Brett King

Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Could SOPA kill a bank website?

In Internet Banking, Media, Strategy on January 17, 2012 at 21:50

The PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011), is a proposed law with the stated goal of giving the US government and copyright holders additional tools to curb access to “rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods”, especially those registered outside the U.S. Both of these “Acts” would have massive impact globally, and could create absolute chaos. The PROTECT IP Act is a re-write of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act which failed to pass in 2010.

SOPA builds on PIPA. Known as the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA, is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Lamar S. Smith and a bipartisan group of 12 co-sponsors. The bill, if made law, would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.

As proposed, SOPA would allow the U.S. Government the power to block any website from both a DNS Lookup, and eliminate it from search engine results – without needing any court order. Due to the vague nature of the bill being passed through, this could create significant chaos. So what about for banks? Would SOPA/PIPA impact banks at all? Is it in the interest of banks to support or push back against these bills?

Enforcement process

The key problem with SOPA is around enforcement actions available to copyright holders and the US Department of Justice (DoJ). The enforcement actions are unilateral, brutal and extreme. Violators face immediate action against their site and/or business, and up to 5 years in jail for infringement. The fact that you might be in another country and not subject to US law, doesn’t really factor in this process.

If a violation is lodged by a copyright holder, or as SOPA defines it “the owner or operator of such Internet site is facilitating the commission of [copyright infringement]”, the site in question can be blocked at the DNS (Domain Name Server) level and removed from all websites. Payment providers (section (b)(1)) and ad networks ((b)(2)) are required, upon receiving a claim against a site by a copyright holder (section (4)(A)(i)), to cut off all services to the accused site within five days, unless they receive a counter-notification from the operator of the accused site. Note that there is no requirement that the accused be actually notified of the accusation, and thus, they would have no opportunity to provide a counter-notice. Probably the first you’d know about it is when your email stops working, or customers start calling letting you know your site is down.

The only way to provide a counter-notice to a claim or breach is to agree to submit to U.S. jurisdiction (section (5)(A)(ii)) if you are a foreigner, and to state under penalty of perjury that your product does not fit the definition of an “Internet site…dedicated to theft of U.S. property.”

The definition of SOPA around offensive ‘copyright violation’ behavior is as follows:

An `Internet site is dedicated to theft of U.S. property’ if [a portion of the site is US-directed] and is used by users within the United States and is primarily designed or operated for the purpose of offering services in a manner that enables or facilitates [copyright violation or circumvention of copyright protection measures].

This means that YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, Gmail, Dropbox and millions of other sites would be “Internet sites…dedicated to theft of U.S. property,” under SOPA’s definition. As far as being ‘US-directed’, any contact form that enables a US consumer to enter their details, would be in violation from this perspective.

There’s an excellent review of much of these specifics around the law and how it ties in with enforcement action on Mashable.

Scenarios to think about?

So what does this mean? To illustrate simply, lets say you post a video of your baby dancing to Beyonce’s new song, filming your kids song and dance routine of their favorite bands song, you post a review of a restaurant or show a photo of a new gadget you’ve purchased. The site you hosted it on would be banned from search engines, advertising companies would not be able to do business with that company and internet providers will be forced to block their customers from accessing those sites and you the uploader would be fined and sentenced to jail for 5 years on a 1st offense.

What about in respect to banks, banking content and possible SOPA violations?

Here’s a few banking specific scenarios that I identified from SOPA that could be problematic for banks:

  • A bank promotes an iPad or iPhone giveaway as part of an offer – unless you had Apple’s permission, you’d be in violation
  • The use of an image of a car or car brand in a motor vehicle insurance advertisement
  • Credit Card Loyalty programs that promote rewards using products would be in direct violation of SOPA
  • A contact form that allows a US citizen to apply for a pre-paid Visa Debit Card on a foreign website before they travel overseas on a trip.

Let me illustrate how ridiculous this is.

HSBC in Hong Kong offers a program of rewards for cardholders they call “RewardCash“. Their RewardCash e-Shop shows products like a Mophie Juice Pack, a Panasonic Rechargeable Shaver, Targus USB powered Travel Speakers, Victorinox 22″ Carry-on luggage, etc. Let’s say that one of those companies was trawling the web and found ‘image’ violations of their product, it could be interpreted that HSBC was using credit card ‘rewards’, miles or points as an alternative currency to sell those products and circumvent US distribution chains, and a complaint could be lodged with the Department of Justice. A similar complaint could be lodged if a brand owner feared fake products were being given away from this site. They wouldn’t need proof, just the ‘threat’ of potential impact to a US IP owner.

5 days later, HSBC.com (and other domains) would be removed from the DNS databases in the US and around the world, becoming totally inaccesible. While HSBC would have the right of recourse, the damage would be massive and very, very expensive. Internet banking would be down. The main website would be down. Staff email would be down.

Now, could this scenario really happen? It’s unlikely, but the point is that SOPA would allow such an action to be taken.

Imagine how much fun legal and compliance would have with this legislation?

A disaster

All in all, SOPA simply is a disaster for the future of business, free commerce and innovation. The Whitehouse Administration cautioned in a blog post last week that it would not support any bill that did not “guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small.” While this is not a direct condemnation of the proposed act, it seems probably that President Obama would veto this bill if it was passed into law – and he’d be right to do so.

The MPAA and RIAA lobby groups that have driven this law to Capitol Hill, should not be in a position where foreign banks could be brought to their knees by nonsensical legislation. This is very one-sided legislation.

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Your online marketing and website are broken

In Customer Experience, Internet Banking, Media, Offer Management, Social Networking, Strategy on November 9, 2011 at 12:42

There’s generally a very poor understanding of the dynamics of the role of the website in retail financial services interactions today. There is an acceptance that ‘some’ customers use the web, when deciding on a new financial services relationship, but not of the critical nature of the web in that choice. Let me explain how things are different from a behavioral perspective.

The inertia assumptions

Historically the majority of acquisition in the financial services space was either from brand marketing and/or campaign activity that drove a potential customer to purchase or apply for a Retail FS product/service.  There is an assumption that the web, social media, mobile and other e-channels support that goal as marketing channels where we can extend the brand and campaign paradigm. That is, we can broadcast more messages, perhaps with a tighter demographic or psychographic focus, to an audience that is more diverse in their message consumption.

The problem is that the Internet has been responsible for a significant process shift in buying behavior, namely that the dynamics of buyer response has significantly flattened. In the past marketing stimuli was used to create first awareness, then interest that led to the buyer mentally listing your ‘brand’ on a sort of short-list of providers, and then finally based on further marketing stimuli (promotion, pricing, location, features) the consumer engages with your brand for your product or service. This approach to marketing is all based on the premise that consumer behavior is latent or responds to a marketing message over a defined period of time.

Now with digital interactions being what they are, a consumer can go straight from research to purchase or need to application instantly. So the ‘stimuli’ works differently today, it needs to be a ‘live’ interaction strategy, not a message strategy that waits for a latent response. The loser in this context is the traditional marketing campaign mechanism, because a campaign is a latent stimuli tool, not an interaction tool.

The new engagement model

So in this new world, buying behavior is very different. Assume a customer needs a retail financial services product like a mortgage, a new bank account, a credit card or a personal loan – what does he or she do?

The overwhelming behavior today is to think about how they will apply for that product or service, with the least fuss. They will probably be largely ambivalent to their choice of financial services provider, in that, the fact that they have a bank account with you does not automatically mean they’ll come to you for another product necessarily. What the majority of customers will do is start by looking at their options – and for that they use Google (or perhaps YouTube) as their starting point.

This research phase is critical, because it is the empowerment of the customer. Them matching your product to their needs set. What’s critical in this stage is not the features of the product generally, but the utility of the product. Take a mortgage – how quickly can they buy their house, how much do they need to pay each month and how quickly will they own their  home? They don’t start by asking what are the early pay out fees, what’s the rate, and can they change their payment terms or habits midstream.

The concept that this research needs to happen at ‘your bank’ is a holdover from our traditional branch approach to FI product sales. In fact, we build our Internet banking sites just like a branch – assuming that you’ll come, ask some questions and then apply for a product. Most of the time, we won’t let you apply for a product seamlessly through our Internet branch, and we’re aiming to push you to a ‘real’ branch. This is inertia talking and it is counter-intuitive based on behavior today.

The easiest thing to do is simply shift me straight from research to a buying action once I have you online, but the more complex that is, the more chance that I’ll simply leave your Internet branch and go looking online for a faster path to the solution. What won’t happen is that I’ll suddenly be inspired to walk into your branch and start talking to a person after reading your website.

What the new web looks like

The new web we need to build right now is a set of tools to empower customers and help them complete the buying task they are looking for as seamlessly and as frictionlessly as possible. In that environment, the rolling promotions and offers we see dominating many retail FI websites today will be largely gone, relegated to simple landing pages connected to those dying campaigns.

The new website will be rich in imagery and process workflow for the engagement process, heavily personalized around what I already know about you, either through cookies, login or something like your facebook connected profile.

Additionally, the new website will be built from the ground up to be browser agnostic. It will work on a tablet, on a mobile phone, on a laptop with a whole range of resolutions and screen sizes – seamlessly. You won’t build buttons that require a mouse click, you can use your finger. You won’t populate with lots of text or links, when big images or stories will accomplish the same stimuli to an engagement.

Apple's website works as well on Tablet and Mobile, as it does online

Coming out of all of this will be a fundamental shift in marketing budgets and team structures. In just 3 years, 30% of your website visitors will be using a non-PC screen. Social media will represent 25% of your marketing budget driving brand advocacy and participation, and 50% will be on engagement and journeys, and the rest on a supporting framework of traditional media to build broader brand awareness.

The Total Disruption of Bank Distribution – Part 1

In Bank Innovation, Branch Strategy, Future of Banking, Media, Mobile Payments, Retail Banking, Strategy on July 5, 2011 at 13:13

There’s a philosophy I characterize as “Lucky to be a customer” within banking today. A customer comes to the bank, we make him jump through hoops we often call risk assessment, customer profiling or KYC, and then maybe, if they are not too risky a proposition, we might let them be our customer.

This philosophy comes not from a monopoly play as a brand, but an exclusive club we call “banking” where the barrier to entry has been so significant in the past that there has been limited pressure to change on the traditional modes of banking. This is evidenced by the fact that although in rapid decline, much of the world still sees cheques lingering as a popular form of payment, despite being roughly two thousand years old and hopelessly antiquated in form and function. The basics of branch banking haven’t changed in the last millennia either. It is very rare for a physical artifact like cheques or a distribution model to retain such dominance over such a long period of time. The normal process of iteration, competitiveness and technology improvement results in more frequent change at the front-end for other industries.

It is not difficult to understand then why bankers, when faced with talk of the threat of ‘disintermediation’ or rapidly changing distribution models, meet such with practiced skepticism. There’s still bankers today who doubt the future of NFC mobile payments, of social media’s impact and of a fundamental and dramatic reduction in support for physical branch network.

So what evidence is there that we face a fundamental shift in the way we do our banking, the way we handle payments, or deal with financial services and will this significantly affect the way the business functions moving forward? Or is it more realistic to posit that we are simply seeing a change in mix, with the fundamentals of banking too embedded into our day-to-day life to really change in a major way?

I’d like to propose the following lines of evidence for a major and disruptive shift in modality when it comes to bank distribution models:

  1. History shows incumbent players rarely win out
  2. Rapid acceleration of technology adoption makes change easier
  3. Massive spend in innovation at the front-end is occurring through disruptors
  4. The increasing gap between behavior and capability, and
  5. Transparency challenging revenue and friction

I will warn you that this is an extensive analysis as compared with my usual read-over-breakfast blog post, but given the importance of this debate I think it needs a thorough analysis and review. Over the next two weeks I will provide a detailed analysis on each of these lines evidence, starting with historical precedents. The impact of these changes will be a complete disruption in the distribution of retail financial services in the next 5-10 years. The following is the first component of the shift that is forever changing the retail financial services sector.

1. History shows traditional incumbents rarely win out

In industries where a virtual monopoly of infrastructure exists, change normally occurs over a long period of time, but when it does it is a typically through a tipping point scenario. Traditional players are not afforded any protection by means of their existing infrastructure or distribution model when a new and improved core technology emerges, or a massive change in consumption behavior takes place. Here are a few examples of massive, disruptive change in long-established, traditional industries:

Telegraph to Telephone to Mobile

To understand the disruptive nature of a massive shift in technology adoption, let’s look at Western Union. Western Union today is a financial services organization, but back in 1855 Western Union was a company that provided Telegraph services. Inflation adjusted, Western Union was capitalized at US$830 Million dollars ($41m actual) in 1876. By 1900 Western Union operated a million miles of telegraph lines and two international cables.

Western Union’s greatest threat came from a new technology, the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876, initially referring to it as a “talking telegraph.” Bell offered Western Union the patent for the telephone for $100,000, but the company declined to purchase it. Western Union could have easily gained control of AT&T in the 1890s, but management decided that higher dividends were more important than expansion. By 1900 the rise in telegraph traffic had slowed, and by 1930 the number of net messages was in decline. By 1909, AT&T had already gained control of Western Union by purchasing 30% of its stock.

Over the past decade, the impact that mobile phones have had on the use of landline telephones is equally as disruptive. In June of 2010, the National Center for Health statistics stated that one out of every four Americans has given up their landline phone and are now using their cell phone exclusively. AT&T reported a 7.4% decline in landline usage in 2007, and 9.7% in 2008. Verizon reported a decrease of 10.9% in 2009, while Qwest Communications had a 17% decrease in landline usage from March 2006 to March 2008. AT&T and Verizon dominate this industry, which brought in $340 billion in 2000. By 2016, revenue is projected to have fallen more than $200 billion in 16 years.

Who dominates the new space? Mobile operators. Not telegraph companies, or fixed line operators. Owning the wires or physical network infrastructure is not enough to save your business from changing behavior. Owning branches and payments infrastructure is the same thing. Consumer behavior trumps outdated networks.

In the midst of this you have defining moments around mobile platform too. You have Nokia usurping the #1 mobile player of the 90’s Motorola, and then iPhone doing the same to RIM and Nokia. Consumer behavior is the killer app – literally. It will kill your business every time unless you move with it.

Encyclopedia Britannica vs Encarta vs Wikipedia

In 1993 Microsoft launched the $99 Encarta encyclopedia. In 1991 Encyclopedia Britannica was doing sales of $450m a year (valuing the company somewhere north of US$1.5Bn), but the effect of Encarta on Britannica’s sales meant that the company was sold at a fire-sale event in January 1996 for just $136m to Jacqui Safra (a Swiss Billionaire financier). In 1991, a bound volume of Britannica sold for around US$2,000 with a $600 commission component going to door-to-door sales professionals distributing the publication. Today that sales force does not exist.

In 2009 both Encarta and Britannica were offered online in a limited form, for free, due to the impact of Wikipedia and Google itself. Search and content curation has replaced the traditional Encyclopedia. Owning traditional distribution networks was of no value in the end due to the shift from physical to digital artifacts. Even owning the content is of marginal value in the end because the fungible value of the raw content versus the collective consciousness of the living, breathing stream is not comparable.

Music, TV and Books

Today the biggest seller of books in the United States is Amazon. The biggest distributor of music is Apple. If I told you this 10 years ago it would have been unthinkable. A computer company selling Beatles Albums? Are you crazy??

“I think in five years, other than a few specialist booksellers in capital cities we will not see a bookstore, they will cease to exist,” Australian Senator Nick Sherry
The Age (14th June, 2011)

Borders, Blockbuster...who's next? Banks?

This shift in distribution powerbase has resulted in a complete disruption of the traditional music and publishing industry. Record labels, movie studios, booksellers, video rental stores, and others who relied on physical distribution models have been decimated. Borders, Blockbuster, MGM, countless newspapers, video post-production companies, and photofinishing facilities have simply been hammered by changing consumer behavior. It turns out that in 2010 65% of young people under 30 have turned to getting their news from the big bad Internet. No amount of wishing it isn’t so, lobbying congress, or trying to beef up regulations to protect existing businesses is going to save these dinosaurs.

IBIS World recently reported on dying business models and in respect to video rental and distribution it was quoted as saying, “price- based competition and ease of access has transformed the once-a-week Sunday night family movie session into an everyday possibility.” It’s not just Netflix either. We are downloading more and more content and abandoning the old habits of watching a show on a specific channel at a specific time. We watch content, not channels or networks.

So what does this do for TV?

Free-to-air TV itself is unlikely to survive, because the Ad revenue based model no longer works if you aren’t watching Ads as you fast forward through recorded content via your DVR or TiVo. While content might be able to make the shift to digital distribution, increasingly the model of 15 mins of TVCs every 1 hour of programming no longer works. How will you acquire customers and build brand when these broadcast methods of advertising no longer deliver ROI?

Next … The Rapid Acceleration of Technology Adoption

Google Wallet is not about Payments

In Engagement Banking, Future of Banking, Media, Mobile Banking, Mobile Payments on June 6, 2011 at 02:27

Last week Google announced their long awaited NFC-trial for mobile payments. On the face of it, many perceive that Google’s play is an attempt to cannibalize the lucrative payments market, but if that was the case, why has Google not taken a share of interchange fees from Citi and Mastercard? In addition, Google is supplying contactless point-of-sale units to merchants participating in the upcoming NFC trial free of charge. Why on earth would they do that?

It doesn’t make sense

In early May the Smart Card Alliance conference held in Chicago, Wal-Mart’s Jamie Henry was asked directly about the retailers plan in respect to point-of-sale. His reply was telling:

“We’re interested in helping to migrate EMV to the U.S. market. We view it as a much more secure transaction, and we want to provide our customers with the most secure transactions in the market place,” Jamie Henry, director of payment services with Walmart treasury organizations (source: NFC News)

Henry has said that 100 percent of Wal-Mart’s terminals already support EMV cards. However, when asked recently at the Smart Card Alliance Annual Conference about the role of NFC or contactless technology in the greater POS environment in the US, Henry was reported as saying

“There’s no business case for NFC yet”

Many bankers take a similar stance in respect to mobile payments support for NFC phones, stating that until contactless point-of-sale terminals have broad enough distribution, customers won’t be able to make use of their NFC phones and thus the expense of rolling-out a trial and investing in the supporting technology would be premature.

So why would Google, who admittedly have some pretty smart people in their team, not only invest in an NFC-trial, but also give away NFC point-of-sale terminals free of charge to partner merchants?

Maybe it does make sense

The thing is, Google sees the big picture.

NFC is not about payments modality alone. It’s not simply the shift from chip and PIN or contactless plastic to contactless mobile payments. It’s about what the mobile phone can do as a payment device that a plastic card can’t – it can give you context.

For example. The number one enquiry to retail banking call centers today is still “What’s my account balance?” Combining that piece of information with a payment device gives you a very powerful context for your everyday personal financial management.

If you are focused on a savings goal, I can show you the potential negative effect of making a big ticket purchase.

If you are at a retailer about to use a competitor bank’s credit card, I can offer you a no-interest payment plan through my bank.

I can tell you if you purchase that big flat screen TV that you won’t be able to make your mortgage payment due in the next 3 days.

I can offer you a really great deal at a retail outlet that you just walked into or you are walking past.

Google Wallet is simply a platform for Payment-based marketing

Google has worked out that the context of payments is perhaps the biggest advertising market ever to emerge, far more impactful and lucrative than search-based advertising. This is about offering you compelling, relevant and timely messages that improves your service experience in-store. This is about positive behavior on the part of your service providers that produces extraordinary loyalty through relevancy and responding to your behavior in a way that benefits you day-to-day, not just when you go to the bank to ask for something.

The future won’t be written by banks and marketing organizations that are passive. It won’t be written by marketers who broadcast message after message hoping you remember a brand when you want to make a purchase.

The future will be written by organizations who know you so well that they anticipate your needs, make it very simple for you to capitalize on the relationship, that saves you money and respects your time and privacy. Trust can be earned back, but it is about me trusting you enough to receive your offers and you not burning that trust with irrelevant direct mail, newspaper ads and TV commercials.

The future is messages wrapped around the context of a payment, and Google wants to own that space. It doesn’t look as if there’s really anyone ready to challenge them on that front.

Whatever you think of Google Wallet, it’s clear they have probably the most compelling business case of all for pursuing NFC payments, and it has nothing to do with competing with banks, but everything about owning the customer.

The digital relationship revolution

In Customer Experience, Engagement Banking, Media, Social Networking on February 21, 2011 at 18:01

Everyday we’re making choices in the digital and physical worlds between one brand and another. Sometimes we choose a brand because they provide us with great service, but sometimes it’s simply because they provide adequate service and there isn’t really a better option. Mostly the choice of the interaction isn’t about great service at all; it’s about convenience. Generally speaking it’s not because of their products or their so-called services. It might be the way in which they connect me to certain products or services, but it isn’t generally what they produce.

Some days I’m incredulous at how some organizations manage to survive based on their apparent single-minded dedication to frustrating an efficient and productive service relationship. Other days, I’m amazed at myself for the ease with which I accept such maltreatment and why I don’t have the energy to turn around and leave. Often, it is because I don’t have a choice, there simply isn’t a better alternative. Sometimes it is because, defeated, I accept that my exiting investment in the relationship is sufficient a reason for why I should stay, knowing that I’m not going to generally fair much better elsewhere or I would need to incur costs to make a change.

Why most service businesses suck

Most service organizations might start off with good intentions, but over time they build processes that are designed to standardize or make the delivery of their services more efficient and cost effective. Somewhere in the process of defining the most efficient instance of a process, many organizations appear to forget why it is that they have a business in the first place, namely – the customers they serve.

The act of simply documenting a business process, scripting a flowchart or coding business objects, could in itself, be the very thing that destroys an organization’s ability to react to the needs of its customers. Granted, there must be order… but when the creation of order dehumanizes the participants, or kills off the ability to offer exceptional service, then in the end, the process itself is simply killing the opportunity. Over time, that process is burdened by more ‘rules’ or policies that not only disrupt service capability, but also reduce the cost effectiveness of the process too.

Sounds dramatic? Maybe I’ve been watching too many chick flicks lately. Maybe my inner self is crying out for something better. So here’s the thing…

Doesn’t the digital space itself do the very thing that I’m suggesting? Doesn’t an electronic interaction break the service opportunity into components of a database, an expert system, a user interface, a channel deployment, or a touch-point? So how is it that I, a glorious technophile and champion of all things digital, is suggesting that service requires humanization, heart and flexibility?

The digital connection

Well…it might just be feasible that what social media is really doing today is more than socializing the web. It might be possible that this drive towards great usability, human interaction design, multi-touch, augmented reality, geo-location and connectedness is actually creating a digital service platform that could revolutionize the ability of an organization to look after me as a customer.

Social media is about connections. I’m connected with my friends, my family, my business associates, my old school buddies, but I’m also potentially connected with those organizations I interact with day to day.

I’m using my “App” phone and my tablet to do my banking, check in on my flights, send messages to friends, play games (I call this downtime), watch a movie or read a book. My relationships in this space can be deep, emotional and powerful, such as when I see a picture of my kids on Facebook while I’m far away on a business trip. They can elicit a smile, such as when I see a funny status update, or even when I have a great, and really simple engagement with a service provider; like downloading a book on Kindle, starting to read it on my iPhone and the finding my place again later when I turn on my Galaxy Tab or iPad.

Building better relationships

The concept that you can’t build relationships in the digital space, that face-to-face or human interactions can consistently provide better service experiences, is simply an excuse not to expand your view of connections.

The digital landscape doesn’t destroy relationships, it doesn’t always replace physical either, but the multi-channel space can definitely enhance relationships between a brand and a customer.

Computers don't destroy relationships...people do

When I anticipate your needs before you do and I present you with a simple, targeted and compelling journey – that is great service. When I show you can trust me because I don’t inundate you with irrelevant marketing campaign messages to your phone or inbox, but when I have something to tell you it really hits the mark – that is building a relationship. When I don’t treat you like an idiot by trying to convince you will have a smile from ear to ear if you simply change banks, airlines, brand of shampoo or which mobile carrier you are using – I’m showing you I can be honest, rather than believing you are naïve.

The art of interactive relationships is about building great journeys in a world of transparency, a world of increasing demand for service and simplicity, and where you don’t get points for branding, you get points for the ability to connect and deliver.

We can talk about PFM, personalization, direct marketing, behavioral economics, usability, interaction design, and other such buzz words incessantly, but ask yourself this…

Are your customer facing processes defining your organization’s ability to have a relationship with the customer, or are your thinking of new ways to enable relationships with customers every day?

Don’t tell me I have to do it your way because that is your process. Don’t tell me you haven’t deployed an iPhone App or you aren’t on Social Media yet because you don’t know where the ROI is.

Meet me in the middle. Try to understand me, and try to deliver what I need, when and how I need it. If you do that honestly and transparently, I will trust you with my commerce.

If you don’t – your just another brand using just another channel to try to get my spend. That’s not a great start to a relationship.

Finally, I’d like to thank my sponsors for this blog – the US Bureau of Citizen and Immigration (sic) “Services”, TSA, HSBC, Qantas, American, British Airways and United Airlines, countless hotel chains, and customs officials of many countries for their inspiration…