Shonali Chakravarty is the Head of APAC Communications, Lenovo Data Center Group.
Lenovo DCG is into the business of servers, storage, and networking infrastructure needs of organizations through intelligent transformation and enabling enterprises to harness the power of cutting edge technologies. Prior to this, Shonali was the director of communications for OYO, where she helped run communications for India SA and key international markets. Before that, she has had a stint at Uber, heading policy and corporate communications for India SA.
She has also spent time in the manufacturing sector having run strategic communications for Essar Group’s Oil & Gas and Power divisions and earned her stripes in public policy and financial PR during her time with Marsh & McLennan companies as well as Edelman.
Shonali joins us on episode 7 of the MOV Podcast to talk about her journey and the tremendous effect that videos have had on her communications at every stage in her career. She also spoke about the importance of communicating the right set of messages to your end-users and, if done correctly, how it can completely shift the dynamics of your brand.
So without further ado, tune in to learn more such interesting marketing and communication insights only on the Mad Over Videos Podcast by guch featuring Shonali Chakravarty.
Pranav Chimulkar: Hey guys, welcome to the second episode of the MOV podcast. I think it’s been a brilliant journey for us. For the last episode, we learned a lot, we’ve improved a lot. I mean, I think we keep getting better at what we do. And really the best people as, as a guest on the podcast, people who are mad about videos, videos, and people who can add a lot of value. We are very much on the lookout for creative folks who can add a different perspective to what people need to know in order to come up with your attitude. That said, I quickly jump onto the bench for today’s episode. That is Shonali Chakravarty. Shonali, currently the apex communications leader on the Lenovo data center. And prior to the current role, she’s also been with the likes of Uber and OYO and Essar big time, again, like working in the communication and leading the way for a lot of people who are now taken over. And she’s I think the best person when it comes to, like reaching out for any help in terms of corporate communication strategies and, today bringing in her own on to discuss on a very specific thing, using video. And without much ado, I just add Shonali to the screen. Hi Shonali, how are you?
Shonali Chakravarty: Hi, I’m good. Thank you for having me. And you’ve been very kind with introduction. But hopefully, I’m able to tell a few stories. I think that’s my day job.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah, so I think, first of all, I’d like to thank you for a lot of things, coming on to the podcast. So I’m glad that you can make it. Secondly, I think for yet you have a lot of experience, so you’re the best one to answer. So if you’re ready, we could start right away. My question to you is, what makes you mad over videos? What makes Shonali Mad over videos?
Shonali Chakravarty: I think, to be very honest, people genuinely think of the written word or the spoken word as being easier methods of communicating. And you live in an environment today, where you know, everybody’s newsmakers, we are doing this podcast ourselves, we don’t necessarily need to be associated with a broadcast channel to be able to do this. So we live in the world of creators, really, and I think video has the best potential really, in terms of getting your message out there, as well as communicating the emotion with a message right? When you read something, of course, it does make an impact on you. But when you see something and you hear something, and everything comes together, if a picture is speaking 1000 words, then a video is actually setting the context to all of that. So it becomes a very powerful method of storytelling. And I think it’s transcended, paid, and owned media channels to become an important part of earned media channels as well. So today, when a communicator or PR person or even for that matter, an internal comms person thinks of the best way to reach out to audiences and we’re living in a world where most people have forgotten what their offices look like. We become so used to a remote working environment, the best way to get people to feel connected with each other is through our video screens or our phone screens and the video does the trick for every day particularly.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah. I think you’ve captured the entire essence of using it, it’s no longer a luxury I think. That said, typically, the occasional video has always been traditional that one video could be put out as a complete profile or later on when I think we move to digital, It’ll come down to that one video, which is put on the homepage. Apart from that, I think a lot of people haven’t really experienced the power of using videos, the primary reason why we do this podcast is everything we’ll see in a company can use videos to their benefit, whether it is a sale, whether it is a product, whether it is customer success, on the other, it is even HR, which is very internal in nature. Each of the teams can use video to their benefit. And gain benefit out of, like storytelling rather than just sending out memos. I think that brings me, to the main topic, which is, I want to know how to use video in your previous roles?
Shonali Chakravarty: Sure, I think I’ll try and do this chronologically. And, you know, it also sort of helps everyone understand the time periods that have been involved in this journey. So to be honest, there was a time when the video or the fact that there were a lot of collaborations or the fact that the 10 seconds or four seconds, were unheard of concepts. Of course, when people thought of video videos being produced by a company, they had to be really professionally done over weeks of iterations and storyboarding. And I remember starting my sort of Tango with videos during my stint with a manufacturing conglomerate. So I think, we have that thing in common, if I understand correctly, where we’ve been associated with organizations, which are, to be honest, Heavy Industries, or heavy machinery, organizations and Essar, to be honest, had introduced the concept of the show and tell in the manufacturing space where the best way for you to humanize or even help people understand how do you see these power plants functioning? Or what goes behind steelmaking? Or why is an oil and gas refinery a really big thing, not just for the economy, but even for the people working within that premise? Essar was able to do that, with stories, I think some of this was also inspired by how I think in the West, there have been pioneers, like GE and Alstom, that have done a lot, even Alcatel for that matter, who’s done a very good job with communicating processes, products, people, and technologies to videos. So there was a dedicated, team, as well as the studio to be honest, at Essar that was a welcome sort of change to how we saw work being that nothing ad hoc, very professional, everybody had an agenda and a storyline in mind where every week, we would try and churn out a video on either corporate speak, or helping people understand how, what are the inner workings or what could be a day in the life of somebody who’s working in a power plant or a steel plant. Very exciting time.
And I think, if only more people and as students, we study about a lot of concepts, especially in engineering, whether it’s civil or mechanical engineering, though these plain vanilla textbooks, if only more people could be exposed to the reality of the power that, you know, these individuals harness, when you see them on the shop floor, or when you see them, actually running turbines in a power plant, it completely changes your perspective on things. And I think a lot of more students perhaps would be motivated if they spend more time or we’re able to actually have a greater element of that show intent. So a lot of our corporate videos happened during that time. And ideally, the audience, of course, was media investors and more business stakeholders. But when I look back, I obviously think that they could have also been a very powerful medium to reach out to audiences who may not directly experience our products, but we’ve been sort of indirect customers or the actual, you know, end customers. So when you buy a steel sheet, it’s probably a wholesaler or distributor who’s buying a roofing sheet. But ultimately, the end-user should have a sense of how all of that came together or what what was really the chemistry behind making all of that possible. And moved on to I think Uber had a very, interesting journey in India. To the from the time when you know, the idea really of pushing a button and getting a ride, you know, it was unheard of right? It was a magical experience, to be honest, to think that you are pressing a button on a car is going to arrive right outside your door, not something that, immediately clicks in our mind, because today we’re very used to the concept but think about several years ago when this was alien, and you were just like, wow, how is that even possible? So a lot of our videos, focus more on, I think, changing or creating a certain habit, right? Helping people understand that, you know, this is how you’re supposed to utilize an app. And this is how everything sort of will come into play. So a lot of rider education, a lot of ecosystem education, to be honest, driver education, education, and ultimately, even external stakeholders or getting the media to understand really how this product works. Of course, over time, as as the journey of the brand evolved in India, and everywhere else, the consumer side, sort of picked up pace, and we saw, a proper brand campaign with brand ambassadors and that obviously had a very different language, tonality feel all of that, we were fortunate to have Virat Kohli become the brand ambassador for Uber in India and, you know, coming together of a lot of concepts, whether it’s a brand slogan, whether it’s a larger emotion, emotive brand narrative through ‘Badhte chale’ moving forward, all about how the brand is helping people to move ahead in their lives, mobility equals independence, all of those mixed messages also became a part of that narrative. And I’ll spend two minutes on the not so great sides of business that I think video storytelling helps manage, and more to do with any situations around driver strikes, for instance, or situations, for that matter, around safety concerns with respect to using the products, I think here videos actually help people understand who are the actual drivers who are part of Uber versus, a general myth, or a general perception that people may have the about who could be behind the wheel. So a lot of driver testimonials became a big part of how we spoke to audiences and actually helped myth bust a few myths. I think on the flip side is well, how do you make women and how do you make families feel comfortable about their safety about, the hygiene or about the upkeep of the car, or even about the treatment that they could perhaps receive while they’re making that journey. And a lot of our safety tools and safety messaging then began to be delivered through video. So they ended up being like an accessory, but a very important accessory to bring in a very important sort of show and telling them so anything that the brand is saying, of course, it is supplemented by you being able to directly see or directly view how all of this works in the real world.
Pranav Chimulkar: Before we move on to the next one, I think, at Uber as you mentioned. Pretty, pretty much early adoption when it came to like the first thing that was on my mind. One thing, it was a really nice one, but at the same, I was like, is the car really going to arrive? also when it came to adding your credit card or your debit card details to the act. And I remember going around to my friends and asking whether you’ve done that, there are a few of my friends who referred me to the platform, who had already taken the ride. I wanted to actually check on those interesting communication around that the security of the platform and adding your place the first time through an app mobile app. And I think what made it great. Apart from that, I think very clearly, like a habit that was generated. I think most of the people around me the news to mark to the cab because we made another special, like, luxury to pay for the cab. Yeah, I think that is a major habit change, which was brought when the company came again, back then there were a lot of discounting and things like that, in order to get potential customers but at the same time, a lot of messaging was done that this is a normal case. I mean, most of these and most people across the world use mostly cabs. I think those communication pieces become very important and a part of its new market, I can relate very well in that side at the same time, I think later on it is or did not go smoothly when many, I think a few policies were changed in terms of the Commission, drivers on the ground and again, I think communicating via ecosystem as well. I don’t know how many cities, I think like Ola, it’s very early days and yet both of the brands had metal market share quite sizable. So that it would be very difficult to communicate across various cities in India and I think the video would have played a very important role during this time and the right message because I think, I often associate my communication with this, or one of the biggest communication problems that I identify is the political problem like the Chinese whispers problem, by the time it reaches the intended consumer of the message so I think ensures that the message is not corrupted by a substitute, so in such situations when you have to be very careful about our work to present. I think there’s nothing better than video which can help any brand to communicate right. I think a major victory for the communication strategy of Uber was to bring the capital of Indian cricket team Virat Kohli on board?
Shonali Chakravarty: Definitely, ability of the brand. Yeah, that you could trust it.
Pranav Chimulkar: Exactly. Exactly. Most people look up to them and that was a masterstroke to bring him on board in your data to campaigns around then like you said, I like to play one video and maybe we can talk a little bit about how to bring a brand ambassador on to the video strategy. And then we can go on after that.
Shonali Chakravarty: Sure.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah. That’s a refreshing way to showcase your drivers to other people who run the company, right? Why don’t you tell us what’s going on in the minds of people who came up with something like that?
Shonali Chakravarty: Sure. I think the context here sort of played a very important role and I’m going to borrow from the phrase that you used and the Chinese whispers syndrome really is something that communicators or, marketers, for that matter have to go around or circumvent, really, and there was a time, in the Indian landscape where there were a lot of misconceptions about how the brand was treating its tribe of partners. Even at the other end, they were questions about what does a rider has certain responsibilities in a ride? Does a driver-partner also have certain responsibilities in terms of maintaining the right atmosphere within the car during a particular ride? What really have to be the local sensitivities, nuances, etc. And the third and most important aspect was also in terms of how the brand thought itself. I mean, are we or was uber somebody who was trying to take, you know, all the credit away from the people who are actually the brand ambassadors every day and are sort of people who help, you know, riders understand? What does the brand do? How does the back brand work? Or was it a situation where, there were other spokespersons or, external people who began speaking for the brand, as opposed to the driver-partners who were actually associated with it? So the larger context really within which this concept was thought about. And there also had to be an aspirational quality to things because, again, the brand promise rests on creating economic opportunities for people and empowering people in the process, right? Uber is a ride-sharing company, which means that if you’re a driver-partner with Uber, you are actually an independent economic, entrepreneur, somebody who’s creating opportunity, and somebody who is free to also do anything else, with their time or on the side as well. So Virat Kohli again, an aspirational story. Yes, of course, he’s the captain of the Indian cricket team. But I think his personal journey played a big role in determining also who should be evocative of how, say, the brand or driver-partners also who join Uber are able to, meet with a certain amount of economic success and respectability or greater respectability in society. So that helped us make that correlation. Secondly, we wanted to also dispel the intrinsic bias, that comes with how people view a driver-partner, right? He’s, of course, he or she, for that matter is, of course, somebody who’s an entrepreneur, and somebody who’s helping you go from point A to point B. So any feeling of a relationship of a superior and an inferior are needed to be broken, you are both in the journey, you’re really one person is a service provider, and the other person is the beneficiary of that service. So the campaign tried to bring out how you are playing 11 of the cricket team’s captain, and each of these people is playing some very important roles every single day. And when you look at the behavior and notice how there was this gentleman, who was praised for keeping his cool, regardless of any kind of customer who sort of takes that ride. So we get people trying to humanize the driver-partner, humanize the experiences of the driver-partner, and also demonstrate how there is a lot of effort that goes into giving you a five star right. So that individual therefore needs to be appreciated and complimented and whether we’ve to create the right ecosystem where we are enabling positive experiences. That a good journey or a comfortable journey is a two-way street. It depends on both the rider and the driver playing there. You know, it was it rolls in that process.
Pranav Chimulkar: I think you all chose to tell the right story like you said, as drivers, were typically looked down upon as a profession. I think that has eventually changed by a series of communication, a communication that has been maintained by the brand. And I think it’s very difficult to achieve this kind of impact using any other video, whether it’s text or images. I think video can actually do that for you. It’s not just a story with choice To tell the right story to the story was already existing, I think I’ve taken a few where I’ve had really proficient and very qualified people driving me around, not just in India when I was in the valley, and like, I took a few rides where people who were trying to pay the tuition, or there are people who are doing this as a second job to just make some extra money. I mean, the kind of experiences, as I said, was so brilliant, sometimes the conversations were so intellectual, that you wouldn’t expect them to be. So in typical writing, if not just improves that kind of communication, not just improves the confidence of a customer hailing a cab, but it also brings the right set of driver-partners on board, I think it also tracks the talent that you really deserve. That kind of rights or work in the company or whatever. So I think that I think y’all got everything right in terms of the strategy. Moving on, I think we’ve talked about an enterprise language, like, mostly includes traditional industries, we also talk about consumer brands. Coming into your current role at Lenovo data center. I think it’s a properly balanced mix of both sides. I think there is such a huge consumer angle with electronics products. And that product line aside, they also have this enterprise, especially with leaders in the group. And first of all, congratulations on your new role. Three months. How are you feeling? How are you adjusting to it?
Shonali Chakravarty: So I think it’s been the first 100 days. And it’s an interesting journey. Lenovo actually, if you think about it has a very active consumer arm. And there’s also an enterprise division. So data center group, obviously, has got to do more with your server’s storage and networking. And that’s where a lot of the b2b conversations actually happened. But the way that people think and experience, most days, is, you know, the moment you think laptop, most people think, alright, Lenovo, right. Or sometimes when you talk about the newest moto in the market, you don’t automatically realize, but hey, it’s a Lenovo product, right? So the way that I think the brand, sure has been using video or trying to tell its stories, again, is determined by who its audiences are. For the consumer side, of course, there is a need for the storytelling, to be more in sync with the requirements or with the behavioral patterns of our target audience. So the brand can perhaps be a little more tongue in cheek more fun, more impersonal, sorry, informal, rather, but more personal conversations, etc. On the enterprise side, things tend to get more technical, things tend to get more focused on the formalities, more focused on for that matter, a lot of getting into the intricate details of everything that this is what you know, this will enable you to do, etc. So the challenge really becomes in terms of how do you help people think about a server or think about a company that’s creating these components, as somebody who’s just bigger than that box of wires? If I may, right. I mean, at the end of the day, when you think of a server, or when you think of an edge server, or when you think about a lot of abstract concepts like IoT, or 5G or Now, how do you represent that visually in the right way and help people really understand the impact that you’re making? Very recently, I think the data center group has also tried to break away from a product heavy focus. And again, try and humanize the brand through storytelling that is more personalized. So what we’re trying to do is, perhaps, share impactful stories of what does that product ultimately enable a customer to do? So more than talking about, say the hardware, more than talking about for that matter, the components that make our processing power, really good or that help us sort of continue to ensure it liability security agility? How do we communicate? Or how do we show that there is this person or sure is this company that was able to maintain, production, quality, production consistency, even during COVID, simply because they could rely on our systems? So from a data center focus, we want to try and be folks who are data-centered in our mindset, or in our approach. So telling the story through our customers, or through people or us, as a company in the background, sort of enabling people or enabling organizations to go ahead and do their best. It’s all about showing that data-centered mindset, that we have a data-centered approach to things, we are folks who are going to make sure that the engines are running for you to go out there and, you know, continue to build or continue to do whatever awesome things that you’ve been doing, whether it’s on the healthcare side, or whether it’s on automobile side, customers can be all kinds in the enterprise business.
Pranav Chimulkar: And I think, very interestingly, the term that you use two data centers, I think your strategy, there was very customer-centered, right? I mean, the storytelling was customer-centered and not around yourself and telling people that AI is complicated. Typically, most, I think, brand marketers, like, happened to take that approach where they say that our system is based on such technologies, this is the kind of security that we have. Eventually, I don’t think so the customer really cares about all those technicalities. I mean, unless he or she is a tech geek, they don’t really care about it, what matters to them is what they can do with it. And if you choose that kind of storytelling approach, in all sorts of communication, especially your videos, because it becomes very easy for them to see outcomes of your entire process and not the actual process. I think that it makes it very easy for anybody to believe in the brand, I think a very important point that you brought up.
Shonali Chakravarty: And to be honest, Pranav, if you think about it, it’s very difficult to associate with a box of wires, right? I mean, you don’t really feel any emotions for that. But when you humanize the brand, through people whose lives, it’s touching every day, or when you bring the customer front and center of the story. And the customer says that I was able to meet my deadlines, or I was able to help solve one of humanity’s greatest challenges. So for example, if it’s a pharma company, and they’re working on research, for instance, and they had the power of a supercomputer, helping them in that process, it just helps people understand the impact of what we do in the background. So I think a lot of whether it’s manufacturing or whether it’s enterprise tech, ultimately, if you’re able to demonstrate how the end-user gets impacted by what we do on our shop floors, that’s half the perception battle one, it makes it easier for even investors in the business community to see value in what we bring to the table. And today, I think when you think about press conferences when you think about media interviews, the video becomes a very important element in that story, because it’s just lending credibility to everything that you’re saying. People expect an organization, whether it’s in an annual report, or whether it is through any corporate briefings, etc, you expect the organization to talk up its advantages or talk about what’s been going right. But when you’re able to also show something to them, were able to experience how the how a third party is experiencing that product or experiencing the services of that company. It makes a world of difference in just the credibility that’s associated with the narrative. So all those metrics, whether it is play rate, conversion rate, click-throughs, etc, all of that begins to have a greater sort of impact on how we plan our media, and how we plan our messaging as well.
Pranav Chimulkar: I think we’ve spent a considerable amount of time in our discussion focusing on, communicating to consumers. I think there are a couple of other sides to communicating for a corporate or a brand, I think we can bring in those aspects as well. And what I’m trying to point to is internal stakeholders, that is your employees and shareholders and then also, investors. I mean, investor relation becomes so much important once you start climbing the ladder of fundraising and things like that. Later on in the journey, I think more mature businesses will continue, like to what do you have to say there? I think we can start by quickly touch upon the method variation on how video could really help you do that. And then I think we will spend some amount of time doing the communication to like the employee.
Shonali Chakravarty: Sure, I think, you know, again, if I were to think about a structured organization, an already-listed entity like Lenovo or Essar, of course, investigations have a very different meaning. Sure, it is about communicating consistency, right? Where the objective reality of all your video storytelling, or all your press releases, and your quarterly briefings and quarterly updates, most of which are, mandatory, because as a listed entity, there are certain responsibilities that have to be met by an organization, quarter on quarter. The corporate-speak really goes up in the sense that everything has to have a certain format has to be structured has to be focused on what are the business developments, and, essentially, a lot of our story, storytelling also has to demonstrate what has been promised earlier on. What I mean to say is that, for instance, if in the previous quarter, there was a commitment that was made to reduce our carbon footprint, when we are focusing on the results of this quarter, for us to be able to not just mention on record that this is the percentage of success that we had, or we were able to reduce our carbon footprint by X percent. But if there is a video component that also helps show how, for instance, we replaced all the lighting in our offices with LCDs. Or for that matter, you know, there are a lot of conservation campaigns and projects that the brand has now decided to partner with. Building those elements into that story, or both on social media and even through own channels, maybe the brand’s own website makes a big difference. When you think about Investor Relations on the startup side, and, again, Uber today is a listed company, but it had its origins as you know, as a very exciting startup, OYO continues to be I think, one of the hottest startups in India and definitely has tried to make a mark overseas. I think the focus here when you think about Investor Relations, it’s got more to do with communicating what’s next. As opposed to communicating consistency for a structured organization, you’re got to keep that excitement in the brand going because your objective really is to demonstrate growth, demonstrate how we have been able to achieve x in y amount of time, and how we are continuing to set bigger and bigger goals right? Again, it also has to do with how a startup investor evaluates the potential in a brand versus how a publicly listed company has to speak to its shareholders, right? Who values stability over, risk-taking and a startup obviously have to value risk-taking to survive and thrive, right. So, videos can be more edgy things, don’t need to be that formal. I think there’s a creator perhaps elbow room for trying new things or experimenting with concepts and, apart from whatever is the main sort of communication, your language that the brand has. They can also be these offshoots from time to time and necessarily need to create a continuous calendar of those activities, that could just be some ad hoc things that the brand is participating in from time to time as offshoots, whatever is in the story. So again, I think that the canvas of experimentation is something that really, a lot of startups can utilize to their advantage, really leverage. Today or startup, even in a tech startup, for that matter, are may not realize, but they’re not just addressing students and parents, even working professionals are building an opinion on the merits of perhaps one a tech startup over the other basis, how they saw content being developed, or to small tutorial videos as well that the red educators are putting online, so one has to be conscious of how you’re not only, adjusting your target audiences, for video, it tends to travel to so many people and everybody ends up contributing to a certain mindset about the brand, as a startup, have to be more conscious about how you are perceived in that ecosystem.
Pranav Chimulkar: True. True. I think what you mentioned was, and you just briefly touched upon this point was a lot of ground, reality can be communicated using videos that cannot mostly go through text or photos, I think that’s something which is the power of video site, I mean, you can actually show, take an action. And there’s nothing better than seeing with your own eyes. And the second-best will be to see a visual video.
Shonali Chakravarty: Yes.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah. I would like to talk about communicating with internal stakeholders, the most important part of your organization is the people that work. And I think a major part of the job for our communications professionals, is to also take care of communicating to internal employees, right? And that’s a good thing to see applications or videos, that you could just walk me through that you might have used in your previous rules to communicate, what kind of videos were made.
Shonali Chakravarty: Right I think internal comms suddenly, you know, it was the ignored stepchild, to be honest, and I think the one perhaps positive side effect of COVID has been that internal comms is very glamorous, suddenly, it’s become the star of the show. Why? Because the only way that an organization can feel connected to each other and feel that everyone’s tied to the same culture and values that the organization espouses is through internal comms and videos playing a very important role here today. From simple things, like organizing town halls, right, which are all virtual, to even the kind of, I think campaigns that you want to run with, whether it’s a selfie challenge, or whether it is something to do with getting a couple of people to participate and share some soundbites about how their experience has been with respect to any internal endeavor or an internal initiative or even if it is about celebrating the wins of a particular team and talking about that with the rest of the organization. A video today is a very important tool in all of those aspects and the way that you utilize it, whether you’re doing it for a small sort of a deal, even if it is a five second, or if it’s a 40 seconder door and gives people a sense of how people have been living and breathing the cultural values of the organization, even while they’re at home. It’s the most potent way to showcase that and to get, I think the right word here would be perhaps, again, I won’t say habit building, but more to do with how more people would want to feel encouraged to be utilizing that medium. So, a lot of times a lot of internal comms campaigns also suffer from lack of participation, you always have the usual suspects participating. But today in a remote working environment, when, even important announcements about the company, are being communicated with perhaps the head of the organization coming on camera and saying a couple of things that relate to those announcements. It encourages more people also to be a part of that process. And if you want to feel that your feedback is being taken seriously, or you are, for that matter, benefiting from something or perhaps have a point of view on how things can be improved. Sharing feedback over video is also recommended, it’s the best way to reach out to all your audiences. And, again that helps show your own interest and your own passion for the brand, right. So it also helps to dispel any concerns that perhaps HR or other teams will have, with respect to your awareness, that feedback coming from yours, this person who’s making the effort to record something and shared with the rest of the employee. So that speaks to a lot of motivation, to be honest.
Pranav Chimulkar: But not just that, I think, typically wave of passing on a message from the leadership state would have been a nicely drafted email, or maybe a flyer that is put, say, in the canteen, or in the walkways, and we just happen to read all of these pieces. But I think what video also does, it also gives you that added a perspective into nonverbal communication, right? If you’re actually a person in front of the camera, you get to feel the energy, you get to see what kind of body language there is. And I think that has a serious impact on the viewer and how they connected.
Shonali Chakravarty: Yeah, I think you could have said it better, to be honest, the only way for people to understand the emotion behind the word and not sort of misconstruing anything, especially, again, I want to highlight how we’re all working remotely, we don’t really know how our team members or managers are reacting to something that we’re writing. The best way to understand how a message is getting absorbed in an organization or what really is the intent behind a certain decision is to have that individual on camera, I mean, nothing speaks better to a course then the emotion that the individual is able to show. So you know, if colleagues need some motivation or encouragement because your business is hurting, and you know, COVID is preventing people from having these get-togethers or team celebrations, etc. How do you motivate members of your team, you do that through a lot of these dialogues, maybe they could be within smaller groups so they could be full-on town halls. So video today, I think, the way Marshall McLuhan had said that the medium is the message. A lot of what video tries to do today in internal comms is, I think the video itself is the message, it’s become the message. It also helps that how many people really will have the patience to read a long-winded email or a lot of internal comms memos tend to not be read beyond the first three, four nines. When you embed a video, greater chances of people actually even paying attention to whatever it is that the organization is communicating, greater chances for people to also understand and absorb the details. So and it’s also easier to track and monitor how much of something is actually getting absorbed. So metrics are a big difference. And the fact that you can easily check views, you can easily check engagement.
Pranav Chimulkar: Brilliant point. I think you brought up and most business coaches are bothered about it when they invest because video costs more possibly more than just writing an email. You can, like you correctly said the added advantage of measuring the impact, which is either the number of views or the average view time of the entire video, how much, or have they clicked on a button to activate. I mean, there are tools around the video to make an experience more interactive that is most companies idea just so that whether it is a message as simple as company’s values to even training, that some companies actually have learning management systems, but then there are new technologies, which are, like letting you post a video on an interactive platform, and you can possibly also take the viewer to a journey where you can throw a question and based on the responses on different clips. After that, I think those are really powerful when it comes to like, sort of shaping the behavior of the viewer, right?
Shonali Chakravarty: Yeah. And the medium itself has been innovating so much. I mean, whether you think about I think, gifs, or reels or nonformat videos, or for that matter, even video conferencing tools today, the zoom has the valuation that it does. Simply because people are realizing that this is a better way to get across or get through to people as opposed to perhaps teleconferencing, or perhaps even one on one meetings, I wouldn’t be surprised if after the pandemic gets over. And things begin to normalize and people go back to offices, perhaps townhalls will continue to be run over video conferencing tools, perhaps a lot of team motivational meetings, etc, would prefer a video-based format simply because, for instance, zoom allows for a lot of polls, or, in fact, other video formats also allow for a lot of these different sorts of things to be built in, during the video itself. So whether it’s reactions, whether it’s quick polls, optic surveys, or even that q&a format that gets built-in. So the more that people are experimenting with this medium, the more people are making it easier and accessible for social influencers as well, for instance, to record whether it is, you know, I think, back in the day, Final Cut Pro was a big deal. And there were courses that were run on helping people understand how to navigate Final Cut Pro today, there are multiple video editing channels that are, again, free for us and everyone sort of, so I think a lot has to be said about how technology and people behind it are making things easier. For a lot of people, I mean, a lot of customers, a lot of companies, people like you and me to extract the potential of video as a medium, and use it more expansively and find new use cases is when to sort of utilizing videos.
Pranav Chimulkar: As you said, I think there is a behavioral change when it comes to us being behind IP phones or meeting to allow actually going on mute all IP phones, IP phones to now coming and saying that am I audible on video chats. So this is such a big behavioral shift that has happened during the pandemic. And like I mentioned, this is something that is going to be carried on because people have realized what happens when you turn on the camera, right. And a lot of people have become more open about showing themselves and showing the human side everything. I think we’ve come across multiple incidents were on the team meeting to possibly have your family walk-in or the dog barking. And people are getting used to this because I think it shows that people are human, that they have their surroundings, that they generally occupy and then those have a certain kind of role to play in shaping the kind of people they are. So you cannot really separate those two and try and become a formal email that you should not, I think that there is a personality attached to everybody with the video.
Shonali Chakravarty: Definitely, I think, today, just a way that innovation, even within this industry, and I think even within stakeholders in this industry is the pace at which that’s happening. I wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow a lot of what we see is traditional means of communication gets replaced with video-enabled versions of everything. So when we started, or even for that matter when, giving you an example here, voice notes wasn’t a thing right people would prefer text messages today. And then there was a time when you know, voice notes became big. And then when video conferencing became easier and opening multiple chat videos or having multiple people on the same call became a thing. That led to more conversations now, today we have capabilities for perhaps 1000s, if not lakhs of people to join in on the same call. And, again, there is an enterprise tech that’s helping make all of that possible. But the idea or the way people are thinking about utilizing this meeting, sometimes simple things like the filters that a lot of companies make available to, you know, more complex things like being with the logistics of managing multiple conversations at the same time, and still being able to give people the right output or the potential really continues to grow. And I’m curious, and perhaps it’s more of a question that I also have and maybe it’s you, you’re the expert here, to be honest. How do you see video evolving? In India, for instance, in the next five years?
Pranav Chimulkar: I think, a brilliant question. More than the medium, people are innovating around the medium of video. It’s no longer about high production quality earlier, it used to be and making an ad on bringing the movie quality cameras and shooting in like big steps. I think most brand communication has moved away from that, especially during the pandemic, people have become more used to adapting mobile shot videos, and they’re very content. And the story is very much the center of the entire communication and not production quality. I think that is one thing that people are moving through. And other than that, we already touched upon the engagement piece, I think our tools are making it. Like there are multiple SaaS businesses, which are developing tools that can make any communication more engaging and trackable. I think that’s where I see it going. And apart from that, yes, there are so many more technologies in video, whether it is VR, AR technologies, that the best companies in the world I’m building. Maybe India, it might take a little time to catch up to that. But then, as you said, we are not far behind. Not and for various, like you say application, I would say, are we talking about personal communication, we’re talking about corporate communication. But we’ve also seen where you want to go sightseeing or you want to possibly like to visit like a temple, you can attend things like that is our major aspects of people’s lives in India. I think I’ve seen interesting applications there. So, I mean, if the world is just warming up, I think there’s a lot of latent demand for videos. And it is a great time for someone like us to also be in the center of this entire revolution that we the seeing.
Shonali Chakravarty: Sure, I think, today the authentic voice is really valued more than it was earlier. When you said that, earlier, things were a huge professional affair. And that had to be a lot of time job, to be honest, to move things possible. The fact that if something is made in house or if there is a bit scratchy nest something which helps sort of enhancing the authenticity of the voice behind that video, that makes a world of difference. And it also speaks to how videos help. Again, I am thinking, transparency, traceability, accountability, all of that. becomes all the more relevant through conversations, which are beautiful. And AR, VR definitely, even if you don’t see a lot of organizations essentially working to create those capabilities, at least a lot of geographies, especially in the packaging. Early Adopters. And once that adoption, those rates are crazy today, for that matter when you think about the Philippines or when you think about Japan, the book is really big, for instance, in Philippines and Twitter has found a language in Japan, that with a lot of respect, because the way that Japanese audiences use our Twitter in Japanese, it’s crazy that there is the volume of conversations when you see relative to the population that speaks that language. So similarly, I think when you think about AR or when you think about, for that matter, VR as well, won’t be surprised if there continue to be some very interesting collabs. With countries in the APAC landscape.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah, I think I think we will all miss the stories that have been told to us always, visionaries have been telling stories like I consider filmmakers to me. I will tell you, what is going to come in the future, and then there is somebody else down the line building that technology. And most of us being cinema, lovers and story, lovers, are there any we love listening to story and not kidding? Yeah, I mean, that’s how I think we get a lot of inspiration to build products and services that can enable us to open the possibility. That said, I think I will try to bring this to, like a very nice closure, because we’ve touched upon multiple things, that in the conversation that I wouldn’t have even thought of going because we have a limited time. That gives the listener also 360 degrees of understanding of the use of variables and corporate communication in general, whether it be internal, or external communication. So I think, first of all, thank you so much for taking out time to come join us on this podcast. And yeah, and I think you’ve also left us with a few questions to think about and sort of look forward to being in touch with you and then ultimately working together on something in the future. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Shonali Chakravarty: Thank you. Thank you, and thank you for your patience, to be honest.
Pranav Chimulkar: Haha not at all, Episode Seven with Shonali Chakravarthy, communication Leader in the Asia Pacific for the Lenovo data center group. I think I had a brilliant time, like interacting with her and understanding. I mean, there were new insights that I came across, few stories that I heard I could possibly relate to more when they were coming from her. A few common chords that to be shared by like, from where I happen to be, and then it is also the latest kink much more about the video. And so it’s given us new opportunities to explore and, and questions to be answered. We’ll definitely love to know your thoughts about what we discuss. And if there are any more questions that you’d like me to answer. Shoot them again. And I will see you in the next podcast. Thank you.