March 4, 2016
Marco Rigon is Paris-based global head of Mobext
March 4, 2016
Marco Rigon is Paris-based global head of Mobext
Over half of Italy’s adult web users went online via mobile at least once weekly in October—compared to a third in France and Germany
Italy’s long-standing financial troubles have been a major roadblock to government investment in infrastructure, including the networks required for 21st-century communications systems. Improvements are still needed—but thankfully most consumers no longer struggle with underperforming fixed-line phone and internet connections, according to research from the Office of Communications (Ofcom) – UK, which covers nine countries: Australia, Japan, Sweden and the US as well as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK (the EU-5).
Italy offers the clearest case in the EU-5 of mobile devices eclipsing more traditional connections. Fixed infrastructure is less crucial to online access, for example. In October 2015, just 68% of adult web users in Italy used fixed broadband weekly or more often to go online, compared with 79% in the UK and 84% in France. Similarly, in Italy only six in 10 internet users made phone calls each week with a fixed-line phone at home, compared with 70% in Spain and 78% in Germany.
Overall, 89% of web users in Italy used a mobile phone or smartphone weekly in October 2015, Ofcom reported. Only Spain registered a higher incidence of mobile use that month, at 91%.
Italy was even further ahead in mobile internet use. It was the only European nation sampled by Ofcom in which more than half (51%) of online adults used a mobile handset at least once per week to access the web. Spain came closest to equaling this, with 49%. But in France, Germany, Sweden and the UK, the share of respondents going online with a mobile phone weekly was no more than 33%.
Ofcom’s data tallies with eMarketer’s view that smartphones are fast becoming the key device for Italy’s internet users. An estimated 83.2% of that group will have a smartphone in 2016, and that share is expected to pass 92% in 2018.
Cisco Systems has also pointed to rapid growth in smartphone penetration in Italy, forecasting that the number of advanced handsets in use will reach 63 million in 2019. Moreover, smartphones are predicted to account for 68% of all data traffic in Italy that year, as the share of traffic passing via laptops and desktops shrinks to 5%.
While the banking industry understands the need to more digital, considerable changes will be required in order to make this a reality.
As the consumer is becoming more digital, the banking industry is being transformed. Consumers are becoming accustomed to instant communication, one click service and real-time contextuality. This comes at a time of increased competition. A study looks at how global bankers are responding to these increased expectations.
Now more than ever, banking needs to step out of its collective comfort zone, digitizing and diversifying in response to the changing consumer. While branches aren’t vanishing as quickly as some predicted, banking can no longer follow branch-centric models. Instead, the ‘Bank of the Future’ represents an omni-channel, client-centric, self-directed digital model that many banking executives admit may be beyond their scope.
A report from Oracle titled, “Banking is Changing … With or Without the Banks,” surveyed more than 100 executives at major retail banking institutions globally, which revealed a desire amongst banks to invest in digital strategies … but also stark differences in progress.
According to the report, digitization of the entire banking organization is viewed as the primary enabler of banks’ business objectives. Regardless of whether the focus is increasing revenues or profitability, decreasing costs or meeting regulatory guidelines, digitization is seen as a central investment priority.
Overall, 94% of banking executives interviewed say that having a digitized omni-channel customer engagement strategy is important to their future success, with 37% admitting that future success of their business is ‘entirely dependent’ on digital customer engagements. Despite the recognition that digital technology initiatives are urgently needed, 88% told Oracle they see significant challenges in moving toward digitization.
Every publication talks about the transformation of banking and that today’s retail banking competitive landscape is far removed from what existed a decade ago. Much of this change has been highlighted by the rising influence of new digital competitors that are impacting all levels of banking.
“No longer do retail banks simply vie for customers against other retail banks. Instead, we are witnessing an influx of new, tech-savvy, digital competitors – FinTechs – all eager for a piece of this lucrative financial pie,” the report said.
The foundation of these changes is caused by changing consumer demographics and expectations. “The world’s largest demographic, born after 1980, are now millennials. These customers have grown up in the era of Facebook and Amazon; an era of instant communication, one-click purchases and 24 hour delivery. If a supplier can’t provide a service, they don’t wait – they find someone else who can,” says the report.
More than half believe that both private label banks, alternative payment providers and even credit card providers will be major competitive threats – a greater percentage than are worried about other traditional high street players.
The banking industry is not standing still as these changes in expectation and competitors occur. Most organizations recognize that digital customer engagement is the way to respond to the changes in the industry. Key services that are among the most important to adopt, as noted by the respondents in the report, include mobile payments and real time data synchronization, spend analytics and even digital advisory services.
Despite all being recognized as important by over 80% of banks, there appears to be a failure to commit to delivery of these services, with only 24% providing real-time synchronization, 19% providing location-driven services and only 30% currently providing real-time analytics. In other words, the gap between importance and ‘ability to deliver’ is more than 60% for three of these capabilities. And while the importance of providing mobile payments is viewed as the most important component of digital engagement, the gap in capabilities is still 50%.
Oracle believes one of the reasons for the lag in delivery of digital capabilities is the comfort of current relationships. While these relationships served banking well in the past, banking needs to change their underlying processes to accept these new forms of data specially in the content of real-time digital processing.
“Omni-channel customer engagement is not a ‘bolt-on’ product that can simply be added to existing systems to give a little bit more functionality”, says the study. “It needs to take a fresh perspective – wiping the established ‘offline’ board clean and asking ‘how should we be doing this in a digital world’?”
Unfortunately, only 23% are currently approaching omni-channel customer engagement with a fresh, digital mindset. Instead, a ‘bolt-on’ approach is how the majority of retail banks (77%) are approaching digital channel engagement, either replicating offline banking capabilities online, or adding a small amount of additional functionality. Change is happening however.
For instance, while 74% of banking organizations aren’t yet able to facilitate the digital on-boarding of customers currently, within the next two years this figure is expected to drop to 24%.
Why are so many banks yet to develop a real-time, digital customer engagement offering when there is an acknowledgment of the importance of this capability? The key challenge lies in legacy systems, with nearly all banks (89%) mentioning the challenge of overcoming their legacy systems as a barrier against omni-channel engagement. The high cost of implementation (89%) and lack of suitable technology (75%) were also seen as hindering efforts to become truly digitized.
Beyond the innovation and investment needed to change legacy systems, Oracle blames the banking industry’s defensive mindsets, with banks focusing on preventing customer defection, complying with legislation and reducing the cost base, rather than actively seeking growth and improvement. Currently, retention of customers is prioritized above revenue as the key impetus to digitization, with 83% claiming customer loss as a prime motivator.
The banking model for the future will be customer-centric as opposed to being driven by products and services. This model will enable an information-driven and value centric relationship as opposed to being based on the bank’s needs. While 48% of the banks believe that customers in the future will want to use a bank where tasks can be completed in real-time across multiple synchronized digital and offline channels, there is only a limited belief that the industry will be able to live up to this challenge.
Nearly one third believe that most banks will be operating with disconnected digital channels in five years with 22% believing that most banks will have failed to adopt digital at all. The discrepancy between what banks think customers’ will want, and what the market will be able to deliver, is greatest in North America and the European markets, but no more than one third of banks in any region believe that banking will be able to provide truly synchronized, digital omnichannel banking within five years.
According to Oracle, “Failing to meet customers’ expectations is dangerous in any industry; it could be lethal in an environment where the competitive landscape is becoming ever-more congested.” While there is clarity of what is expected by the consumer, there is definitely less assuredness if banking will be able to keep pace with expectations given the level of investment and commitment required.
Operator: Your next shopping experience starts with a text
Operator wants to “unlock the 90% of commerce that’s not on the Internet”, CEO Robin Chan tells me. After two years in stealth, Chan was finally willing to give TechCrunch a peek at his startup, which he sees as the convergence of the biggest themes in tech: mobile, messaging, and the on-demand economy.
Operator calls itself a “Request Network”. It’s an app that uses a network of human ‘Operators‘ to fulfill customer requests. It can handle a broad range of commercial requests. For now it’s focused on “high-consideration” purchases that may require expertise or have lots of options to choose from.
Mr Camp co-founded Uber along with Travis Kalanick. Operator does not have any formal agreements in place with the ride-hailing app, but is closely watching the development of UberEverything, Uber’s logistics and delivery service, as a potential partner.
The upcoming holiday season is poised to be the first big test of digital concierge services as consumers turn to Christmas shopping or make reservations. A challenge for traditional mobile commerce has been getting customers to complete the purchase — users often find it too time-consuming or inconvenient to input their credit card number into a webpage on their smartphone, for example — and digital concierges are trying to change this
Facebook’s new virtual assistant for Messenger, M, is pretty darn impressive.
At this point, M can do pretty much everything an actual human assistant might be able to do, short of picking up your dry cleaning. (Although it could arrange to have it delivered!) That’s great news for Facebook. The company is rolling out M as a way to keep people using Messenger and, eventually, get them shopping inside of it. An assistant to make that easier will certainly grease the skids on those efforts.
But there’s actually a simple reason for why M is so advanced. For the most part, M is much more human than it is software. Or rather, it’s powered by actual humans much more than it is by software.
The artificial intelligence technology used to power M is still in a very early stage, which means that while the system is learning some of the basic responses for popular requests, human moderators handle the bulk of the interactions with actual users, according to Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer.
“It’s primarily powered by people,” Schroepfer explained. “But those people are effectively backed up by AIs. The idea here is, you can ask it any question, not just the set of questions that it’s capable of. The thing that’s cool about this is it gives us a much wider training set, like what are the things people actually want it to help them [with].”
In other words, making it human-powered versus machine-powered allows Facebook to get a more authentic glimpse at how people want to use the product.
Right now, Facebook is training M with supervised learning, a process where the computer learns by example from what human trainers teach it. If a user asks A, you respond B. Eventually, the idea is that M will know enough to operate without a human handler. Facebook has a team of people building neural networks — applications that help machines think and act like humans — and many of those applications are already live inside of M, Schroepfer says.
That doesn’t mean that M will fly solo any time soon. The feature is only available to a small group of beta testers in Silicon Valley, and the technology needs to become much less human-dependent before Facebook passes it out more broadly, Schroepfer said.
“The reason this is exciting is it’s scalable,” he added. “We cannot afford to hire operators for the entire world to be their personal assistant.”
Schroepfer also showed off a new tool Facebook is building that can actually describe what’s in a photo, and vocalize it through a verbal Q&A process with a user. So, if you asked Facebook what was in a picture, it could — without ever having seen the picture before — respond correctly, based on other photos it has seen. This tech hasn’t rolled out to users yet, but Schroepfer hopes that someday it will.
These efforts are part of a much broader push from Facebook to dive into artificial intelligence and deep learning as a way to personalize its service. It has one of the world’s top deep learning experts, Yann LeCun, running its AI division; the eight-person team from machine-learning startup Wit.ai, which Facebook acquired in January, is running M. The company won’t say how many operators it’s using for M, but BuzzFeed found that Facebook is using outside services like TaskRabbit to complete some of the requests.
Les jeux pour terminaux mobiles commencent à représenter une part non négligeable des revenus d’Ubisoft. La firme a publié un chiffre d’affaires de 96,6 millions d’euros sur le premier trimestre de l’année fiscale 2015-2016, clos le 30 juin dernier. Il était de 809,7 millions d’euros au troisième trimestre de son exercice fiscal précédent. Un ralentissement anticipé par l’éditeur, qui prévoyait un chiffre d’affaires de 80 millions d’euros ce trimestre.
Certes, la Playstation 4 et les jeux pour PC restent les deux principales sources de revenus de l’éditeur. Elles représentent respectivement 27% et 23% des recettes de la société d’origine bretonne. Toutefois, les ventes de jeux pour mobile et de produits dérivés ont fortement augmenté en un an. Elles représentent 14% du chiffre d’affaires de l’entreprise sur le premier trimestre de l’année fiscale en cours, contre seulement 1% un an plus tôt. Ces jeux pour mobiles et produits dérivés représentent une part plus importante de revenus générés que la Playstation 3 (11%), la Xbox 360 (11%), la Xbox One (11%) ou encore les Wii (3%).
Rayman Adventures sur mobile prévu pour l’automne
La firme a déjà sorti deux épisodes de Rayman adaptés aux smartphones et aux tablettes. Elle en prévoit d’en sortir un troisième cet automne, Rayman Adventures, développé par le studio Ubisoft de Montpellier. Ce jeu fonctionnera sous iOS et Android.
Ubisoft a mis l’accent sur les jeux pour mobiles depuis 2012. La société a décliné Assassin’s Creed et Prince of Persia par exemple. Auparavant l’éditeur avait laissé à la société Gameloft, dirigée par l’un des frères du pDG d’Ubisoft Yves Guillemot, le soin de développer ses jeux pour ce type de terminaux. Le modèle économique freemium est le plus courant, bien que de nouveaux modèle économiques soient testés. Au final, le segment digital représente 54,1 millions d’euros, soit 56% du chiffre d’affaires sur le premier trimestre 2015-2016, contre 23,2% l’année dernière.
Les jeux Ubisoft sont distribués dans 55 pays à travers le monde et la firme dispose de filiales dans 28 pays. Elle emploie environ 8 400 personnes. Son siège est situé à Montreuil en banlieue parisienne. Elle prévoit un chiffre d’affaires d’environ 90 millions d’euros au deuxième trimestre de l’année fiscale 2015-2016. Pour l’exercice annuel, Ubisoft prévoit un résultat opérationnel d’au moins 200 millions d’euros.
One of the most-watched digital reports of the year is out—Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends—and it shows just how much room mobile advertising has to grow. Meeker runs digital investments for top Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, and every year she releases a comprehensive breakdownof the entire Web landscape.
Meeker looks at how people around the world use the Internet, how many are on mobile, how they spend their time online, and which companies and industries stand to gain the most.
Here’s what you should be focused on this year in digital and on mobile: