Monetizing Online Engagement & Services with Blockchain

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As Blockchain technology is getting closer to reality, the adoption across industries is gaining popularity. In this blog, I am presenting another Blockchain use case that is being experimented in monetizing online engagement and services covering the ecosystem of publishers, advertisers and consumers. In hyper-connected world leading to heavy consumerization, brands and publishers are creating/publishing events, polls, debates, insights, quizzes, interactive charts aiming to gain higher consumer engagement that leads to services monetization. With latest advancements in creating better user experience with state of the art user interface, artificially intelligent systems collecting data and analyzing patterns, publishers and brands are in search of a platform for payments that could engage consumers offering cost efficient and secure transactions creating next-level value in “engagement services” domain.

As we follow the development in this space, Blockchain is sailing through a wave of pilots, with introduction of crypto-currencies/tokens for events, advertising, engagement etc., The Blockchain enabled platform can establish a new type of relationship, where key players including Consumers, Publishers, and Advertisers gets motivated with proper incentives. Distributed Ledger Technology with Blockchain ecosystem can offer a platform enabling business models to authenticate users with various services offered via smart contracts and underpinning commissions for such services. Blockchain platform can deepen engagement easing online user experience that consumer’s want and enabling publishers to serve as much advertising as possible to make their business model work.

Let us visualize an online engagement and services monetization framework with Blockchain Decentralized Autonomous Organization (BDAO). A schematic is provided below for ease of understanding.

  1. Blockchain (BADO) platform can establish a backbone for online engagement and services offering tokens to facilitate transactions, a distributed ledger technology offering peer-to-peer financial system, smart contract to execute secure transaction and an exchange for token exchange and incentives/points redemptions.
  2. As a central player, publishers creates the engagement & services tokens in conjunction with a crypto player and/or online advertising platform provider. These tokens are made available in the marketplace
  3. Clients (brand, agency or an individual) can buy tokens for fiat and crypto currency. Tokens could be also earned via engagements. Publishers decide the price of services and determine token equivalents.
  4. Publishers captures the clients request the engagement / services in collaboration with advertisers. Advertisers offer forte of engagement models and services that could include ads, campaigns, surveys, user conversion widgets, events, paid insights, proximity marketing etc.
  5. Advertisers gets paid for their services as aggregated and presented by the publishers. Leveraging the BDAO platform, publisher make clients pay tokens for engagement & services in accordance with the current exchange rate of the token in a typical peer-to-peer distributed network
  6. Once tokens are received, services (ex: campaign/surveys) gets launched per purchased volume of impressions and targeting, all driven by platform and its campaign/survey management system. The individuals who start their engagement anonymously as they decide to register in order to earn tokens and, at some point, to redeem them.
  7. Upon completion of service, in this scenario after a campaign/survey completion, an automatic report can be generated and delivered to the client.
  8. Similarly incentives and points can be calculated and converted to token equivalents such that the receiving player gain them in the lifecycle as appropriate. Tokenization can make the point system more materialistic and leverage advanced gamification based on engagement and contributions.

In summary Blockchain platform connects services, such as advertising and hyper-tagging to audiences and is essentially serving as a backbone to facilitate many marketplaces and many competing offerings coming from these marketplaces. Using Smart Contracts for such operations makes the platform operation robust and transparent and therefore putting it on the public decentralized ledger is the best approach to grow the business. With a fast growing set of Blockchain-based services, applications, and technologies, it makes a lot of business sense to have it utilized not only for the immediate monetization opportunities, but also for future online engagement and services use cases.

I am available at kishor.akshinthala@gmail.com for further discussions.

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Monetizing IoT Data with Blockchain

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“Data is the most important asset class of current generation”. In Internet of Things (IoT) era, with increasing device proliferation in hyper-connected world, humongous collection of sensor data can facilitate the conversion of incredible ideas into value-adding services. In creating value with data explosion, Blockchain Technologies can play a critical role creating a peer-to-peer marketplace providing IoT sensor owners an opportunity to monetize data and simultaneously enable data consumers with a decentralized market to buy IoT sensor data.

According to Allied Market Research (AMR), the global market of sensors is poised to grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.3 percent until 2022 when the market would reach $241 billion. The data resulting from such vast reach of IoT sensors is for the primary usage of the sensor owner or it is enhanced with value-added insights and reselling. In both the scenarios of either for primary usage or for enrichment and re-sale, the data remains unacceptably under-utilized and the utility if hindered away in organizational silos. Blockchain can provide a marketplace for IoT sensor data connecting data owners with 3rd party data consumers directly by externalizing the data outside primary silos.

The upside potential arrives from expected growth of todays 10+ billion sensors deployed globally to reach 40+ billion by 2020. Blockchain technology can help monetizing data by creating a marketplace offering a fully built financial ecosystem with a very minimal fees compared to a traditional fiat payment processors who typically charge between 1 and 3% for transactions. Also with creation of data utility tokens offers possibility to use small fractions of the token combined with very low fees making micro-transactions feasible. As well decentralization with blochchain backbone enables a very large numbers of participants in a trustless environment transacting with each other.

As shown in the picture above, a perfect ecosystems can be built for monetizing IoT data with Blockchain technology backbone. The players include sensor owners, data lakes gets created, network providers, blockchian data broker framework, data processers/enrichers, and data consumers / buyers. Sensor owners get an opportunity to monetize their data recovering some of their investments in IoT sensors. Network operators can win-back their enterprise accounts gaining scale and speed in the adoption of their network. This creates new types of buyers offering ease of access to data. Alongside data processors gain an eco-system to sell their services to the right people.

The use cases for such monetization of IoT data can be numerous covering multiple industries. A few examples of described below.

Use case

Amazon Effect

Amazon EffectI am publishing this post to highlight few aspects of combined effect of Amazon’s supremacy in online retails sales and its recent acquisition of Whole Foods. Amazon is undoubtedly a retail disruptor and eying for dominant role in pretty much every consumer segment. Based on recent analyst reports, Amazon’s wallet share is about 44 cents out of every e-commerce dollar spent in the USA, followed by eBay (6.8 cents every e-commerce dollar), and Walmart & Apple each at 3.8 cents every e-commerce dollar. Highlighting below Amazon’s impact on CPGs and counter measures

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  1. Amazon fueling CPGs Direct-to-Consumer (D to C) channels going forward: Amazon being brand agnostic, promotes them all and let consumers decide the winners and losers. What’s relevant and important, though, is to give consumers the best prices possible. Amazon looks at itself as working on behalf of the consumer. If a CPG company has the resources and patience to work through their D to C strategy integrating with Amazon (probably the largest CPGorganization in the world) it will benefit. Furthermore, if brands are willing to play ball the consumer-oriented way, they’ll win. The losers will be those that don’t know how to play D to C tactics with Amazon, or don’t have the resources.
  2. Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods impacting CPGs: High cost has been Whole Foods’ biggest obstacle to the fresh concept. With Amazon in the picture, more consumer-friendly pricing is already on the horizon. Secondly, along with entry into “fresh” play, Amazon is trying to get a “bite” out of Millennials’ shopping habits. Amazon is looking at grocery as the next step in consumer satisfaction and Whole Foods enables Amazon to have 450 brick-and-mortar locations and multiple distribution centers to enhance its online delivery to the customers who want it.
  3. Combining Amazon online supremacy with in-store experience: We can foresee that Whole Foods in-store experience will evolve as Amazon uses consumer purchase data to reduce inventory levels at Whole Foods making space for Amazon to use Whole Foods stores as showrooms for Amazon products (Books, Kindles, Alexa, etc.) and pickup locations for Prime purchases. CPGs will have to prepare for tighter inventory management, faster shipping, and possible packaging changes to adapt to the new format.
  4. Leading to “Click & Collect” dominance: Amazon can leverage Whole Foods physical stores as pick-up locations for Amazon Fresh Pick-up. CPGs will have to ensure that they achieve full distribution in Amazon Fresh and invest to ensure strong platform visibility.

Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods could influence consumers shift away from pre-packaged foods and center of store items so be prepared for volume declines on brands that aren’t able to be positioned as healthy and all natural. The shift towards healthier, more natural food and personal care products will accelerate. CPGs will need to shift their product portfolio accordingly.

NYRR TCS Runners – Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K 2017

Aparna and I had a fantastic experience participating as TCS Runners. Posting few pictures.

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Future Value of Cryptocurrencies (BTC – $44k+, ETH – $1100+, LTC – $220+)

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Bitcoin.pngDisclaimer: Publishing this blog to highlight true potential of Bitcoin, but not to go with the flow on soaring prices of cryptocurrencies right now.

I am taking a mid-path of highly statistical GARCH estimation models and guesstimates based on global money supply, backed by rigorous follow-up and research on cryptocurrency fluctuations caused by

  • Scaling (SegWit2X, Byzantium)
  • Economic and political uncertainties (India demonetization, Venezuela crisis)
  • Increased inflow of institutional money (Sweden’s regulated bitcoin investment, Bitcoin going mainstream in Japan etc.)
  • Emotional trading tides, etc.

Combing the above focus and curiosity on future of cryptocurrencies, I have developed an estimation model offering a framework to extrapolate future value of cryptocurrencies.

Starting point: Analysis and estimation is limited to 3 cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin

  • Global supply of money: Analyzed the current global data on Coins/Notes/ Bank Reserves, (Savings + Time) Deposits, Time Deposits (24+ Hours to Liquidate), Gold + Diamond + Other Assets. As shown in the chart a total global supply of $93 Trillion is considered which dictates the current Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) of the globe.
  • # Coins currently mined: Captured the data on # Coins currently mined, which is ~16.6 million Bitcoins, 95 million Ethereum, and 53.5 million Litecoin
  • # Coins – known maximum: Captured the data on current known maximum # Coins potentially mined, which is capped @ 21 million Bitcoins, 210 million Ethereum, and 84 million Litecoin

Scenarios: Providing 3 scenarios covering the perspectives of last one year known lows, current market peaks and exploratory factor analysis based near future value computations. The near future can be considered as 3 to 5 years period starting November 2017. Each scenario depicts the % total global USD supply, volumes, price and market cap of each of 3 cryptocurrencies.
Am I encouraging to invest in Bitcoins? – Probably NO
Am I encouraging you to develop your model of estimation? – Absolutely YES

  • Scenario A: Looked at lowest known prices of 3 cryptocurrencies over last one year (i.e. starting October 2016) and developed the Scenario A.
  • Scenario B: Looked at the known maximum market prices hit by 3 cryptocurrencies and developed the Scenario B.
  • Scenario C: Developed an estimation model based on exploratory factor analysis (EFA) computing the potential future value of cryptocurrencies in in next 3 to 5 years. The factors considered include, step crypto rates of appreciation based on historical values. probability and share of global currency in circulation replaced by cryptos, percentage treatment of crptos as assets compared to gold, real estate and others, weights of crypto funds – futures and options, quantum of government regulated investments, convertibility into other tokens, etc.

The following are the future estimates of 3 key cryptocurrencies, 

  1. Bitcoin: $44000+
  2. Ethereum: $1100+
  3. Litecoin: $220+

I have estimation models developed for other large cryptocurrencies as well. Reach out to me for further discussion on estimation model and considerations.

Catching up on Quantum Computing

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Conventional computing which has been evolving following Moore’s Law still uses basic switching and memory units of computers, known as transistors, are now approaching the point where they’ll soon be as small as individual atoms. The need for computers that are smaller & more powerful than today’s is leading us to the realm of atoms opening up powerful new possibilities in the shape of QC, with processors that could work millions of times faster than the ones we use today.

Quantum Computing (QC)  is gaining attention as IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and many leading organizations are extremely focused & reasonably investing in this field. Visualize a version of Google Maps that can precisely calculate the time of your arrival, down to the second, based on a simulation of historical traffic patterns. Imagine a next-gen kid visiting six-flags with a new version of Rollercoaster, where the likes and dislikes of every kid in the theme park are determined by a fully simulated childhood. What if a future version of Adobe Photoshop with brushes that behave with all the quirks of a real, physical implement? Let us take a look at Quantum Computing use cases across industries.QC Use cases

Making a business case for Quantum Computing requires identifying the ‘minimal viable products’ with just enough core features to enter the market. If companies can access a quantum computer through an API in the cloud, they can take advantage of the speed 1Qbit1without that overwhelming overhead. This is an area where 1QBit takes the lead. 1QBit facilitates your transition into the world of quantum computing. 1QBit API as depicted to the right helps the enterprises access the quantum computing/ processing power with this API. 1QBit’s APIs are built on hardware-agnostic platform, allowing them to continuously benefit from both the improvements made to the underlying algorithms and the integration of advancements in classical and quantum hardware.

1QBit is paving path overcoming refactoring of applications and at the same time enable in receiving the best available computational solutions. 1QBit provides industry-leading partners in finance, energy, advanced materials, and the life sciences with solutions to high-value optimization, simulation, and machine learning problems

D-Wave is another firsts in Quantum Computing to develop commercial apps using QC and has been collaborating with Google, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Washington DC-based Universities Space Research Association (USRA) on setting up a Quantum AI Lab. D-Wave is driving the hardware forward by bifurcating the QC applications and software tools. Its Qbsolv available in open source, is designed to help developers program D-Wave machines without needing a background in quantum physics. Qbsolv offers a tool that can make this impact graphically visible, by getting researchers and practitioners involved in charting the future directions of quantum computing developments.

May be within 5 years, QC is  going to be a technology that will be very much in use in all sorts of businesses!

Digital Re-imagination of Industries

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Future of Mobile App Monetization

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App monetization has created fortune for many gaining momentum over last decade and profoundly in last five years. News like “$240 million in customer purchases makes January 1, 2017 the App Store’s busiest day ever” is hitting the headlines. Apps revenues are more than doubled compared to 2014 levels, clocking $58 Billion in 2016 and estimated to reach $78B+ in 2017. In the backdrop of significant market opportunity, I would like to offer deeper insights on App marketplace, monetization business model and key trends evolving in this space.

App Market Insights

First let us look into the current App market landscape and key analytics with a deep dive into this opportunity space as presented in the info-graphic above.

App Monetization and Business Models

App developers can monetize their Apps in many ways. For example, Play Store and the App Store offer the same revenue-sharing terms to developers, ~70% of the amount paid by users goes to developers. Choosing a context specific business model plays a critical role in sustenance and growth. The following are key business models and their characteristics.

Business Model Key Characteristics
Free Model
  • Zero Price.
  • Increase User Base.
  • Generate Revenues with Ads.
Freemium Model
  • Zero Base Price.
  • Optional In-App Purchases (premium features, additional content, subscriptions, or digital goods etc.)
Paid Model
  •  Pay to Download App / But App Bundles for Discounts
  •  One Point of Monetization at the time of initial buy
  •  Outstanding design, functionality, and marketing
Paymium Model
  •  Combination of Paid & Freemium Models (Can Combine in App Bundles)
  • Pay to Download & Options to Buy Additional Features
Subscription Model
  •  Buy In-App Purchases (to access content, services, and experiences)
  •  Auto-Renewable or Now-Renewable (User Driven)
  •  Subscriptions can be offered in Freemium / Paymium models

App Trends

The following trends will continue to evolve in App development in perfect alignment with digital age.

  • Apps are becoming Artificially Intelligent
  • Embedded AR / VR technologies in Apps
  • Faster web page loading on mobile devices with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
  • Cloud enablement of Apps with an ability of fetching data & analytics from cloud
  • Business processes and workflows are getting on Apps with the help of Micro services and componentization
  • In digital driven economy, m-commerce is becoming a new standard
  • Internet of Things is exploding Apps socialization
  • Location based services are gaining more traction
  • App security is becoming paramount

There is a promising future for value adding Apps. The current and future start up communities have to focus on developing high quality and contextual rich Apps and building tailored business models to succeed in next evolution of App marketplace. Reach out to me at Kishor.akshinthala@gmail.com for a deeper discussion on App Monetization.

e-Commerce Innovations for Vitamins

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The size of ecommerce market of vitamin and mineral and supplements (VMS) crossed $2 billion and surpassed Walmart’s vitamin sales of $1.7 billion in 2016. VMS retailers are keen developing e-commerce strategies and integrate with digital commerce platforms identifying high impact opportunities in building competitive advantage driving next level growth.

New age business models combined with e/m-commerce is empowering VMS industry get better access to consumers, exponentially improve customer experiences, prioritize and drive next-gen innovations improving the future success rates. As an enthusiast envisioning the success of vitamin & supplements e-commerce and know-how of recent developments, summarizing below few specific developments in this space.

  • Vitamins are going direct-to-consumer: As 2017 progresses, consumers are willing to spend more for items that contribute to notions of self-care and wellness. With that the vitamin and dietary supplement (VMS) market is on an upward trend, a crop of new direct-to-consumer (D2C) startups came up to capture that. D2C’s are hoping to shake up the category and appeal to consumers with transparency, simplicity and branding. Care/of and Ritual, two high-tech brands that are poised to become the Warby Parkers of the supplement world.
  • Focus on price-to-weight ratio attaining economic sustainability: As online channels ex; Amazon, surpassing the critical volumes of VMS supply, there is an increasing focus on consumer behavior of purchases of only a single SKU remedy or supplement that can present a price-to-weight challenge for the seller. For business sustenance, the profit margin on the purchased item must be greater than the shipping cost in order for the seller to make money. For example, in case of Amazon where per package shipping costs range from $4.00 to $6.00, the breakeven order price for the SKU must be at least $12.00 to $15.00 in order for the transaction to be profitable. This offer a leeway to both the OTC and vitamin/health categories as the single items often meet this type of price-to-weight requirement. When a customer buys a bottle of fish oil for $17.00 or an order of Mucinex for $23.00, the sales model is working and makes eCommerce model viable.
  • OTC extending to in-home with 3D printing: In recent times FDA has approved Spritam, an anti-seizure drug and the first 3D-printed pill. This will bring use of technology one step closer to change the way people are experiencing medicine. In the future, it may even be possible to print vitamin and supplement pills at home There are already a great number of startups focusing on personalizing healthcare (with the help of AI) and making it as easily accessible as possible- in your own home. So, if companies can look at this new channel as a potential source of revenue, it could probably disrupt OTC and healthcare itself. Augment it with telemedicine, and you really could even eliminate some/much of the retail pharmacies today, while really personalizing treatment.
  • AI and ML aided search algorithms are becoming backbone to Vitamin & supplement e-commerce success: If a remedy works for one person, it may work well for another. And vice versa. That’s why the importance of ratings and reviews may be more important in the OTC and vitamin/health categories than in any other category. A good product review is not only a persuasive endorsement that helps drive conversion, it’s also an important component in strengthening a brand’s search rankings. Hence search algorithm is not only powered by the number of reviews a product has, but also by the pace at which new reviews are being added. If a product has too few reviews or not enough positive reviews, people simply won’t buy.
  • Search is critical to success online/e-commerce channels: In gig economy to take full advantage of e-commerce, it is vital for vitamin/supplement suppliers to know precisely how people are searching for its products. What key words are they using? Are there search trends? What is the frequency of searches for “pain reliever” or “headache” or “migraine”? When suppliers are selling in-demand products, they’ve got to make sure their content is relevant to those searches, including product titles, description and bullets, that clearly communicates the benefits and features of what’s being sold. Advances of AI and Machine Learning are aiding to find the patterns and triggers of consumer purchases and behaviors.
  • Ecommerce combined with personalization will lead the vitamin / supplement market: The long-term winners in this space will leverage data and their knowledge of their consumers to proactively offer products that fit their customers’ health needs and provide a degree of personalization and intimacy that don’t exist yet on a broad scale. The levels of personalization will be necessary in upcoming fights against the biggest e-dog of all, Amazon, which also has access to an immense database of purchasing history that it can use to push personalized consumer health options. Amazon offers rush delivery for a variety of over-the-counter products and vitamins and dietary supplements through its Amazon Prime Now service that is operational in around 30 metropolitan areas. Earlier this year, Amazon also quietly expanded its private-label line Amazon Elements into a handful of clean-label vitamins and supplement categories, which perhaps is a signal of the company’s intent to fully jump into this space and opportunistically fill the potential void if GNC and the Vitamin Shoppe continue to decline. As more consumers each day are showing a declining link to physical stores, Amazon has the ability to step in and dominate the market for these products much in the way it has for so many other household staples.

Vitamin & supplements market will continue evolve leveraging e/m-commerce strategies. Constant innovations in this space are what we continue to explore into future. So VMS value chain partners have to collaborate co-innovating e/m-commerce models, offer value based services, identify future direction and collectively come up with a path to succeed.