Search Vs Social – the long tail of ad revenues

Google and Facebook together took away 64% of the total US online advertising spends. And Facebook had around 65% of the overall online display ad-spends. These are incredible levels of consolidation in the ad spends among the leaders.

search vs social long tail

Enough has been said and discussed about

While one cannot argue with the numbers and the line of reasoning, I somehow felt that this discussion has ignored the long tail of ad-revenues or the lead generation aspect of these platforms. These reports are focused on big co’s with big media budgets who may typically have brand-building as the key target.

Let me explain this in some more detail.

There is no doubt that for Google or Facebook, the big marketing dollars would come in from big spenders like Ford, Coca-Cola & Pepsis, Samsung, Levis, Red Bull, Wells Fargo, Amex etc.

But if we were to evaluate these platforms from a start-up point of view (small budgets and maybe need to do lead generation instead of brand building), the story is very different.

1. Social targeting is profile based, too many bidders

On Facebook, the same user may be targeted by multiple brands, because there is hardly any other context. E.g. a 35 yr old male who lives in a metro and has liked multiple lifestyle brands would be a good target for many.

We do NOT have additional context for the specific session on FB when the ad is being displayed. One FB session is hardly different from another in terms of the intent or maybe when mood based marketing algorithms evolve things would change.

This means, each of the target users FB session will appeal to all the brands. Multiple brands would be vying for that same ad-impression, which in turn means higher bid rates and CPMs etc etc.

And this means that small budget advertisers would be elbowed out of the platform by big budget cos.

While this article on Forbes also has the same conclusion, the logic used is very different.

2. Search has deep context, removes non-relevant advertisers

Search on the other hand has hugely relevant context. E.g. a user looking for Mortgage loan options on Google will be targeted by Financial Services brands vs someone searching for Fine Dining Options in India.

And this means, that as an advertiser you are just competing with other competitors or maybe some adjacent industry players.

Bid rates would be lower and even with small budgets one can get the message out to a relevant audience.

3. Lead qualification is efficient on search

If one is looking at online advertising for lead generation, chances are search may be a better platform.

Before the Facebook fans pounce on me, let me qualify my statement.

Many of us run “boring” ventures – we pitch services that consumers may not want to share. And/or we do not have the creative bench strength to get a funny/interesting message out. Our content strategy may still be a WIP. Realities of life.

If the message/ad we create has low viral coefficient (i.e. we do not expect people to share it much), Facebook may not be the best platform. Coz then we are burning marketing dollars to talk to a prospect who may not be primed for our services and who is also not helping spread the word.

Google, on the other hand is a very different story. If a consumer is online actively writing into the search box key words that resonate with your offerings, you may have a very interested customer. Intent is high.

Also, my guess would be that the long-tail ad-spends are stickier.


But all this is just my 2 cents on how small ventures, start-ups and SMEs should look at spending their advertising money online – across the broad theme of Search Vs Social Marketing for the long tail in particular.

What do you think?

 

Thin Mobile App or a Fat one – Digital banking toolkit

Mobile is the new frontier and banks know this well.

Amongst the various choices to make as part of the bank’s overall mobile initiative, is the decision around the structuring of mobile app(s).

Thin App Vs a Fat App.

These might sound strange terms especially in reference to mobile apps and no, we are not talking about the size of the app in MBs.

A Thin Mobile App is a niche solution available for select instances or customers, which allows a small subset of activities to be handled.

On the contrary, a Fat app is one where all the possible features and functionalities are available in the single app.

Banks have chosen to tread either of the paths. E.g. ICICI Bank has multiple apps in the playstore and HDFC Bank has just one main app.

Bank Mobile App - Fat or Thin

As one would expect, there are pros and cons of both, and I am listing a few here that come to my mind.

Attribute Thin App Fat App
 Clean UI  Easy to deliver  Needs design assistance
 User Engagement  Higher – as less distractions  Lower as many features irrelevant
 App Marketing  App adoption slows as marketing dollars split across multiple apps  Overall downloads look better as one single app
 App Development  Becomes complicated with multiple apps in market  Easier since tracking just one app
 Channel Migration  Depends on how the bank approaches it   Depends on how the bank approaches it

I personally feel, more than the final choice, it is the reasons that drive the choice which are important e.g.

  • It makes more sense to have a separate thin mobile app, if there is a unique customer segment that seems to have very different transaction or enquiry profile as compared to the others. E.g. Retail bank customers vs SME business owners
  • Building Traction. Many banks want to keep their mobile banking app for transactions only and do not see value in building any pre-login use-case. This makes the mobile adoption target so much tougher as there has to be a very precise value that the customer foresees in using the mobile platform for transacting. Plus its a two stage goal, get downloads and then get usage. It might be useful to break it down into easier goals, get downloads by providing a use-case even if its a pre-login e.g. offers on debit and credit cards. And then get the customer who already has your app to start using it for transactions.

What do you think?

TripAdvisor feature – add professional profile and ratings

What makes TripAdvisor a preferred choice in the process of identifying a hotel to stay at is the rich guest-feedback and reviews for most of the listed properties. The stuff about getting addresses, details, baking in a booking engine has been done by very many, but where TripAdvisor leads the pack is this recommendation layer built on top of this aggregated data.

This recommendation layer is what helps us in not only discovering but also deciding on the hotel/restaurant we want to go to. It also gives you a place to comeback and share your own views – which hopefully can influence future decisions. Which gives us a sense of being in control, of being an influencer of sorts

TripAdvisor’s recommendations product is indeed a very mature offering. They have baked in reviewer’s authority, social graph ( it shows reviews from your network clearly marked) etc.

But there is one huge opportunity which is clearly missing – Individual Professional profiles for the hospitality sector.

Let me explain this in detail.

We all know from our past experiences that the key to a great experience is much more than the architecture, luxury, ambiance etc- it is the staff which finally brings all of these together to give us a great stay. Right?

There have been times when I stayed in a great property but the staff just failed to step up to the expectations. On the other hand, some of the best times I had was when I was backpacking and staying at guest-houses and probably half star rooms in Rajasthan. The human connect is absolutely critical.

If this assumption is valid, shouldn’t we help build reputation for the hospitality sector professionals by sharing our feedback? Maybe we should avoid writing it when its an overall negative experience, but why wouldn’t I do it for a great manager/waiter?

A recent experience confirmed the need for this.

We were out on a road trip to Agra/Mathura/Vrindavan and my brother found this incredible property in Vrindavan (and not through Trip Advisor). We checked out the next day and in the whole confusion of getting all 11 people and their stuff together, my brother forgot his wallet at the reception.

We were on our way and almost back on the highway when the manager called to tell us about the wallet. On his own he checked where we were and sent out his guy on a bike to deliver the wallet. Kept calling us to check if we got it or not. When my brother called him up to say ThankYou, he just asked if we would write a positive review on TripAdvisor.

We did, but guess who gets the 5 star rating? This manager got mentioned, but he would get drowned in the list of fresh or helpful reviews that would float over my brothers review of the property.

trip-advisor-ratings

Look at the image above from Dusit Devarana’s page. These are the top 2 reviews showing and one can see Varun Kutty being mentioned – unfortunately one guest got the name wrong. Many other reviews don’t mention Varun. Wouldn’t Varun love to have a small place on TripAdvisor which shows a summary of only those reviews which mention Varun. That would be a personal trophy for him – one that keeps getting bigger day-by-day !

Also given the churn in the hospitality sector, this manager would probably move to a new location and while he might dig out the review and show it during interviews, it might not be a compelling argument in his favor.

What if,

  • TripAdvisor allows hospitality sector professionals to build Linkedin kind of profiles
  • A guest who is reviewing a property can also mention the specific staff members who influenced their experience
  • Maybe we would want to keep the personnel mentions for positive reviews only- hence trigger the prompt or tagging option only when the rating is 4 or 5.  I would want to do this to keep the negative reviews out, which are rarely written objectively.
  • Aggregate the reviews/ratings mapped against the professional and show it as a summary. Also show this in combination with the property or brand they were associated with at that point of time.
  • This profile could also be used as a proxy for background/reference checking. Hospitality sector suffers from a very high level of CV fraud and most of those pertain to prior experience.
  • This would also get the hospitality staff fully integrated to the TripAdvisor platform. They might not feel the threat of competition right now, but this would help build a very strong hurdle against any future threat.

In my opinion, this would also motivate the staff to invest in each interaction they have with guests. The gap is that this would end up catering to the front-end staff only and miss out on the back-end folks. Very few people ask for the chef’s name at a restaurant if they have had a great meal.

Customer Complaints and Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social platforms have provided an immense tool in the hands of the consumers. Suddenly the lone voice of the consumer, can get magnified if it resonates with a significant number of people – some from her own network, some who discover her woes and views through the sheer virality of the platform or the content.

While many brands have seen a lot of success with Facebook fan registrations, and started using it as a smart way to advertise. Many others have had a mixed response so far.

But for most brands, their biggest fear with social media, is the reputation loss due to consumer complaints. A research by A.T. Kearney’s on social media found that between 5% and 20% of all complaints to many organisations are made through social media. Not a channel to be ignored, if you want to keep your customers happy.

And its interesting how they have chosen to address this risksocialmedia-customer-service

They Just Ignore or Deny it

It has been documented through multiple surveys that more than 70% of consumer complaints on Facebook pages of brands are ignored. Add to this many more who just delete the customer queries or complaints. (7 out of 20 retailers did this in the Stella service sponsored exercise).

They respond one-on-one to the customer

Many companies and their customer-care teams, believe that the complaint related discussion and the resolution should be one-on-one either on phone or email. This allows the service team, sufficient elbow room to understand the issue, without getting distracted with the background noise, which may or may not be related to the specific query. Sound logic there.

But don’t forget to showcase the final resolution on the same platform. Why? because according to an American Express study , companies that resolve customer complaints via social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook see 21% more sales than companies that handle complaints on the telephone or in written form. Do see the attached infographic for more details.

They resolve it on the Platform itself

Many a brands have embraced Facebook/Twitter boldly and have started responding to customer queries directly on the platform. It is obvious, that this requires higher levels of empowerment for the individual staff members, a robust training on what messages to use (canned or otherwise) and access to customer/prospect data to swiftly resolve the query.

The successful ones have tried to follow these 3 simple rules:

  1. Don’t waste time in responding (less likely that the issue would snowball)
  2. Don’t shift blames (customers are mostly seeking a resolution and see all teams as the same brand)
  3. Don’t be defensive
Some leave it for the specialists

There are a few rapidly growing firms and agencies who have added social-media-customer-complaints-resolution as a key offering in their portfolio.

 

If everyone treated us like our mobile operators

TataDoCoMos recent ad campaigns have been very powerful, to say the least. Kudos to the agency and the marketing teams who could communicate and highlight the pain-points so well.

Mobile operators

I saw the ad recently and it brought back some recent experiences with the biggest brand of them all – Airtel.  I have done my share of complaining and highlighting it to their customer care, so this is NOT a whining session. This is just an attempt to understand why some of the biggest companies fail to deliver on customer experience.

1.  You are not the focus segment

E.g. SMEs. At our start-up venture where we had a couple of connections , we wanted a few more connections and we were pretty happy to apply for them online. But after speaking to the customer care executive who promised that someone would call us back, we had to end up reaching out to the local DSA.

I guess start-ups (esp in service sector) are not the focus for most service providers (the numbers just dont add up). I had faced similar issues in the banking sector, when we were looking for  employee salary accounts.

My recommendation : All start-up accelerators and angel investors should come together to give business to a guy who will provide basic  services to start-ups (like telecom connections, banking accounts, Payment gateways, HR services , accounting services etc). Or atleast point them in the right direction.

2.  Someone came up with a neat trick

I had the unlimited data-usage plan at home and had not been using the pc/internet at home so much. Thought of calling and downgrading the plan. The first time I called, I asked them what plan I was on and what options did I have. They checked my number and said the system is down so they cannot pull out more info.

It slipped my mind and I called back after 15-20 days. Same story. Then it suddenly stuck me, that both the times I was on hold while the agent checked and it was only after a few seconds that they came back saying system was down.  Do they really want me to believe that their system suddenly goes down whenever a user on the top-end plan asks for available plans. Or is it a smart way to manage the “number of plan down-grades” per month. I am sure someone in their Usage & Retention team gets measured by that metric and not really by “% happy customers who continue to stay happy”.

3. They don’t have a process for this

Our experience with getting a connection discountinued and then being harassed for collections showed us that it wasn’t really anyone’s fault. The collection teams (probably) work independently with little or no real time access to customer accounts. So if they got a base on 3rd of a month, they will keep calling, until it has been removed from the system. They have not identified and defined a solution for those instances where their “usual/typical” scenario is bypassed.

Personally feel, that you can not design for all possible instances on day one. Instead, our systems should evolve and evolve continously, to ensure that each customer use-case is accounted for at an appropriate time.

4. Not every channel is equal

This one I really fail to understand. Why would such a big organization want to cross-sell and up-sell only through DSAs and not through an in-bound channel too. There is just no ownership for any in-bound call that would convert into a sale. I guess the margins all go to the DSA. Guess they don’t want to rock the ship with DSAs bringing in a lions share of their new connections and re-charge.

 

Conclusion: I firmly believe that there would be a time soon, when new brands and ventures will de-throne the current ones – by just focusing on customer delight. People might even be willing to pay a small premium for that promise.

Where’s the Cupid in our Education System

I was reading this incredible story yday and Dandu bhai’s one line stuck a chord with me – I realized for the first time what it meant to understand concepts and solve problems using first principles (and not by memorizing)

CupidI was immediately back in 1993 when I was getting introduced to the concepts of mechanics during my summer breaks. I was so fascinated with the whole “Laws of Motion” that I – a simple school going kid, using a few equations could predict , how a ball would fly, how far would it go etc. I felt really powerful and special. Thus began my love for Physics. I loved the fact that here was a simple set of tools, which can help make sense of the real world around me. I never felt the same way about Chemistry or Mathematics – they never had the real world appeal that Physics had.  Whether it was this love, which prompted me to be an engineer (or in those days a scientist) , I don’t know. Actually it doesn’t even matter. What matters, is that I found something I could connect with, something I loved and something which loved me back.

Do we all have such a love story?

Have we all had the good fortune to discover a course/topic/subject we really love(d). Many might have had a favourite subject at some point of their academic career, but do they really passionately love that subject. Most people I met don’t. And we cant really blame them for it. Coz most of the times, we have been busy being good enough in all the other subjects.

Many players solving (or creating) many problems

Our Education eco-system  is a very interesting one.Its got a lot of players working in pockets and addressing their own set of challenges . We have our sarkari schools, where attendance is an issue (not just the students, most times its the teachers who are missing). When the quorum does exist, the quality is questionable and hence its so inspiring to read the stories like Dandu’s.

As opposed to them are the private schools- with their rising fees and air conditioned class rooms, they promise to give our kids the tools and knowledge to make a great career.  They seem to be launching pad for admissions into top tier colleges. There is also the whole tuition and coaching industry which has popped up because the long hours spent at school didnt give us enough ammo to ace those competitive exams.

As with schools, colleges also have their own normal distribution – from the really elite tough-to-crack- IITs to those who ask you to dare beyond their better reputed competitors :-).

There are also a whole set of players who ensure that our graduates and post-graduates are more employable. The McKinsey report that identified the employability gap, seems to have encouraged a whole new industry and rightly so. We really need a work-force which is more productive and efficient from day one, given that we depend to heavily on services (contribution towards GDP).

But who’s kindling the love

While there are genuine tangible problems that are being solved by various players I feel whats missing is a platform or a service that can

  • identify in an interesting and intuitive manner, what subjects/streams does an individual align well to. You might love history or geography and I am confident the earlier you find your love, the better it is. Its not just what Phunsuck Wangdu said, but its what Malcolm Gladwell also says indirectly when he talks about his 10,000 hrs principle. If you need to enjoy the fruits of your 10,000 hrs practice, might as well start early and commit to something you love.
  • Allow the love to blossom. I can’t seem to recall which VC had said this but I absolutely agree that our education systems are “fixed time and differential learning” whereas they should be “differential pace and fixed learning” – more so if we want to issue standard certificates to our graduates. We need to allow a student who loves Algebra to do more than whats prescribed for her standard and maybe take it easy on the History lessons. Let that love for Algebra blossom and not let it die because she can’t remember who fought against whom in the Battle of Plassey. Its not about assessment, but about finding the spark.
  • Internet makes this possible. Self learning sites are currently an animated version of the school’s text books, again aimed at better grades. Why not a suite of concepts each with theory, problems, examples, details of varying levels of complexity. If a kid really wants to know, how the earth’s rotation and revolution impact day/night and seasons, lets her decide to what depth her inquisitiveness goes. Lets not say this is enough knowledge for your age, coz we might be killing someone’s first academic love.

The Khan Academy does work towards this, but an ideal platform would have these features:

  • Huge library of concepts, each tagged at the base level to the specific chapters and classes/grades it belongs to
  • Against each concept, would be a structured or tiered “Know More” series. Wherein a student (or even a parent) can choose to either focus on more depth or breadth.  Each such text/test will also have a grading of complexity where a reader can pace herself depending on her comfort levels
  • Let this love show – tell parents what your kid seems to enjoy.  Connect with others who share the same passion. I just heard about 6 awesome kids from Bangalore who made a robot and have finished in top 3 in an international contest. Winning aside, how cool is it for these kids to know and have 5 others in their lives who share his interests and passion for robotics.

Lets build something like this and help more youngsters find something they love.

Your comments/feedback is welcome. Pls do share.

Update:

1.  I wonder if this is why there are so few of us who dream or aspire to do fundamental or original research?

Next phase of digital marketplaces

Internet adoption has seen the evolution of some usual suspects across most geographies and one of the key category is that of Digital Marketplaces. A portal which successfully brings together the supply and demand side forces together.  In India we have seen the growth of such marketplaces for jobs (Naukri, Monster etc) , marriages (Bharatmatrimony), finance (Deal4loans, BimaDeals etc),deals (SnapDeal) and so on.

Its interesting to see how most of these have evolved over the years and in this post I attempt to see where they might be headed in the future.

Naukri.com

Phase 1: Information collation + Listings

The early phase for most marketplaces begins with bringing a sufficient number of suppliers and promoting the portal to get consumers (demand side forces). And the key attribute in this phase is that the portal has the most comprehensive listing in that category. Data which is fresh and probably not available anywhere else. So Naukri in its first avatar was just a listing of openings available- a digital version of what people used to browse in magazines and newspapers.

Phase 2: Customization, filtering, meaningful handshakes

In the next phase a marketplace sees the need for tools that would help consumers connect directly to people who are most relevant. This might be done by better profiling, filters, trend based suggestions etc. Idea is that the consumer (& maybe the supplier also) should not waste too much time going through all profiles to get to the one(s) that are most relevant. Job portals have a meaningful profiling section to filter profiles. Marriage portals have gone to the level of checking Manglik/Preferred cuisines of prospective grooms/brides. I was also told about one where if you saw a photo, you could see other profiles with “similar” photos. While the marriage filters might sound too extreme 🙂 but there is a general perception that these tools bring clear value to the users.

When we launched Deal4Loans, we decided to focus in at this level directly. We invested in a warm body process to call our customers and understand what they specifically wanted. We then applied our understanding of the space to match the requirements with loan providers and did a handshake between the loan seeker and the providers.

What next: Managing the need

While most digital marketplaces have grown because they become the go-to-places for getting handshakes. Most of them have become so big, that its still an overwhelming experience for the consumer. Maybe thats why some of the marriage portals have launch a premiere service , where you get a relationship manager to do all the ground work.

The bigger problem is that in most cases, no one is tracking whether the customer’s need got fulfilled or not. Take the example of jobs. We are looking to expand our team in the new start-up. We will come up with ads on Naurki and Monster etc, but no one will help us see this requirement get closed. We will get CVs, we would call and shortlist them etc. But did we find our next team member? Do we have some special requirements?

Look at our loans business. We do the handshakes and we do it better than any one else in the industry. But we are not yet checking if the consumer’s requirement got serviced (incase it was serviceable). I personally feel, the industry will gradually demand this out of most evolved digital marketplaces, and the ones who invest early on will see increased user traction.

Celebrity Endorsements Work

Djoker has a serious business impact
Djoker has a serious business impact

Had a very interesting chat with the guy who runs the sports-shop at the Sports Complex where I go for my regular squash. I noticed that Nadal and Federer were no longer there on his wall and all one could see were Djokovic posters with his Head racquets. One would be tempted to ask whether the change in fortunes at the recent Opens triggered some change in the brands the customers bought.

And it surely was the case – Babolat is no longer being stocked and its Head all the way. I remember not so long ago, that every one at the complex was using Babolat raquets( well you couldnt blame them, Nadal was on a rampage) with their hard-to-miss two white lines on the frame. But interestingly this phenomenon transcends only to the equipment not to apparel. It seems what most of these aspiring or hobby-athletes wear are still their favourite Nikes and Addidas.

So is it that an aspiring athlete wants to give himself the very best of equipment? Does the same phenomenon work across other segments like say watches and mobiles?

Will someone want to buy the same mobile that Aamir or Priyanka endorse? By the above logic, maybe not, but am sure there are other consumer psychology attributes that we missed in our chat yday at the complex.

Loss making airlines and profitable aggregators

The Indian skies are witnessing a strange situation. Most of the carriers who form the backbone of Indian aviation industry are suffering from huge operating losses – from a combined effect of lower ticket pricing and increasing fuel costs – or so they claim.

The ticket selling sites like MakeMyTrip,Yatra etc on the other hand seem to have it pretty good. Though a big chunk of their revenues now comes from tours and hotel bookings but one fails to understand why the airlines still depend so heavily on them. There was a time (the pre internet explosion era) when you needed a lot of agents to sell tickets to ensure the seats were almost full, but now when each airline has its own site why do we let the customers use the internet channel to book through an aggregator.

A customer does this because there is an ease of comparison and the ability to easily find the lowest price or most convenient combo etc across multiple airlines. I am told that aggregators are smart at predicting the traffic they would see on their portals and tend to bulk buy seats (atleast on busy sectors) well in advance. This ensured that the customer was getting a decent price for his seat on the aggregator. Low price + convenience is a very compelling proposition for users.

Fast forward to today. If as an airline, I am not recovering my operating costs per flight, should I not look at transitioning my sales to in-house channels. A drastic cancellation of this channel is not possible as it would lead to a sudden drop in ticket-sales and hence the occupancy rates. BUT why can’t the airlines start a campaign which says for best prices book directly on their own sites. This would atleast start getting them those customers who don’t value the convenience as much as the price differential. These customers might start using the aggregators to search for the best options and finally book the tickets on the airline site.

I also know of some people who travel on sectors like Delhi-Guwahati, take a particular airline always, but still book it at an aggregator site.

 

Education Industry – next set of challenges

Private sector, higher education in India has probably seen a complete cycle of sorts in the last 8-10 years. What started as a gold rush with students willing to pay super premium amounts to get a MBA/Engg/Medical degree, now seems to have hit a major reality check. Institutes are now finding it difficult to get students, students who are graduating are not getting placement offers (atleast not at the expected grade and salary levels) and there is a clear dearth of good faculty.

Education Industry ChallengesIn the early days, the institutes were playing catch-up with the increasing demand for employees in the services sector. Since there was a healthy pool of faculty to be tapped into, the quality of education was also not compromised. But now, with almost every successful business and businessman having a private college, the demand-supply metrics are completely reversed.

The story is really drastic as far as MBA institutes go. Most are unable to fill their seats. Even if they do, they struggle to find good faculty. In the absence of good faculty, the placements and the long term brand value of the institute suffers. Most students have not done a real summer internship and are unable to handle themselves in any job-interview. There is a clear shake-up about to happen, if things don’t change.

As I was thinking about what changes could bring back the zing, I asked myself a very fundamental question- Why does a b-school need its own campus ?

While some of you are thinking already that I have gone crazy, lemme share with you why I am asking this. I feel the core problem with quality of education is the lack of experienced faculty and administration. The current economics don’t allow a private Bschool to hire a good full time faculty member. Most professors have a few areas of focus and they don’t teach more than a couple of courses. This means that if they are not doing consulting assignments or taking MDP courses, they are not financially contributing to the institute for most of their work hours. This would either force the institute to pay them a meagre salary (which would de-motivate the most critical element of the education system) or ask them to be on a part-time basis. (And yes, this is a problem of scale. At campuses with multiple batches of the same course, its easier to afford full-time faculty members.)

The part time professor also on his part cannot sign-up with multiple institutes as the commute and logistics would be very taxing. Now imagine a scenario where we do away with face-to-face lectures (very radical step I would assume) or we create a university like common campus where multiple institutes share space. They have their own administration, , admission process, fee structure, course outlines and industry interface etc BUT dip into a largely common pool of shared faculty conducting classes at a shared campus.

The way such a MBA park could work is that the park management does the course scheduling and informs the students about which room to report to for which lecture. Accordingly the faculty is also scheduled with a right balance between the daily hours for both of them. The individual institutes have their small management, which pays fees for using the infrastructure and for the faculty (directly or through the park). They could in fact choose from a wider set of faculty options for each subject.

Such an arrangement removes most of the inefficiencies in the system, but brings about a whole new set of branding related issues. How would an institute create its own unique identity in such a cluttered environment. While I am not sure that a MBA park or a virtual classroom is the best answer, but I think we would need to start challenging some of the very basic assumptions of our education system very soon.