Thursday, March 26, 2009

Managing Success during Recession

We tend to think about success when things are going well in our lives, but when things go bad we shift to the survival mode and forget to develop a plan and pay attention to our key priorities.

Planning for success becomes even more important during times when we are facing economic hardships and personal problems. During the years of my illness I did not stop making plans. Focusing on the future gave me the hope and strength to overcome obstacles. I began to understand a simple rule: “Success means to be ready when the opportunity comes”.

Successful companies have created new business models during times of economic downturn and many people have found their passion and a new career as a result of loosing their jobs.

How were they able to accomplish this? I think because of these two reasons:

1) They see opportunities when others see problems.
2) They never stop making success a top priority.

Over the years of learning from my success and failures, I have developed my own formula for success, which I call the 4P Formula:

4P = Planning, Preparation, Perseverance, and Passion

Your plan starts with a dream. The power of a dream is endless; however, you need tools that will help you in achieving your goals. In my book Connecting My Dots I share Five Leadership Lessons and a tool called the Priority Wheel which will help you define and achieve success on your own terms by keeping your key priorities in motion.

When I think about success, I think about a wheel that is always in motion because what will make you successful today will not make you successful in the future. Here is where the Priority Wheel will help you identify and focus on your key priorities so you can connect your dots at each stage of your life.

Success is always a moving target and we need to recalibrate our priorities or the weight of each priority within the wheel. Using the Five Leadership Lessons and the Priority Wheel, you will be to stay focused on your goals and also be flexible and willing to try different approaches.

Do you have a formula for success that you use to connect your dots?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mobile Trends Predictions

Innovation is not about the latest technology invention but about the value of the technology to the user and the society in the form of a service. (Read Peter Drucker’s classic book Innovation and Entrepreneurship). The degree of which the new technology produces a service that fulfills one of the basic human-needs from my 2X2 matrix is what defines the value of the invention. The value to the end user and the ease of use of the new technology is what differentiates innovation from invention.

On my last trip back from San Francisco I spent 4 hours writing down my thoughts about promising mobile trends to discover later that I had left my notes in the airplane.

Instead of trying to remember everything I wrote, I decided to share my predictions about mobile services that will bring value to consumers.

1) Acceptance of 2-way SMS messages with a location-based customer loyalty component: Consumers will get discount coupes via SMS when they are shopping at a particular retailer. (check Clairmail)

2) Deployment of mobile payment interoperability for mass-transit transportation across different geographic locations: People will use a mobile phone to pay for the subway in NY and the Bart in San Francisco.

3) Deployment of speech recognition features with natural language processing on the mobile phone: Finally, I will be able to talk to my phone in a combination of English, Spanish and Russian and my phone will understand what I am saying.

4) Acceptance of micro payments via mobile phones and combined billing capabilities: Consumer’s purchases will be included in the phone bill. I bet the telecoms are going to like this one.

5) Increasing convergence between PC and mobile browsers: iPhone-like browsers will become the standard.

6) Acceptance of the Chief Mobile Office role in financial services: the mass adoption of mobile payments and the growing importance of the mobile channel as a source of revenue generation will require that this channel get dedicated attention rather than continue to be viewed as part of internet / ecommerce channel.

7) Mobilizing the POS: retailers will accept mobile payments at the POS.

Making Predictions is a risky business and most of the time we get them wrong !

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mobile Banking – What is Next?

There are many dots2connect with over 3.3 billion people worldwide carry a mobile phone. And so it is time I write my viewpoints about mobile as well as my predictions.

“Does your phone come with mobile banking?” – This was the title of my presentation when we were introducing fully functional mobile banking services to the US market.

I remember the excitement when, in 2006, our Wachovia internet group launched the next generation of mobile banking for Blackberries and Palm Treos. Back then (and not so long ago) the iPhone only existed in Apple’s R&D labs. Although the service was in a beta, it allowed users to check account balances, transfer money between accounts and provide feedback.

I got the first interview with American Banker to announce the product launch and at the time many of the industry analysts were full of doubts about the consumer market readiness to adopt mobile banking. While others at a rountable with Banking Strategies believed that mobile banking was real.

Nonetheless, vendors were calling all the time and every day new companies were jumping to the mobile banking train. Clairmail, mFoundry and Firethorn were the top picks among the large number of other vendors. Of course, Monitise, m-Com, and Yodlee were also on the list.

A year later, we launched a mobile application in partnership with AT&T in November of 2007 and Verizon a month later using the Firethorn application (Firethorn was acquired by Qualcomm). The new service enabled mobile banking and bill-pay services and transfer features.

The question is not about the stage of the mobile technology or the ability of banks to provide mobile banking services. After all, 2008 was the year for all large US banks to introduce mobile services and the coexistence of the three delivery methods (browser, SMS, and downloadable applications) for mobile banking services became common practice.

Today, the question is about the ability for building a critical mass of users - and this takes time. While early adopters are ready to try every new gadget, it typically takes much longer for the average consumer base to get comfortable with new technology, or new ways to utilize it. To maximize the rate of adoption, the service needs to fulfill most, if not all, of the dimensions from the 2x2 matrix.

But, true mobile commerce is still in its very early stages. Mobile Payments continue to be at the top of the agenda. Even after the efforts of PayPal and Google Mobile with the Android, mobile payments have not yet seen the green light in the US market. For one, any payment guru will tell you that for a new payment method to be widely accepted, it will need to somehow improve upon the methods that already exist. Thus, mobile payments will need to be better in some way than plastic cards, or possibly just fuse the two.

Many questions loom about how to reach the next generation of the m-Wallet and enabling payments:
• On what applications will contactless operate?
• How will the current applications evolve to support multiple payment accounts at different institutions?
• What are the implications of the competing mobile platforms on this development? And what role will carriers play? Is there a need for a new payment network?
• As carriers open their networks to be device agnostic and allow applications, how will this affect the competitive environment for financial services?
• What is the profit model? Will banks and carries share the profit? What about the risk?

And finally the question about “Invention versus Innovation”: What is the decisive mobile payment service that will enable U.S. banks to bring convenience to their customers’ daily life?

What is your prediction? I will tell you my mobile predictions in my next blog.