Saturday, May 23, 2020

Key takeaways from MOOCs (Part 1)

During this period, plenty of MOOC providers are offering their paid certificates at no cost to learners. I have been racing against time to complete as many courses as I possibly can. I will be sharing the key takeaways from the courses I have taken in this, and subsequent, posts.

For those interested, please refer to this post by Class Central for a compilation of MOOC resources.

Blockchain for Business (NTUC LearningHub & GO1)

  • Blockchain and its impact on Commercial and Investment Banking functions
  • Commercial Banking:
    • Blockchain as an alternative for the unbanked to store their money
    • International money transfers could be sped up using the blockchain
    • Using smart contracts for escrow services, buyers and sellers do not need to use banks as intermediaries
    • Using blockchain for post-trade settlement to reduce settlement time
  • Investment Banking:
    • Capital markets: Equity and debt securities could be represented as tokens on the blockchain for easy clearing and settlement
    • Advisory services: too early to tell how the industry would develop
    • Asset Management: Gaining recognition among institutional and retail investors (e.g. bitcoin futures)
  • Blockchain and its impact on Tech companies (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple)
  • Blockchain and Google:
    • Google Search: Very hard to disrupt Google search dominance. Brave Software is attempting it with the Brave Browser and its native token, Basic Attention Token (BAT)
    • Youtube: Similar to Google search, it is hard to compete with Youtube for dominance. Disrupting Youtube requires providing strong incentives for creators and viewers through the offering of tokens. DTube from the Steem blockchain is an alternative to Youtube
    • Adsense: Steemit empowers creators to retain more of their earnings instead of Google taking a cut from it
  • Blockchain and Facebook:
    • Of the 4 tech companies, Facebook is the firm that is most threatened by blockchain technology the most
    • Facebook: Steemit empowers creators to retain more of their earnings instead of Google taking a cut from it
    • Instagram: Same as Facebook above
    • Facebook Messenger & WhatsApp: Blockchain-based messaging apps will challenge their dominance
  • Blockchain and Amazon:
    • Biggest disruption to Amazon is decentralized peer-to-peer marketplaces built on the blockchain. One example of decentralized marketplace is OpenBazaar, which has zero platform fees and does not control user data. It is less feature-rich compared to Amazon
    • Amazon Web Services provide very competitive pricing and is reliable. Will be difficult for blockchain storage services (Filecoin, Storj, etc) to compete with Amazon
  •  Blockchain and Apple
    • Among the 4 companies, Apple is the least threatened by blockchain technology as it deals with hardware technology as well
    • Apple’s centralized ideology is in conflict with the decentralized ideology of blockchain
  • Course syllabus is already outdated as the blockchain space moves very fast

Introduction to Personal Branding (Coursera)

  • Creating Alerts in Search Engines allow you to keep track of keywords and phrases of your choosing; users will be notified of any mentions of the keywords/phrases on the given search engine via email
  • Importance of creating your own “board of directors” whom you would consult for advice/as a sounding board for your ideas
  • Preferably, the number of board of directors should be an odd number in order to resolve ties in decision-making
  • If you do it solo, limit the number of social media platforms to two
  • Research the various social media platforms before launch. Ensure that the selected social media platforms are home to your target demographics before proceeding
  • Do not just copy/paste your social media updates across the various social media platforms you are on. Followers who follow you across multiple platforms will be notified of the same update multiple times without any value-add. Tweak them to differentiate them from one another
  • In your updates, remember the 80/20 rule. 80% of your updates should be content that is of interest to your followers. Cap self-promotion to the remaining 20% so as to prevent yourself from oversharing about your achievements which your followers may not be interested in

Cloud Computing Basics (Coursera)

  • Cloud computing allows firms to save cost on hardware by renting only the amount of computing power they need from cloud providers
  • Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) provides app development environments in the form of microservices. Customers only pay for the time that the environment is used. There is no storage for FaaS. Hence, if data needs to be stored, it would be at an extra cost. FaaS also requires a few seconds of start-up time
  • Docker provides OS environments called containers and applications could be installed on these containers. Containers run independently and it could be difficult to keep all containers synchronized
  • Kubernetes automates app deployment, scaling and maintenance. It supports Docker containers as well
  • Edge computing is a variation of cloud computing where computing services are brought physically closer to the customer. Popular in gaming, IoT, and healthcare where response time is important

Marketing Analytics (Coursera)

  • Brand value could be destroyed if the acquirer does not know how to manage the acquired brand within their existing portfolio of brands (e.g. Quaker acquiring Snapple and treated it the same way as Gatorade; quirky products, Wendy the Snapple lady, and mom-and-pop distributors for Snapple in contrast to Gatorade for sports)
  • Brand Personality: what if the brand is a person? What age would the brand be? Would the brand be male or female? What traits would the brand have?
  • Interbrand Brand Valuation Model: Interbrand is a consulting company that came up with a ranking system to rank brands. Their valuation model is used for mergers and acquisitions
    • It comprises of three aspects: (a) financial analysis of balance sheet for residual earnings, (b) market analysis of the sector the brand is in, and (c) brand analysis through conducting surveys on consumers’ perception of the brand. Brand value is then determined through future earnings and the volatility (risk) of future earnings materializing
  • Young & Rubicam Brand Asset Valuator: More for marketers, based on consumer surveys
    • Four elements of a brand: (a) relevance to consumers, (b) product differentiation from competitors, (c) esteem of the brand by the public, and (d) consumers’ knowledge of the brand. Each brand will have varying levels on those 4 elements
  • Importance of knowing brand value: have to know the trade-offs in marketing investment between long-term brand value vs short-term price promotions
  • Revenue premium as a measure of brand equity: attempts to combine Interbrand Brand Valuation Model and Young & Rubicam Brand Asset Valuator. More suitable for valuing grocery store products. Central idea is to identify the premium that a brand earns over a private label
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): the dollar value of an individual customer relationship with the firm. Use past data in order to project forwards. Allows the firm to make marketing investment decisions (e.g. if the cost of acquiring or retaining customers is greater than the value customer brings to the firm, it would not make sense to proceed)
  • For marketing experiments, have to try your best to make sure the test and control groups are comparable. If possible, capture the pre-existing differences (if any) between the test and control groups
  • The internet age has helped marketing experiments to flourish. Experiments could be done quickly, with minimal cost, and allows for the manipulation of many variables. Moving from the brick-and-mortar world to the digital world has resulted in marketing cost changing from a fixed cost to a variable cost, allowing firms to have more flexibility in their marketing investments
  • Online marketing campaigns can have a carry-over effect in sales even after the campaign has ended
  • A marketing mix regression model could include variables such as Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion (4 Ps of Marketing)
  • Important to differentiate between statistical significance and economic significance in regression models used in the marketing context. Economic significance refers to whether the benefits from the marketing campaign outweighs the cost of the campaign. Statistically, economic significance is known as “effect size.” It could be determined by plugging in numbers into the regression equation and identifying whether the benefit is greater than the cost of the marketing campaign
  • Tips in modelling retail data (e.g. grocery stores): running regression analyses by customer types (e.g. a regression model for price-sensitive customers who tend to use government subsidies/coupons, reduce prices for them, and reach out to them)