A Very Indian Breakfast
Our third day in Bangalore had an early start as there was lots to do. We were still a bit jet-lagged and slightly envious of Philip, Graham and Steven who were able to enjoy a lie-in. They had to stay back in IMMB to do some work for DCU Business School. Breakfast was served in the university canteen, and we were perplexed by all the options. Thankfully, Niall knew India well and was able to explain what was what. Most of us simply copied him and ordered a masala dosa. It was like a big crispy wrap with a spicy potato filling accompanied by two dipping sauces. I know that sounds like an unusual breakfast choice, but it was absolutely delicious. I really ought to be more adventurous with breakfast in the future…
A masala dosa, the perfect Indian breakfast
Digital Marketing Discussion at Edelman Bangalore
We left the university by bus and made a trip to Edelman, which has established itself as one of India’s leading public relations firms since entering the market twelve years ago. Edelman’s Bangalore office holds around 50 employees, and work with companies such as the Indian multinational conglomerate Tata. The office was modern and stylish, with an open layout and a wall of shelves dedicated to stacks of newspapers. On arrival, we were shown into a board room and a staff member ensured that we were adequately caffeinated.
Getting Started at Edelman
Over the next hour, Ipshita Sen (head of South Indian Operations) and her team talked to us about the challenges faced in communicating the value of digital marketing in an environment where internet penetration is so low. Indeed, we found it surprisingly difficult to connect to Wi-Fi throughout our stay. Even in bars and cafes where there was a connection, it was usually reserved only for staff. Even so, the communications landscape in India has been rapidly evolving and there is a shortage of professionals with the requisite digital skills. In spite of the changing landscape, client briefs are stuck in a time-warp and have yet to break away from long-standing traditions. The discussion was frank and stimulating, and a great way to start the day.
Dr. Theo Lynn with Ipshita Sen
Digital Marketing staff and students from DCU Business School
Tech Talk at IBM
Leaving Edelman, we made our way to IBM in Manyata Tech Park. This was an impressive area with large corporate buildings and wide, clean streets. It was rather other-wordly compared to what we had seen so far. We wanted to take video footage of the place, but there was strictly no photography allowed — even outside the buildings. Niall only had his camera out for a split second before a security man blew a whistle at him.
An accidental photo of the DCUBS crew entering IBM Bangalore
Upon entering the IBM facilities, we were shown through a security check and into a large board room. A uniformed gentleman approached us individually, quietly asking if we wanted tea of coffee. Soon after, the meeting commenced and we were given three back-to-back presentation on social media analytics and cloud computing. This included a very interesting talk about how IBM uses spatio-temporal signatures from mobile devices in order to identify patterns, form predictions and detect anomalies of user behaviour. By indexing and tracking moving-object data, “hangout points” can be assigned to users (e.g. home and office) and inferences can be made about individuals’ activities outside of these hangout points. For example, a 2 hour stop in a certain area may indicate that the user is eating a restaurant meal. Over time, the data enables analysts to identify common patterns and deviations from normal behaviour. One particularly interesting issue that was discussed was “the superman effect”. This occurs when a signal from a mobile device jumps to a new location in an unrealistically short space of time. Of course, this technology has a variety of applications outside of digital marketing, such as fraud detection and anti-terrorism. It was an extremely interesting talk, but I wondered how applicable this technology might be to EU countries, with their relatively strict data protection laws.
Other presentations covered innovations in cloud computing as well as explanations of how user-specific social media profiles can be matched with each other in order to paint a clearer picture of an individual. From a digital marketing perspective, this enables companies to better understand customers and learn about their attitudes towards certain brands. Of course, as with anomaly detection, there are also potential law enforcement applications of this technique.
Moving on from Manyata Tech Park, we took a short trip to a solar-powered IBM data centre, where we were given a guided tour of the facilities. Unlike Ireland, which has an ideal climate for data centres, the climate in India means that room temperature must be strictly regulated. We observed how sensors monitored the temperature throughout the site, and were shown IBM’s innovative fridge-like doors for data system enclosures. These doors cool hot air and help reduce data center running costs and energy consumption. After roaming around for a while, we made our way to the rooftop to relax alongside the solar panels that were helping power the data facility.
Rest and Relaxation at UB City Mall
We had attended these meetings non-stop and by the time we were finished it was 4pm. We were starving as we hadn’t eaten lunch (and in some cases, breakfast) so we headed to the UB City Mall, a large luxurious mall with fancy shops. We spotted a nice Italian restaurant there and feasted for a couple of hours. Miraculously, the restaurant had WiFi, so a substantial portion of our time there was spent with everyone glued to their phones.
As we were eating our meal, it dawned on us that the infamous Skyye Bar was actually located within the mall, on the 16th floor. We had accidentally stumbled across the one location that so many of us had spent hours trying to find the previous day. There was no way we could not go. We contacted Graham, Philip and Steven with the good news and urged them to join us there for a few drinks.
The super stylish Skyye Bar
Skyye Bar was uber-trendy, with swanky drinks and coloured lights pulsating on the dancefloor. The view was impressive and we even spotted a neighbouring rooftop with an extravagant garden and swimming pool. We enquired about the name of this facility, which we assumed was another club. Turned out it was actually a private penthouse. Nice.
Good times at Skkye Bar
Steven shows off his dance moves
Bangalore winds down before midnight, so after a few hours it was time to leave. We crammed into the elevator like sardines to make our way down to the ground floor. Just as the lift started to move, there was a power cut. We found ourselves stuck in this cramped space in pitch black and no air-con. The temperature started rising rapidly and there was some nervous laughter/sobbing. Luckily, the power came back in under a minute. Phew.
When we arrived back on campus, we weren’t quite ready to hit the hay. Thankfully, IIMB had a communal snooker room where we were able to hang out a little longer. We also got chatting to two friendly IIMB MBA students, who were curious about our presence there. If I remember correctly, the staff of DCU Business School humbled the Digital Marketing students who dared challenge them to a snooker game.
Mick suffers a humiliating defeat to Graham at the snooker table
At this point of the night, I was fading. No snooker for me. I slipped away to catch up on some sleep, in anticipation of yet another early start.