Enterprise hits and misses - mobile banking gets real but KPI culture fails

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed May 9, 2018
This week: mobile banking and fintech advances, but KPI culture gets a skewering. Also: event season peaks, and we're on the case. Your whiffs include road burns - and the perils of bloated keynotes.

Cheerful Chubby Man
Lead story - Mobile banking, financial inclusion, and AI - stories by Angelica Mari and Cath Everett

myPOV: One of the most potent forces for change in the financial services/fintech space is the mobile imperative. Whether it's out of necessity or consumer preference, rethinking processes for mobile is keeping banks on their toes.

As Angelica Mari reports in International migration fuels fintech opps in remittance systems - a use case, London-based WorldRemit is one player trying to make hay in the mobile-first remittance space. Mobile-first is one area where making hay and doing the right thing can happen at once. Mari:

Despite the fact profit is the main motivation, providing more user-friendly, mobile-centric and cost-effective mechanisms to move money to the financially disadvantaged is almost undoubtedly a good thing.

Everett looks at the issue of financial inclusion in Boosting financial inclusion in developing nations - an AI/AR use case. Why does financial inclusion matter? Because giving people mobile tools isn't necessarily enough. Everett on a 2014 push in rural India to bring banking to the unbanked:

More than 300 million people opening no-frills bank accounts, the problem was that a widespread lack of financial literacy meant as many as 58% of them remained dormant. The issue was particularly marked among women, where 8% fewer opened up bank accounts in the first place and 14% more lay dormant.

Another reason for dormancy? Lack of trust in financial institutions. Everett also looks at the potential of AI to help screen micro-loans, a useful way to spark businesses and create jobs in developing countries. Another AI-enabled use case: a smartphone-based app called ‘Grameen Guru’.

It uses a chatbot and Augmented Reality to help non-literate customers understand written material.

Even if you're weary of chatbots and AR hype, that's a project to support.

Happy children eating apple
Diginomica picks - my top two stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:

  • Knowledge18 - ServiceNow puts people at the centre of its company’s purpose - Derek thinks ServiceNow has turned a major corner. Here's why: "It’s been clear from speaking to customers over this time that the technology is there and the platform is strong. However, as Donahoe highlights, the technology alone is not enough. ServiceNow needs to embody the changes it’s hoping to deliver to enterprises – and I’m finally getting some reassurance from Donahoe that it gets this."
  • Coupa CEO calls on buyers of the world to unite around BSM - Live from Coupa Inspire, Phil breaks the news on a spanking new acronym: BSM. Coined by Coupa's CEO Rob Bernshteyn as Business Spend Management, my question is: why do we need BSM? Phil quotes Bernshteyn: "What if we could collectively combine our intelligence of the community of hundreds of customers, of hundreds of billions of dollars in spend data, and use that community intelligence to help us become smarter and smarter about the suppliers that we’re working with?" Not sure about the acronym, but I like the gist.
  • Microsoft Build 2018 - Nadella builds his case for the ethical high ground - Stuart takes on Microsoft's AI white hat positioning as their signature developer conference kicks off: "Nadella spoke with considerable clarity on topics that wouldn’t necessarily have topped the discussion at a developer event a few years back. There will, of course, be those who will offer up plenty of examples of ‘why Microsoft has no right to the high ground’ – and many of them may well stand up to considerable scrutiny. But after the obfuscation from Facebook in recent weeks, I’m ready to give Nadella the benefit of the doubt here." Grouchy sidenote: if Nadella could rip the embedded ads out of the Windows 10 operating system, that would be a nice drink-your-koolaid gesture.

A few more vendor picks from the nutty exhilarating heights of the spring conference season:

Jon's grab bag - Stuart looks at the dogged attempts to monetize music consumption in Pandora and Spotify face the music in hard-to-monetize subscription business. I'm rooting for both, but Pandora's plan sounds more coherent. And, as Stuart points out, Spotify's CEO trotted out the vague and useless phrase “unique embrace of ubiquity," a sign the plot may be lost.

If you're craving a fresh look at blockchains, maybe Jerry's Can IOTA’S blockless blockchain become the IoT standard? will wet your next-gen whistle. Oh, and diginomica celebrated the fifth anniversary of our go-live this week. Den handed out door prizes of low resale value kudos and various strikethroughs in We are five - diginomica then, now and the future. And: timed with this announce, we welcome a new partner, IQMS. Win/win eh?

We couldn't do it without you - thanks for your loyal readership. Oh, and if you're going to keep us on your reading list, you'll want to check out Den's Here's how we plan to be GDPR compliant, which I'm sure is the very first GDPR/ "how we use your data" update you've received to date (not). Hopefully it's one of the more transparent ones, but if not, I know you'll tell us.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
Lead story - Against metrics: how measuring performance by numbers backfires - by Jerry Z. Muller

myPOV: Ever wondered if you had a long-lost brother and might someday be reunited? That's how I felt when reading Muller's withering critique of metrics. If you're as bottomsick weary of KPI culture as I am, maybe you'll feel the same. It's worth reading the entire piece in its biting deliciousness, but for now, the jugular:

When people are judged by performance metrics they are incentivised to do what the metrics measure, and what the metrics measure will be some established goal. But that impedes innovation, which means doing something not yet established, indeed that hasn’t even been tried out. Innovation involves experimentation. And experimentation includes the possibility, perhaps probability, of failure.

A real world example drives the point home:

The intelligence analysts who ultimately located Osama bin Laden worked on the problem for years. If measured at any point, the productivity of those analysts would have been zero.

Sidenote: a team of mostly female CIA analysts worked tirelessly to develop the method that ultimately found bin Laden. But yeah, if they were on a KPI metric, they would have been updating their LinkedIn profiles and moving on.

So how do I reconcile my KPI disdain with a fascination for analytics/data-informed decisions? Not easily. It's not about measurement being evil. It's about measuring the wrong things. KPIs are largely neutral - it's all in how they're applied. But yeah, anything that stifles bold ideas and encourages cover-your-corporate-posterior must be rooted out.

Honorable mention


Overworked businessman
So I check into my hotel room, and Marriott has a Netflix deal. I can watch Netflix on my TV? Cool. Well, if I can manage to type in my email and (complicated) password using only the remote control buttons. By the time I finished, my Netflix subscription had expired. There's a better way, but I'll save my howls.

For the end of civilization scorecard, let's add this one: Venezuelan Bolivar Worth Far Less Than World of Warcraft Gold. If you're sick of knee-jerk online trolls, you may dig Josh Bernoff's The key insight for dealing with commenters, correctors, critics, interrupters, hecklers, trolls, and nitpickers. Great line before you self-whiff into a time suck dealing with professional malcontents feedback givers: "Would discussing this issue serve the audience?"

Via Den Howlett, here's a world class typo for ya: (click on the pic)

So Josh Greenbaum wants to team up with me on a takedown of flatulent three hour keynotes and what he dubs "user hostile user conferences." I'm game, but I warned him I've already gone off on enterprise keynotes, and also on what user conferences need.

Judging from this spring's events, most vendors could use a friendly reminder that their customers like to talk to each other, not listen to nails-on-chalkboard amateur hour standups paid celebrity keynote moderators - while folding chairs become permanently affixed.

Also had some fun with a retail tech show:

But it's not all snark and spittle on the road:

See you next time... If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses - in a good or bad way - let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does.

Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. 'myPOV' is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.

Image credit - Cheerful Chubby Man © RA Studio, Happy Children © Anna Omelchenko, Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, King Checkmate © mystock88photo - all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure - SAP, Oracle, Workday, ServiceNow, Coupa, IQMS and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.