Chat as discovery and world domination

In a recent post by Andreessen Horowitz they unpack how China’s WeChat has driven significant ARPU with their content strategy within Chat. The follow on from this, when viewed alongside Twitter, is that ‘chat’ as a context, is a hugely powerful mechanism for discovery. As long as the UX is done right, there’s nothing to prevent Telco’s from leveraging this kind of thinking to solve their own challenges with ARPU.

How to solve the Telco dumb-pipe challenge? Well, it would seem that chat is part of the solution.

Most notable, however, for anyone in the tech business is WeChat’s average revenue per user or ARPU, which is estimated to be at least $7 USD — that’s 7X the ARPU of WhatsApp, the largest messaging platform in the world. How did WeChat do it?

Source: When One App Rules Them All: The Case of WeChat and Mobile in China | Andreessen Horowitz


What the Stanford Prison Experiment means for your Business.

The Stanford Prison Experiment has shown how quickly a persons mindset adjusts to their context and prescribed social roles. It has a significant implication for how you build or restructure teams in a business context too. Essentially, the person you hire will behave a certain way up until the point that they start work. But once they are in your business, they will be massively influenced, and may display entirely new behaviours as a result of the existing business culture.

It’s an easy concept to understand. Quite informative if you are able to influence a culture top down. An informative view to help adjust your hiring strategy. But pretty challenging to resolve if you find yourself hired into an environment where you cannot exert any significant influence on the culture. The challenge then is to understand what can be done get people to snap out of cruel or self serving behaviour, and move into positive productivity. Instigating this from within an organisation will require some skill, and amazing influence. I wonder if perhaps there are some social levers or short-cuts that will enable this change to occur bottom up?

Viktor Frankl’s book, Man in Search of Meaning( man in search of meaning viktor frankl pdf )provides an interesting perspective to counter this institutional momentum. At it’s core, his message contains profound examples to demonstrate how “you always have a choice”. You can choose how to behave. Even in the face of horror, some individuals find what they need within themselves, and choose to behave in a positive way. Perhaps this is a way to begin.

In the summer of 1971, I created a research project focusing on the psychological effects of prison life, for both the prisoners themselves and the prison guards. My research team and I reproduced a prison environment in a Stanford University basement. We tried to recreate essential features of American prisons in our jail setting. We advertised for volunteers, and assembled a group of 24 healthy, intelligent male college students from all over the nation. A flip of the coin randomly determined which 12 would be guards and which 12 would be prisoners. I took the role of Prison Superintendent, one assistant was the Warden, and two others were Lieutenants. Prisoners lived in this jail 24/7, while guards worked eight-hour shifts in what was to be a two-week intense simulation, where everything and everyone was under observation. The simple premise was to understand what happens when you put only good people in a bad situation.

In short order, the students disappeared into their roles as Prisoners or Guards.

Ordinary guys slipped into doing extraordinarily bad things to other guys — who were actually students just like them, in different costumes.

Full article here:


Personality Insights

An amazing tool from IBM to analyse personality traits based on a persons writing. You can use text from blogs, email, forum posts. A very interesting tool for interviews, or research ahead of meetings. Try it!

Personality Insights – The IBM Watson Personality Insights service uses linguistic analytics to extract a spectrum of cognitive and social characteristics from the text data that a person generates through blogs, tweets, forum posts, and more.


PayM: Not the winner in mobile payments

PayM seems to be gaining traction with some of the larger banks including Lloyds and HSBC now actively marketing the use of their service to their customers. Some 400,000 users are reported to have now signed up to use the service. I’ve been asked if they are are the next big thing in mobile payments space. In short, I think they’ll get some traction, but they’re not the endgame. Here’s why…



Mobile payments – as broken as the banks.

Mobile payments have been a hot topic in the tech start-up space for a while now. There have been some great outcomes with companies like Square and Coin taking centre stage amongst a raft of other possibilities. But to be fair, nothing has really hit the ball out the park and transformed the industry just yet. It’s still an opportunity there for the taking.

NFC was touted as being one of the next big steps. At least in terms of the consumer experience. But it requires widespread adoption to become a real success. The fact that Apple didn’t put NFC into the iPhone 5 continues to be a drawback for many ‘fast follower’ innovators waiting to make a decision.

Nice as many of them are, all of these technologies, peripherals, apps and add-on’s are all top tier incremental improvements to an existing market structure. Your bank account, card (or similar), are still at the heart of the transaction process.

Apple have openly commented that they are serious about mobile payments and I for one am hopeful about their potential entry into this space. They have a track record of “integrating the whole widget” into their business process. Which means we would potentially see the first high quality mobile payments service with an end-to-end infrastructure in place. Their whole stack approach to innovation worked well for the music industry.

With all of this going on, it’s surprising there hasn’t been a more robust set of actions taken by the retail banks.