Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies in Digital Marketing

Businesses today have been extensively integrated with digitization, promising convergence of people and businesses, while disrupting existing business models. A new age of digital marketing has arrived where extensive campaigns are pushing new products through platforms such as websites, e-mails, apps and social networks. With over seven billion people and businesses, and a millions of technologies bringing a new world together, digital marketing plays a major role in empowering businesses with the much-needed edge to thrive with the competition.

Digital Business Development Path

 Rapid change is fueling digital marketing. Within the last decade we have seen technology giants driving businesses such as Facebook and Twitter. Mobile marketing and advertising marketers have begun focusing on consistent and contextual without being interruptive.  Change is the one thing that is constant, with changes being made faster than ever before. However, impact due to the change is highly dependent on it’s temporal context. For example, wearable technology like Google glass has gained a lot of news coverage when in fact, Steve Mann had already developed a similar device, ‘EyeTap digital Eye Glass’ in 1999. This is a prime example showcasing the importance of analyzing the visibility of a product with time for organizations to capitalize its technological and business resources to make the best marketing sense.

Hype Cycle

 The Hype Cycle is a branded graphical tool developed and used by IT research and advisory firm Gartner for representing the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies (See Figure 1). The hype cycle map how technologies move through different phases of hype and indicate whether certain technologies and products are good for the company in short term and long term. Marketers need to understand how and when to derive value from a product and also when to dispose of it when new things come along.


Fig 1: Five Phases of the Hype Cycle (source: Gartner)

What’s new in 2014?

Marketing Talent Communities: Marketplaces have come up that support organizations and marketers to find and hire qualified freelance talent on-demand. A lot of time is saved in the process of recruitment of a variety of qualified writers, designers, strategists, data-analysts etc. Bloomberg Institute is one such example which financial employers approach to hire talented college students through a normalized screening test called the Bloomberg Aptitude Test.

Marketing Technology Integrators: The scope of digital marketing has expanded broadly. Digital marketers can’t claim to address the digital marketing needs solely through offering new Web Content and Experience Management or Portal platforms. As a marketer, the time and attention required to solving technological solutions takes time away from their focus on target customer. Thus, marketing organizations are hiring services and products that design and implement software and increasingly integration-oriented implementation data solutions.

Transactional Ads: This is an example trying to connect marketing with productivity and conversion. Online ad units that are activated by gestures, present a secure transaction or coupon. This reduces the time consumption of the viewer by enabling a person to request information or to buy the advertised product without leaving the webpage on which the ad appears. If old companies can figure out a way to associate more with transactions, they can boost their chance of surviving in the online market. [3]

Quantified self: It is a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition aspects of a person’s daily life in terms of inputs, states and performance. Applications or services on mobiles and wearable technology that provide self-tracking analytics contribute to self-knowledge through self-tracking with technology. Biometrics have been identified that people never knew existed making data collection cheaper and more convenient than ever before. Recently, companies like Google and Zomato have begun to use location data of a user’s phone to recommend suggestions to buy things based on the proximity to various shopping outlets.

Social co-browsing: Collaboratively sharing of the web space with one or more parties from a social network, regardless of the physical locations of the partners. In real-time, multi-user experience isn’t just slapped on top of an application, it’s directly built into the core experience. Companies would have to redesign their user experience to support social co-browsing so as to provide a natural extension of for users to communicate and interact to enrich their real-time, collaborative experience. [4]


Future Implications

Most of the technologies at the peak of their hype cycles today, will plateau in terms of productivity within the next two years. The window to gain competitive advantage in this fast-paced environment is limited. Thus companies must adapt themselves for speed, agility and rapid customer response.

Content marketing can be very resource intensive. Organization should use marketing talent communities and agencies as an escape valve for demand as a way to scale elastically as demand comes online.  The in-source and outsourced roles must be carefully mixed together in order to optimize productivity. Organizations should appoint strong leadership to ensure the success of their elaborate content marketing strategy.

Common view of digital-savvy customers should be kept in focus to ensure tight coordination of marketing activities in sync with the changing customer needs and reactions. Emerging architectures of digital marketing hubs should be carefully reviewed periodically to best utilize resources for most productive outcome.

With increase in social-marketing hype, the social marketing objects should be tied to the corporate vision of the companies. Analysis of how each social marketing activity will support that goal and provide a high return of investment. Gain from adapting to emergent technologies can lead to savings on media from improved efficiency or lift in sales from improved effectiveness of a company’s budget.

B2B management investments should be made into multi-channel, taking advantage of accessible areas in data mining, segmentation and behavioral analytics. Useful analytic results should be incorporated to the marketing strategy to further boost performance.

Criticism about Hype Cycle

Several disadvantages of Hype Cycle have been brought to light. Firstly, it is very difficult to objectively estimate the current location of a technology in its hype cycle. Secondly, terms such as ‘disillusionment’ and ‘enlightenment’ are misleading for people as they give a wrong idea about how exactly and to what extent a technology can be used for an organization. Also, there is no mention of how a technology transitions between phases and what all factors influence the shift. Lastly, several technologies are heavily correlated in terms of advancement through the different phases. The hype cycle does explain the cause-effect relationships between technologies and their impact on acceleration of technology progress and generation of excessive hype for a product.







Mumbai Dabbawalas – business and beyond

‘Mumbai Dabbawalas’, a commercial trust has delivered 6 sigma standard supply chain excellence using traditional and non-conventional modes of operation. Building on their operational excellence, the dabbawalas are constantly reinventing their services to touch  lives across Mumbai more meaningfully.

Business Operations:

‘Mumbai Dabbawalas’, meaning ‘lunch box delivery men’, provide a highly specialized service of delivering around 260,000 lunchboxes through 5,000 dabbawalas in Mumbai. Although the service originated during British times in the 1890s, the commercial arm of this trust was registered in 1968 as ‘Mumbai Tiffin Box Supplier’s Association’. The dabbawalas charge as low as INR 450 per month for their services. They have an annual turnover of more than INR 50 crore. Every dabbawala is an equal shareholder in the trust and earns around INR 10,000 per month.

A collecting dabbawala, usually on a bicycle, collects dabbas either from a worker’s home or from the dabba makers. The dabbawala then groups the lunchboxes as per locality and the grouped boxes are transported via local trains. At each station, boxes are handed over to a local dabbawala, who delivers them to the final destination. The empty boxes are collected later and sent back to their respective houses. The 5,000 or so dabbawalas in the city have an astounding service record. Every working day, they transport more than 130,000 lunchboxes across Mumbai, the world’s fourth-most-populous city. That entails conducting upwards of 260,000 transactions in six hours each day, six days a week, 52 weeks a year (minus holidays), but mistakes are extremely rare. Amazingly, the dabbawalas—semi-literate workers who largely manage themselves—have achieved that level of performance at a very low cost, in an eco-friendly way, without the use of any IT system or even cell phones.

Exhibit: Mumbai Dabbawalas – Daily Supply Chain activities


The Mumbai dabbawalas have maintained their immaculate service and impeccable delivery even in the harshest of times. The notorious Mumbai monsoons or the frequent strikes in the city have never impacted their service in the past 50 years. While sticking to traditional methods of transportation, they have also leveraged technology by offering SMS based services to ensure maximum customer satisfaction. They are constantly in touch with the fast changing business environment and leverage technology to meet the needs of their customers. In 2005, Harvard Business Review found the reliability of Mumbai dabbawalas to adhere to a six sigma standard. This means that the dabbawalas make less than one mistake in every six million deliveries. To sum up, the Mumbai dabbawalas are a perfect example of leveraging indigenous modes of operation with modern technology practices.  


Pillars of Success:

The dabbawalas have an overall system whose basic pillars—organization, management, process, and culture—are perfectly aligned and mutually reinforcing. In the corporate world, it is not very common for managers to strive for this synergy. While most, if not all, pay attention to some of the pillars, only a minority address all four.

1. Organization:

The organization of dabbawalas is relatively flat with 3 levels of hierarchy: the top level management that runs the trust, the mid-level employees responsible for planning and operations and the delivery men who form the backbone of the entire organization.

2. Management:

The management philosophy considers the mid-level managers as neither leaders nor supervisors. They are architects who design and fine-tune systems that enable the delivery workforce to perform at optimal levels of efficiency.

3. Process:

The process defined by the dabbawalas focuses on a single measure – customer service and satisfaction. All other considerations like cost, schedule, etc. revolve around the objective goal of maximizing customer service levels.

4.  Culture:

Since most of the managers have a direct stake in the dabbawala organization, the culture within the organization emphasizes managers to nurture their organization as a closely knit community. This helps the organization take care of their employees and also helps maximize productivity and creativity. Overall, an inclusive culture that seeps across the dabbawala organization is essential to create a sense of accountability at all levels that is the driver of their impeccable operations.

Organizational Structure:

The Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association (MTBSA) is a streamline 120-year-old organization with 4500 semi-literate members who provide quality door-to-door service to a large and loyal customer base. MTBSA is a three-tiered organization: the governing council (president, vice president, general secretary, treasure and nine directors); the mukadams; and, the dabbawala. MTBSA is also the uncontested institution that regulates activities of all the dabbawalas and solves possible conflicts between them or with customers or authorities. It also has the authority to fire “bad” dabbawalas or give fines to those who commit errors repeatedly. With a relatively flat and organic organization, most of the decision making is decentralized. Also, the span of control is generally very small within the organization. This helps the dabbawalas drive higher agility and responsiveness in their organization.

Marketing Ventures: the way forward

The dabbawalas have found global recognition right from Prince Charles to Sir Richard Branson for their supply chain brilliance. The recent Hindi film ‘The Lunchbox’ has brought the much-feted dabbawalas or tiffin carriers of Mumbai into the reckoning once again. They are a unique feature of the city, as they go about their task of delivering food from point A to point B. Capitalizing on this popularity, Mumbai dabbawalas are going beyond the conventional barriers of their delivery business. They are increasingly taking up new roles and responsibilities far beyond their traditional business of delivering tiffin boxes. They are foraying into newer avenues across the industry to find newer ways to generate revenue. Marketers see the Mumbai dabbawalas as a perfect medium for advertising in a city like Mumbai.

One such example is that of the German conglomerate Siemens, which embarked on its global campaign ‘Answers That Last’ in order to get the B2B brand closer to people. The campaign aimed at narrating stories of how Siemens improved lives, cities and businesses. This campaign was launched on a global scale in over 80 countries. For each country, the chosen stories were localized to make them relevant for the country. Specifically for India, Siemens identified dabbawalas as a pivot for their launch. The company sought the help of a dabbawala named Kiran Gavande to narrate his story of how Siemens’ technology had made life simpler for him.

The dabbawalas also get repeat customers from marketing organizations. They have done multiple stints of roadside awareness spreading marketing campaigns with companies across wide domains such as McDonald’s in the food industry and Colors in the television industry. The campaign with the dabbawalas sporting Amitabh Bachchan masks during the launch of a new Bigg Boss season was a high point  in their latest marketing endeavours. Confectionary major Perfetti also effectively sought the services of the dabbawalas to create buzz for their ‘Mangofillz’ candy a couple of year back.

The dabbawalas have been very careful while taking up assignments related to advertising and marketing. They have made sure that they always stick to their core values of excellence in customer service and any added work activities are only complementary to the same. Advertising has to be not just media-neutral but also media inventive, and the ubiquitous dabbawalas provide a new avenue for precisely that by blurring the lines between media and message.

The dabbawalas have become icons of hard work and dedication. They are here for the long haul and over time will only get better. Mumbai dabbawalas have truly revolutionized application of simple concepts with their innovative and indigenous cost effective solutions to solve larger problems of supply chain management. Also, with their appetite for higher growth and an outlook to diversify operations, Mumbai dabbawalas will only become more prominent in the city over the next few years.

Himanshu Pandey is a PGP1 student at IIM Ahmedabad, and a member of the Consult Club. Prior to joining IIM-A, he worked with Procter & Gamble in the Supply Chain function as a capacity planner and project manager. He holds a Bachelors degree in Aerospace Engineering from IIT Bombay.

The Sustainability Imperative in FMCG

The rapidly growing FMCG sector in India accounts for about 2.2% of the GDP. The sector has stood its ground in the midst of recessionary pressure and volatility in the markets, and is poised to register steady growth. With rising disposable incomes, evolving consumer lifestyles, growth of modern trade, greater awareness of products/brands, and availability of online channels, the imperative for firms in India to develop core areas of differentiation is on rise.

Figure 1. Growth in the Indian FMCG Sector (CII FMCG Roadmap 2020)

Figure 1. Growth in the Indian FMCG Sector (CII FMCG Roadmap 2020)

An impetus on environmentally friendly business practices under the ambit of enhanced social responsibility is one such differentiating strategy that FMCG majors like HUL, P&G and ITC are now deploying. Some of the drivers for this differentiation have been the increasing concern for climate change, depleting natural resources and action by different stakeholders: the government through policy, the consumers through brand selection, and the community (NGOs) through increased awareness.

Figure 2.  FMCG Focus Areas (Booz and Co.)

Figure 2. FMCG Focus Areas (Booz and Co.)



There are 3 major practices that FMCG firms in India can utilize to realize the sustainability advantage:

  1. Green Energy Sourcing
  2. Product and Service labeling
  3. Packaging Material

An analysis of these options from the perspective of the 4 major stakeholders of FMCG firms – the Government, the Investors, Retailers & Consumers, and NGOs is as follows:

Green energy sourcing

Sourcing energy from renewable sources (Wind and Solar) has the potential to reduce the energy costs of FMCG majors in India by up to 90% and carbon foot-print by 85% depending on the location and the availability of power evacuation infrastructure near the factories, warehouses or installations. One of the major policies formulated by the Government to incentivize greening of energy sources by the industry was the Accelerated Depreciation and Generation Based Incentives offered. Apart from meeting the strategic cost management targets, these schemes have served as alternate sources of revenue for FMCG majors. This led to a massive increase (21% over 2010-12) in the percentage of energy sourced by FMCG majors from green energy. HUL and ITC spearheaded this growth.

However, with the replacement of the generation based incentive regime by the Renewable energy certificates mechanism, a slow-down in the rate of installation of the green-energy capacity has been observed.

Another major opportunity that the FMCG firms can leverage is the sustainability certification system. Various green certifications like ISO 14001 and Leeds Green Building/Factory are opportunities for differentiation. These certifications have gained special relevance given the rising consumer awareness and sensitivity to environmental issues.

Product and Service labeling

rohit blog 4

Benchmarking production processes and services to best sustainability practices is increasingly emerging as another major differentiation. The eco-label, green-seal and eco-logo stamps are being deployed on offerings to differentiate them from competition offerings. In India, this concept has gained traction recently with the development of the Ecomark scheme by the Central Pollution Control Board (Ministry of Environment and Forests). The major driver of the Ecomark scheme is the reduction of environmental and health hazards due to industrialization. Signaling through accreditation encourages aware consumers make informed decisions and can thus be leveraged by FMCG firms.

Figure 3. Differentiating eco-product marks in-use around the world

Figure 3. Differentiating eco-product marks in-use around the world

Packaging Material

Innovative sustainable packaging is another thrust area for the FMCG industry. Given the increasing cost and environmental ramifications of conventional packaging solutions (in spite of recycling and reusing), FMCG firms are increasingly evaluating biodegradable options for packaging. The use of biodegradable films and paper-centric packaging solutions has witnessed a tremendous (160%) rise during 2009-2012.

Innovative methods of utilizing non-biodegradable waste are also an opportunity that the FMCG sector is undertaking. A case-in-point in this regard is the initiative by a Canadian firm Terracycle, which converts cigarette butts into plastic skillets and containers.

Figure 4. Terracycle - Model

Figure 4. Terracycle – Model

With increasing levels of consumer awareness and government regulations, sustainability is gradually transforming from being a differentiator, into a primary business driver. Major FMCG firms must capitalize on the first mover advantages and establish themselves as industry leaders in this space.

Rohit Sharma is a PGP1 student at IIM Ahmedabad, and a member of the Consult Club. 

Non-Profit Organizations, Telemarketers, and Accountability

Over the past few years, I had been receiving calls from various Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) requesting for donations to help their cause. Feeling a sense of compassion, I would gladly write a cheque and be overwhelmed by the thought of about how I had contributed towards the well-being of humankind. However, after writing a cheque to a particular NPO, I started receiving phone calls every week from the same organization. Assuming that the NPO knew that I was not a billionaire, I began to wonder – do they have the resources to make such redundant efforts?

Economies of Scale: An illustration

The money that these NPOs need to carry out activities comes primarily through either government grants or household and corporate donations. I will focus only on household donations in this article.

 If an NPO wishes to solicit a credible donation amount it needs to make a large number of telephone calls. For that, it needs to incur infrastructural costs, work-force costs, training costs and acquire the necessary phones and related equipment. Suppose an NPO manages to make 10,000 calls a day garnering Rs. 50,000 after a mammoth effort. What if someone else could do this with ease? Professional Telemarketer Fundraisers – Bingo!

A telemarketing company (TC) can make use of economies of scale, professional staff, experience and a huge infrastructure to approach donors efficiently. Of course, it would not be affiliated with a single NPO: Affiliation with multiple NPOs would result in economies of scale. If the TC manages to make 50,000 phone calls a day and raise Rs. 250,000, it might take a cut of Rs. 150,000 to cover its operating expenses and earn profit for its shareholders. A maximum of Rs. 100,000 (40% of the donated amount) goes to the NPOs.

NPOs get more funds and the TC’s business makes hay. Everyone is happy – Really? What about the poor donor who was naive in thinking that 70-80% of his contribution would go in aiding the actual cause? Feeling deceived, cheated, angry or foolish?

If a smart donor dared to ask the telemarketer about the amount of contribution that will eventually reach the charity, the telemarketer would smartly tell the donor exactly what he needs to hear: 80-90% of the contribution amount.

The Industry

Though telemarketing companies have been in existence since the 1970s, they started flourishing over the last decade and a half due to the telecom revolution in India, a wide range of products that people do not need to buy, and a huge growth in the number of new NPOs. A report published in March 2012 by the Central Statistic Office (CSO) shows that the number of NPO registrations increased from 5.5 lakhs during 1980s to 11.22 lakhs in 1990s and 11.35 lakhs during 2000s. A number of these NPOs tie up with TCs for fundraising activities. The TCs usually charge a substantial percentage of the donated funds in lieu of the services provided. Owing to the booming growth of NPOs in India, the scenario seems just ripe for these companies to start exploiting unaware, emotional donors. The mushrooming of TCs catering to many sectors and their excessive phone calls to customers led TRAI to implement a ‘Do Not Disturb’ registry of phone subscribers who cannot be approached by telemarketers in the absence of permission from the subscriber.

Non-Profit Accountability

NPOs in India usually overspend on overheads. A 2006-07 government report revealed that out of $2.15 billion in foreign aid received, around $680 million was used for organizational expenses. Also, the credibility of NPOs, particularly those which allow its patrons to avail tax deductions, has come under severe public scrutiny. There have been allegations of money laundering and fund-misappropriation against some well-known trusts. Lack of transparency in public disclosure of the accounts, and non-standard accounting practices have allowed NPOs to be a part of such malpractices. The government has been able to probe and take action against just a few hundred trusts out of millions that exist.


  • The donors get irked due to repeated calls from numerous telemarketers representing various NPOs. This problem is accentuated by mismanagement of records while outsourcing to telemarketing companies and absence of due diligence by the TCs.
  • Because of misappropriation of funds, the compassionate donors feel betrayed and lose motivation to contribute to genuine NPOs.
  • Lastly, because of misappropriation of funds by NPOs and money laundering, the government loses tax revenue.


Greater regulatory oversight and public disclosure of flow of assets in this sector is required. Policy changes should be aimed at achieving the same:

  • The TC should be required to disclose its name and the contractual agreement with the NPO to the prospective donor.
  • Feedback should be taken from the patron on the frequency of donations he wishes to make in a year and this feedback should be strictly taken into account before making repeated calls.
  • Ideally, no minimum contribution amount should be defined by the NPOs. A person should be free to make a contribution of any amount to any cause he wishes.
  • NPOs’ should be forced to disclose their accounts to the public using standard accounting practices, and their compensation to TCs should be unambiguously mentioned in their communication.

“Taru Agrawal is a PGP1 student at IIM Ahmedabad and a member of the Consult Club. He is a graduate from IIT Kanpur in Mechanical Engineering, and worked at Deutsche Bank before joining IIM Ahmedabad.”

Winds of Change?

Corporate Social Responsibility and the way forward

Today every major company has a CSR policy and not having one is near blasphemy. Corporate activism and popular issues like climate change have pushed CSR to be a standard cost of carrying out business. Although major companies have adopted the CSR policy, many still see it as superficial spending towards “compliance”. As a result, the recent downturn is being seen as a threat to the CSR industry, which is perceived as an avoidable luxury.

In light of this development, companies are rethinking their CSR strategy and are now partnering with NGOs, the government, other companies and even competitors. But one of the most promising developments has been the advent of social entrepreneurship into the gambit of CSR. This promises to create disruptive change, one which pushes CSR from merely being satisficing in nature to something which is ingrained in a company’s strategy.

The Piramal Foundation, the CSR arm of the Piramal group is a shining example. Their mission statement lucidly puts the point across – “Our method is based on a belief that talented young people, challenged to address some of our country’s most common development issues, will find innovative solutions that are relevant, cost-effective, and applicable to the nation at large.” Accordingly, Piramal has built a repertoire of for-profit social enterprises tackling issues from rural health to the supply of drinking water. Among them, Piramal e-Swasthya (erstwhile Mobile Medics) stands out.

Kavikrut, an HBS alumnus, founded Mobile Medics right out of college. As he puts it – “Lack of existing solutions, a grave challenge, a good business plan, and a seed fund led me to take the plunge. I spent about 2 years at Mobile Medics where we treated 2,000 patients across 12 villages.” This zeal and attachment is typically seen in a social entrepreneur which, as per the Ashoka Foundation, is a loose term for “ambitious and persistent people tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.”

When Mobile Medics wanted to scale up it saw Piramal’s umbrella a perfect place to be under. It saw synergies which led to the absorption of the Mobile Medics team to start eSwasthya. Such synergies helped Piramal not only in effective CSR but also in extending Piramal Health’s competence to the large rural Indian health market.

Unlike traditional CSR, which often lies on the fringes in large companies, involvement with social entrepreneurs brings greater focus. By involving people who in many cases have used their own money and time on projects brings measurable results and financial rigor in social investments. Therefore, we now see huge money being poured by companies into social enterprises through their CSR arms.

It is inevitable that this entrepreneurial approach of tacking social issues will shake the existing “philanthropic” CSR model. However, till now social enterprises have generated more hype than meaningful change. It may pave the way for hybrid business models in the future, but for the time being the corporate behemoths are the ones who can make a significant difference. As in the case of Piramal and Mobile Medics, established companies will collaborate or absorb successful social ventures to further their goals. If we extrapolate this trend, we reach an important academic theory – Corporate Social Entrepreneurship (CSE).

CSE is a process aimed at enabling business to develop more advance and powerful forms of CSR. It makes CSR an integral part of a company’s strategy. A former CEO of Starbucks puts it elegantly, “Aligning self-interest to social responsibility is the most powerful way to sustaining a company’s success.”

CSE requires corporations to have an entrepreneurial culture where cross functional teams harness synergies across various stakeholders. ITC’s e-choupal is a powerful example of how a social initiative has become core to a corporate strategy which links business and society. e-choupal empowers small farmers by removing middlemen in the Indian agricultural markets by leveraging the internet.

Such examples where entrepreneurial activity is supported in a corporate setting are increasing. Further, we can see that the demand for entrepreneurial talent has increased, who are being empowered and given clear goals consistent with the firm’s values which are crucial in advancing CSR.

The transformation of CSR to CSE, if realized, would mean that social values would no longer be viewed as an accessory, but as an important structural component of an organization. As CSE furthers the core objectives of corporations, it amounts to a paradigm shift in how business is done. Such a transformation will definitely be met with massive resistance. Furthermore, social betterment is an area where corporations’ competencies are doubtful. Changing values to look for such disruptive social innovations would enlarge the phase of transition.

However, Piramal and ITC have shown us that the challenges are surmountable. Also, it is increasingly becoming evident that socioeconomic value creation and synergistic partnerships are vital ingredients to a sustainable business today. Till the CSE dream is achieved, many more Kavikruts will partner with leading corporations to enrich the cusp of business and society.

Sachin Bhardwaj is a PGP 1 student at IIM Ahmedabad and a member of the Consult Club. He is passionate about the social sector and public policy. He holds a B.E. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from BITS Pilani  and has led rural development projects with the help of UNICEF in the past.