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Image credit: Unsplash

Today, I feel I’m home. But I wandered for a long time and traveled really far to get here.

Circa October 2004, Atlanta, GA — my love affair with Apple started when I held my first iPod in my hands. The simplicity of its design and purity of its aesthetics were captivating. While at school, I saved up $300 from my summer internship to acquire this prized possession. With up to 5000 songs in my pocket, the possibilities seemed endless and the world, a tad bit better.

Over the next decade, with every new Apple product that I used and the stories I heard about its obsession with details, even those details that no one would ever see, my world-view of “how to create products that deliver joy” was formed, through Apple’s lens. …


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Original Source: Peloton.com

Last week Peloton grabbed headlines after partnering with Beyonce on a multiyear deal that will include a curated series of themed workouts across all categories offered on the Peloton app, including cycling, running, strength, boot camp, yoga, and meditation. As a result, the Shares of Peloton surged 8 percent on Tuesday after the partnership announcement. In other words, Peloton’s market cap went up $2.5 billion in 3 hours of announcing the deal with Beyoncé.

“Music is a core part of the Peloton business model and is responsible for much of the brand’s swift success,” said NMPA President and CEO David Israelite said in a statement. “Thousands of exclusive videos and playlists are a major reason hundreds of thousands of people have purchased Peloton products.” True? This may be a bit of a stretch but it is undeniable that music is an integrated part of the business of a company that in my view is more of a content business than a hardware business. …


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Source: Apple

How to design an organization for continuous innovation

Over the last decade, I have held roles with complete P&L ownership of a business unit, as a result often believed that greater end-to-end control led to more effectiveness. This of course refers to conventional management wisdom, where business units are run as independent divisions, and GMs have complete accountability and control of the business. I was a staunch believer in the absoluteness of this model, until now.

What changed? I came across this HBR article that presents a case study of an ‘unconventional’ model that Apple has used so effectively to drive innovation. It quotes:

Apple is not a company where general managers oversee managers; rather, it is a company where experts lead experts”.


Why are we swimming in dashboards but deprived of insights?

Augmented, Personalized and Omnichannel

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Image credit: Anahat Rawal

“It’s very straightforward. I want to push a button and get a ride. That’s what it’s about.” Travis Kalanick, Uber co-founder

This very statement represents the most basic need of human beings — to make things easy for us — the desire to improve our efficiency has been the single biggest driver of our progress as a race. So naturally, when Uber came out, it was an instant hit with the users. …


RETAIL

Five strategies retailers can use to deliver joy to customers

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Image Credit: Anahat Rawal


THE DIGITAL SHIFT

The path to sustainable growth post-COVID-economy

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Source: Peloton

Some people argue that Pelaton is Apple (HW), Tesla (DTC), and Netflix (Content) combined into one company. While it doesn’t match the scale of any of these iconic brands, it is certainly matching them in their early growth rates. Peloton recently released its Quarterly numbers, and as expected, the demand for its bikes and subscription service exploded in the Corona economy. I will split this write-up into 3 parts: Signals, Analysis, and Predictions.


DIGITAL EXPERIENCES

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Personalization Playbook — Copyright: Amit Rawal

Personalization: one of the most talked-about ‘levers’ of customer experience that can unlock billions of dollars of value for retailers. But how many retailers can do true one-to-one personalization at scale? Very few, if at all.

WHY?

The simple answer is that it is extremely hard. So, if you are in limbo thinking about personalization and need a stepwise playbook, here’s one that I used to build such a capability.

The Playbook:

1. Create Vision and Alignment

The value and definition of Personalization are not very well understood within an organization. Digital marketing feels it’s about sending targeted campaigns; the Visual Merchandising team thinks it’s about showing relevant products to consumers, and the Product team thinks its about running experiments and optimizing the UI/UX. …


The Digital Shift

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Source: Dreamworks

For a movie buff like me, going to the movie theatre every weekend has been a ritual. But increasingly, I’ve enjoyed the movie-watching experience at home — plus, I don’t get sucked into eating unhealthy treats that I usually do at the theatre 😅. This made me wish that new movies be released on digital platforms at the same time as they did in theatres. My wish has just come true.

For years, the Hollywood machinery has been trying hard to resist this change. First, NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners) refused to release movies in theatres as Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services broke the industry’s traditional theatrical window of 72–90 days. Second, even the Academy made sure that movies that were released online were not eligible for Oscar nomination unless they had been running in a Los Angeles theatre for at least a week. …


TECHNOLOGY TRENDS

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Machine learning led applications for use in real-world settings

How deeply do you think about the real-world environments in which you will be deploying your AI applications?

A few of us at Stanford did a study on Google’s AI ambitions in healthcare and the detection of “diabetic retinopathy” emerged as a successful case study. But now it seems that success was limited to the lab and that Google has had challenges in making it work in the real world.

In countries like India and Thailand, the number of diabetes cases is significantly more than there are doctors to test and detect early signs of diabetic retinopathy, which if left unchecked can lead to blindness. The tool that Google built can be a boon for such countries in effectively managing this condition. …


Tips, tricks, and mental hacks

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Source: Airbnb Online Experiences

Just as many of you, I have struggled to adjust to the new working environment. It’s been hard to be productive given all the distractions and fears. In my quest to find ways to improve my focus and enhance my productivity, I came across this amazing new online experience that Airbnb just started.

One such experience was “Goal Setting with an Olympic Goal Medalist” with Breeja Larson and I said, “wait, what?” I have an opportunity to learn the techniques she used to become a world champion? All for $40. That’s a no-brainer. …

About

Amit Rawal

On a mission to connect the dots amongst data, emotions & randomness. Love using tech and data to deliver joy. Currently at Stanford chasing the next big thing.

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