It’s Not Banking, It’s Personal Finance

Alibaba, China’s Amazon/eBay/PayPal mega-company, just dropped $192 mil­lion on a foot­ball team. Why? Straight from the CEO’s mouth: “We’re not invest­ing in foot­ball, we’re invest­ing in enter­tain­ment. Alibaba’s future strate­gies are health and enter­tain­ment.” (via Tab­Dump)

Banks are soft­ware com­pa­nies. As long as they think small, and refer to them­selves as bank­ing com­pa­nies they’re open to being out­flanked by com­pa­nies who think big­ger. Com­pa­nies that iden­tify with ‘per­sonal finance’ instead of bank­ing are going to win because they’re iden­ti­fy­ing with the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence (all the things one does with money) not with the inter­nal process (banking).

When banks make this men­tal shift, they’ll have the explo­sive growth expe­ri­enced by other sil­i­con val­ley com­pa­nies.

How Will Apple’s WWDC Next Week Impact Enterprise Mobile?

When I talk about mobile I find that I reg­u­larly switch between per­sonas — that of the enter­prise employee1, the enter­prise part­ner (think B2B), and the enter­prise cus­tomer (think B2C).

What’s going on in the con­sumer space seems to be dri­ving a lot of mobile in the enter­prise. How­ever, I don’t believe there’s nearly as much “inno­va­tion” in the enter­prise as there is out­side of it.

This year’s WWDC announce­ments will be excit­ing as a con­sumer. How­ever, they’ll fur­ther frag­ment con­sumer mobile from wide-scale enter­prise mobile capabilities.

I don’t believe IT is ready for the sort of mobile adoption/use that we encounter in our daily lives out­side of work. And IT are los­ing ground.

Why is it eas­ier to get an Über cab than it is to reserve a con­fer­ence room? Why?! [Read more…]

  1. I believe that at a fun­da­men­tal level employ­ers com­pete for employ­ees, and younger more tech­ni­cal savvy employ­ees will start to choose com­pa­nies that enable them to work the way they live which will in turn put a lot of pres­sure on IT to inno­vate. As such, employ­ees make for a very impor­tant per­sona to con­sider when it comes to mobile, UX, and the way we incor­po­rate tech­nol­ogy into our daily lives. []

Mobile Banking Apps, Why Do Banks Think It’s OK to Have Just One?

Mobile Banking AppsI’ve been think­ing about mobile bank­ing apps a lot recently. A cou­ple of weeks ago I saw arti­cles from both Chase & Citi about the impor­tance of their mobile bank­ing app. Each time I was struck by the impli­ca­tion that The App was enough. That The App was the end-game.

I believe this sort of think­ing results from a lack of insight about the true impli­ca­tions of mobile. It’s sim­ple trans­fer­ence — we have a web­site so there­fore we need a mobile app. Done. Let’s move on.

This think­ing is flawed.

I Was At A Loss For Words

My chal­lenge became find­ing the right metaphor to help peo­ple under­stand why this think­ing is flawed (and what to do about it). Espe­cially since I believe it’s urgent that banks under­stand this before they get dis­rupted even further.

I love Face­book as a mobile exam­ple. Post IPO Facebook’s stock price dropped. There was a lot of con­ver­sa­tion around their rel­e­vance in mobile. They’ve since recov­ered and showed incred­i­ble mobile suc­cess, so they’re a com­pany we can look to as an example.

As the world has gone mobile, though, Face­book has famously learned that one app to rule them all sim­ply doesn’t work. Instead, com­plex­ity and inter­con­nect­ed­ness needs to move under the sur­face, con­nect­ing indi­vid­ual apps like a dig­i­tal Pando Tree.

(Ben Thomp­son, report­ing from Face­book F8 Con­fer­ence ’14)

Face­book believes that “one app to rule them all sim­ply doesn’t work”. In fact, other promi­nent com­pa­nies are tak­ing their lead — NY Times, Foursquare, and Google are examples.

As metaphors go, using Face­book, Foursquare, and Google made for a dif­fi­cult leap of faith from the metaphor to bank­ing. I mean, a bank is a very dif­fer­ent com­pany than a software/media com­pany. Or so com­mon think­ing goes1.

I needed a bet­ter exam­ple. I found one in Hotel Tonight. [Read more…]

  1. We may give lip ser­vice to ‘every com­pany is a soft­ware com­pany,’ but it’s a posi­tion that’s not yet embed­ded in our intu­ition or mus­cle mem­ory when we approach banks to sell them soft­ware or solu­tions []

Burying the URL

Last week a build of Chrome got rid of the URL. It’s an exper­i­ment. How­ever unlikely bury­ing the URL is to catch on, it’ll be the time when enter­prise tech­nol­ogy goes over a cliff so high you’ll never hear Enter­prise IT’s screams.

Why would Google do this?

Unlike other mod­ern tech­nolo­gies that have hid­den as much com­plex­ity as pos­si­ble, web browsers have con­tin­ued to put this tech­ni­cal arti­fact top cen­ter, dots, slashes and all. The noble URL caused a rev­o­lu­tion in shar­ing and publishing.

It is also a usabil­ity tarpit that directly com­petes with search.

Google moti­va­tion for bury­ing the URL is to replace the URL with search. Com­pletely under­stand­able. In fact, two of my favorite smart peo­ple have pointed out that it’s how most peo­ple use the web anyways:

real­is­ti­cally, this is con­cep­tu­ally how most peo­ple use web browsers any­way, and it’s been this way for a long time. They’re just cod­i­fy­ing this sad real­ity into the inter­face. (via Marco Arment)


It seems to me that search has long since become the default nav­i­ga­tional tech­nol­ogy of the web, with the main user-focused enhance­ments com­ing from pre­dic­tive and his­tor­i­cal results, auto­matic col­lec­tions of commonly-used sites, and so forth. By con­trast, hyper­link nav­i­ga­tion and explicit cura­tion of book­marks are for the tiny minor­ity. Humans just don’t use the web that way. (via Matt Gem­mell)

So What?

Have you ever tried to use search as the pri­mary brows­ing inter­face on your company’s intranet?  

I real­ize Chrome isn’t used much in the enter­prise and that you’ll always have a choice to use a URL any­ways. That’s not the point. The point is:

Intranets no longer resem­ble the Internet

I’m work­ing on a thought-piece about the bifur­ca­tion of the intranets from the Inter­net. Chrome’s bury­ing the URL, though unlikely to ever show up for real in this man­ner, should be a wakeup call. It’s a great exam­ple of how enter­prise IT is diverg­ing enter­prise tech­nol­ogy from con­sumer tech­nol­ogy in a way that’s cre­at­ing two irrec­on­cil­able branches of tech­nol­ogy. At some point the tech­nol­ogy used inside com­pa­nies will sim­ply not work the same way as outside.

Imag­ine if the only way you could com­mute to work would be to learn to drive a stick shift1?

If this intranet/Internet bifur­ca­tion hap­pens, com­pa­nies will no longer be able to catch up. They’ll have taken a wrong path & will need to back­track or die.

The Answer

The answer is to turn the intranet into a soft­ware inno­va­tion plat­form2 that resem­bles the mod­ern Inter­net. I’ve got a ref­er­ence archi­tec­ture for that too. If you’re a CA employee drop me a note at my CA email address and we’ll talk.

  1. This anal­ogy is only for my Amer­i­can read­ers! []
  2. I’ve been using the phrase ‘inno­va­tion plat­form’ & have been asked where it came from. It came from me. []

The Obvious Insight to Mobile Payments

Mobile Payments Are ComingBen Thomp­son at Strat­e­ch­ery wrote a few inter­est­ing words on Mobile Pay­ments (that the NY Times sub­se­quently copied).

I believe peo­ple aren’t using Mobile Wal­lets because they suck. In a world where we’re com­plain­ing about an extra click (or touch) to do some­thing in an app, how can you look at cur­rent mobile wal­lets and have any doubt about why peo­ple (not users) haven’t adopted them?

The answer to cre­at­ing a mobile wal­let that suc­ceeds is a sim­ple 2 steps: [Read more…]