Disrupting the paints industry…

What happens if the cement manufacturers start doing research and find a way to add color to the concrete itself? Will consumers accept this approach to color their homes?

I do not know if this will disrupt the paints industry, but sure will open up a lot more opportunities for the cement companies to differntiate their offerings (as currently, all cements look the same and the only differntiation is in the branding).

Add to this, if the cement manufacturers find a way to create concretes blocks with designs in different colors, I am sure that will make an interesting phase for the construction industry.






Why don’t credit card companies understand customer service ?

I got an SMS from my credit card provider (IndusInd Bank) indicating that I am eligible for an increase in my credit limit. The SMS also informed me that I should send an SMS with a specific text to a specific number.

I did exactly that.

Guess what happens next?

Nothing ;-(

No response from the service provider whether my SMS was received or not!

No response from the bank if the credit limit is increased or not!

What can be worse? I get the same SMS again 10 days later and when I send the SMS again, nothing!!!

Why can’t the bank put in place a simple process that informs the customer if the SMS was received and if the credit limit is increased or not?

These are simple things that really put off customers.

I think the time is ripe for the credit card business to be completely disrupted. Sometime in the next couple of years we shall find that the plastic will disappear and  the entire credit/debit card will go virtual with the biometrics as the unique identification.

The bank that takes this leap of faith first will stand to gain a lot of market share as virtualization of credit cards can eliminate a lot of hassles of using credit cards and has the potential to exponentially grow the credit business.


Changing the face of retail distribution of oil in India

I was in Mumbai today and was going back from the airport to my hotel in a cab. The cab driver stopped at a fuel outlet to fill-up his tank. It took us about 15-20 mins to get the tank filled up and start our journey back to the hotel.

While waiting, I asked him if we could not fuel up at some other outlet rather than wait in the que at this outlet. He responded that the next petrol outlet was about 5-6 kms away and was not enroute to the hotel. He also said that wherever you go, the fuel outlet always has a waiting time. He said that this was due to the fact that the growth of vehicles was outnumbering the growth of the number of retail fuel outlets.

This got me thinking and I realized that it has always been the case in almost all the cities that I have been in India. The infrastructure was always lagging the actual consumption growth. Also, with the cities expanding towards suburbs, the real estate  costs within the city is increasing exponentially. It is getting increasingly prohibitive to set-up new fuel retail outlets within the city. Result is that most of the new fuel outlets are being opened in the suburbs rather than in the city, leading to more congestion at the outlets within the city.

This got me thinking and in my opinion the following ideas could be worth exploring:

  1. Mobile fuel outlets: Like mobile libraries, mobile restaurants, we could also have mobile fuel outlets. They could have fixed spots where these vehicles would be parked based on a pre-defined schedule.  These could also go to the big apartment complexes with more than 500 apartments on a fixed date every week so that people from that complex can re-fuel at their homes rather than go to the fuel outlets. Similar set-up could also be thought for office complexes/malls.
  2. Permanent retail fuel outlets in apartment or office complexes: Every mall/office/apartment complex with more than 500 car parking facilities could have a retail fuel outlet in their parking lots. This could not only provide another revenue stream for the complex but also solve a big infrastructure problem.
Some benefits for the oil companies include: 
  1. The first oil marketing company that does this could gain a substantial jump in their revenue, market and mind-share.
  2. This could also lead to a lot of free press for the company improving their brand recall.
  3. Since the set-up costs for a mobile fuel outlet is minimal, the profitability for the oil marketing companies will also improve.
  4. This could also result in a decrease in the total emissions as at the city level the total distances travelled by vehicles will also reduce though we can not measure this impact quantitatively. Thereby reducing the carbon footprint of the city.
  5. Most importantly, this will help us save a lot of commute and wait time to re-fuel our vehicles.

Hope some of these oil companies are listening to this idea and do bounce it off in their organizations.

Death of the Car Audio Systems

After a lot of deliberation, I recently bought aSkoda Fabia for myself. As part of the negotiation, the dealer offered to providea Sony Car audio system for free (along with a few other goodies). I was happy withthe deal I got.

When I was driving back home, I thought that therewas no need for a car audio system, if it was possible for me to connect myphone to the in-built speaker systems that is a standard fitting for the modelI bought. My mobile has all the songs that I like along with an FM/AM radio tuner.

So, for all practical purposes, if I had a 3.5mm whichcould connect my phone to the in-built speakers, Id did not need the car audiosystem at all.

This could save some cost & effort (avoid another device/medium) for me(consumer), space in the interiors of the car which designers could use for abetter purpose.

I had recently written about the disruptive power of the mobile phone and how it has the potential to disrupt photocopiers, scanners & TV. This is another product category that could be threatened by the power of the mobile phone. 

Disrupting the photocopier, scanner & TV

I read a post from Fred Wilson where he contends that the traditional photocopier business is getting disrupted by the smart phone. I think so is case with scanners also getting replaced slowly but definitely by the smart phones or the digital cameras.

Also, I think with streaming content becoming more and more mainstream and features like projectors and 3D rendering screens become more common on smart phones, they might also threaten the conventional TV’s. Add to this the fact that each member in the family most likely already owns a phone and more often than not, spends more time with their phones than with anyone in particular.