Steal these ideas

Steal this business idea: Banking edition

For the longtime readers (hi mom!) out there, you know that my “Steal this idea” series is where I give away innovation ideas that I’ve had – they’re free for the taking by any industry, existing company, or entrepreneur. I’ll gladly accept board positions or stock grants from appreciative organizations that I’ve inspired, but my ideas are free for the taking.

This week, let’s look at a way to improve the personal banking experience.

Situation: Frequently, some component of our personal security is compromised and our banks find it necessary to send us a new credit or debit card. The old number gets canceled. The new card arrives. No big deal, right? Wrong. Anyone that has been in this situation knows that they likely have at least 5 or 10 companies hitting that old card number automatically. Who can even remember who is billing what card and when anymore?

My wife and a friend were both victims of this in the last couple days, so it’s top of mind as an area ripe for innovation. This is a classic example of an area where the customer ends up carrying the burden, when it should be the company.


Many ways to solve this one, I think, but here are a few ways that could result in a huge uplift in customer satisfaction.

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Steal this idea: Dynamic procurement

Why do I have to go to iTunes and Amazon’s music store to see who has the lower price on a song I want to buy before I purchase it? To be honest, I don’t care which store I buy it from – I just want it at the best price, and I want it to download seamlessly into my music library and obey my naming and organizational conventions.

This is an open plea for someone to build that app for me. Not a price comparison app, those still require me to make decisions. I just want an app that lets me browse for music, click “buy”, and it automatically procures my shopping cart selections for me at the very best prices. I configure it once with my account information for multiple music stores, and it does the rest. I’d pay 5 bucks for that, certainly.

Which brings me into the cloud for a moment
All this talk about cloud storage and cloud capacity and virtual machines lately has me thinking again, which means not sleeping enough and in general getting a bit dorkier every day (which my image can’t really afford, I’m afraid.)

But seriously. . . why shouldn’t cloud storage and processing (and whatever else you cloud people do in the cloud) be procured in the same way I point out above for music? Let’s look at an ITSM workflow for a crisp example of my thought process here:

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Steal these business ideas: #1 – 5

Sorry in advance for a long post. I’m not a big believer in hoarding ideas – I have many more than I will ever use, so I like to toss them into the public domain in the instance that someone else wants to steal one of them. If you use any of these ideas, feel free to throw a small equity stake my way :-)

I’ll be making this a regularly occurring series, as new ideas bubble up, so stay tuned.

I’ve tinkered with a ton of iphone and ipad apps in the last few years. You’ll know from my recent post on game dynamics that I’ve been keenly interested recently (thanks to a SXSW panel I attended) on how clever application designers are earning our loyalty (obsession / compulsion?) by employing the same principles that good games do to keep us enthralled.

Case in point: Apps like Foursquare, that reward us points for checking in to dining and shopping establishments, and increase the points they dole out to us based on frequency. The “status” game dynamic is strongly employed by awarding “mayorships” for the most loyal patrons, and often showering the mayor with freebies or exclusive deals for their loyalty. Players compete against each other to steal back the mayorship. Friends compete against each other to be the most active, checking in at the most places. In short, it’s an app that unabashedly rewards consumerism.

Swipely takes it a step further, allowing you to publish a news feed of all the places you swipe your credit card. Seriously. As I understand it, they leverage Yodlee’s API to gather data on the purchases you make and publish them to a feed that your friends can subscribe to, comment on, etc. Which might be great for a gal that wants to brag about some new Christian Louboutin shoes, but not so much for a guy like me who is likely to be buying an 8-pack of toilet paper and a Mountain Berry Powerade at Walgreen’s.

I don’t need any more help spending money, thank you. My wife and I spend enough money eating out to each month to seriously support another family altogether. It’s shameful, we know it, and while our kids will still get to go to college, they may have to check their textbooks out from the library instead of buying them, because mom and dad took everyone out for a few too many cheeseburgers when they were little.

Steal this idea #1: Don’t help me spend money, help me save it

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