It has been 96 hours (give or take) since the Google's announcement that rocked the mobile payment space. During that time, I read literally dozens of news reports and blog posts to help me understand what this announcement really means. Incidentally, I found a great article that explains how this partnership will work.
Here is my take.
The embedded NFC chip in phones is the most exciting part of the announcement. In order to get mobile payments off the ground, NFC chips must be embedded in phones (unless we all want a sticker on our phone - ugh!). We got step closer with the Google announcement and will now wait for Apple's inevitable announcement on the same point.
Google got their mobile payment architecture right. The focus on existing providers (i.e. MasterCard, Citi, First Data) is the way to go. Reinventing the payment verification and settlement process is not smart and Google avoided that.
Vendors can now start innovating. The embedded NFC chip and associated standards will do for mobile payments what the embedded camera did for mobile deposit. It gives an innovative vendor the opportunity to take advantage of a technology well integrated in a mobile device. The winner here is not Google (from a mobile payments perspective at least), but instead the next "Mitek Systems" that will take that embedded chip to develop a mobile payments service.
Though Google’s announcement of its new Wallet product is unlikely to be terribly disruptive initially (see Charlie Golvin’s post about it), it does signal yet another point of complexity facing eBusiness professionals today. We’ve been writing about this topic and advising clients about how to address it all year. We expect this subject, fundamentally agile commerce, to be a persistent theme for quite some time. So I thought it would be a good time to pull some of the good work my colleagues have been doing together around this topic of multitouchpoint proliferation (that’s a mouthful).
Why do you use the remote to change the channel on your TV? An airplane to fly across the country? A microwave to heat up food? Why -- because it is convenient. Consumers will adopt and use convenient services and products. In mobile, this means services that offer immediacy and simplicity through a highly contextual experience. If my gate changes for my flight leaving in 40 minutes, I want to know now -- there is value in knowing now or immediately. If I want to donate money to the flood victims in Louisiana, it is simpler to send a quick text message rather than write a check and mail it. If I want to eat Thai food near my home, I want to find a restaurant in San Francisco -- near my location (context). Using my phone that leverages my location through GPS is simpler than typing in a neighborhood or address.
Mobile phones are convenient tools to do many things today -- refill a prescription, deposit a check, navigate, check Facebook, or get email. The list of convenient services on mobile phones is going to continue to grow. Why? Because contextual information is going to get a lot, lot richer. Today, context is primarily the location of an individual, their stated preferences, or past behavior (e.g., purchases). This information is gathered as consumers use their mobile phones for navigation, news, and shopping. The information collected will become much richer for two reasons. First, consumers will use their phones to do more things (e.g., change channels on the TV, monitor glucose levels, and open their car doors). Second, devices will have sensors such as barometers or microbolometers that collect more information passively about the consumer’s environment. The available information is becoming richer -- companies that want to deliver contextual experiences must evolve their expertise.
I recently had the chance to catch up with Paul Papas, Global Leader of Smarter Commerce at IBM, to understand what impact the transition to agile commerce is having on IBM, its business strategy, and its organizational structure.
Forrester: Paul, thanks for taking some time out to talk to us about agile commerce. We have been continuing to talk to clients about the evolution of their business from channels to touchpoints that span mobile devices, social networks, advertising, marketing, traditional channels, and various places online. How are you looking at this and what does it mean for your business?
Mr. Papas: Our view is that there’s a very strong and consequential change taking place as the result of the huge surge in the use of social networks and mobile devices. It’s this, customers expect to do business on their own terms, and most organizations are unprepared for this today. This is not only changing how companies and their customers interact, it is thoroughly changing what customers value and expect from companies. One example is this notion of immediacy. People are turning to their smartphones, tablets, and online communities for instant satisfaction -- finding discounts and recommendations, based on their current location -- all available to them at the instant they decide to buy. This is adding intense pressure for businesses to adapt to provide value, personalized and sensitive to the moment or instant, anywhere -- and to do so continuously.
Many eBusiness professionals -- inspired by the business results they have seen at home with chat including call deflection, increased conversion, and enhanced customer satisfaction -- are expanding chat into their international Web sites.
While the elements of a successful chat transcend borders, the components to a successful international deployment can be complex. eBusiness professionals must consider their international markets, their international readiness, and what localization will be required to be successful. To assist in meeting these challenges, we published a document today called, "Taking Chat International: Paving The Way To Success Through Effective Localization."
One of the more complex challenges is managing translation. Some of the key questions include:
Should you hire native speakers or translate during chat sessions? Hiring native speakers is ideal, but not always practical. Alternatives include training chat reps to identify variations in spelling, grammar or vocabulary between different audiences or using translation technology.
What will be needed from technology to support multi-language agents? Key considerations include what it will mean to business processes when an agent supports chat sessions coming in from different languages, the impact if agents will need to search for answers in one language and push answers to consumers in another, and the impact of multiple languages on your maintaining an accurate knowledge base.
Financial services firms need to support customers via a growing number of touchpoints. The fast growth of tablets like the iPad mean they are rapidly moving onto that list — Apple has sold 14.8 million iPads in only nine months, and we expect that by 2015, 82 million US consumers alone will be using tablets.
Tablets combine some of the best features of smartphones and PCs to create unique benefits for users and the eBusiness executives who want to reach them. They enable financial services eBusiness executives to develop services that are fast, rich, collaborative, portable, and - last but not least - cool.
These unique characteristics have only limited advantages compared to PCs and mobile phones for self-service interactions like transactional banking and stock trading for the majority of consumers. In fact, we expect that mobile banking has far more potential to become the dominant channel for day-to-day banking in the future.
But thanks to their portability, social acceptance, and rich collaboration capabilities, we expect that tablets will have a big impact on how financial advisors sell to and service customers face to face. Tablets can help advisors to be more flexible about where they deliver advice and enable them to provide advice more effectively and efficiently.
As tablets become more widespread, eBusiness and channel strategy executives need to optimize their browser-based websites for tablets, define a tipping point to decide when to build native tablet apps, develop services that make use of the devices' full potential, and review whether and when to replace the tools advisors use today.
If you want to read more about this topic, I encourage you to read the full report here.
A few weeks ago, my colleague Martin Gill and I took a stroll around London in order to see what retailers were doing in their multichannel efforts. Martin challenged me to do a similar walk-through of the Fifth Avenue stores here in NYC, and our results were largely similar.
The Club Monaco store was an exciting start given its proximity to our offices (directly below). It displayed QR codes on its windows which, in the right sunlight, led my mobile device to a YouTube video.
The effort was nice but served more as an engagement tool, not really anything that would help to drive sales.
The walk around was characterized by a few key themes:
Absence of multi-touchpoint approach. After Monaco, I encountered Ann Taylor Loft, LensCrafters, and American Apparel, none of which had anything beyond their traditional store experience. From the lack of multichannel signs (not even a URL on the window!), users might not know the Internet and phones existed, let alone the wide array of opportunities (QR codes, location-based notifications) that retailers have at their disposal.
Missed opportunities. Aveda had a large charity promotion going on in its store. However, there was no signage with a website link, no mention of Facebook, and no effort to drive the event beyond the store’s windows.
I cover the recommendation engines space for online retail and got a call recently that one of the better-known players in the space Rich Relevance acquired a smaller but specialized player in the space CNET Intelligent Cross-Sell. It’s a bold move and one that strengthens Rich Relevance in the consumer electronics vertical, and it also seems to be a trend. We’ve received a lot of these kinds of calls recently — eBay acquiring GSI Commerce, Nordstrom acquiring HauteLook, Shutterfly acquiring Tiny Prints, and Walgreen’s acquiring drugstore.com. And this follows a slew of acquisitions over the past few years by players like IBM, Oracle, and Adobe trying to enrich their retail suites. Rich Relevance didn’t tell me specifics like deal terms, but it seems to point to bigger factors affecting eCommerce these days:
Wicked competition. There have just been too many point solutions in eCommerce. Walk the exhibition floor at Shop.org or Internet Retailer, and it’s dizzying to see how many niche needs that eCommerce platforms don’t serve are delivered by third-party players. It’s overwhelming for anyone tasked with managing an RFP to make sense of it all. On top of that, there are all sorts of inexpensive (even free) solutions that promise a good-enough solution for everything from analytics to recommendations, so the need to partner up and go to market as a united front just makes sense for so many smaller players. As for traditional (and even established web retailers), they struggle with being nimble. As the expression goes, “When you can’t beat ‘em . . .”
Thank you for your interest in reading our Agile Commerce post in Portuguese. After we published the original post in English, we noticed a number of clients and readers of the blog discussing the post in other languages across various social channels. We decided to make translations of the post available in a few of those languages to further a conversation on one of the big ideas we’re writing about in eBusiness & Channel Strategy. At this point, our translated posts are simply a trial. Forrester’s other blog posts and our syndicated research reports remain available only in English, but we look forward to your comments on how you see the ideas presented playing out in your area.
Obrigado pelo seu interesse em ler o nosso post sobre agile commerce (“comércio ágil”) em português. Depois de publicarmos o post original em inglês, percebemos vários clientes e leitores do blog discutindo o post em outras línguas através de vários canais sociais. Decidimos disponibilizar as traduções do post em algumas dessas línguas para ampliar a discussão de alguns dos principais temas abordados por nós em eBusiness & Channel Stategy (Comércio online e estratégia de canais). Por enquanto nossos posts traduzidos são simplesmente uma experiência e os demais posts do blog da Forrester, assim como nossos relatórios de pesquisa sindicalizados, continuam disponíveis apenas em Inglês. No entanto estamos ansiosos pelos seus comentários e para saber como você vê as ideias aqui apresentadas na sua área.
Thank you for your interest in reading our Agile Commerce post in Spanish. After we published the original post in English, we noticed a number of clients and readers of the blog discussing the post in other languages across various social channels. We decided to make translations of the post available in a few of those languages to further a conversation on one of the big ideas we’re writing about in eBusiness & Channel Strategy. At this point, our translated posts are simply a trial. Forrester’s other blog posts and our syndicated research reports remain available only in English, but we look forward to your comments on how you see the ideas presented playing out in your area.
Gracias por su interés en el post de nuestro blog sobre el comercio ágil. Después de publicar el post original en inglés, nos hemos dado cuenta de que clientes y lectores del blog lo habían discutido en otros idiomas a través de los canales sociales. Hemos decidido traducir este post en algunos de esos idiomas para poder continuar la conversación sobre una de las ideas más importantes escritas por nuestro equipo de eBusiness & Channel Strategy. Por el momento estos posts son una prueba, los otros blogs de Forrester y los estudios seguirán estando disponibles solamente en inglés. Esperamos sus comentarios sobre este post y como sus ideas se aplican en su región.