The digital and mobile payments movement has progressively developed over the past ten years into a feasible, desirable and enjoyable way to re-engineer the process a consumer goes through to from the moment they desire or are aware of a purchase need, right through to fulfillment of that need/desire. Historically this process has required the consumer to physically visit a shop or mall to seek out the specific product or service. But the advent of digital engagement through the likes of Amazon.com, iTunes, Shopper.com and others have put search powers into the homes and mobiles of consumers right across the world. But these models still have their limitations, they are dependent on a customers to act upon that desire and seek out digital shopping mall.
In parallel to the developments in digital shopping, companies like Facebook, Google, Foursquare, and others have entrenched in our world the concept of suggestions. 'People you may know' or 'People who bought this product also liked...' Backed by massive amounts of historical data, engines like Facebook and Google can run analytics to make fairly accurate suggestions for the digital consumer to act upon.
What if we could effectively combine this two digital super concepts.... creating moments of context.
Where a suggested desire is meet with a contextualized offer, along with a simplistic way to act upon that offer. Imagine opening your iPad, to be presented with an offer on discount flights to Hawaii, along with an accommodation offer, all because your digital footprint from various social networks suggested a high probability that you've been researching Hawaii for the Fall. Or imagine a bank that through behavioural and transactional analytics recognises that you are preparing to buy your first home. So they offer you an incentivised savings product to help you save your deposit, while they work to understand you better and offer you the most optimum mortgage for your lifestyle, income and household.
Don't get me wrong, many of these have been around for some time. Google Adwords does a fairly good job of presenting adverts relevant to you, but the accuracy lacks the depth of understanding that may come from combining your search patterns with your social patterns. These 'moments' have to do better as appearing less intrusive, and more like opportune offers backed by a deep understanding of the customer. Only then will they pay attention.
As the digital world evolves, there is amazing potential for making the world smarter, more efficient and far more enjoyable. Research already suggests that Gen Y is very happy to give personal information in an exchange for some form of value, such as superior customer experience, contextualisation, or enriched concentrated engagements. Gen Y don't want to receive a hundred emailed offers only to find just one is relevant to them. We as an industry need to utilise the power of concepts like 'Big Data' to drive a world with less clutter or noise, and far more moments that surprise the consumer.
The reality is all of this is possible today. If banks or online stores allow Facebook login, they could enrich their own analytics with those of the OpenGraph. If they used Twitter, they can pick up on conversational trends. With Foursquare they can tap into locational and geographic data. All have open published APIs, all are already being used in some form today, and best of all, they are all free to access.
So what's holding everyone back?