Brett King

Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Evolutionary marketing – Tribal, viral and mobile (Huff Post)

In Media, Mobile Banking, Retail Banking, Social Networking, Technology Innovation on March 26, 2010 at 15:08

See the original Huffpost entry here…

There is a lot of discussion about how social media will play out from a mobile perspective, and how marketers in particular can monetize and leverage social media for real revenues and brand influence in the future. There are those, such as Umair Haque from Harvard Business Review Blog, that believe social media in its current form is a bubble with very little in the way of real income – in effect creating relationships that are not as robust as others would have you believe.

As we start to see massive adoption of smart or App phone handsets, the promise of potential migration of social media onto these platforms are hailed as the real future of 2.0 with endless possibilities. When we throw Augmented Reality and Geo-Tagging into the mix, those who are pro social media envisage an interconnected semi-virtual community where purchase decisions, social grouping, real-time collaboration, even political lobbying are all enabled by mobile 2.0. Neither Haque’s lukewarm perception of ‘thin-connections’ or more upbeat assessments of the impact of AR-enabled social media are completely accurate because a key ingredient is missing in the assessment of the viability of mobile social networking.

The real question businesses ask is how do you make money out of social media? We have seen social media give a voice to customers, empowering them to either individually or collectively influence policy, pricing or strategy.

The flawed logic by Haque and others is that you need to define your social ‘network’ through a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter and that the voluntary nature of participation in these networks does not always guarantee quality relationship that can be leveraged commercially. The fact is that there are social tribes that exist that are a great deal more powerful than defined networks established on social networking sites (SNS).

Everyday when we use our mobile phone we are participating in social behavior that is a great deal more natural and powerful than those established via SNS. Every time I call a friend or business contact, SMS or MMS my friends, check my email, or use mobile internet based communication tools, I’m forming social connections that look just like those you’d see on Facebook or Twitter, but are made up of extremely strong connections with my most intimate and trusted contacts and colleagues. These are extremely powerful natural, social networks that transcend programming and platforms – they are the networks formed by our day-to-day interactions in real terms.

CDRs or Call Detail Records are the day-to-day transaction data recorded by mobile network operators to enable accurate billing on your mobile bill. These CDRs contain all of the information required to map social interactions within tribes with substantially more accuracy than an online social network.

By data mining CDRs and seeing the natural connections between mobile users, strong network activity can be observed. Within these networks exist natural influencers of the tribe, key influencers or as Gladwell calls them connectors. By targeting these key influencers with targeted messages that are group sensitive, marketers could reach the entire group via the viral network effect.

None of this is really happening effectively today because we are either still broadcast advertising, relying on sketchy CRM databases not informed by analytics or are using demographic, tag or keyword association in weaker social networks online.

Viral social networks

Key influencers are high value targets for initiating viral campaigns

As an illustration a small start-up in Australia, QMani Analytics, has recently demonstrated a platform they call tribefinder which can identifying the tribes contained within a mobile network operators CDR pool. But the key to success on the revenue side is matching other profile information from an enterprise CRM system, or from customer behavioral analytics (like credit card usage data) and filtering CDRs to create better tribal models. Then we need intelligent marketers who can create compelling viral offers that we can roll out via MMS to a key influencer so he or she can send it on to their valuable network. The best key influencers, of course, should also be great advocates. So once we identify these guys we should service the pants off them so they feel inclined to support our viral efforts (although they won’t recognize them as viral campaigns hopefully.)

For network operators converting pre-paid to post-paid and preventing churn will be a handy by-product of tribe marketing. For retailers, banks, and other service organizations, however, we are talking highly targeted mini-segment offers that will have a massive acceptance rate. Cheaper than pretty much every current media platform, and magnitudes more effective at conversion, tribal marketing via natural mobile social networks is nothing short of a revolution in customer connectivity.

The real challenge is not the technology. Tribefinder’s analytics engine is not rocket science. The real challenge is for companies to understand the shift in marketing dynamics. For almost a decade now traditional broadcast media has been in decline. Marketing to tribes requires a completely different skill set than is on offer in most organizations today, but it is a key part of our future in reaching and retaining customers.

Tribal, viral, mobile – they are your future if you are trying to reach customers.


If you’re my bank – you better get moving…

In Media, Mobile Banking, Retail Banking, Social Networking, Technology Innovation, Twitter on March 25, 2010 at 07:39

Mobility in banking and payments is not a fad. This week I gave a keynote address at the 3rd Mobile Commerce Summit Asia (Manila) and meet with global players in the mobile payments and commerce space. Apart from the fact that half-way through the second day we experienced a 6.1 magnitude earthquake, the entire conference confirmed my view that banks are under massive pressure on mobile innovation – and the majority of them are not moving anywhere near fast enough.

The core proposition of mobile banking is two fold. Firstly, the device is already ubiquitous with 80% of the world’s population already owning a mobile phone. With only 20% of the world’s population having access to a bank account, it is patently obvious why mobile is the enabler for mobile wallet, payments and bank facsimile. WIth PayPal, Facebook, Square, Verifone and others launching themselves into the mobile payments arena, there is a great deal of interest in this space. Secondly, convenience has always been the core driver for the success of Internet Banking, so with mobile internet the convenience factor is even higher because you carry your “internets” with you.

“If I leave my wallet at home, I may not notice it for the whole day. But if I lose my cellphone, my life will start stumbling right there in the subway.”-21 year-old Kim Hee-young, Sookmyung Women’s University
NYTimes Article May 2009[1]

The fact is that once people start getting used to receiving and making payments from their mobile phone, whether it is via SMS initially, or via contactless (NFC) applications in the near future, the convenience element will drive adoption rapidly. With natural social media (tribes) implemented into mobile devices too, adoption would accelerate even quicker as social media creates a member-get-member effect for mobile wallets. If a few banks were to enable cash-in and cash-out via ATMs from your mobile wallet, this would add to the viability and push competitive innovation. The point is – you already have a mobile phone, if someone sends you some mobile money – you are converted into a customer right there and then. No need for fancy marketing, advertising or infrastructure. Then the more merchants that accept payments from mobile money whether online or in-store, the faster again that average spend/utilization will climb and non-participating merchants will hop on board.

So if you’re a bank have you really got anything to worry about, or is it, much ado about nothing as some learned colleagues have posited in the past? (Although to be fair to The Finanser he did soften his stance the next day)

Banks like to think they’ve got a lock on payments because everyone needs cash, and to trade cash you need some form of a banking license. Well that doesn’t explain the unmitigated success of M-PESA, G-CASH and other mobile money implementations in developing economies where the unbanked have embraced such with both thumbs. In fact, developing economies with huge populations of unbanked are absolutely prime targets for fast adoption of mobile money transfers.

Bank’s might also argue that they’re not really interested in the unbanked, and ‘real’ customers are probably not going to adopt mobile money transfers as quickly as the unbanked because they’ve got a perfectly good credit card and/or debit card they can use. Well they may have a point, but only if those same banks can accelerate the integration of credit cards and mobile phones. Why? Because the name of the game here is mobility.

The reason mobile money is going to take off so quickly is that I already have to carry my mobile phone everywhere I go, and with mobile money I don’t have to go to an ATM, branch or physical location to get cash – because I can spend my moBucks at any participating retailer.

A great example of ubiquitous adoption of cashless technology is the Octopus case study in Hong Kong. Octopus is a contactless (NFC) smart-card that was introduced as a replacement to paper ticketing on Hong Kong’s transport system back in 1997. Within 3 months more than 3,000,000 (that’s 3 million) cards had been issued. Once ubiquitous merchants from McDonalds, Starbucks, 7-Eleven, Bookstores to Cinemas and Swimming Pools. Why? Because carrying around a card and paying by a contactless ‘swipe’ is still less hassle than going down to the ATM and using cash at the POS (point-of-sale).

Customer behavior is what will drive mobile wallets – the search for convenience. The same imperative is why customers are looking to check their account balance, transfer funds and pay bills through mobile internet banking.

As Chris Dadd from the UK Mobile Data Association and RBS said today at the Mobile Commerce Summit in Manila:

“If mobile-based banking or payments are easy to use, fast, cheap, social and in the cloud the growth will be unstoppable…”

I’m sorry to say, but most of the banks I talk to are only now just considering mobile enablement. So realistically by the time they develop their iPhone App or get their act into gear we are at least 6-9 months away from workable solutions. That’s too slow. End of story?

Banks can accelerate their involvement in the mobile, social boom by being open and collaborative. By partnering with every telco, app developer and retailer they can think of, by encouraging (or forcing) card issuers to upgrade POS technologies, and by helping customer awareness of mobile solutions, banks can play a vital role as integrators of mobile into commerce and payments. In fact, banks should work on publish a channel SDK and put a partner program on their websites right now for this stuff – building it on the go.

If not, my guess is they’ll simply become spectators in the next big thing.

[1] “In South Korea, All of Life is Mobile”, NYTimes May 2009

Pervasive Banking or Irrelevance? You choose… (Huff Post)

In Mobile Banking, Retail Banking, Strategy, Technology Innovation on March 15, 2010 at 22:16

Why do we use cash? Why do we use banks? The basic premise is that banks are necessary to create a flow of cash and enable commerce, with built in protections. Secondly, they can hang on to our money securely, and although we don’t get much interest these days, we do generally have the protection of the FDIC or some other mechanism to ensure we never lose our deposit. However, these days when we deposit money it just generally sits on some computer as ones and zeros, we don’t physically (or vary rarely) go down the the bank and actually deposit cash over the counter. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I ever deposited or withdrew cash from a bank branch. I know I go to the ATM to get cash out, but all my deposits these days are generally electronic.

Banking is just not in your face anymore, it’s simply a utility we make use of day to day. The banks are the wires, the FED is the generator, and while the banks have traditionally owned the ‘meter’ (e.g. the branch, ATM) we’re seeing a rapid disintermediation of banks from the retail coal face. We are about to see the end of

Today I downloaded the new Bump enabled PayPal application for my iPhone. The app was launched at the SXSW event (South by Southwest) and on the iTunes platform yesterday, and it is a retail banking killer! We knew this was in the pipeline, but the launch of the app is something that we’ll look back on as one of those defining moments of this decade.

When PayPal launched none of the banks really took it seriously. In fact, most banks to this day don’t really interface with PayPal at all. Yet, for sites like eBay and Amazon approximately half of the payments made are done through PayPal today. Banks totally missed out on the opportunity to capture the online payments space, as did Visa, Mastercard and Amex largely – they took their time worrying about security, fraud prevention, and such things and in the meantime PayPal took truckloads of market share off them.

The same thing is happening in the mobile payments space right now. PayPal, POPMoney, Square, Verifone and others are making a play for the mobile payments space in earnest. Apple has a patent for integration of NFC (Near-Field Contactless or Near-Field Communications) payments into their next generation or 4G iPhone. Bankers are sitting back wondering what all the fuss is about…

Bump your phone to pay with PayPal

When PayPal came along bankers I knew said “no one would trust these guys enough to use them for online payments…” – they were so wrong. Now with mobile payments being discussed I’m hearing “no one will abandon cash for mobile payments, that’s not realistic…”. I’m not saying it will happen in the space of a few months, but over the next 5-7 years in developed economies I expect this to have a huge impact on the viability of ATM networks.

The problem with pervasive mobile payments is that the value proposition for my bank just got cut in half. In a very short period of time, I may never even have to use my bank’s ATM at all. I certainly won’t be using checks. In fact, the last check I wrote was more than a year ago – so I won’t miss them.

My phone becomes my debit and credit card. I can pay the plumber who comes to my house by just bumping phones with him. I can pay at McDonalds, Bloombingdales, Sears, Wall Mart or Marks and Spencer by swiping my phone across the top of a point-of-sale unit. When exactly would I need cash? Taxi cabs maybe? Nope, I can already pay for those with my contactless debit card – so my phone will work with that too. Buses and trains? Nope, in cities like Hong Kong, London and elsewhere I just use a contactless card (in HK it’s the Octopus, and London the Oyster). I’m guessing my NFC will work with those conventions too.

So where is the value of my bank in this equation? Remember the electricity network analogy? It’s not in the meter because banks aren’t pervasive enough. Banks have let card issuers (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, etc) become pervasive at the point-of-sale, and they’ve relied on branches and ATMs to be pervasive. But branches and ATMs are based on our need to physically deal in cash or checks. Those days are quickly disappearing.

The only solution for banks is to become more pervasive with their solutions and services. I won’t be going down to the branch to apply for a personal loan or a mortgage, you need to be ready as a bank to provide me that product when and where I need it. Point-of-impact is what I call this concept. When I’m online booking my next holiday, offer me a great personal travel loan built into the online experience. When I am walking into my favorite retailer offer me a cheap line of credit instead of me using my credit card, or offer me a discount for using your bank’s debit card – you could use location based messaging or point-of-sale technology to deliver the message. Put bankers out on the road at property shows with the ability to sign me up for a mortgage there on the spot, instant approval.

Go where I need you – don’t wait for me to come to you. Chances are, I’ll bump you off…

TV, Advertising, and Newspapers are dead – deal with it… (Huff Post)

In Retail Banking on March 14, 2010 at 07:14

See my original post on Huffington…

You know what – change is a funny thing. For me, I can’t wait untill I can watch all my movies and TV shows on demand instantly whenever I want without having to worry about which channel it’s on, or which device I’m going to use to watch it – just click and watch. I can’t wait till I can read my latest thriller I bought on my iPad while sitting at 35,000 feet depending (I’ll still read the hard cover at the coffee shop though!). I can’t wait till I can walk on to my next flight without needing a physical boarding pass, and I can’t wait till I do my first payment by swiping my phone instead of my credit card (in fact I already have really). For me technology adoption is not only a way of life, but it’s just plain cool.


I want to use my cell phone as a boarding pass

It is apparent, however, that some others amongst us, don’t really like all these new fangled internet thingys and are a little challenged by change. I was in one of my regular bank strategy sessions the other week when I challenged the concept of free-to-air TV. In BANK 2.0 I predict that free-to-air TV can not really survive beyond about 5-7 years, because with TVC Ad revenue plummeting, beyond the state financing TV stations there is simply no viable business model that can sustain free-to-air. Why I raised this issue was, with only 18% of TVCs even having partial ROI these days, that marketing teams had to start thinking about moving away from traditional broadcast advertising as quickly as possible to point-of-impact. It was at this point I was challenged by a member of the audience who shouted out “you’ll never get me paying for sports on TV!”. In fact, and this might seem just a little bizarre to those of you who live in other countries, recently a lobby group has come up with a campaign to ensure just that in Australia – it’s a website and massive TV/Print Ad campaign running in Australia at the moment called I’m sorry – that’s just … ridiculous – think new mediums people!!

No matter how hard you lobby, no matter how hard we want things to stay the same, there is an inevitability about the way technology adoption changes consumer behavior, and hence the way it changes business, consumption and transactions. The most coveted skill in business today should be the ability to accurately read these trends and help your organization adapt accordingly.

I know I’ve discussed it before, but the launch of electronic stock trading by Charles Schwab is a great example. Looking back even Merrill Lynch probably realize that this was a positive game changer. The reality is it really had to go this way eventually, regardless of who took the helm. The fact that we can use advisory sites, online research, and analytics tools to give us real-time information even better than what most (not all) brokers could gives us, says what it’s all about – where does the value lie? Not in a human interaction – but in the ability to execute the trade itself. Branches of banks face the same conundrum today.

For media content like TV shows, music, news it is likewise inevitable. Why should I wait until 8/9 central to watch that favorite series that I love, why can’t I just schedule it for download as it’s released online and then just watch next time I have a spare 40 minutes? Why would I physically walk into a music store to buy a CD – after all how can I get the tracks onto my iPod that way? Carry a newspaper on the train to read? Come on… These are all outmoded interactions; interactions that have no place in my life in the 21st Century.

You see these changes are inevitable. When Napster launched the recording industry went after the start-up and other similar businesses with the focus of a velociraptor, and for a time they thought they had succeeded. In 2008, however, 95% of songs were downloaded illegally, why? Mainly, because the recording industry failed to provide legal means to access this content online – they were too slow to adapt. When iTunes did provide a legal channel for the same – they made gazillions. In addition, artists actually can make more money in the digital age, while record companies provide minimal value in the value chain of the new world.

This is why I am choosing to embrace change. I don’t want to keep my free-to-air TV, my physical newspaper and my gas guzzling SUV – I am ready for change, and I recognize it is inevitable. If I am prepared for change, then I’ll undoubtedly capture those customers that are likewise ready for change, and they are the majority today. I can adapt or see my value chipped away until my business is worthless.

You want to join me?

Open Source Banking – the solution to lagging innovation (Huff Post)

In Media, Mobile Banking, Retail Banking, Social Networking, Strategy, Technology Innovation on March 14, 2010 at 07:13

See the original entry on Huffington Post

Since writing BANK 2.0 I’ve been meeting constantly with banks who either have such huge organizational barriers to rapid innovation or conceptually still don’t appreciate the need for rapid change around customer. In fact, this is a global problem. Banks know how to run banks, but as they are pushed more to be something more akin to software houses, design houses, and integrators, their organizations are just not built for new priorities.

Think of it this way, when Amazon first launched on the scene, other booksellers like Barnes and Noble were extremely resistant to the concept of online book sales because they were so heavily invested in a physical distribution model. So much so that B&N attempted to acquire the biggest wholesaler of books that Amazon used to put a halt to their success. The FTC and pressure from other independent booksellers scuttled that deal, and thus B&N were somewhat forced to attempt to mimic Amazon’s approach online to prevent further loss of market share. Having said that, today only 13% of B&N’s revenue comes from the online arena.

In many ways the physical distribution model is even more embedded within most banks, dominating not only the organization structure, but even the way the manufacturer and positioning of product is carried out. With time to market for new products measured in months or years, and with a dominance of metrics still based around channel silos and their revenue performance, it’s going to be even tougher for most banks to adapt to a psyche of continuous customer experience innovation around the internet, mobile phones, new media, branch automation, and P2P payments. Thus, despite the shroud of regulatory protection that is afforded by a banking license, we see third-parties whose innovation threatens to disintermediate banks quicker than ever.

Take PayPal’s success. PayPal’s commercial launch in late 1999/early 2000 went largely unnoticed by banks. Bank’s believed that customers were unlikely to put in their credit card details for a non-bank online company due to the risk of fraud and abuse, but today PayPal accounts for between 27 per cent and 50 per cent of online payments. No bank would attempt to argue today that PayPal is not a competitor in the payments space, but card issuers and banks failed to garner the sort of momentum in innovating the payments

The need for innovation is rapidly speeding up, and to be fair some banks are scrambling to respond to interest in mobile banking and social networking, but most are finding the reality of innovation difficult to master. The key stumbling blocks to innovation in the customer experience remain the long-held metrics for business unit performance being based around channel silos and revenue gains within those silos, along with organizational structures that still favor ‘retail distribution’ over ‘alternative channels’. Are banks doomed to fail?

For banks, the key must be to utilize their unique platform for transactional capability, and to extend their products to be as pervasive as possible. However, banks just don’t have the bandwidth to be everywhere they need to be as quickly as they need to be. Is there a way banks can extend their reach, but not be solely reliant on their own organization.

Let’s talk about Apple. Apple iPhone launched in 2007, but already it has over 180,000 applications available, they’ve sold over 36 million units in the last 2 years and have more than 1 billion downloads annually from their iTunes platform. Yet Apple develops just a very small fraction of the Apps available for the iPhone – the developer community does by far the majority of app development.

In respect to channel innovation, why can’t banks take the same approach? If banks created APIs (Application Program Interfaces) to hook into their transaction and product sales platforms, as long as their APIs looked after the security and compliance requirements, then third-parties could actually create the new interfaces, applications, bundled product and cross-sell opportunities that banks need to create for their customers.

As so much of the interaction between customers and the bank these days is done through electronic interfaces, let’s open up the development of these interfaces to innovative developers and the community. Let’s build collaborative social networking sites that allow customers to define product parameters and benefits, but where the bank executes the actual product application through their back-office. Let retailers of big ticket items integrate personal loans directly into their sale experience, airlines integrate travel insurance into their booking engine, and real estate companies integrate mortgage product into their property search engines.

Developing point-of-impact opportunities where bank product or services are integrated into customer experience is going to take more than an innovative bank. It’s going to take an open capability, a library of APIs, automated credit risk assessment and straight through processing. Once in place, however, these tools will enable almost unlimited innovation of the customer experience without the constraints of a bank organization chart, channel silos or outdated financial metrics.