Just What Do You Do, Exactly?!

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

So ask the members of my family and, from time to time, colleagues at work.

Below is an actual customer presentation. This attractive, modern format developed to assist simultaneous translators – Turkish and Portuguese. At least, it’s not PowerPoint?

My job is to help executives see their customers in new ways as these customers are affected and influenced by the evolving capabilities of the Internet. I try to begin by reminding them that the Internet is less than 20 years old. In essence, we’re driving carriages powered by steam engines, an automobile of circa 1913.


1. Knowledge is no longer Power… As Everybody Knows.

This has been the promise and the accelerating capability of the Internet since its beginning.

Your opportunity is to help them to know.

2. In a time of multi- dimensional change, customers are changing also. Not just using Facebook and Twitter and taking photographs of every event In their lives, but also how they are trained & educated; how they manage their health; how they manage their financial futures. Coursera for online education. 3,000 medical apps in Apple AppStore.

Millennials, born in 1980s and 1990s, are a significant part of the workforce now and will inherit a significant {915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} of the wealth over the next 15 years. They expect to participate well beyond believing what they are told. AirBnBcom, for example, which ‘sells’ 200,000 rooms per night! If people are willing to trust their personal privacy and security in such physical environments organized over the web around the world, is it much of a stretch to imagine them managing finances in a similar way?

3. In an era of limited organic growth, profit making opportunities exist to do more with existing clients.

But we must see them differently and respond to their needs more precisely. Such insight requires more than a unified channel strategy or observing their click-stream behaviors.

4. Everything is mobile, well beyond the smartphone device. However, billions of smartphones to new users will be sold over the next 5- 7 years as there are 7B of us with 1.5B smartphones in circulation. It’s not too late for that killer app idea.

The Internet’s next generation of application will return to its original intent: not sending emails or photos, but machines, also known as sensors, will intercommunicate. This is the promise of Big Data. Also called the Internet of Things.

5. The manufacturing model of 1,000 years is changing. With the advent of 3D printers and the adoption of Google and Apple technologies in manufacturing processes, goods will be produced close to where they are consumed. Good for Fab.com fans.

6. It’s not What You Do, It’s Why You Do It.

For example from a favorite Swedish bank: ‘we believe that clients are the best managers of their financial futures; we will provide them the tools to manage their financial futures.’

7. USAA in San Antonio, Texas. Top 125 US company; full service banking and insurance; specialized customer base (US servicemen and their families). Consistently rated amongst best in customer service; twice ranked #1 ahead of Ritz Carlton Hotel. No branch network. Superior mobile portfolio.

Other examples are VanCity in Vancouver and Umpqua Bank in Portland, Oregon. Both have a personality and do not try to be all things to all customers all of the time.

8. When you visit the Apple Store(s) :), the one nearby on 5th Avenue is the most photographed property in Manhattan surpassing the Statue of Liberty! Highest sales per square foot of any retail store – anywhere. Sells 5 products!

If time permits, visit the Apple Store in Grand Central Station where what actually occurs in an Apple Store is more obvious. Answer at the back of the book= they are Learning Environments, not transaction environments.

9. Finovate Conference. New York in September and London in February. 64 start-ups demonstrate in a maximum of 7 minutes each their ideas for changing banking. One founder of PayPal presented in Feb 2013 in London. http://www.finovate.com/fall2013/

10. Recommend that you follow Chris Skinner’s Financial Services Club blog.
Based in London. Superior insight into trends and issues affecting major banks.

Recent KPMG 2013 Internet http://www.kpcb.com/insights/2013-internet-trends

50 good bank websites


Unified Field Theory redux or The Internet of Things: Education & Training

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Our family is in the midst of the university evaluation process for our younger son. This statement in no way describes the frustration and disappointment of this byzantine and nearly unreliable methods for trying to figure out how to best educate a child to compete in the global economy. (is this even the purpose of advanced education?). The methods and mores of fast food merchandising seem to have permeated the presentations by our own candidate colleges.

I’ve known that the value of college loans exceeds that of credit card debt and that credit card debt exceeds the total of mortgage debt in the US. Now I know how and why. During one college visit, I mentioned to its representative that $60,000 per year for a four year programs “is a lot of money; it doesn’t matter who you are.” She looked directly at me, paused for two beats and replied,”then you should probably know that most children take 5 or 6 years to graduate.” We calculated on the ride to the hotel that borrowing $40,000 over four years would result in a $250 per month payment for about 20 years. Continued assumption of such debt cannot persist.

And it’s all going to change and here’s how. I hope that you’ve heard of Coursera and the emerging world of Massive On-Line Open Curriculum. After all, what’s the difference between sitting at home in front of an iMac or in the back of the auditorium where the graduate assistant lectures to 300 in English 101?

Education and training, both formal and on the job, will be accessible as required and provided by those who are in the best position to educate. This could be a colleague, an expert from afar or even a machine who understands our needs. I think of Siri on the iPhone.

Our college-aged children have grown-up with tools for information access that were the stuff of science fiction when I was at that age. I was taught how to use the library, a quest for the information. Sources were limited. This is not their problem. They want to know what does it mean and how is this information best applied to them as individuals.


There are several warning signs of over-stimulation, inability to focus and just too much information hovering about the young student. Or else, teenagers are really still just teenagers. For now, let’s look at the good. They are able to follow their own threads of interest and learning. They can study at nearly any time of the day or week, i.e. the library is always open. They can collaborate with others from far away and at nearly no extra cost. They can travel in time by accessing videos of people and places that may no longer be with us.

Children, thanks to their own lifetimes of technology interaction, know how to access information. They require practical experience with emphasis on how to and when to apply this information. If basics are required, they’ll develop the building blocks at home taught by appealing instructors via the Internet. When hands-on experience is required, they’ll venture to that location. I doubt if any one of the presently structured university locations will will be able to offer it all, no matter how many latte bars or trimesters abroad that are promoted.

I envision a near future where the well rounded will describe their educations as a mixture of on campus, on line, practical experience and self-directed travel. They will be able to demonstrate skills based upon interest and learning. Expensively achieved degrees will not matter much to them or as much to their futures.