Hardship while trying to be truly digital…

Back in 1975 there was a prediction in Business Week about the paperless office and since then usage of paper in offices doubled between 1980-2000… However it is now on a decline due to the rise of more efficient storage and retrieving systems, computer, tablets, smart phones and a general awareness on the issues of cutting down forests to produce paper.

Enough with the history lesson… I have tried for many years to be as paperless as possible but due to all sort of hindrances by sources like government, offices&managers etc it has been quite a disappointment and I was on the verge of giving up but… well those who know me also are aware that I do not easily give up… ;D also called an ass… and yes I do NOT own a printer…

I try to use mobile tickets where possible and one trip, while working in Denmark a couple of years ago, I took the ferry between Sealand and Jutland and they sent me a pdf-ticket… I am pretty sure they wanted me to print it but I kept it in the phone and just gave them the smart phone to scan the bar code… At first they looked slightly bewildered but gave it a try… worked like a charm and at that point I decided to not print anything that is not necessarily needed to be print…  Just last week I attended a seminar by a hot digital company in the PR-sector and they sent pdf-tickets to be printed… which I already had teased them for and by default I just displayed the ticket in the iPad and they imaginary marked it with a pen because the bar code on the ticket was only for show since they had no bar code-reader…  😀 *LOL*

Cases where the digital arena is moving forward quite quickly now after been slow are banking where it is almost possible to use a pre-downloaded token for doing all banking tasks in the mobile och computer… except for the fact that my operator Tele2 here in Sweden do not support the official standard token that most banks use… #FAIL to that comes that my bank Swedbank claims to be digital but… they do not have an app tailored to fit an iPad or Android Tablet so using it for paying bills are virtually impossible…

I can give an innumerable amount of cases where the intent is good but the delivery is failing due to the fact that no one is looking at the user and the environment the user are operating in. No one are really thinking it through when deploying a new digital initiative…

I have a couple of great cases on this from the government and private companies in Sweden that would make everything soot much easier…

1. There is an agency called Försäkringskassan that manage most of the public aid system including the compensation that you get if your kid is sick and you have to stay home. You can either call in or log-in to your personal account and report the start date of sickness, how many days etc, make the claim of the money BUT… then they send you a letter that need to be signed by you and the kindergarten/school to verify that the kid has in fact been ill and at home… And there the whole process crash and burn because you create a layer of manual handling that gives that you might see your money in about 6 weeks if you are lucky… So instead why not have a log-in to sign off for those who have to do verify it… The amount of time and resources spent on this process halts all development and creates problems in all instance’s with burned out staff and pissed off citizens that do not get their money…

2. To get a passport in Sweden you need to have a piece of paper call proof of person translated and similar to a birth certificate. All that data exist in the databases and you need to have it sent to your address to be able to go with a your driver’s license or your old passport or with a person that can verify that you are you… why just not look it up in the database directly and put a fingerprint as a verifier or a similar method… no more paper and 3-5 working days extra in the process if you are unlucky…

3. E-business, I can order clothes from China or the US and do every part of the transaction including payment on-line and digitally and everything is kept track of but when the delivery people arrives very nicely at my doorstep with the package I have to sign a paper that I have received it… #Fail

So what do I see as necessary to further the process of being as digital as possible…

  • A national register for digital signatures that are to be used for all public and governmental signage. ONE standard!
  • The above mentioned standard would also include signature at banks etc and give you access to your medical history.
  • A pad/slate or laptop for all children at school for learning and possibility to digitize homework when they learned to write…
  • Force one common platform for ticket system for all public transportation all over Sweden with one swipe-card and one sms-ticketing method

With these initiatives it would be so very much easier to do all public business and go on as a digital citizen without having to receive papers on everything incl you bills.

So please hear my plea and give me the possibility live without any unnecessary paperwork…

Why agnosticism is good for Mobile Marketing Initiatives

Mobile marketing comes in so many shapes and forms that they might be hard to distinguish from all other initiatives that are linked in to mobile marketing efforts

What would be my personal take on it… I think that every time you try to set a tag on something in the marketing world you make a mistake… based on the assumption that you think you own or understand the consumer of a medium, tool or message you will do something not so well thought through or at least something that would be misinterpreted by those you wish to target or build a relationship with.

I am going to be provocative and state that most mobile marketing initiatives, campaigns and apps are only to be viewed as an add on to other on/off-line marketing.

You might disagree with me to this statement but let me put it into a perspective…

Out of a branding perspective it is very hard to build new general brands on a mobile platform but to extend and add value or test new initiatives, then mobile marketing is great.

Mobile Marketing spans from location initiatives like Gowalla or Foursquare, search marketing/listings for local guidance initiatives through HTML5, branded apps, general apps, mobile site, QR-codes, sms-marketing, mobile coupons, display ads, sponsored contents… well there is as for any other marketing initiative a broad variety of opportunities to explore and utilize depending on your needs.

When speed is of essence mobile is fabulous to run, reach your audience while they are on the move… it might be a great campaign or it can be total failure all based on your business and your audience.

There is a hype for apps, branded apps (specifically developed for a brand with content that is brand or lifestyle centric) for an example Absolut Vodka and many wish to develop an app for their brand to target their audience with all the content and offering you have. There is however a specific downside to this effort, it might hurt your brand a lot if you are not doing it correctly and the cost for doing a fancy ipad/iphone/android app is not insignificant either and to really rub it in… the usage (approx 26% of all apps are used once) of an app is seldom in par with the cost of development…

How could you do it then?

I would have the approach of looking at my customer and their needs, how do the interact with us a service or a product, what can we do to make their contact and usage easier. Not with our own brand as a focus and how WE want them to interact…

  1. Understand in what context your users are interacting with you through mobile devices today and plan for how to move them to the next step based on their needs and your ideas for services
  2. Platform agnosticism – i.e. develop for usage no matter what vehicle used to interact. Do not focus on specific delivery vehicles immediately
  3. Focus on UID – usability and interaction design are of immense importance to any service or product and yes a webservice is exactly that purely depending on usability and interaction design to make you come back for more!
  4. Think scalable as always with everything
  5. Fast iterations, better with more minor updates than few major (some of the minor stuff is really annoying)
  6. Motivate mobile usage with all methods at hand if it is of importance that they use it… for an example look at Target and how they use mobile in-store incl bar codes to show demonstration videos etc.
  7. Finally test, test and test with potential users, not employees and people from your development team because they only will do what you already are thinking about… and do not test like a real user…
And as for closing words to this blog post… this goes for all marketing…