Sunday, March 16, 2014

Holy Cow its Holi CAMS!

Those of you who have celebrate holi would relate to that feeling of ambivalence when your loved ones eagerly and affectionately approach you to stroke your check with the first color. Slowly but surely your white clothes are drenched in purple, green, pink etc. Your face is unrecognizable except for that (hopefully) beaming smile that shows off the only white left (wait, isn't that a great toothpaste ad idea?!) Once in a while you contemplate washing your face and maybe rinsing off the color from your skin but then you think, what's the point? Bring it on! Holi Hai!

Moving to New York 9 months ago sometimes feels like walking into a holi party a few hours late in fresh white clothing. Everyone else has been indulging in the festivities for a while and have a rhythm going. You walk in and suddenly, everyone stops what they are doing and look at you. You are uncomfortable with the attention and look for a familiar face in the crowd but of course you can't recognize anyone. They are all purple. And then someone yells "Look, Virginia is here! Duuuunk!"

A few seconds later, 5 people have hoisted you up and ceremoniously drop you into the baby pool where you join 2 other poor souls who are just about recovering from the shock of their welcome ceremony. The water is purple and wet and as you struggle to get on your feet, someone affectionately rubs dry color onto the one spot on your forehead that didn't get any color and hands you a chilled beer and a garden hose to pass it forward.

Cheers (and yes, purple and beer mixed together tastes like Diet Dr Pepper for those who were wondering).

Just like the marketing books and courses, never prepare you for real world marketing, neither do stories about holi. You just need to experience it head to toe. In the last few months I've had to opportunity to really experience how technology and business model can so quickly change your fresh whites into deep purple. We all talk about how Cloud, Analytics, Mobile and Social (CAMS) are changing everything. They are the colors of holi. You know what they look like, you recognize them, but its not until you are drenched in a crowded baby pool of CAMS does it feel real! I don't think I was as prepared as I could have been when I started my North America role but after a couple of quarters, I feel the need to share some tips on how to not just survive CAMS, but how to enjoy it!

So as you get ready for your own holi celebration tomorrow, if you are a CMO or CEO, you should be prepared for the most dominant color in festival palate. Be CAMS ready!

Tips for a "damage free" CAMS Festival*:

1.  Prepare your body in advance: apply moisturizer/sunscreen (skin), oil (hair), petroleum jelly (ears), polish (nails)
Lesson: CAMS will have broad and long lasting impact on your organization. Before launching any initiatives, be sure to prepare the people in your organization, starting with your leadership team with the help of experts, case studies, best practices on why and how to leverage CAMS effectively. Many organizations fail to understand the people aspect of any technology initiatives. You need your people to embrace the new way of working.

2. Wear sturdy and thick clothes, not old, flimsy ones
Lesson: As you experiment and get dirty with CAMS (e.g. launching a mobile app, moving certain workloads into the cloud like transaction processing, exposing your client data to a 3rd party to conduct analytics or launching a social media campaign) you cannot risk a security breach even at the pilot stages. You cannot afford for toxic colors (read: viruses) to seap through because the damage can be irreversible, especially to your reputation. Don't be that girl who naively wears a old light cotton tshirt to the neighborhood holi party. Repeated dunks by the neighborhood hackers don't make for good dinner time conversation.  Make security a priority!

3. Bring your own colors, and make sure you they are organic colors that suit your skin
Lesson: Don't get swept away with what you read about CAMS. Only you know your own organization, your own business objectives, aspirations, people and processes. So what if everyone is getting excited about social, mobile, big data and cloud. You have to put all of those in context of how it makes sense to your business. Own your own CAMS strategy, own it with your lines of business and even better your clients, not with your vendors. Any initiative that is sponsored by your business leaders will have a better chance of succeeding. Build your CAMS strategy organically so that you can avoid an allergic reaction later!

Most importantly, be proactive. No matter where you sit in the organization, marketing, sales, finance, operations, learn about CAMS and lead the change in your organization. There is never been a time in the history of business and technology that we have seen the convergence of not 1, 2 or 3 but 4 major technology shifts at the same time. Its an amazing time to be a business leader - you have an opportunity dunk your organization in CAMS pool and then hand it a proverbial beer! And if you follow the tips above, everyone will celebrate, rinse and repeat the next year!

So Cheers! and Happy Holi!

*Special thanks to Debarati Sen of Times Group as I use tips from her article "Here's to a damage free Holi" to make my point!


  1. Couldn't have read a better description of joining the holy(i) party of CAMS. And then you don't wait for Holi to come again after a year. Every day should be a holi-day - that's where DevOps comes in. Enjoy everyday as a holi-day and bring colour to your life with CAMS and job with DevOps

  2. Haven't read a better explanation of enjoying Holi with CAMS. And then you add DevOps to it - which brings colour to your life and job by dunking yourself in CAMS everyday

  3. What an interesting perspective. Rocking!

  4. Well described, however the point is what is the best definition and strategy for CAMS, even though we restrain and don't get carried away...plan carefully..the point is some one will get colored we need to learn lessons first and then cautiously proceed or dunk what the hell let me go for it.....

  5. I believe that using an analogy, makes for a good story and this is well illustrated in the above post. In this world of miniscule attention spans, a story is what makes a reader go to that important next paragraph. Looking forward to reading your posts more often.