Archives for posts with tag: Social Context

Context-based-customer-experience-3As this year’s Mobile World Congress has wrapped up, the level of excitement in is brewing, quite literally, in the air. Beyond the product promotion and marketing efforts during the event, a few weeks prior a couple of key announcements by two major airlines were made that could further push forward efforts in mobile proximity and payments, again through the critical lens of a deep understanding of the context of customer experience.

JetBlue was first to the tarmac on February 10 with the announcement to support Apple Pay on select flights. The announcement outlines plans to equip onboard employees with 3,500 NFC-enabled iPad minis, which, in turn, allows for customers with the latest iPhone Apple Pay access and integration to in-flight services. With a deep understanding of the captive context, often struggling to pull out wallets and credit cards in cramped quarters, they will now be able to simply tap a button on their, typically more accessible, mobile phone. Moreover, the service will be linked to customer profile data that will enable crew members to identify frequent fliers, birthdays, and other information to improve the customer experience for tired travelers.

This initiative covers some of the key elements of effective customer experience, both empowering front line employees with the right information in the right context, and delivering convenience and simplicity to the hectic world of airline travel, especially for their top tier business traveler customer segment. From a technology side, the link between the iPad mini’s and iPhone 6 NFC and BLE capabilities, removes the requirement for wi-fi, a common impediment that hindered prior efforts across industries.

Moreover, the ‘halo’ effect of seeing your seat neighbor simply pull out their mobile device to get in flight services is a big win for Apple to migrate their customers to the new iPhone. As Wilson Kerr, VP at Unbound Commerce notes “Another very real upside of showcasing Apple Pay in the tight confines of a plane is that early adopters will be watched by all those nearby. The powerful ‘that was cool, how do I get that’ factor” is at play.” These same services will also be available on the upcoming Apple Watch, so fliers will soon make in flight purchases from their wrists.

Not to be outdone, Virgin announced on February 25, that it will be the first US airline to integrate with Visa’s new offering, Visa Checkout. As a multi-device backbone and similar to the Apple Pay model, it will not require customers to enter credit card information to create a low friction transaction while in flight via the Virgin dashboard, for those who have opted into the service. Adopting and differing from JetBlue, Visa is adopting another key theme in customer experience. That is, placing the customer’s decision first in device and access preference.

Visa Checkout will be available for fliers on any digital platform and mobile device based on the user’s preference and device. The service will leverage Visa’s ‘tokenization’ encryption standard, announced at last year’s Mobile World Congress. Again, with a deep understanding of the flier’s customer experience, Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer at Visa notes, the service is designed for one-handed use as most flyers airport movements are walking with one hand one their luggage and the other on their mobile phone. In this hotly competitive space, those nuances can be the ‘make or break’ for success in this space, with each player taking a different tactics based on their underlying differentiators.

There are many additional players in this race to reference, such as KLM’s social initiatives,Samsung Pay and its LoopPay acquisition, PayPal’s efforts, and the recent shutdown of Softcard (a Telco initiative) in order to migrate to Google Wallet, Virgin’s proximity implementation at Heathrow Airport, and on and on. These efforts all point to the same conclusion, airlines are moving quickly in mobile payments and proximity. Critically, these initiatives are primarily with technology providers and their alliances with payments back end service offerings.

What is a retail bank to do with these new entrants outside of their sector? Well, at the Mobile World Congress, Francisco Gonzalez, CEO of BBVA, is optimistic about the competition, “there is a threat element which I like because banking needs competitors. We need to be more efficient but we can also collaborate with them.” BBVA acquired US mobile banking startup Simple for $117 million and is collaborating with Dwolla on online payments. However, Gonzalez did note the legacy challenges at MWC. Similar to its peers, the bank’s legacy IT, termed at the conference, as a ‘spaghetti platform’ is an inherited legacy disadvantage. Still, Gonzalez committed to shaking up that model. Currently, just 3,000 of its 110,000 staff work on the digital side, but Gonzalez noted that in five years he is planning it would be a majority of the workforce.

So, after many false starts, could this be the break out year for mobile payments and proximity driven by a customer experience, context driven, and functional integration strategy? Are we no longer at the 33,000 view of the mobile payments in this sector but on the tarmac? Simply stated, if one were to follow the M&A and investments to date, this could be a major, and long awaited, push forward. Those enterprises deploying strategic mobile customer experience components in place today will be well positioned to swiftly navigate the upcoming market turbulence, and will be well positioned for the win. What was formerly on the horizon is finally moving to the forefront.

Note this post previously appeared in TCS Enterprise Insights.



Rapid consumer adoption of mobile devices is changing customer engagement, enabling the power of context-based interactions. Legacy local and social interaction models are now becoming hyper-local and hyper-relevant social models. As noted in prior posts, context is increasingly the foundation of the next wave of customer engagement.

Moreover, the focus on micro-contextualizing the barrage of data customers receive each day, the long standing customer engagement goals of ensuring the right person receives the right message at the appropriate time and location, are now becoming technologically a reality with the increasing number of mobile and social solutions being adopted. The ability to create seamless, end-to-end, functional integration out of these touch points will be a critical success factor for future customer engagement strategies. In turn, this will require deep analysis of customer interactions via tools such as customer journey mapping and associated big data analytics tools to gain understanding on when, what, and how to engage the new mobile customer.

As we plan our holiday travels, let’s take developments in the automotive sector as an example. Google’s 1.1 billion acquisition of Waze last year is a clear indicator that the race for localized, context based information to increase driver engagement is a key piece of its “localization at scale” strategy. Andy Elwood, Director of Business Development at Waze has publicly agreed stating that “context is the new search”.

Further down the road 

Another interesting play is Gas Station TV. It started as a pilot in Dallas and has grown to more than 2,600 stations in 42 states. It was recently acquired in June by Rockbridge Growth Equity for an undisclosed sum. According to the CEO Leider, “We like to say that our consumer is tied to our screen with an eight-foot rubber hose for about five minutes fueling. So we’ve got this very, very captive audience — and they’re bored … when people pump gas they have nothing to do.”

Through Gas Station TV’s contextualized information pushed to a captive customer base, their service becomes an extremely valuable marketing proposition for the automotive industry, in addition to nearby large and small businesses.

Tie that together with the recent Songza purchase by Google, a music service that relies on combining contextual algorithms and human curation, we are beginning to see the elements of functional, seamless integration of various touch points being put in place. This is no longer simply a vision based on vaporware. Right now, on your holiday driving journeys, you can expertly navigate the traffic jams via the Waze crowd sourced app, take advantage of personalized and relevant offers while filling up via the Gas Station TV. Once finished, you can turn on the music and receive contextualized music related to your personal interests, time of day, weather, and geography.

As noted earlier, customer experience complexities lie in tapping deep expertise in designing the right customer journey to fit the right functional integration of the various touch points, channels and services, and, critically, when, how, and where the customer interacts with these interactions. The advantages of this integration are clear to the customer. The advantages to the technology enabled business ecosystem supporting this integration is also becoming increasingly clear to market leaders. The question lies in whether you are driving your business in this direction, or are perhaps stuck in neutral? Happy travels!

This post first appeared on TCS Enterprise Insights.

The next major battlefront in technology will take place in your living room… and your dining room, kitchen, bathroom, garage…. The major players in both hardware and software – Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Amazon – are all taking position in the field, getting ready to square off. All of these big guns have already made their way into the home through gaming and entertainment, whether on console platforms or via the mobile device that never leaves your side. This has created a beachhead to give access to the whole home ecosystem, enabling them to drive deeper into the home and providing them with deeper customer insight they can deploy across their entire relationship with the consumer across every kind of device.

The major players in both hardware and software are aiming to gain access to the whole home ecosystem and deepen their relationship with the consumer across every kind of device.Let’s look at some of the recent moves the combatants have made that are changing the game of customer experience:

  • Apple announced HomeKit, a set of tools that will let users easily control home devices (heating and cooling appliances, refrigerators, lights, webcams, security systems and so on) from their iPhone or iPad.
  • Google acquired Nest’s sleek smart thermostat system, and is moving rapidly toward an integrated strategy that will extend its presence across the home ecosystem through Google Wear, Glass and Watch.
  • Samsung just announced the acquisition of home automation start-up SmartThings.
  • Amazon is buying Twitch, an online video platform and community for gamers where people discuss games or watch others as they play.

What is all this activity really about? Context. Individually, products alone provide singular features and offer value within their respective functions, whether that is a thermostat, security, time, or gaming. But combined, the way the parts work together create sources of customer value far beyond their individual use. In a way, these tech companies are trying to avoid themistakes made by the U.S. railroad industry in the mid-20th century. Railroad companies focused on their product (trains) rather than on the context that customers had for them (transportation). As a result, railroads were basically kicked to the curb as people flocked to the cars and highways that still form the main transportation arteries throughout the U.S.

To succeed, companies need the ability to create customer value in a multi-contextual world. Simply put, context is king. The ability to create more and more channels to enter the ecosystem, whether via mobile apps, home sensors, and games, creates a competitive advantage and, as a whole, a frictionless customer experience. Crucially, these services need to be designed with a holistic view, as the value of the ecosystem is both a competitive necessity and an emerging customer expectation of seamless integration. Moreover, you will see that many of these services come at a very low price point as free mobile applications allow companies to create a hub of customer value and, just as important, opportunities for ecosystem end to end value for businesses.

In this battle, there is another front opening as well in terms of whether this will evolve via open standards, such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) – with many services supporting multiple platforms – or be tightly woven to the provider’s ecosystem. Samsung has clearly opted for theopen integration model, while other players are experimenting with both approaches.

How will this affect enterprise customer experience strategies? An ecosystem of various capabilities, seamlessly linked, has the potential to break down both product focused siloes, increase customer value and create greater top line revenues than the disparate parts. Perhaps most important, it could create a competitive barrier, or at least an innovation stop-gap, to keep up with the continuously changing customer technology landscape.

The lines in the sand are taking shape!  Where do you want to be?  Most important, which side is vital for your success?

(Note: this post first appeared on TCS Enterprise Insights)