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jerryking : messaging   19

Tech groups push ‘chat commerce’ to western shoppers
SEPTEMBER 23 2019 | Financial Times | by Patrick McGee in San Francisco.

From wishing a friend happy birthday to contacting a colleague about a meeting, text messaging is central to much of 21st-century life, with one glaring exception: commerce....the potential for brands to engage with customers and sell goods using pithy, personalised messages is vast. On the Chinese app WeChat, 170m people browse for products — and pay for them — every day on more than 600,000 “mini-programs” within the app. They hail cabs, buy groceries, book doctor’s appointments and even get tourism recommendations through real-time crowdsourcing.

Now, after a series of failed starts, so-called conversational commerce may be set to gain traction in the west, as a host of tech companies attempt to follow WeChat’s lead.

In its new iOS 13 software update, Apple is prompting users on its iPhones who attempt to make a call to companies such as Burberry, Hilton and Verizon to “start a Business Chat instead, so you can interact with a business from a text instead of waiting on hold”.

Apple Business Chat, which was first announced in 2017, lets consumers communicate directly with brands within the Messages app — usually via sophisticated artificial intelligence chatbots — enabling them to ask questions about products and pay for them through Apple Pay, which is integrated into the platform......

‘There is no shortage of demand’

Proponents say the reason texting works in commerce is the simplicity and intimacy of the experience. Consider what happens when a flight is cancelled, causing 200 people to suddenly need to make new plans. Customer service is bombarded; passengers are left waiting on hold. Instead, an airline could let each person text their preferences, then put their phone away as an answer is worked on.

“The idea that [customer service] has to be this synchronous thing where you settle down for a 10-minute conversation on the phone is ridiculous,” said Charles Golvin, researcher at Gartner. “The actual aggregate amount of time you need might be 30 seconds.”.....Making customers feel they are engaging with an individualised service that responds quickly with helpful answers is critical. Instead of hiring a massive staff to respond to each and every query, companies are deploying AI to field customer questions using chatbots, though these can defer to human employees when necessary.

Into the west

So far, attempts to bring conversational commerce to the west have received a lot of hype but little traction. Three years ago, after Uber integrated ride-hailing into Facebook Messenger, product designer Chris Messina hailed 2016 as “the year of conversational commerce” — a prediction that never materialised.

“I don’t think ‘fail’ is too harsh — the uptake of commerce through messaging in the US has been dismal,” Mr Golvin said.

Nevertheless, momentum is beginning to pick up, with sales volume tripling in the past three years, led by in-app messaging within Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Brian Long, chief executive of Attentive, a Sequoia-backed start-up building text platforms for more than 400 brands ranging from Jack in the Box fast food to luxury apparel brand Coach, said it is becoming clear that email marketing does not work, especially among younger people.....Apple declined to say how many brands are participating on Business Chat, but a deal inked earlier this year enabled all 800,000 online merchants on Shopify to engage with customers over text and transact with Apple Pay.

Michael Perry, director of product for conversational offerings at Shopify, said brands using text to engage with customers are building trust that translates into higher spending habits.

“You’re more likely to pay a premium [for] a brand you like,” he said. “And messaging, more than any other medium, powers that.
Apple  brands  chat  chatbots  conversational_commerce  messaging  mobile_applications  Shopify  text_messages  WeChat 
september 2019 by jerryking
BlackRock to Push Wall Street Chat Tool - WSJ
By JUSTIN BAER and SARAH KROUSE
June 23, 2016

At Goldman Sachs Group Inc., a Symphony investor that contributed its own messaging developments to the platform, the service is now used by most of the firm’s employees across all of its businesses, according to a person familiar with the situation. Goldman traders, for instance, use Symphony to communicate with back-office employees charged with settling trades.

Elsewhere, though, Symphony remains little used or, in some cases, virtually unknown.

Of about a dozen employees reached at financial firms that have invested in the service, some were only aware of small-scale pilot programs in specific corners of their trading floors.

The lack of broader takeup has sown doubts that Symphony would become an alternative to Bloomberg’s multipronged service that costs financial firms $22,000 to $25,000 per employee a year. After attracting bankers and investors to its chat service, Symphony aims to pipe in data, news and other tools, coming closer to the array of functions Bloomberg provides. Symphony charges companies $15 a month per user for the chat service.
BlackRock  messaging  Symphony  Bloomberg  Goldman_Sachs  pilot_programs  traders  back-office  small-scale  chat  Communicating_&_Connecting 
june 2016 by jerryking
The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru - The New York Times
By DAVID SAMUELSMAY 5, 2016

Ben Rhodes walks through the room, a half-beat behind a woman in leopard-print heels. He is holding a phone to his ear, repeating his mantra: “I’m not important. You’re important.”....As the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, Rhodes writes the president’s speeches, plans his trips abroad and runs communications strategy across the White House, tasks that, taken individually, give little sense of the importance of his role. ...Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign, helped negotiate the opening of American relations with Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years and has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches. ...Like Obama, Rhodes is a storyteller who uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal. He is adept at constructing overarching plotlines with heroes and villains, their conflicts and motivations supported by flurries of carefully chosen adjectives, quotations and leaks from named and unnamed senior officials. He is the master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign-policy narratives, at a time when the killer wave of social media has washed away the sand castles of the traditional press. His ability to navigate and shape this new environment makes him a more effective and powerful extension of the president’s will than any number of policy advisers or diplomats or spies. ....Price turns to his computer and begins tapping away at the administration’s well-cultivated network of officials, talking heads, columnists and newspaper reporters, web jockeys and outside advocates who can tweet at critics and tweak their stories backed up by quotations from “senior White House officials” and “spokespeople.....Watching Rhodes work, I remember that he is still, chiefly, a writer, who is using a new set of tools — along with the traditional arts of narrative and spin — to create stories of great consequence on the biggest page imaginable. The narratives he frames, the voices of senior officials, the columnists and reporters whose work he skillfully shapes and ventriloquizes, and even the president’s own speeches and talking points, are the only dots of color in a much larger vision about who Americans are and where we are going that Rhodes and the president have been formulating together over the past seven years. When I asked Jon Favreau, Obama’s lead speechwriter in the 2008 campaign, and a close friend of Rhodes’s, whether he or Rhodes or the president had ever thought of their individual speeches and bits of policy making as part of some larger restructuring of the American narrative, he replied, “We saw that as our entire job.”...The job he was hired to do, namely to help the president of the United States communicate with the public, was changing in equally significant ways, thanks to the impact of digital technologies that people in Washington were just beginning to wrap their minds around.....
Ben_Rhodes  U.S.foreign_policy  Communicating_&_Connecting  policy_tools  White_House  writers  strategic_thinking  storytelling  narratives  speechwriters  Obama  PDB  messaging  Syria  Iraq  Middle_East  novelists 
may 2016 by jerryking
The path to enlightenment and profit starts inside the office
(Feb. 2, 2016): The Financial Times | John Thornhill.

Competition used to be easy. That is in theory, if not always in practice. Until recently, most competent companies had a clear idea of who their rivals were, how to compete and on what field to fight.

One of the starkest - and scariest - declarations of competitive intent came from Komatsu, the Japanese construction equipment manufacturer, in the 1970s. As employees trooped into work they would walk over doormats exhorting: "Kill Caterpillar!". Companies benchmarked their operations and market share against their competitors to see where they stood.

But that strategic clarity has blurred in so many industries today to the point of near-invisibility thanks to the digital revolution and globalisation. Flying blind, companies seem happier to cut costs and buy back their shares than to invest purposefully for the future. Take the European telecommunications sector. Not long ago most telecoms companies were national monopolies with little, or no, competition. Today, it is hard to predict where the next threat is going to erupt.

WhatsApp, the California-based messaging service, was founded in 2009 and only registered in most companies' consciousness when it was acquired by Facebook for more than $19bn in 2014. Yet in its short life WhatsApp has taken huge bites out of the lucrative text messaging markets. Today, WhatsApp has close to 1bn users sending 30bn messages a day. The global SMS text messaging market is just 20bn a day.

Car manufacturers are rapidly wising up to the threat posed by new generation tech firms, such as Tesla, Google and Uber, all intent on developing "apps on wheels". Chinese and Indian companies, little heard of a few years ago, are bouncing out of their own markets to emerge as bold global competitors.

As the driving force of capitalism , competition gives companies a purpose, a mission and a sense of direction. But how can companies compete in such a shape-shifting environment? There are perhaps two (partial) answers.

The first is to do everything to understand the technological changes that are transforming the world, to identify the threats and opportunities early.

Gavin Patterson , chief executive of BT, the British telecoms group, says one of the functions of corporate leaders is to scan the horizon as never before. "As a CEO you have to be on the bridge looking outwards, looking for signs that something is happening, trying to anticipate it before it becomes a danger."

To that end, BT has opened innovation "scouting teams" in Silicon Valley and Israel, and tech partnerships with universities in China, the US, Abu Dhabi, India and the UK.

But even if you foresee the danger, it does not mean you can deal with it. After all, Kodak invented the first digital camera but failed to exploit the technology. The incentive structures of many companies are to minimise risk rather than maximise opportunity. Innovation is often a young company's game.

The second answer is that companies must look as intensively inwards as they do outwards (e.g. opposing actions). Well-managed companies enjoy many advantages: strong brands, masses of consumer data, valuable historic data sets, networks of smart people and easy access to capital. But what is often lacking is the ambition that marks out the new tech companies, their ability to innovate rapidly and their extraordinary connection with consumers. In that sense, the main competition of so many established companies lies within their own organisations.

Larry Page, co-founder of Google, constantly urges his employees to keep being radical. In his Founders' Letter of 2013, he warned that companies tend to grow comfortable doing what they have always done and only ever make incremental change. "This . . . leads to irrelevance over time," he wrote.

Google operates a 70/20/10 rule where employees are encouraged to spend 70 per cent of their time on their core business, 20 per cent on working with another team and 10 per cent on moonshots. How many traditional companies focus so much on radical ventures?

Vishal Sikka, chief executive of the Indian IT group Infosys, says that internal constraints can often be far more damaging than external threats. "The traditional definition of competition is irrelevant. We are increasingly competing against ourselves," he says.

Quoting Siddhartha by the German writer Hermann Hesse, Mr Sikka argues that companies remain the masters of their own salvation whatever the market pressures: "Knowledge can be communicated. Wisdom cannot." He adds: "Every company has to find its own unique wisdom." [This wisdom reference is reminiscent of Paul Graham's advice to do things that don't scale].

john.thornhill@ft.com
ambitions  brands  breakthroughs  BT  bureaucracies  competition  complacency  constraints  Fortune_500  incentives  incrementalism  Infosys  innovation  introspection  irrelevance  large_companies  LBMA  messaging  mission-driven  Mondelez  moonshots  opposing_actions  organizational_culture  outward_looking  Paul_Graham  peripheral_vision  radical  risk-avoidance  scouting  smart_people  start_ups  staying_hungry  tacit_knowledge  technological_change  threats  uniqueness  unscalability  weaknesses  WhatsApp  wisdom  digital_cameras  digital_revolution  historical_data 
april 2016 by jerryking
What Comes After Apps - WSJ
By CHRISTOPHER MIMS
Updated Feb. 22, 2016

The first and most intriguing alternative to apps is chat. This is hard to understand for anyone who hasn’t spent time in Asia or at least read about the dominance of WeChat and its competitors, but in China chat apps are used for everything from hailing a car to paying for your Coke at a vending machine.

Kik, a chat app that doesn’t get as much attention as rivals but for U.S. teens is on par with Facebook Messenger and Snapchat in terms of users and importance, will roll out similar functionality within six months, says Chief Executive Ted Livingston.

A growing share of these commercial chats take place with so-called chat bots—interactive computer programs that prompt users to select from among several options, for example. Imagine scanning a chat code on the back of the seat in front of you at a ballpark and having a brief conversation with a chat bot about how many and what kind of beers you want to order.

Chat, says Mr. Livingston, could manage most of the real-world interactions that previously would have required us to visit a mobile Web page, download an app, or—in some cases—give up in frustration with a phone’s constraints. Chat apps won’t solve the walled-garden problem of apps, but they could at least create lightweight interactions with services that happen in seconds and don’t require us to spend time downloading or loading anything.

A TechCrunch article in January indicated that Facebook will soon reveal similar technology within its Messenger app. At least at first, building chat bots that work on any chat app should be easier for developers, because they have similar interfaces. Chat, in other words, could become the new Web browser.
bots  chat  chatbots  Christopher_Mims  conversational_commerce  Facebook  Kik  lightweight_interactions  messaging  mobile_applications  walled_gardens  WeChat 
february 2016 by jerryking
Why Apps for Messaging Are Trending - NYTimes.com
By MIKE ISAAC and MICHAEL J. de la MERCEDJAN. 25, 2015

a glimpse into how some personal messaging apps like Instagram, WeChat and Snapchat — already used by millions of people sharing text or images among friends — will be used in the future.

Some publishers, game makers and e-commerce companies are using the apps as a new distribution and moneymaking platform. Developers have been expanding the uses of the apps, making new functions possible. And investors, seeing huge potential, have driven the apps to ever-higher valuations.
...The initial appeal of the apps is simple. They are faster to use than email, and they generally allow you to send text, links, video and photos to friends more cheaply than traditional texting services offered by wireless carriers like Verizon or AT&T.
chat  chatbots  conversational_commerce  mobile_applications  messaging  Instagram  WeChat  SnapChat  ephemerality 
january 2015 by jerryking
After WhatsApp Deal, Visions of Magic Numbers - NYTimes.com
February 23, 2014, 11:00 am
After WhatsApp Deal, Visions of Magic Numbers
By NICK BILTON
WhatsApp  Silicon_Valley  Facebook  work_life_balance  messaging 
february 2014 by jerryking
Upstart Canadian chat service Kik logs 100 million users
SEAN SILCOFF | The Globe and Mail | Dec. 12 2013.

Kik Interactive, a Waterloo, Ont.-based instant messenger service started in 2009, said Thursday it now has more than 100 million registered users – a 233-per-cent increase in 12 months, and ahead of rival BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). “We’re probably one of two Canadian companies ever to get 100 million regular users,” said Ted Livingston, Kik’s 26-year-old founder and CEO....Kik is one of several instant messenger services, or “chat apps,” to pick up where BBM left off after the smartphone maker pioneered the mobile-only chat service, an application than enables smartphone users to send rapid messages to one another while bypassing their carriers’ texting service.

For years, BlackBerry Ltd. resisted making its hugely popular BBM available on other platforms, leading to the emergence of rival chat apps that could be used on Apple and Android devices. As those platforms took off and BlackBerry waned, the rival apps surged – including market leader WhatsApp, which boasts 350 million users. BlackBerry finally launched a cross-platform version of BBM this fall, but it now lags its upstart rivals.

These chat services have been tabbed the “killer app” of mobile computing and, along with social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter, are redefining how people communicate in the mobile age.
milestones  BBM  BlackBerry  Kitchener-Waterloo  mobile_applications  WhatsApp  Kik  IM  messaging  cross-platform 
december 2013 by jerryking
Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy - New York Times
By Matt Bai
Published: July 25, 2004 (look at Preston Manning links)

The presentation itself, a collection of about 40 slides titled ''The Conservative Message Machine's Money Matrix,'' essentially makes the case that a handful of families -- Scaife, Bradley, Olin, Coors and others -- laid the foundation for a $300 million network of policy centers, advocacy groups and media outlets that now wield great influence over the national agenda. The network, as Stein diagrams it, includes scores of powerful organizations -- most of them with bland names like the State Policy Network and the Leadership Institute -- that he says train young leaders and lawmakers and promote policy ideas on the national and local level. These groups are, in turn, linked to a massive message apparatus, into which Stein lumps everything from Fox News and the Wall Street Journal op-ed page to Pat Robertson's ''700 Club.'' And all of this, he contends, is underwritten by some 200 ''anchor donors.'' ''This is perhaps the most potent, independent institutionalized apparatus ever assembled in a democracy to promote one belief system,'' he said.
advocacy  belief_systems  conservatism  Democrats  discipline  donors  Fox_News  George_Soros  GOP  grass-roots  high_net_worth  ideas  ideologies  institutions  left-wing  Matt_Bai  messaging  moguls  political_infrastructure  politicians  right-wing  social_movements  think_tanks  training_programs 
may 2012 by jerryking
Free Texting Apps Are Threat to Wireless Carriers - NYTimes.com
By JENNA WORTHAM
Published: October 9, 2011

Apple plans to introduce a new service called iMessage, which could quickly become the biggest fish in this pond. The service lets iPhone owners send messages with text, photos and video to other iPhone owners over a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection. The service, part of an update to Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, will automatically handle messages sent between iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users who have upgraded to the latest software.

The basic idea is the same with both old- and new-style messages: short bursts that pop up almost instantly on the recipient’s phone. But the path that they take is different. A text message is sent over cellular networks. Services like iMessage transmit messages over the carriers’ data networks and the Internet, much like e-mail. Cellphone customers pay for each text message or sign up for a texting plan, while the newer messages will fall under a customer’s wireless data plan.

Analysts say Apple is trying to duplicate the success of services like BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, a free application for BlackBerry smartphone owners that lets them send messages back and forth as in an instant-messaging conversation. It has engendered loyalty among BlackBerry users and has kept some from switching to an Apple or Android device.

“BBM is the stickiest feature of the BlackBerry experience, even more than e-mail,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics who follows the wireless industry. “Once you have that, you are considerably less likely to switch away from the consumer experience. IMessage makes the whole iOS universe more valuable.”
text_messages  free  wireless  mobile_applications  Apple  social_messaging  messaging  Jenna_Wortham 
october 2011 by jerryking
The Texting Revolution Is Here - WSJ.com
OCTOBER 14, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By KATHERINE ROSMAN.

Y U Luv Texts, H8 Calls
We Want to Reach Others But Not to Be Interrupted
text_messages  messaging 
october 2010 by jerryking
How America's Top Military Officer Uses Business to Boost National Security
May 1, 2010 | Fast Company | Jeff Chu. "He wanted to know what
kind of environment can be created in which business can thrive and
what role govts. have to play," "What is it that makes businesses
successful?" What does this have to do with his job or the military's?
"Our financial health is directly related to our national security,"
"The biggest driver globally is the economy ... I need to understand the
global trends that work those engines. Where are these guys putting
their $? If they're betting on certain outcomes -- good or bad -- why?"
Mullen's principles on the use of US military force: don't go it alone;
don't be overweight in foreign policy; closer coordination between
military and civilian agencies. "If his advice were only how to fight
hi-tech wars, and if his solution were just to apply more force, he
would be less relevant," Brent Scowcroft, "He recognizes that the new
face of war is a very complex...part combat, part nation building, and
part hearts and minds."
leadership  U.S._military  JCS  Michael_Mullen  nation_building  ethnography  geopolitics  21st._century  indispensable  storytelling  messaging  generalship  security_&_intelligence  Brent_Scowcroft  strategic_thinking  questions  war  warfare  complexity  curiosity  APNSA 
april 2010 by jerryking
Gaining and holding attention in a cluttered world
Jun 2007 | Public Relations Tactics. New York: Vol. 14, Iss.
6; pg. 6, 1 pgs | by John Guiniven. In their breakthrough book "The
Attention Economy," Thomas Davenport and John Beck said an important
distinction exists between awareness and attention."We are aware of many
things, but not paying attention to them,' ' they wrote.When we focus
on a particular item, we become engaged, attentive, and we move to a
decision phase, which leads to the sought-after and repeat
behaviors....Finally, evaluation, often ignored in awareness campaigns,
needs to be incorporated into attention campaigns. Was the message
source - the spokesperson or the organization itself- seen as
trustworthy and credible? Was the message context related to a concern
of the audience?Was the message content engaging to the point of
audience involvement? Did the audience consider the substance of the
message?
attention  public_relations  ProQuest  Thomas_Davenport  analytics  attention_spans  awareness  attention_economy  Communicating_&_Connecting  messaging  pay_attention 
march 2010 by jerryking

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