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Digital Marketing: Common activities, trends, and choosing courses

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Digital marketing is a set of integrated techniques, technologies and information that enables marketing to create new products and services; enter new markets; improve the processes needed to engage in a dynamic conversation with people who are influencers and buyers; and ultimately target, acquire and retain customers.

Digital marketing, which continues to be integrated with multichannel campaign management, includes addressable branding/advertising, contextual marketing, social marketing and transactional marketing. ​​Digital marketing extends the marketing process through channels such as the Web, video, mobile and social applications, point-of-sale terminals, digital signage and kiosks. (Gartner’s Definitions)

Most-common digital marketing tasks in India

The below chart can give you specific activities that are part of digital marketing.


Those are the tasks. We also need to know the where our audiences visit. For example, here is some data about the 8th to 12th class students in urban India (1739 Schools in 14 Cities). A whopping 85% of them are on social media.

TCS Survey Students in Urban India Who Use Social Media

Trends / Career / Courses

Since “digital” is a popular buzz word these days, there will be quite a lot of misinformation and disinformation about this. You may see SEO, SEM or SMO courses labelled as “Digital Marketing” courses. This is not bad, if the courses really cover the wide areas of, and trends in, digital marketing. For example, eMarketer says

Programmatic advertising will continue to drive growth and innovation. In a first, more than 50% of all US digital video ad spending will flow via automation in 2016

We need to keep ourselves updated whether we are History teachers, doctors or mechanical engineers. And, all the fields are undergoing changes. But, when it comes to jobs in emerging fields like Digital Advertising, please keep in mind that the turbulence / pace of changes will be high.

For example, how will the digital marketing deal with ad-blocking? PageFair and Adobe estimate there were 198 million monthly active users of ad-blocking technologies worldwide as of June 2015. Will the Native advertising, which is expected to grow much faster, be a reliable solution to digital ad blocking? How about the impact of growing ad-fraud? So, one needs to keep monitoring several trends in digital marketing.

Choosing a course: For those interested in pursuing courses to get a full-time or part-time job in digital marketing, it’s better to look around & get a glimpse of what the digital marketers do in your region. And then, choose a course that teaches most of those tasks. Don’t pick a course, and then look if there are jobs for you.

If you plan to be a freelancer, then you may need to learn a wider set of courses, if you would kike to get projects from anywhere. But, when it comes to assignments / works, the local projects may be preferable to remote projects (for receiving payments for your work). If you take freelance projects for far-away clients, chances are you will face a lot more problems in receiving remuneration.


Social media optimization (SMO) is the use of a number of social media outlets and communities to generate publicity to increase the awareness of a product, brand or event. Types of social media involved include RSS feeds, social news and bookmarking sites, as well as social networking sites, such as Twitter, and video and blogging sites. SMO is similar to search engine optimization in that the goal is to generate traffic and awareness for a website. In general, social media optimization refers to optimizing a website and its content in terms of sharing across social media and networking sites. (Wikipedia)

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising. SEM may incorporate search engine optimization (SEO), which adjusts or rewrites website content and site architecture to achieve a higher ranking in search engine results pages to enhance pay per click (PPC) listings (Wikipedia)

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results. As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. (Wikipedia)

AD BLOCKING: Removing or altering advertising in digital channels by consumers. Includes usage patterns, attitudes, and software on both desktop and mobile devices (eMarketer)

Ad blocking or ad filtering is removing or altering advertising content in a webpage. All browsers offer some solution to the problem, either by targeting technologies (Adobe Flash/Shockwave, Windows Media Audio files, etc.) that are used to deliver ads, targeting URLs that are the source of ads, or targeting behavioral characteristic of ads (such as the use of HTML5 auto-play of both audio and video) (Wikipedia)

PROGRAMMATIC ADVERTISING: An automated, technology-driven method of buying digital display advertising (eMarketer)

NATIVE ADVERTISING: Digital advertisements that match the visual design of a user experience, where they function and look like natural content. Primarily used in social media settings, examples include sponsored posts, promoted videos, and search ads (eMarketer)

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Written by S Ibrahim

Feb 1, 2016 at 10:38 pm

IT Architecture 101. Types of Architecture

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The IT Architecture is a complex phenomena. Just like an apartment has floor plans, electrical drawings, topo map, plumbing drawings, etc. there are plenty of architectures / views  for any system / application. From a development perspective, here are four architectures (in as much plain English as possible).

1. Business processes / BPM: You deal with this to not only know the business, but also to eliminate redundant & non-value added processes. When you automate some business processes, a few things should get eliminated. For example, in real world you may have a person pick the documents and keep them in a store-room. This whole process doesn’t apply when the data (documents) get stored in hard-drives or cloud

2. Data Architecture: Data sensitivity / classification, retention period, role-based access, approval hierarchy, data custodian, etc.

3. Solution Architecture: Semi-technical. Define the components & their interaction with one another

Forrester says, “Solution architects are responsible for defining the business solution “platform” upon which the initial project and future solutions are built. This includes assembling and documenting the architectural requirements for the strategic solution”. But, it cautions, “The definition of the solution architect role and responsibilities varies widely from firm to firm, changes over time, and often isn’t very clear. Some firms will emphasize the role as a business advisor, and others expect solution architects to fill the role of project design authority” (Solution Architecture Tool Kit: Overview)

4. Technical Architecture: IDE, GUI tools, DB Servers topology, number of app servers, load balancing, which apps use which server, etc (The last two are sometimes called Infrastructure View).

** Thanks Shameel for the discussion on this **

If you want an academic level overview, please read Architectural Blueprints — The “4+1” View Model of Software Architecture


There are plenty of other architectures. Here are some:

5. Enterprise Architecture (EA), with its frameworks like TOGAF, Zachman, etc. should deal with strategic objectives of the enterprise, and ideally be dealt at the CIO level.

6. Gartner says “AA (application architecture) is a subset of enterprise solution architecture (ESA) which, in turn, is a subset of a complete EA” (“Application Architecture Overview, Part 1: General Context and Scope”)

The below diagram from Gartner shows the Value Chain for Architecture Disciplines (“The Distinction Between Enterprise Architecture and Application Architecture Makes a Difference to Business Outcomes”, 2014)


Continuity Between Strategy and Execution


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Written by S Ibrahim

Mar 21, 2015 at 11:10 pm

IT Cultures, Processes, and Your Employability

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The IT employees should keep an eye on what’s happening in the industry, and take appropriate actions. If you have to the leave (either voluntarily or laid-off/fired from) your current company, you don’t want to find that you are NOT employable. For instance, you realize that you don’t have experience in certain processes when recruiters ask for those, lack knowledge of some technology, you spent too many years at a lower level, or your pay was so high that other companies refuse to hire you (Many large Indian IT companies are reluctant to hire anyone with a pay less than your last pay, even if you are out-of-job). The appropriate action could be learning, moving to a different team, or moving to a different company even with a pay-cut.

Types of IT Companies

1. Captive units are offshore IT units of large US/European non-IT companies, like Ford, RBS, etc. IT folks at captive serve just one company, though there may be multiple departments/portfolios

2. Service companies offer consulting, outsourcing & IT project development & maintenance. Examples are TCS, HCL, Cognizant, etc. Service folks, well, serve multiple clients/companies and oftentimes in multiple geographies.

3 & 4. There are IT product companies (e.g.: SAP, Oracle, etc.) and “internet” companies (i.e. they aren’t accessible if your internet access is down) like FB, Google etc.

Some companies fall into more than one category. So, don’t read too much into the examples.

Company Cultures

When a housemaid works at multiple homes, she is exposed to multiple cultures, appliances, devices, etc. That is a way to look at the experience you gain in IT Service companies. In captive units, you work at just one “home” which may expose you to modern management cultures, processes and technologies. Or, it may stick to old technologies, old-methodologies (e.g.: Waterfall method to deliver IT projects) and even outdated attitude/outlook (“No cloud for me, please. I want to touch my UNIX/Windows Server”, “Open Source is slow”).

Of course, some portfolios/units of a captive unit may embrace modern technologies / tools while others don’t, but most likely the culture & processes won’t be modern.

In some captives, employees are over-titled, i.e. they are given titles that don’t match the responsibilities and tasks they do. For example, if all you do is get requirements from your US parent company, and deliver those requirements month after month, no one else calls this Project Management.

[Source: LMC Software]

Two examples for the Culture/Processes

A) “Facebook has roughly 1,000 development engineers and three release engineers who orchestrate the daily and weekly pushes. However, it doesn’t have a separate quality assurance (QA) team or any other designated testers“. The developers do Unit tests for their code, and the code goes thru some automated tests. There are reasons for the absence of Testing team.

  1. Developers know the code better than testers, so developers should test the code
  2. They don’t want to create the ‘developers are better / more important than testers’ culture
  3. “Personal responsibility by the engineers who wrote the code can replace quality assurances obtained by a separate testing organization”

{Source: “Development and Deployment at Facebook”, IEEE Internet Computing,July-Aug 2013}

If you are a QA person / tester, think how long it will take for this thought-process to be adopted by more companies

B) The amazon’s (AWS) database offerings (like RDS, Aurora, etc), Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry, etc. have made creating, managing and extending databases and DB objects a lot quicker and easier even for non-DBAs. Installing, configuring and managing databases in the cloud now looks like a child’s play. If you are a DBA, what’d be the impact of these for your job opportunities or career growth?

Criticality of IT

IT is important for any company, but IT isn’t the core in many. In a waste management company the garbage trucks are more critical than your programs/servers. If your Telecom company’s billing application or database servers are down for a day, your CEO may not even know that. Yes, the bill generation and related items will be affected for a day. But, that is not as serious as wire-line or wireless network issues. If a section of the call-center employees or technicians of a telecom company could possibly go on a strike, the company gets in a panic (or, preparation for the possible strike) mode. If a section of IT employees quit, no executive would bat an eye.

I’m not suggesting we should work only at the companies where IT is critical. But, it is important to be realistic about your own importance, or even IT’s importance. I have seen people who think their job is safe because s/he is the only person who knows the entire app, or the only Production DBA, or with similar thought process.

Skills, Competency & Employability

At the lower levels (Software Engineers, Analysts, etc.), the skills required are primarily technical & analytical, and are pretty similar across the IT companies. But, competencies / skills expected at higher levels vary widely.

For example, in Service companies, the project managers do pre-sales activities. The Senior PMs do manage budgets. But, these mayn’t happen at captive units. Since IT/project delivery is the lifeline for service, IT & internet companies, you see them adopting modern practices like Agile, DevOps, Open Source software, etc.

As for captive units, some adopt & some don’t. Senior employees from captive units, without any pre-sales, consulting & budgeting experience AND without any exposure to Agile or DevOps, are at a disadvantage when they look for openings outside.

It is not just for managers. If you are a developer with 10+ years of experience, are you sure you can join others as a developer? Many Indian companies will expect architecture skills from someone with 10+ years of experience.

Workplace predictions from Gartner

  • By 2020, as much as 65% of knowledge worker career paths will be disrupted by smart machines in both positive and negative ways.
  • By 2020, non-routine work will account for more than 65% of U.S. jobs (up from 60% in 2013)

{Source: “Workplace Reimagined: Four Scenarios to Help Visualize the Future”, Gartner, 2015}


Five factors that contribute to unemployability

1. Lack of knowledge (e.g.: don’t know the DevOps tools, open-source development softwares, etc.)

2. No experience in certain processes (e.g.: Scrum, Automated Testing, DevOps, etc.)

3. Too many years in a position (The perception, in India, is that you don’t have potential)

4. High salary: Many large Indian IT companies refuse to offer jobs with a pay packages (CTC) less than your last received pay

5. Hyper-titles: In some captives, employees’ titles don’t reflect their actual responsibilities. e.g.: A person may be a “Senior Project Manager”, but in reality primarily does the job of a Technical/Project Lead



Let’s keep an eye on the changing nature of work, culture, processes and technologies used by major companies. Mere reading about budgeting, scrum, enterprise agile, PaaS / SaaS, DevOps, Microservices, Digital Workplace, Smart Machines, consulting, etc. won’t help us get our next job. Depending on our situations, we may need get out before we rust out.

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Written by S Ibrahim

Feb 11, 2015 at 9:53 pm

CA படிப்பதற்கு B.Com தேவையில்லை

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CA படிக்க ஆசைப்பட்டால் பத்தாவது முடித்த உடனேயே ICAI அமைப்பில் பதிவு செய்யுங்கள். அவர்கள் தரும் கோர்ஸ் / பாட புத்தகங்களை படித்தாலே +2வில் 90% மேல் வாங்கலாம்.

12வது முடித்தவர்கள் உடனேயே பதிவு செய்து வரும் டிசம்பர் மாதம் CPT தேர்வு எழுதுங்கள். டிசம்பர் 2015-இல் IPCC (INTERMEDIATE) தேர்வு எழுதுங்கள்.You can take coaching for the subjects. Not all of them charge a lot.

அதன் பின்னர் 3 வருடம் ஒரு ஆடிட்டரிடம் வேலை பார்த்துக்கொண்டே (5,000 முதல் 10,000 வரை மாதம் STIPEND கிடைக்கும்), FINAL EXAMS and IT COURSES படிக்க வேண்டும்.


12வது முடித்து, 1.5 வருடங்களில் ரூபாய் 5,000 முதல் 10,000 வரையும், 4.5 வருடங்களில் மிக எளிதாக ரூபாய் 25,000+ சம்பாதிக்கலாம். இதற்க்கு தேவை கடின உழைப்பு & விடா முயற்சி. இதற்க்கு ரூபாய் லட்சங்கள் செலவு செய்ய தேவையில்லை.


வெளிநாடுகளில் உள்ளவர்களுக்கு:  சில வெளிநாட்டு நகரங்களில் (உதாரணம்: துபாய்) எக்ஸாம் எழுதலாம்

பி.காம் படித்தால் என்ன ஆகும்?

1. இரண்டரை (2.5) வருடங்கள் வீணாகும்


2. 12வது வரை நன்கு படித்தவர்கள், காலேஜ் வந்ததும் ரிலாக்ஸ் ஆவார்கள். ACCOUNTANCY, COMMERCE படிப்புகள் இவ்வளவு தானா என நினைக்கலாம். இதை முடித்தபின், CA படிப்பதற்கு மிக கஷ்டப்படலாம்.


நன்றி: Conversation with Auditor Rifai, FCA

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Written by S Ibrahim

May 12, 2014 at 10:28 pm

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