this can translate into bad customer experiences. The result will be…
         
        They will never give you another chance
         
        They can leave a bad review
 
That surely is not good news for your brand. Your competitors will definitely love it!
 
Never put your brand’s reputation at stake for small gains. Remember it takes a lot to build trust in the online world. 
 
Don’t look for short-cuts
 
.
Don’t get too cozy, too soon!
 
The online world is a dynamic one.
        
       Having made some money too soon doesn’t mean you have the magic formula.
      User’s intent, algorithms and technology are not constant. So never be too sure of your techniques or methods.
     Your competitors might have already prepared a better answer or provided a better solution for the user’s problem/query than yours. See, if you are keeping a watch on their ways of business, so are they!
     Always leave room for evolving, learning and understanding. That’s how SEO works. This is the only trick that will make you a long-term player and eventually a big player.
 
vii)          Build Trust
You can do even more by building trust! The more trust you garner online, the better it is for your brand.  
 
As a businessperson, you surely must be attending events like seminars, award functions and so on. Now, make it a point to show that online. This shall increase your visibility and reputation online.
 
Ultimately, Google and your users want to know you more. Your users want to do business with you. So, build a strong image of yours online to look convincing and earn trust.
 
 
CONCLUSION
 
  • In the SEO world, the URL’s, Titles, Metadata, backlinks etc. are all important. BUT, that’s not all!

 

 
  • Remember Users/Customers get a top spot.

 

 
       – Their search
       – Their trends
       – Their satisfaction
 
All this is important for Google, so integrate it fully in your SEO plan.
 
  •  Keep a good watch on your competition’s style of doing business. You can get inspired to do something better to increase your reach.

 

 
  • You might have the greatest idea/product/service in the world but what good is it, if it’s not made visible to the people. Implement SEO.

 

 
  • There are no hard and fast rules here. See and analyze, what works best for your industry, your product, your service. All websites are unique. They have their own challenges, demands and needs. So, make your SEO plan accordingly.

 

 
  • Attract traffic by doing SEO through various channels.

 

 
  • If your content is cool, your product/service is good, your site is delivering (no speed issues) you can very well get traffic.

 

 
In 2020, all businesses should be SEO-smart to for them to be players who matter.
 
So, Think Traffic, Think Conversions, Think Business! 
                                                                                                                                                     


[1] https://www.business2community.com/digital-marketing/what-a-digital-marketing-persona-really-is-and-how-to-create-them-02252618
[2] https://sparktoro.com/blog/seo-opportunity-growing-shrinking/