App and Digital Stores – Much More to be Done

This note focuses on the current rumble about the App Store on Apple devices. It is like a fight between a trillion-dollar company and a billion-dollar company. Then others have joined the fray as well. Some are quoting indie or artisanal developers others invoking small-medium businesses and so on. It remains a fight between massive companies with different levels of scale. I am not particularly keen on any commercial point of view that these companies have offered. 

Apparently, a full generation of teens and younger kids are going to be alienated and left adrift because of the actions of one company. Further, there are concerns of fundamental freedoms for consumers, developers and well the trope of hurting small businesses. This topic is spreading in the technology and business news cycle because of disagreements on how app stores function. Since this is about young children and teens, you might have also read that there are close to 14 million children on Tiktok in just the US; they should not even be on these platforms! This makes one wonder about numbers for other countries. The global health crisis has meant more digital services are being used to improve learning experiences. There is going to be greater emphasis on digital learning, new services and well algorithms are also in the news for unfairly impacting students. 

What interests me is the data safety, privacy practices and the due diligence practices of companies that offer these services. These issues increasingly form the basis of the choices that customers make when signing up for digital services. 

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Digital Skills for a New World

The emerging health scenario continues to be a concern and is beginning to impact education-related decisions in a big way. Things are not going to be the same for sure! Work from home has also come to mean learning at home. This is a new way ahead. 

From a technology standpoint, the following will become even more important

  • Digital safety and security 
  • Cloud-first service infrastructure that enables people and companies to reconnect with customers in new ways
  • Realtime3D or Interactive 3D will bring about a rapid transformation in how we experience things
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Simpler words

This year, I came across two words that I have previously never used or heard in mainstream conversation. You guessed it – Asymptomatic and Comorbidity. Let’s say the usage went ‘viral’!

A day or two after an official, somewhere in the world, talked about comorbidities, it was the theme in office blocks nearby. The deliberations seemed intense but relaxed. Invariably someone would mention that the young were largely unaffected and the ones who lost lives probably because of comorbidities. The implication of being younger and not having the virus probably got many people a bit relaxed about the impact. This scenario possibly played out in other parts of the world as well.

Not much later the other term appeared on my horizon. Asymptomatic got mentioned in the context of people who tested positive. Now both words have specific meanings in a professional/medical context. But for a lot of people, these are new words with virtually no background before. Further, the usage of these words seemed to have gone up almost in a similar pattern. The Google Trends link is here .

It is suboptimal messaging that people are searching for the meaning of words. Globally, more straightforward phrases in communication would have been more impactful. A lot of people would understand that the virus has no symptoms initially and that preexisting health conditions of any type increase risks for any patient. Most importantly, people would not need to refer to dictionaries. 

After all, wash your hands is a lot more actionable and easier to understand. 

Customer Experience from an ESG perspective

This moment in time is an opportunity to reiterate the drive towards sustainable brand experiences. ESG, global commitments and most of all, new safety expectations and digital transformation have created a broad canvas for customer experience.

Mark Hillary and I discussed this for his CX Files podcast. You can choose either of the the formats to hear the conversation

Multilingual Digital Experiences

The stay home at home era has necessitated the need for companies to offer services via digital channels. So websites, voice assistant, chatbots and apps have been put to use.

The question we need to ask is whether these tools are enabled for multilingual experiences? A cursory scan of multiple company sites reveals that there is much work to be done. India has so many languages and to properly service customers with varying degrees of skills, digital tools of companies will need to communicate with them in the language of their preference.

We have implemented multilingual experiences for more international clients than local ones. Indian companies have perhaps prioritised other features, but this is undoubtedly going to change.

Some of the key learnings from our work are

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Transcribing your Digital Meeting or Conference

These are the days of abundant digital ‘conferences’. Each conversation can be socialised. Instead of meeting in person and sharing a picture together, one is sharing the conversation. In addition, conference formats are being reimagined.

Work meetings have gone digital. We are all on the same platform. Plus there can be distractions too.

We are getting tempted to attend digital conferences and meetings to learn, interact, collaborate and essentially socialise. Your digital calendar may have more meeting hours than actual hours in a day. So choices seem to get made or perhaps one feels the fatigue too. There are enough articles on that too.

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Using Phone Camera for your Laptops

Most laptops have average webcams. Desktops may also not have cams. With more digital meetings, there is a need for better cams. But those are not available due to the current situation. You can, however, use the exceptional cameras on your mobile phone as wifi webcams.

Broadly you would need to do the following-

Download an app on your phone
Install drivers on your laptop
Choose the camera in your meeting app.

There must be more apps too, but these are the ones I experimented with

NDIHxCamera, an iOS app, utilises the NDI standard. This standard, popularised by Newtek, a broadcast solutions company. This app is reasonably simple to use but has been made keeping the broadcast solutions community in mind. To download their app and read more about the tools, please visit this link .

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Full Featured Learning Experiences for Schools, Not Video Meetings

Should educational institutions be using a video calling and meeting solution or a solution that helps get the task of educating children efficiently? Difficult circumstanced necessitated the adoption of Zoom. It nevertheless opens up a range of security and learning efficacy challenges.

I recently wrote on the safety challenges that Zoom need to address. Large organisations like Apple, Nasa, SpaceX have also told employees to avoid using this particular application. Zoom itself has prioritised working on privacy and safety enhancements over the next 90 days.

Should your organisation wait? The question is, does this or any other video calling solution serve the needs of an educational institution?

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Should You Zoom?

Zoom gained attention almost overnight because of the extended health-related lockdowns. As everyone had to work from home, companies with investments in Microsoft365 or GSuite perhaps already had communication solutions that could be tapped for running video and audio meetings. Their usage increased as people figured out ways to collaborate and talk.

Zoom gained because it seemed intuitive to use. It offered the it-just-works promise. You could create meetings with external partners, friends, social contacts without needing a per-user license of the solutions mentioned above. Another thing it offered was the ability to have a free 40-minute meeting each time. If you want a more extended session, then there are workarounds, or you pay for one of their plans.

So enterprises who preferred face to face moved to this service. Educational institutions conduct classes over zoom even as they contemplate whether they need longer-term investments. People evidently have liked this service.

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