Netflix Challenges the Status Quo with House of Cards

February 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

House of Cards

House of Cards

Over the past few days, I have been watching House of Cards on Netflix. My two cents… if you like smart political dramas in the style of The West Wing and Newsroom, then you will likely enjoy this.

However, as much as I am enjoying the show, I am fascinated by the implications of Netflix original content, pushing the whole show out at once, and how social and digital lifestyles are embedded into the fabric of the show.

Netflix Original Content: I have been fan of Netflix’s steaming service for a while and it has been a great platform to catch up on old shows. It is not robust enough to replace cable, but now is part of my stable of content providers. If Netflix continues to develop a relevant and fresh content library – along with first-class original content, they will probably have me as a customer for life. Moreover, at roughly the same cost or less than adding an HBO, Showtime or similar channel to an existing cable bill, Netflix can be complimentary versus competitive. While most consumers are not ready to give up cable, they may be ready to add a new type of channel to their line up. I think this is strong step in that direction and IPTV and entertainment platforms such as xBox only make it easier.

Pushing out the Complete Series: This is genius to me. Like others have noted this is very experimental, but not off the charts.  I have enjoyed for years watching shows in marathon format, but you can always tell how the show is designed around commercial breaks and episodes. While the episodic notion of House of Cards is very much there, the flow of the show is much improved. Furthermore, I think House of Cards does a good job with keeping segments of the show moving, than say Newsroom, which can feel a bit monotonous over the course of an hour.

Some folks are commenting that this style of release will have challenges around spoiler alerts, but those don’t watch TV in real time are already used to that. Others have commented that social TV watching  is not possible. Yes, that is true, but we really giving up anything by paying less attention to what we are watching so we can read clever quips from strangers. Lastly, I am hearing comments that House of Cards will not create weekly buzz the way other shows do. I think there is some credibility, however, producers might find more balance in seasonal buzz versus episode-to-episode buzz. Furthermore, I suspect that producers will come up with some hybrid models that release shows in quarter or half seasons to gain best of both worlds. Remember, we are experimenting here.

Embedded Social Context: Many shows about politics and news are quick to have the stereotypical blogger character, but this shows goes deeper. One of the main characters is not just blogging, but challenging the current publishing model and finding that a staid paper is not evolving fast enough.  The shows main political operator also recognizes this and uses the fresh face of emerging media to drive his own agenda. Of all the TV I have watched lately, House of Cards does the best job of highlighting new media models and the resistance of the press to change. I think this is noteworthy story line in the show. I would say more, but don’t want to be a spoiler.

So…check out the show if you like political dramas and check out Netflix if you were waiting for a good excuse to add a new channel to your line up. Would love to hear any thoughts.


Top Social and Digital Trends for Financial Services in 2013

January 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Each year brings a time to look forward to new trends and areas of focus. As I continue to work at the intersection of customer experience and technology (mostly with financial institutions), the following is my hit list for 2013. I fully recognize this is not a comprehensive list and in no particular order, but I would love to hear what should be added, what I might be getting wrong, and whether anyone agrees or disagrees with the following:

  • Front-line Social Enablement: Over the last 2 years, I have paid a lot of attention to how front-line workers will use social media to engage with customers, prospects and referral sources, especially in wealth management and insurance. The last 2-years saw a crop of vendors such as Hearsay Social, Actiance, and Socialware bring products to market that help FIs manage these interactions and help front-line workers use social networks safely for marketing, customer service, and sales. With many major FIs picking vendors last year, this year we will see FIs try to scale front-line enablement across their sales and distribution workforces and integrate multiple vendor relationships into a cohesive ecosystem.
    • What to look for: A steady increase in how insurance agents and wealth managers incorporate social networking into their daily activities to connect with customer, prospects, and referral sources. For this to be effective, multiple vendors (compliance, CRM, social media monitoring, etc.) will need to come together, content will need some serious consideration, and analytics will be the glue.
    • The big questions: How will FIs support these front-line employees? To what degree are customers and prospects ready for FIs to network with them on social properties? Will we start to see some PR hiccups as more front-line employees get social? « Read the rest of this entry »

Key Questions from Financial Services Firms around Wealth Management and Social Media

July 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

July 12, 2012 Over the last couple of months, I have been working on a research project looking at how social and digital channels impact wealth management, especially the advisor and investor relationship. The research project is taking the form of focus groups in LA and NYC and through a survey of 1000 investors along with 400 financial advisors.

We are looking to understand several trends:

  • What is the future role of digital and social channels in the relationship between investors and advisors?
  • What do financial services firms need to do differently to address digital needs across generations (and especially in preparing for Generation Y)

We started our journey by talking to over a dozen financial services firms – wealth managers, asset managers, insurance firms, and the social vendors that support them. Across all of these discussion, there is genuine excitement for the research and a hunger to know the following:

  • How will social shopping behaviors spill into wealth management?
  • What digital interactions (i.e. read a Facebook update, saw a Tweet, read a blog) spark someone to think about their financial health, and then act? What does that next action look like and how can firms/advisors be there to support?
  • What is the profile of a social advisor?
  • What is the specific role that social and digital channels can play in shaping experiences with wealth management firms (especially given a sense of distrust in the market)?
  • What tools and experiences are needed across devices?

While the list is of questions that firms care about are extensive, these are a few that stick out to me. We hope to provide answers as we go through our research phases.

For anyone reading this, if there are any other questions that come to mind…fire away. As usual, all comments welcome.


Understanding Wealth Management and Social Across Generations

May 23, 2012 § 1 Comment

May 22, 2012 Over the next couple of months I get to embark on a really cool  project – conducting primary market research on how generations use digital channels differently around wealth management. I am working with one of the best market research companies – Definitive Insights – and have an opportunity to explore a really interesting topic. Accenture is sponsoring the research and behind its mission.

Here are the key drivers of our research:

  • How do members of the millennial generation think about the role of digital (and social) channels when it comes to the financial decisions?
  • What impact might the above have on financial advisors given the way they interact with their clients today?

We are still ruminating on the main themes, but we have a good outcome in mind. Namely, how to make the adivsor-client experience more relevant.

I believe this research is well timed and important to the future of the advice-led wealth management industry.

If anyone reading has any suggestions…fire away! If you want to participate in this research in any way, please reach out.


The Next 5-Years of Financial Services Digital Transformation

May 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

May 9, 2012  Large-scale social and digital initiatives are becoming a standard part of  future-focused programs at today’s leading financial institutions. In talking with peers, vendor partners, and those within the financial services industry…this much is becoming clear and it will have big implications for the next 5 year. Here are several of the areas of focus for these programs:

  • Social Media is slowly, but surely, transitioning from a marketing and campaign vehicle to a set of technologies and capabilities transforming sales and distribution, customer service, market research, and future product development. Today, large insurance and wealth management firms are reporting that top performers all leverage social channels as a significant portion or their lead generation success. Social customer service is becoming a standard element, but not one operated very efficiently. Market research and innovation teams are realizing success from mining social data and open innovation, but not maximizing its potential. All of this is just the tip of the iceberg and it is now time to start the hard work. « Read the rest of this entry »

Scaling Social Media

May 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

4.30.12  During SXSW 2010, Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group discussed a challenge managing social interactions for businesses – scale. At that time, I nodded by head, but I was not entirely on board. Here we are in 2012 and I think those words make more sense to me now.

Going back again, the entire panel Jeremiah was speaking with disagreed. Partly because they were all responsible for running some aspect of social media for their firms and were keeping their heads above water (using some technology and small teams). 2010 was also the time of boundless social optimism and this was basically a negative thought. I mean…how dare we speak badly against the new wave of all consuming communication and change. « Read the rest of this entry »

Google+ Pushing Further onto Search Results Page

March 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

3.22.12 Today, for the first time, I noticed Google+ integrating much deeper into the Google search experience. Backing up, the first level of integration included a small area above the search results pointing out connections with a search query to people or pages within an individual’s Google+.  Nothing too crazy, but a subtle reminder that the people or pages you follow might have some relevance to your search.

However, Google is now taking it the next level:

Google+ Integration with Search Results

In the image above (double click to enlarge if difficult to see), Google is bringing in results from all peoples and pages. Also, note the prominence of its location. It sits right next to the top 3 sponsored results and above the right hand column of sponsored ads. Furthermore, the Google+ results are much more visually compelling. What does this all mean? Here are a couple of thoughts: « Read the rest of this entry »