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Big Data in Mobile Wallets; Symmetry and Simplicity

The rise of devices has led to a huge creation of data. When you include images (video and still) I can quite believe the revelation that “90% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years”.  (May 2013).

The technology companies that have emerged over the last decades have a huge advantages in this space, especially those that are effectively data businesses; the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon.  They are experienced in crunching petabytes of data to make “on the fly” decisions.

I’d intentionally put Amazon in the same category as the pure data businesses.  Although a retailer, they have truly been world class in their approach to data “symmetry”.  They make it very clear they are trying to improve your experience, showing you items you have viewed, purchased and saved.  They compare your preferences and behaviours to other users and show things that the consumer may like.  They also let you “edit” all of this.  This is a very important factor; allowing a consumer to be involved (and responsible for their experience).

Andreas Weigend (former chief scientist at Amazon) regularly gives examples of how Amazon helps customers make better decisions.  How they use indicators like gift purchases, so preferences aren’t skewed.  He also talks of how Airlines and loyalty schemes will let points lapse and what an odd notion that is.  I’d frankly agree that this is very old world thinking.  The commercials make sense on redemption rates or lapsing of eligibility.  Does that breed loyalty and engagement?  Is it healthy in the longer term?  Likewise, having a really clunky redemption experience.  No flights available.  And no helpful suggestions, prompts or use of data.  You can name and shame in the comments!

Weigend calls this “asymmetrical data”.  You as a consumer create the data.  There are organisations that keep all the data and make decisions without any involvement of the consumer.  That’s a very typical old fashioned financial services model.  And therein lies the problems.  The “Computer says No” approach isn’t a winning proposition in this space.

A Mobile Wallet has the potential to collect an awful lot of very useful data, beyond just purchasing behaviours.  And the winner in this space is likely to understand the power of the symmetry of data.  One example would be in the potential “monetisation” of data from payments.  Players like Monitise and Cardlytics are creating some fantastic propositions, none more powerful that extending the reach into geo location and social integration (and I won’t even get into the “internet of things”).

But as we’ve learned from Amazon, the importance of engaging the customer in this experience is crucial.  As a consumer I need to be able to control my data.  I need to input.  I need to be able to edit and have full transparency.  Geo data isn’t always accurate.  Some of my purchases are private, one offs (I don’t need other inflatable animals thank you).

And this is where the Simplicity comes in too.  The experience of being engaged, of being involved and controlling my data needs to be a very simple, easy and beneficial experience.  Just like Amazon have toiled to craft over the years.  If this is done well the consumer can see the value exchange.  And slowly but surely they are prepared to be more involved, more trusting and give more data because they see the benefits and feel in control.

Getting this right will lead to more relevance.  More engagement, better outcomes.  And most importantly trust.  Organisations that get it right end up in very strong, privileged positions and are very difficult to displace.  But it will take a great deal of capability in managing data.

Computer Says No; Asymmetrical Data in Action

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.


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