A social media event is a good break from the regular routine. Such events give an opportunity to listen, learn and engage with different people. So I was really excited when Ramakrishnan M.R from Tech Mahindra invited the Lighthouse Insights team to join the first event of I5 Talks in 2012. The gathering was at the Tech Mahindra Pune office yesterday and it was all about “Social Networking and Collaboration.” I landed in the gorgeous office and walked straight to the lunch hosted for the speakers and a few selected guests. After some introductions, I moved to the open hall where the I5 Talks were getting ready. The stage was set no less than a celebrity evening get together.
Soumitra(Raju) Wadalkar, Sr. VP of Tech Mahindra was the first keynote speaker of the afternoon. He spoke about I5 as a platform for innovators, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, etc. and the need to have such a community gathering. He said that the idea is to build an ecosystem where Tech Mahindra is the facilitator. He shared his thoughts on social media and made an appeal to us to be more responsible on it. The onus lies on each and every individual however he humbly added that he comes from the old school but believes in collaboration.
That small little thought set the stage for our first speaker Suresh Babu, Founder of Web Marketing Academy. Suresh started his talks by applauding the work by I5 and moved on to share three real stories of his life.
Ignite social: Suresh was a Hotel management pass out early in life and the good old days of Yahoo chat was the first thing that made him desire to be social. He shared his story of struggle in US and how an amazing customer John motivated him to be social. Suresh added that businesses today should not look for tools but they should think how to be more social.
Insight social: In the second story, Suresh spoke about his good old bike Roadking. He said that when it heats up it keeps going. In our life we need to have such incitements and the motivation to keep us going. He spoke about his ex boss Andy Fox who helped him to be a conversationalist, speaker and be more social with people. The message was clear that one needs to incite people to be more social.
Social inspiration: The last story was about social inspiration and he said that events like I5 are a great opportunity for networking, learning and knowing more people. When he returned from the US in 2008, there was no platform in India so he started a meetup about online marketing, 150 people registered for the meetup and 75 turned up. From there on the community has been growing and today they invite people as monthly speakers. One such speaker who was called got a pat and a raise by his boss when he saw his video giving a talk. Social inspiration means that to Suresh Babu and I think that’s a great thought.
With the thoughts of being more social, Vineet Jawa, CEO of Gaboli took over the dais. Vineet took us in the past and shared his thoughts on how networks have evolved from then. He said that today Web 2.0 is liked because it has given the channel for the increase in number of interactions and transactions. Content consumers have become the content producers.
He moved on to highlight the emergence of social networks and their subsequent fall quoting the example of Orkut. Along with this he shared some interesting facts and thoughts. One such thought that got the crowd cracking was guys often look at pictures of unknown girls on Facebook and girls look at girls whom they know.
Along with this, Vineet also shared his thoughts on the future of social networks, which he thinks will become vertical based or context based. Networks would be more focused and adding to the same sentiment I think they will be specific to a group or a set of a community. He shared the example of Mylaw.net, a legal vertical created by their company which is a forum about layers with the essence of social network.
Even I come from the same school of thought but then Anirban Pal who focuses on emerging networks in Tech Mahindra considers us as “lunatics”. He added that who else would grow virtual farms and invite friends or poke people or buy things virtually with virtual currency and take pride in it. The way Anirban started the talks it reminded me that I was not at a boring conference; listening to him felt like as I was watching a play. Anirban spoke well and with that he also talked about the problems of social media. He spoke about how GeoCities got into limelight and how Orkut evolved and fizzled. He also added that social networks today have become a great research area and it is a big opportunity. He touched upon collaborative platforms, innovative commerce techniques such as a local social shop of tool boxes, etc. A great thought and he also said that infrastructure is not a problem and things would happen the way social bug has caught all of us.
With that one more storyteller joined us and it was none other than Kiruba Shankar, CEO at Business Blogging. He shared three stories.
1. The first story spoke about the cycling tour of 900 km in 7 days. He was excited to do it but he was not able to find a good cycle. Then finally with a friend’s recommendation he found a cycle store, which was in his area but he was not aware. He went for the tour and in the tour he found out that he had the cheapest but a great cycle with him. The reason was that the guy who had sold him the cycle Suresh Kumar was also a participant in the tour. So the moral was that you need to be passionate, more social about what you do and then try to sell.
2. The second story focused on how Chris Anderson gave a new direction to TEDx as a curator. He made TEDx more social by recording each talk and gave it for free online. People said it is a mistake but he went on with his idea. No doubt the idea was a game changer and the conference today is a cult and this was possible because Chris was ready to give more than thinking on returns.
3. The third story focused on how online reviews could be harmful for online businesses and he also shared some interesting real life stories. The moral was that business should do an ego search and find out what customers are talking about your product, it is quite necessary in the online medium.
Kiruba has been a great storyteller always and so was Rohit Panderkar, Deputy CTO, CanvasM. Rohit spoke about social media and focused more on how brands are messing up things online. He shared the classic story of the Nestle PR disaster and how they went on avoiding voices of people, then tried to suppress it and finally after lot of back lash they agreed to their mistake. Along with this he shared how brands should act. He ended with a note that one should be good and honest on social media.
Next we had Vihang Pathak, Product Manager, Oracle Webcenter who took us from the world of B2C to B2B and shared his thoughts on Enterprise Networks. A very great topic on how the social media is evolving at work places and how beneficial could it be and how important is a well thought of social media policy. An area that I think will evolve more in 2012 and work places would be more exciting.
The final speaker of the day was Atul Shah, Founder of Consumyze. Atul concentrated his thoughts on how social media is and can help SME’s. He emphasized that it could be a game changer to them and SME’s have all the skill set, knowledge, etc. but they are lacking in reach. During his speech he emphasized more on building engagement models rather than concentrating on networks and tools. A thought that was quite evident throughout I5 talks and a very true one too.
Finally it was Balaji T S who stood up and did the ending note by thanking all the speakers, the volunteers and the audience who made I5 a wonderful show. The room was then open for the shutterbugs and handshakes. After a chit chat of 10 minutes, I was on my way home with a thought lingering on - it’s good to see multinational organizations like Tech Mahindra supporting and providing a platform like I5. Keep them coming, guys!
Image Courtesy: Kiruba and Tech Mahindra