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…]

Why Financial Institutions Need Automated Deployment

heartbleed-new-backgroundIt’s a thing of mine… peo­ple talk about prod­ucts and their features/functionality and expect peo­ple to be able to relate those fea­tures to what mat­ters to them.

Let’s use Heart­bleed as an oppor­tu­nity to under­stand a real-world appli­ca­tion of CA LISA Release Automa­tion and how it would help finan­cial insti­tu­tions be more com­pli­ant with their reg­u­la­tory envi­ron­ment. As a bonus, we’ll see how auto­mated deploy­ment can make finan­cial insti­tu­tions’ mobile appli­ca­tions more secure in the future. [Read more…]

The Bank’s True Competition Isn’t Other Banks

WalmartFirst Star­bucks offers dig­i­tal pay­ments, now Wal­mart is offer­ing low-cost money transfers.

Banks aren’t only com­pet­ing with Sil­i­con Val­ley, they’re com­pet­ing with smart com­pa­nies who see a tremen­dous opportunity.

Why is it so hard for big banks to inno­vate their way out of this chaos?

Don’t you think banks should do pay­ments or money trans­fers bet­ter than some­one who’s never done it before?

If the banks are not care­ful, they’re going to be cut out of the value chain com­pletely (though every so slowly):

  1. Trans­fer­wise is 3 years old and has sent over £1B. “We dis­cov­ered that to get rid of these charges we sim­ply needed to skip the banks altogether .”
  2. If the mobile phone is the new bank branch, why wouldn’t the tel­cos own your bank­ing? Espe­cially if pay­ments are made via SMS.
  3. UK News­pa­per launches wealth man­age­ment ser­vices. Piv­ot­ing on trust: When it comes to money, trust is cru­cial and The Times and Sun­day Times have been the papers of record for the lat­est money, invest­ment and busi­ness news and advice for more than two hun­dred years…”

Unfor­tu­nately for banks, it’s not just about com­pe­ti­tion. It’s also about a chang­ing cus­tomer & mar­ket pro­file:

Mil­len­ni­als don’t have the same bar­ri­ers to switch­ing banks as their pre­de­ces­sors & they view safety as the oppo­site of inno­va­tion. Mean­ing, they’re not even going to think of the banks when they explore inno­v­a­tive alter­na­tives to tra­di­tional bank­ing products.

Mobile Banking vs Mobile Personal Finance

Bank Branch of the FutureFor the last few days, I’ve been wondering…

Why are there are never any mobile bank­ing apps on any lists of top per­sonal finance apps?

Here are a cou­ple of lists in no par­tic­u­lar order:

  1. Dig­i­tal Trends
  2. PC Mag

Prob­a­bly because banks think of them­selves as bank­ing com­pa­nies, not per­sonal finance ones. It’s unfor­tu­nate, because there’s so much value in help­ing peo­ple with their finances, rather than sim­ply giv­ing them a place to do their banking.

Speak­ing of places to bank…

Bank branches are a drain on banks and seem to be dis­ap­pear­ing. There’s a Dil­bert in there some­where, with pointy hair man­agers doing some mean­ing­less ROI and try­ing to fig­ure out how to jet­ti­son all the real-estate rather than fig­ure out how to cre­atively use branches to cre­ate a bar­rier to entry for com­pe­ti­tion and a source of dif­fer­en­ti­ated value (think Apple vs Dell, should you really care to have a tech­ni­cal comparison).

In an inter­est­ing arti­cle on the future of bank branches, we see this gem of research:

Focus groups showed Chase “Over­whelm­ingly, cus­tomers headed to branches for advice rather than to sim­ply go to the tellers.”

I inter­pret that insight as look­ing for advice in-comparison-to per­form­ing a transaction.

Trans­ac­tions are to bank­ing, as advice is to per­sonal finance.

Banks are com­pletely miss­ing the point when it comes to mobile. Peo­ple don’t only want bet­ter trans­ac­tion capa­bil­i­ties (trans­ac­tions are table stakes). They want bet­ter advice.

In fact, per­sonal finan­cial advice is where there’s a ton of inno­va­tion hap­pen­ing.

And, it’s prob­a­bly not just per­sonal finance advice, but bet­ter advice on how to take advan­tage of their bank’s ser­vices. I find all the ser­vices banks offer con­fus­ing, and I’m quite good at this stuff.

Cross Sell­ing vs Self-selecting Into an Ecosystem

The other thing about ask­ing banks for help that needs to change, if I ask the bank itself for advice I feel like they’re just try­ing to sell me more products.

If these banks want to copy Apple (as the arti­cle points out) they need to fig­ure out how to shift from cross-selling to a strat­egy of enabling peo­ple to ‘self-select into their ecosys­tem.’ (I can’t fig­ure out how to make that roll off the tongue any eas­ier, for­give me.) The end result is the same, but the approach is dif­fer­ent. With cross-selling, staff look to push prod­ucts on cus­tomers. With self-selecting, staff look to delight cus­tomers so that they choose to do more-and-more busi­ness with the bank.

The Pro­sumer

Finally, research shows that when peo­ple are really good at tak­ing advan­tage of their bank’s fea­tures they have a more pos­i­tive view of the brand. These peo­ple are often called prosumers.

Using branches to dis­pense advice & delight­ing cus­tomers instead of cross-selling them sound like two good ways to pro­duce more pro­sumers, which should, in turn, cre­ate a much more favor­able brand value proposition.

It’s Global

These changes are not lim­ited to the US by any mea­sure. In fact, inno­va­tion is hap­pen­ing in both Asia & Europe at a much quicker pace.

Funny thing is, UK banks weren’t sur­prised by the rapid shift to mobile trans­ac­tions.