Archive for platform

Integrated transaction platforms

Posted in General, Innovation, technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2010 by newideasconsult

With online technology developing quite aggressively we have an ideal opportunity to design and commission all-inclusive solutions for enterprise clients. You can also define this as multi level x-commerce solutions, where the traditional x-store or x-mall or multi-store customer facing platform is completely integrated with the transaction processing platform.

Having one platform that integrates all the required components for environments with a high volume of transactions to operate with the minimum external assistance makes me quite heady.  For example imagine a system that starts out day one with an integrated eBay, PayPal and Skype module.  Having the time to work out each component’s role with the platform, clearly defining where data can be shared within a common database, and setting out combined parameters for a smooth UI, and so on, could start us off on a whole new path in regards to x-commerce.

There are so many advantages to such an initial integrated model not just from a technology point of view, but also in terms of operations.  One view of a customer, one process to resolve disputes, one fee recipe to determine all revenue contributors in a transaction from end to end, and so on and so on.  Are there examples of such combined and integrated solutions already?

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Google Buzz

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , on February 11, 2010 by newideasconsult

Interesting features were added to my GMAIL account yesterday, called Google Buzz, and though I normally follow the online buzz about Google, circumstances led to this added feature surprising me completely.
It currently allows me to add a status message as we do in Facebook, follow friends and have friends follow me, and add third party updates to my profile, from Twitter, Flickr, and Picasa for example.

Though this is not Wave, which is pretty much an open invitation to wave in whatever direction to whoever you wish with whatever you want, Buzz seems to be the initial rumblings of a Google project getting it right. Many people find Facebook and other similar services cumbersome, or daunting in terms of the many features you are faced with when you first log in. Google may have gotten things right when they took several generations of people on in GMAIL, then added features such as chat at a later stage, all the time enriching the offering one or two features at a time. Taking the next step and allowing a more social interaction between GMAIL contacts or ‘friends’ is to me a more natural progression than being thrown in the deep end with full feature sites such as Facebook day one. Even my 72year old father could find Buzz quite exciting and easy to navigate and learn.

Obviously, just like Facebook, the problem lies in how this great ‘idea’ is implemented, and it seems to me that Google fell right into the same old trap with the default settings within Buzz.  The main issue for me is the public display of frequent email friends within my list, done without my initial permission.  Friends lists in Facebook has also often been the problem for them, and the Google Buzz team need to review FB’s experience and ensure they learn from it and fix the Buzz issues asap or face a tremendous backlash because of this security ‘hole’.

Diversify, diversify, diversify

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2009 by newideasconsult

There has always been an interesting argument for diversity in application offerings on new customer channels or platforms.  Although the past methodologies for designing products have been to focus on one and serve it in a working, practical and robust manner to your customer, the value of one product per channel has been somewhat diluted over the years with the convergence of so many industries, and we see it most clearly where retail and banking have converged.  Customers like having different products offered through a single service or channel from both retail and banking, iow they want to buy things when they are on the bank platform and they want to bank when they are on the retail platform (virtually speaking of course).

In an e-business this to me then has become the trend, as opposed to the exception, but it still surprises me when clients battle to understand that their single product offering will not necessarily be enough to draw customers to their platform, and none more so than financial services clients.  Customers no longer want to visit your site and do only your service offering.  They go to sites where there is a sense of community married with a sense of responsible assistance that has all the popular tweaks to it, but focused around one core service offering, as this is what brings them back on a recurring basis.

You can argue that a beautiful website around your one product or service offering brings in traffic, but I would ask how much does the beauty of your site or presence bring them back again after the initial visit.  It is in recurring use that we find success online and even more so on the mobile phone.  Now we come to the crux of the matter for me, offering services or products over a mobile platform, where this multiple service offering is crucial or it will fail.  I think there is some important to allowing customers access to their accounts for mobile transactions from time to time, but that also states the obvious that they do so ‘from time to time’.  It is this infrequent use of the mobile banking platform at the current time that has be review how I see its design and its function.

Mobile banking or transaction offerings must be done in collaboration with other products and or services to ensure regular use of the platform and more frequent revenues per head.  I think with the era of mobile technology having arrived with great gusto one has to seriously look at your own offering and review how it is a customer perceives your product.  If Web2.0 taught us anything it is that people like to drive their own destinies on the Internet, they like to feel that they too can shape their favorite services with their own input, creativity and content from time to time.  We lack this spontaneity in our product designs for transaction based businesses like banking, and we treat the mobile platform as a small sideshow to the core offering, possibly losing an entire generation of mobile savvy youngsters who were not introduced to the Internet via a browser but via a phone instead.  Designing flexible products then that can offer them all kinds of teasers and attractions along with the ability to bank when they need to must therefore be a priority for us as engineers.  Making applications that present more to them than virtual versions of a bank branch and all its boring trappings, should be our focus.

Mobile banking and financial services platforms or offerings should be enjoyable and we should be designing to attract customers on a regular basis even if it is not for a core service transaction, as on the mobile phone all interactions can generate revenue.  Therefore we should build our solutions to cater to the various users in a flexible manner, changing its format depending on who logs in on the phone, using a powerful delivery platform to deliver this flexible service if our own technology is not able to do this, and to allow their customers to have fun on the client’s platform regardless their intent.

London Stock Exchange to abandon TradElect or Windows?

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , on July 3, 2009 by newideasconsult

I read such an interesting post on ComputerWorld blogs, by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, that basically described a rumour of a decision within the London Stock Exchange executive to abandon TradElect, a Windows based platform custom developed by Accenture.  It was interesting to me because it followed the old argument that Windows cannot run mission critical applications, with which I of course disagree.

My main problem with this article is that there is absolutely no facts given by the LSE ‘insider’ as to Microsoft contributing to the failure of this application.  Having had many reports over the past few years of Accenture projects failing, I would be looking much closer to their planning, design, implementation and commissioning processes of their custom built system.

To me it is simply too big a leap to make blaming the OS and DB for the application’s failure.  It may be true with Microsoft as with all other products in this market, that we should always consider ‘horses for courses’ when planning systems, but that cannot mean blaming them by default.  There may have been some immaturity and inexperience in the approach to the system design on MS Server and SQLServer, but I have seen and created many very robust Microsoft based solutions that were perfectly ok in high volume and enterprise environments.  In fact we build transaction processing systems today that work extremely well and have not yet let us down.

Don’t get me wrong here, I am certainly not defending one OS over another, in fact not at all.  I am just stating that we should look closely at all the factors that could cause an application failure.  Those who know me know I am an avid Ubuntu supporter and love Linux in general because it delivers so much for so little.  I am a huge supporter of open source projects and the free software world out there too, again because they bring so much innovation to us for free.  I grew up with Unix and loved it’s robustness and how fantastic the OS did under diverse circumstances (think Data General servers buried under wood dust in sawmills over years and still operating without problems).

So my issue is not lets defend Microsoft at all costs here, but lets see what the true facts or findings will be behind the dropping of TradElect at the LSE before we shoot down the OS and brand.   Again I would look strongly at design, coding and implementation.