Zingography # 13 : Cognitive Behaviour + Data Science ; AB Test Validation Tool

I have been really fascinated by the capability of AB Testing Tool to make Designing Decisions using Data Science.
If you combine Machine Learning & Statistical Science to the same – then Previous Combo becomes more Potent & Effective.

AB Testing can be a tough Art to Master, even the most experienced ones go wrong all the time with their hypothesis & metrics selection.
Hence accepting your own & your colleagues varying opinions + navigating through the same to get most effective Long Term Impacts is they Key for Success.
But one should be honest to the science of AB Testing & how it is designed even if results are not favourable – it’s like a daily routine that should be practiced as it is.

What am here to discuss is the New Art of combining “Cognitive Design Behaviour with Data Science Algorithms” and especially use Spotify’s Playlist Recommendation for the same.

My Current Research Analysis says that Spotify’s Recommendation Engine is one of the best in this space!

Yeah better than Apple‘s iTunes, Alibaba‘s + Amazon’s Return HomePage Pages Recommendations or Similar SKU suggestions, Google‘s Search Engine or Google News Feed, Netflix‘s Similar Shows Features. What makes Spotify shine here is how it has used the Music Preferences Attributes along with Human Emotion Capture Calculations ! They use a unique score assigned to each song preferences & suggest them if your attributes matches the range of moods/preferences! Also their Engine is constantly improving & updating based on bigger cluster preferences. What I appreciate is that they are not using Other Platforms similar data but trusting self engines to contribute. Secondly, it empowers the customers to play with the algorithm to change preferences.

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As per further search, AB Testing plays a very important role in making below decisions:

  • UI Decisions : Button Shape, Contrast colour, Position, Text, Headline, Icons (+ vs Heart), Widget Decisions, Hamburger Menu
  • Page Format – list view vs card view, the information architecture, number of information shared in a single page view
  • Metrics selection & Order Prioritisation for Making recommendations of Playlist
  • Deciding the Weightage of different Key Factors for engine’s Logic – which is the Highlight of Spotify’s Success!

  • Localising + Personalising the Site : https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-gb/success-stories/how-spotify-increased-premium-subscriptions-using-google-optimize-360/
  • Optimising the Keywords Search : When users in Germany searched for “audiobook” and clicked on one of Spotify’s ads, they were either brought to the custom page or to the original page.
  • Creating Culture of Experimentation & Real Time AB Testing Result platform which is most crucial. (They were earlier using Google’s Optimizely for a long time)

Did I ever share the perfect method of conducting an AB Test Experiment :

  1. Define the Problem – To increase conversion, to increase revenue
  2. Come up with a series of ideas to work around the same basis historical data, recent findings, industry insights – This should be a collective + collaborative process wherein everyone should be heard & allowed to explain their logic. Also while prospecting, one has to think about the impact % on success metrics with what confidence, duration, sample size.  Do not hesitate to use AB Testing calculator for same.
  3. Finally one has to prioritise these ideas basis their impact, time + effort + cost and decide on the order of these tests
  4. While designing the test – decide the Hypothesis that by doing so & so the impact shall increase. What is important to note is that while choosing these tests – they have to be such that can be proven only by data results. Also for tests with drastically different options – it can be a short duration test while for closer options, sample size hence duration has to be longer.
  5. So Hypothesis, success metric, options selection are very crucial aspects of the test
  6. Keep observing the performance of key metrics (Primary, Secondary at least) during the tests – no need to take sudden decisions basis this but observe the pattern.
  7. Let the test complete & observe the results – if results are drastically different, you have a clear winner. If test results are negative (do not worry), try with a different hypothesis & options. If test results are closer then decide whether to increase sample size or to discard the test or to go ahead with partial winner (last one not recommended but call can be taken depending on experience/circumstance/influence of other tests).
  8. Keep doing the same for different cases
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Zingography 11 : Cognitive Abilities in PM

Cognitive Science involves linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience and anthropology. My learning & experience says that if we are able to include Cognitive Science into our Product Management Process – they results shall be much more refined, Long term & closest to objective.

Cognitive Science has to include multiple stakeholders views from :

  • Customers perspective
  • Team management perspective
  • Leadership & changing Business Landscape perspective

Am quite sure of developing successful models around the same for different PM Cycle stages & this is my effort for the same.

Below are the key PM Stages & recommended Models for the same :

  1. Business Strategy Roadmap based on Market Research & Secondary Research Data Insights — Model 1 (Leadership Management + Market Analysis – BCG Matrix, PLC, 7S Framework, Value Chain)
  2. Need Gap Analysis Identification — Model 2 (STP + 5Porters Forces)
  3. Recommendation Solutions & Prioritisation of Features (New & Enhancements) – Model 3 (Phase Gate Model/ Spider Mapping Technique ; High & Low Impact)
  4. User Persona Identification – Model 4 (Demography & Behaviour (Tech & Products) Mapping)
  5. Roadmapping + Project Management – Model 5 (Gantt Chart)
  6. BRD/ PRD – Model 6 (Process Note, Unified Modelling Language)
  7. MVP Approach – Model 7 (User – Action – Story ; Pain – Gain)
  8. User Journeys/Scenarios mapping – Model 8 (Decision Tree)
  9. Designing-> with quick dipsticks & quick changes around suggestions Model 9 : Neurological Emotional Branding + Decision of buying

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10. Development/Middleware – Library & its adaptations for agile expansion
11. UAT all scenarios/Hackathon (Model 10) /CUG – AB Testing Hypothesis linked to Data          Mining & Big Data Analysis…. Statistics & its variance test analysis! Frequentist vs              Bayesian ..
12. Success Metrics formulation (Model 11) Data visualisation /K Nearest neighbours/              Regression/Clustering ; Random Forests; Time series/sequence; text mining!
13. Launch & Optimise
14. Team Management Model

Disclaimer : My suggestions are based on my experience, research, interactions with other companies & my own theories/understandings on this space. Am quite confident of their inter-relationship with each other.

Some Books I recommend in this regard are :

  • Design of everyday Life
  • Sapiens
  • Art of Deduction
  • Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
  • Cognitive Science
  • Psychology of Persuasion
  • Infographica

Emotional Quotient

EQ is a very rare quality in a human being & even a rarer quality in a Successful Leader.

I used to study & try to understand in college, but it’s a different ball game when you appear in work arena & then see how work demands/pressures are to be met with the People/Cultural aspects.

Of course one learns to manage the work demands & skill demands depending on one’s capacity. It’s always the people skill management that is the trickiest to master as it is very dynamic, variable to unpredictability.

I struggled with the same as well – majorly because there were a lot of aspects about myself that I had not explored or made myself aware e.g. how I respond to pressure, to a New team person, to a vendor, etc. Since I had not given them any thoughts consciously, mastering them was a far away task.

I think – till the age of 28, and 5 years of work experience – the effort was more or less optimise/adjust for survival and observe around. But I think it was during my 6th year of work experience, in 2015 when I decided to do a proper analysis & self haul of :

  1. Who i am?

  2. What do i want in life?

  3. What do I want in work life?

  4. What I need to do achieve 2 & 3?

This gave a lot of perspective & a lot of peace to myself as I then felt am moving in life with some sort of direction (not 100% clear but still some LIGHT). This made a lot of people interactions & my senior leadership alignments easier as well. I won’t say that it has been absolutely smooth sailing since then but still the choppy waters have seemed manageable & the belief to be able to make it the shore has grown stronger.

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Of course, the presence of my last manager & a few other leaders with higher EQ has made me realise even stronger & clearer on what I want in life & am thankful for that. I cannot stress more on the importance on such People focussed Leaders who groom young people & motivate them to achieve what they want in Life. They become life coaches & mentors, role models for them in moments of crisis.

Last week, one of the senior women leaders decided to move out of the company & it made me feel bad beyond what I imagined. Of course in the short span that I got to know her – she came across as an extremely understanding, warm, affectionate and easy to approach (Again rare leadership qualities). The extent to which she understood your position & could advise you accordingly amazed me – High High EQ. The amount of comfort she offered to a non – direct team member speaks volumes on her ability to connect. The fact that it wells up my eyes every time I think about the fact that she could not continue due to family commitments, speaks volumes about her ability to connect & leave a positive mark.
I do wish to be always there in her life & vice versa plus also hope for many more such people in life moving forward to make it worth it!

What is up with the WRONG Celebrity Culture?

I do think that most of the people on earth do not know how to spend their time!

I do not claim that I do that myself but I definitely do not think that only Idol/Individual Worship helps anyone from personal experience! When I say Idol worship, it includes a known human face worship as well!

It’s good to have ideals – personal as well as public related, but to put a face to it or give a human that personification of those age old + modern evolved idols should be TREATED CRIMINAL. I repeat, HeroWorship in any form and shape should be a CRIMINAL OFFENCE.

What happens is that in doing so, one is empowering a person (made of bones, skin with emotions, thoughts, needs, desires like us all) to be the KING/QUEEN or GOD – You are by default telling him/her/it to rule them, control them & you have to follow them unquestioned coz you chose them unquestioned.

Let me also specify that in world terms – my problem lies with Global Leaders chosen by default system/process and in National terms with Male Cricketers, Movie Stars (not even good actors just celebrities), family owned industrialists, politicians, beaurecrats & their kids.

They treat public, democracy, media, judiciary, legislative bodies, Law & order as pawns to their wills & fancies. Perhaps it is a very age old problem running but with today’s times of more confident youth who are selfish (lets admit it) and don’t give a damn about anyone/anything plus more scrutiny thanks to social media & outspoken-ness of public – I do wish this UNWARRANTED POWER OF SO CALLED POWERFUL PEOPLE to go away!

I want more and more people & new systems to stand up to such powerful individuals who bring their individual interests first & public welfare/ social welfare last!

shallowness

So what’s the solution :

  • More vigilant, flexible & faster system biased towards social welfare, public opinions backed by data & figures of qualified sources to take centre – stage (yes yes, its always subjective but there are models still). To have other institutions follow these system & not rally around eyeballs.
  • Educated & qualified public (who understand that this celebrity culture is doomed to put society to fail) to Speak Up & Take Ownership. It has always happened in history in all forms & there is no reason why people who attract others based on their flesh & faces should be respected & not on simple basic skills. Parents & Schools shall play the most important role.
  • Media Content control mechanism – there is so much need for Media to be told that public are no fools & they can see through their intentions of putting up a story so better make those intentions clean & RIGHT! This should be done at all levels & channels – we need more powerful regulated bodies linked to Public systems (indirectly to Democratic powers)

Honestly, am not so sure if I will see the above moving in my lifetime but will be good to see some sort of beginning made towards it.

ZINGOGRAPHY : Tech/Product/UX/Startup Update # 10 – PM ToolKit

Please consider every PM to be a works-person, who needs tools apart from their skills to do a good job out of a situation!

Every worksmith/ carpenter/ chef, etc. is incomplete without their toolbox so its important as a Product Manager to be sure of your own sharpened tools basis your experience, intuition, comfort/compatibility, etc.

I also have now worked for 8+ years in different Products domain starting with Data, OTT, E-commerce, Retail Channels (B2B + B2C), Media, Food, Jewellery, FMCG, FinTech, Travel/OTA, AdTech, Transportation (Cabs/Trucks), etc.
And from my own & other PMs experience – let me share a list which I find is useful for one & all. These are compiled basis checking with other industries & PMs as well :

  1. Research Tools : SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, TypeForm
  2. Current Situation + Need Gap Analysis : Porter’s Frameworks – SWOT, 4P, STP, 5 Porter’s Force
  3. Project Management : Asana, Jira, Trello
  4. Team Management : Slack, Basecamp
  5. MVP & Road-mapping : Asana, Aha, ProdPad,
  6. Spec Writing : Word, DropBox Paper, GitHub
  7. User Scenarios Mapping : Excel, Smaply/StoriesonBoard
  8. Designing : Invision, Iconjar
  9. Coding/ Development : GitHub
  10. UX : Prototype,io, Axure
  11. Team screen sharing + feedback incorporation : Zeplin, Intercom
  12. AB Testing : VWO, Wasabi
  13. Analytics – Front End : Google Analytics, Firebase
  14. Analytics – Middle ware : Moengage, Clevertap, Appsflyer
  15. Analytics – Back End : SQL, ML Tools
  16. Campaign Management : Adobe 360
  17. Targeted Campaigns : Targetting
  18. Revenue + P&L Management : MS Excel Macro

Apart From this – the must have ingredient almost like Oiling is 5-6 hours of Reading, Networking, Experimenting, Failing, Sharing, etc.

All The Best : Let the Magic Begin!

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How Media Aversion Has Helped Me!

It was a hard thought decision but something I should have done long back to be a much STRONGER & MORE CONFIDENT Human Being! Yes You Heard It, Long Back!!

I stopped quite a lot of Media Inflows towards me (my ears, eyes, most importantly Mind), in order to do that I did the following :

  • Stopped Reading All the Media websites & Apps (TOI was banned long back, NDTV, IndiaToday, IBN, etc.)
  • Removed TV Subscription (Best Decision Ever)
  • Shortened Facebook time to <5mins/week & diverting the remaining time to reading, linkedin, twitter, medium on filtered interests/subjects.
  • Forming my Viewpoints towards everything based on my own Research (well judged resources + Authentic sources) rather than word services of others
  • Adjudging the Media, Film world, Cricketers in my life what they are – PRESSTITUTES!
  • Avoiding all so called friends/influencers who promoted the Above or spoke mostly about the same

This happened as a result of above :

  • The filtered content was self approved & self adjudged
  • Got more time to do my research & form my own opinions based on topics that I was curious about, which is much better than being involuntarily educated at topics of no interest or motivation
  • Found & Relied on much informed company of intellectuals & common believers
  • I could only focus on what I WANTED FROM MYSELF !! I COULD SEE MYSELF AS A CLEAN SLATE & JUDGE MY BREATHE, MY ACTIONS, MY WAVES, RAYS, ENERGY IN A COMPLETE IMPARTIAL LIGHT
  • PM, Startups, Tech, VCs, Design, Statistics, World Politics & Trade, Travel, Clicking, Values, Ethics, History, Human Psychology, Sports (Quality), Social Entrepreneur – these are subjects that I know am not going to leave till the end of my breath! So happy to have discovered them as interests, serious hobbies, passions.
  • I can see my Vision & Dreams alot more clearly & am much more determined than ever to achieve them by building small blocks & gathering people around.

Hope it helps others as well!! Peace for All, Amen.

 

ZINGOGRAPHY : Tech/Product/UX/Startup Update # 9

AB Testing is a Cultural & Personal Choice

Ittakes a lot number of weeks of research into white papers of statistics, informative articles on application, Live blogs for examples hunting, speaking to relevant stakeholders in competition & outside companies to discuss & link it with your current situation & problem statements to finally conform on your Approach.

I did the same with AB Testing!

And in all fairness, I have to admit that this has to be one of the most Surreal experiences since I realised there was a missing piece I was not including in the whole Picture/Frame/Painting of Product Design Thought Process.

AB Testing is critical to make your Product/Campaigns/Analytics/ Development Decision making simple & obvious decision making come out with an astounding clarity once AB Testing is conducted.
Plus how important it is to be persistent & have patience with the tests (design, conducting, results) — to know when to stop & when to start again.

There are two places where conducting AB Testing is a MUST :

  • Once when the prototypes of your App Key Pages are ready & you must know the initial response to them from your target consumer personas.
  • Second, before doing the campaigns & scaling the features/products — knowing the intricacies details in the form of headline, text, image, theme, colour palette, etc.

A few things must have technical :

  • AB Testing tool —

for beginners : VWO/Optimisely like SaaS tool ;

for mature organisations : Building the capability from scratch

for organisations in between who wish advanced readymade tool — I would recommend the hybrid way by using an open platform like Wasabi which can be customised to your requirements.

  • Good Quality Team with understanding of Statistics, SaaS Tools, Consumer Behavioural Analysis
  • Data Mart/Warehouse with access to Transactional Data as well as Online Behavioural Data with necessary cuts for segmentation basis Business Intelligence

A Few things in terms of Soft Power :

  • Open Mind — ready to question obvious right answers (infact more if they are obvious)
  • Capability to deep dive & look at intrinsic details
  • Collaborate with different teams/people to check if the findings or the direction of the findings are correct — this in my understanding is the most POTENT!

Organisations must insist their people to only come to leaders once they have collaborative evidences to move in a certain direction.

It may so happen that after spending significant time also — you may not come to an conclusive evidence & one should be open & amiable about the same & not push for an evidence for the sake of it.

I must thank quite a few people for the same but most of all Booking.com to highlight that there is something missing in my thought process — the webinar by Lukas was really helpful!

ZINGOGRAPHY : Tech/Product/UX/Startup Update # 8

Today I wish to compare the startup spaces in Indian & European Context. Those who read this should know that I share this majorly for my own clarity & perspective and if it helps others then great!

Recently, I have been focussing on 3 main things apart from my daily work & travel :

  • Reading a lot about new skill sets essential for PM especially like Deep Learning, Data Mining
  • Linking it with my current Work & Profile as well as Future Roles that I wish to do
  • Collaborating it with other PMs in different sectors/industries/companies

And there are some Key Insights regarding Different Geographical Consumer Tech companies that I have concluded :

  • Focus in Indian Companies (Startups as well as Big Ones) is to scale
  • Focus in European Companies is to understand the consumer behaviour first & sync all departments of technology, data, customer service towards that ONE Customer Proposition/their USP which will help them Succeed while focussing less or almost nothing on others
  • In US Companies, they go for massive funding & their aim is that – once establishing a prototype (more or less that with a short term vision)
  • SEA are replicating Chinese models more or less in terms of consumer personas as well as Tech Propositions
  • MENA regions are going like Indian Conglomerates – slow & cautious for the models that are already well proven for success

Let me also talk about a few skills which are becoming redundant as in they are understood that you will have when you apply for Product Roles :

  • Digital Marketing
  • Product Design & Strategy
  • KPI Metrics Management
  • Project Management
  • P&L Ownership
  • Business Development
  • Hiring & Training

These are the new skills towards which you need to show inclination & an aptitude for – please remember that though these may seem new worlds, their nuances are based in subjects well introduced to us. So let me give the picture complete for better understanding :

  • Machine Learning/AI/Deep Learning : Maths, Statistics, Computer Science for Coding
  • Blockchain : Telecom, Communications, System/Server Integration
  • AR/VR : Electronics, Robotics, Graphic Designing
  • 3D Printing : Biotechnology, Engineering Drawing

Personally I enjoy first 3 a lot & keep looking how it can be valuable in my current scope of work!

ZINGOGRAPHY : TECH/PRODUCT/UX/STARTUP UPDATE # 7.5

Sharing my list of most useful Apps (based on popularity, experience, usefulness) :

  • WhatsApp
  • Gmail
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Amazon
  • Google Maps
  • Wikipedia
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Last two are my least favourite of all – they are just latching around for lack of options!

Will add more in due course.

 

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There shall be changes in coming years but one has to adapt the learnings from the top performing apps.

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