This is a repost of Steve Faktor’s original Forbes article
My business is helping companies speed up innovation – often by partnering with tech startups. A wilder ride compared to my days leading innovation at Fortune 100 companies. But lately, I’ve experienced enough déjà vu to get a platinum medical marijuana card. Maybe you’ve heard of “multiple discovery”. The theory says that similar inventions happen simultaneously because of converging technologies and common problems. Among mobile payments and loyalty startups, easy money is fueling what I call “marginal discovery” – slight variations on similar ideas. For every truly outstanding startup, five or six have a faulty premise, fail to solve a problem, or choose “cool” over simple. To protect the innocent, I’ve turned my list of frustrations into a set of “rules” to help budding entrepreneurs and experienced executives steer clear of the weed dispensary…
Why am I writing about Twitter at midnight? Even Ashton Kutcher is icing his iThumb at this hour. I’m chasing a brainstorm for my keynote at New Media Expo/Blogworld on Sunday. My talk is about the future of social currencies and the new economics of work. Since launching several successful loyalty services at MasterCard and American Express, I’ve been obsessed with deconstructing what motivates us. That’s why social media and gamification are so amusing to me. They’re a shiny new set of controls that can change – or exploit human behavior. But before drunkenly commandeering The USS Twitter, it’s best to first meet its passengers. Like my 15 Faces of Facebook article last year, here is a deconstruction of Twitter – what it is, who uses it, and what motivates them. In future articles, I’ll go deeper into tools to change both customer and employee behavior.
Registered users will get the detailed infographic here (to be posted on 1/11)
This is a repost of Steve Faktor’s original article on Forbes
To many men, shopping for clothes is like doing your own brain surgery – you’re in no condition to know when you’ve screwed up. Sure, single men must dress up to attract mates. Those poor, unsuspecting women have no clue what fashion nightmares await them. Marriage does to men’s fashion what irritable bowels do to romance. Things get even worse at work. The more casual the office, the more likely we are to see mangled toes and bloated bellies. Even billionaires wear outfits that scream “I sleep in a box.” Of course, it’s the rest of us who need to keep trying. Unfortunately, men’s clothing stores have failed miserably. The shopping experience is hardly painless, especially at department stores. They have the most resources, space, and selection, but they’re packed with men wandering aimlessly like an exiled Judaic tribe.
When I was at MasterCard, I led a project called Total Shopping Solution. Eventually, we commercialized it as two very successful services, Commerce Intelligence and Commerce Coalition. Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about intra-store shopping experiences, especially during all those wasted hours looking for clothes to fit my beefy frame. With today’s technology and some low-tech ingenuity, department stores can reinvent the men’s shopping experience. (After reading this article, I hope they’ll also reimburse me for the the years I’ve lost trying on ill-fitting pants.)
Yesterday, I had the displeasure of meeting someone at Pret-a-Manger, a thriving chain featuring something resembling food – from the 1950′s. I live in New York, which offers an astounding number of food options from McDonald’s to fresh bagels to pizza to Mexican. So I was shocked that this Frankenrestaurant was not a laundromat or a hospice by now. As I negotiated peace with my furious stomach, I came to some surprising conclusions about local marketing…and life.
So what’s my problem with Pret-a-Manger? The food isn’t even remotely fresh. They don’t even try to fake a culinary orgasm. Let’s start by introducing you to their chef: the refrigerator. I call him Fridgy. Fridgy makes every sandwich cold, pre-packaged and hours (months?) in advance from some undisclosed military installation. Prisons…and 7/11…have fresher-looking food. Have you ever bitten into a cold baguette? I hope you have amazing dental work. All the flavors blend into one meta-flavor – cold. The only thing left is texture – hard…soft…mushy…and, ouch!
Having led innovation at Amex, MasterCard and Citi, I know where the bodies are buried. I also know that payment wars aren’t just about fees anymore. That’s so 1990′s. Years ago, when Walmart threatened to enter payments and banking, incumbents nearly soiled their Hanes. After a little sword-fighting, providers slashed their margins so thin, big merchants had no incentive to do their own thing. This time it’s different. Payments companies are not the real threat.
Today’s war is about data and its power to shift loyalties. In the arms race to probe customers’ deepest, darkest desires, card companies and merchants find themselves bringing spitballs to a gunfight. So, I’m not surprised to see Walmart, Target and others are starting their own 99% movement. Big retailers are launching their own mobile payments system. This is the first of many moves you can expect by merchants to liberate themselves of increasingly omnipotent middlemen. Below are three reasons retailers’ strategy makes sense
Just got this confidentially from a friend working on this project for the US Post Office… Unreal!
—– Forwarded Message —–
Sent: Wednesday, Jan 15, 2012 4:54 PM
Subject: Proposal: New Post Office Business Model – Go Postal!
The cheapest way to amuse yourself in a bustling city, like New York, is to stroll through it and observe its characters. Swarms of Japanese tourists with camera equipment from the year 2053, Whole Foods shoppers with one bag of groceries worth more than Malawi’s GDP, and businesspeople rushing to cubicle farms that make the pods on The Matrix seem luxurious. All this with a backdrop of storefronts. Recently, I’ve noticed more and more ‘for rent’ signs. Shades of the early 80′s when huge parts of Manhattan were a wasteland of porn shops, criminals, and empty buildings. It doesn’t have to be that way.
However, if you have a good (or marketable) product, you are doing it a disservice by selling it in a depressing environment. Case and point: Burger King. Last night, my friend was craving a Whopper, so we stopped in at a midtown Burger King. My GOD, the FLUORESCENCE!! Who designed this lighting? Surely, it was Satan. These places are the same as when I was a kid, grease stains and all. As an adult, I am aghast. While, my obvious disdain did not preclude my friend from devouring his Whopper, I know there is a way for Burger King and its brethren to grow up and attract new customers along the way.