It’s A Jungle Out There: AWS & The Age of Big Data

In the age of Big Data, Amazon is king of the jungle. Amazon.com is the mane; AWS is the tail.

Most people know Amazon.com as the world’s largest online retailer. However, Just as notable in the Big Data revolution as those little cardboard boxes that show up on your doorstep is Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Big Data refers to data sets that are too large to be processed and analyzed by traditional IT technologies. Whether your business just needs an email client, or involves processing millions of documents, the cloud makes it all possible affordable.

For start-ups, cash-flow is an issue. They need computing power, but those servers are pricy. Rather than begging investors for costly servers of their own, they can just rent the services they need from the cloud. If the company goes belly up, the investors don’t have to worry about setting up a yard sale to unload all that hardware. This makes it possible for more small companies to dare-to-be-great. Even for established companies, cloud computing lowers overhead and is often the most cost-efficient way to do business, period.

Another benefit of Amazon web servies is scalability. For example, what an app blows up over night? Remember in The Social Network when Zukerberg is really pissed at Eduardo for freezing Facebook’s bank accounts early on, threatening to interrupt service? [Jesse Eisenberg] was right to fear that interruption of service. In an age where the blink of an eye is too long for impatient web-users, it is not surprising that consumers have little patience for apps that don’t work right due to computing-related scalability issues. For example, in a previous post I lauded Draw Something for earning over 1 million downloads in its first ten days in the Android and Apple apps stores. However, right when I published this post, Draw Something was experiencing interruptions in service related to  exact types of scalability issues. The developers, OMGPOP, were able to overcome the majority of these problems in a matter of days. But, a number of people who read my post told me they tired to play, had a bad experience, and will probably never give Draw a second shot.

Amazon has a diverse portfolio of remote computing services. Amazon Simple Service Storage (S3) provides web service based storage. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) allows for scalable virtual private servers. Amazon Elastic MapReduce allows businesses, researchers, data analysts, and developers to easily and cheaply process vast amounts of data. And the list goes on.

These days, Amazon is not the only name in the game when it comes to remote-computing. Nonetheless, Amazon got the ball rolling for a host of other companies and continues to play a major role in the industry. Amazon S3 has grown from storing  2.6 billion objects in 2006 to 762 billion in 2011.

AWS and similar servies have made it possible for game-changing internet star-ups to think big. Cloud computing servies are the fertilizer that make Big Data possible.


Sunny With A Chance of Thunderstorms

Picture Jim: a 44-year-old working professional from Austin, Texas. He and his wife took their daughter Amy, now 10-years-old, and their son Hunter, now 7-years-old, to Disney World in Orlando, FL a few years back. Hunter was a little too young to really remember the trip and Jim never got to play Disney’s Osprey Ridge golf course, but the family had a great time. Jim has been thinking about making fresh vacation plans for a while now, but he just hasn’t been inspired to pull the trigger.

Taking a break from his spreadsheet, Jim clicks over to Facebook and his eyes catch an item in his newsfeed: the forecast for Walt Disney World Resort that reads 88 degrees and sunny, with 5 smiling sun icons running through the end of the week. Accompanying the forecast is an offer. “Returning visitors save 20% on a 4-night stay. Plus, one free greens fee at any Disney golf course.“

The ad knows Jim. It knows he is ready for a vacation. It is enticing without being intrusive and is presented in his newsfeed as information, rather than off to the side as a banner advertisement. And even better, it is automatically generated based on information Jim is already providing Facebook through his wall posts, check-ins, likes, geo-location and more. There is even the ability to market a similar vacation package to Jim’s friends who shares similar characteristics. The ability to personalize these offers are endless. Weather plays a key role in marketing for vacation destinations but an Open Graph application offers similar advantages to a variety of advertisers.

While this story has a happy ending, there are still some storm clouds looming. The Weather Channel expressed to me a hesitation in bundling marketing packages with weather information. Frankly, I see their point.

The Weather Channel is the most trusted name in weather. Mobile TWC apps have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times on a variety of devices. TWC is seen as the most trusted brand in weather because they offer seamless ways for people to get information about the weather. Cross-branding promotions slow this process down. They have tried and have been unsuccessful. Apparently, Weather users can sniff out an promotion like that a mile away, and they don’t like it.

On the sunny side, Weather really is on the same page as Really Gets Me. They are interested in extracting data from Facebook and Twitter. Improving services/content and general branding are their primary goals. It seems like other companies sometimes get hung-up on the Xs and Os of short term ROI. The Weather Channel is ready and willing (at least to hear our ideas) and has not limited themselves to a narrow view of social media’s potential.

So, here’s the issue: How big do we want to think? Were should we aim on the spectrum of practical/boring to game-changing/pie-in-the-sky?

Encouraging users to connect with Facebook should be a relatively easy proposition. (Still, an important step beyond what TWC has in opperation now.) What to do with this info is the question.

What do you guys say?  How big are ya’ll thinking?

 

 


There’s Nothing Casual About Smartphone Gaming Addiction

No, this isn’t a wildlife print by John James Audubon. It’s just a bird that I drew this morning on my smartphone.

If you guys haven’t downloaded Draw Something yet, get on it. First of all, this brilliantly simple turn-based pictionary game will provide you with hours and hours of fun (outside of class, of course). Secondly, there are a number of elements contributing to this game’s success worth noting. And third, I want some more people to play with. (As you can see by my screenshot, I am playing with a random user because my 4 friends who play are taking too long in between turns.)

Draw Something was downloaded over a million times in the first 10 days it was released. As of now, the game is seeing 10 million new drawings every 24 hours. That is a lot of action.

This explosion of growth was made possible because Draw Something was released as a truly cross-platform app. Players can connect with friends via Facebook or Twitter, as well as invite people to play by email. Android and iOS phone/tablet users can play against one another. Also, Instagram has proven to be a surprise marketing engine because Draw users like to post screenshots of their pictures. (It is also worth noting that you are not required to connect with a social network to use the app, if agreeing to the Facebook permissions creeps you out) Because the game made a simultaneous splash on both major mobile platforms with options to connect with the two largest social networks, there was never any friction in the word-of-mouth machine. Some applications lose momentum when they roll out for the iphone and Android users must sit on their hands for another couple months while their version is in development, or vice versa.

The developers, OMGPOP, were smart to incorporate a variety of ways to monetize this app. The free version cashes in on banner advertising. Presumably these ads will have a much higher click-through-rate because they will leverage information collected from the user’s social network. Players can also buy virtual goods such as new colors, effects, and bombs for simplifying turns. This ability to collect additional revenue should allow the game to stay profitable longer by adding value for hardcore gamers without turning off more causal users. Interestingly, CEO Dan Porter reports that the largest source of revenue is upgrading to the $0.99 version of the game. The premium version is ad-free, with additional words, and a few extra gold coins to get you started. Overall, it is not all that different from Draw Free. In the end, it seems that the game is so addicting that users don’t think twice about shelling out the for the dollar upgrade. Right now, Draw Something is seeing 5-digit daily revenue.

Draw Something’s success is not unique. A post this week on the Facebook Developer’s blog highlights the success of casual arcade-style gaming. This is one of the oldest app categories on Facebook and continues to be a leader in growth. These games are especially beneficial to Facebook because of their high engagement factor. Users keep logging on to play, boosting page-views and subsequently increasing opportunities for users to see new advertising. In an effort to encourage developers to build upon these games’ success, Facebook points out a few strategies for success:

  • Bring friends into the game by promoting healthy competition
  • Allow people to brag about their accomplishments or highscores by posting leaderboards to timelines
  • Schedule weekly tournaments, giving users a specific reason to keep coming back
  • Promote collaborative competition and gifting by using frictionless requests

Good game mechanics are proving to be an essential quality for an app’s success, and Facebook is continually doing everything it can to create opportunities for developers to drive discovery and re-engament. Digging a little deeper into your favorite time-waster may reveal some great ideas for how companies can use applications to connect and stay connected with their most valuable constituents.


Topics to Explore

Here are a few topics we should consider exploring for the white-paper. Each one of these subjects should warrant a good bit of individual attention, minimizing overlap .

Social Capital

How do we measure the value of social relationships?

Definitions:

“In The Forms of Capital, Pierre Bourdieu distinguishes between three forms of capital: economic capital, cultural capital and social capital. He defines social capital as “the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition.” His treatment of the concept is instrumental, focusing on the advantages to possessors of social capital and the ‘deliberate construction of sociability for the purpose of creating this resource.'”

Measurement:

“There is no widely held consensus on how to measure social capital, which has become a debate in itself: why refer to this phenomenon as ‘capital’ if there is no true way to measure it?”

Sentiment Analysis

How do we extract subjective information from source materials?

Importance, Accuracy, Applications

Big data sizes are a constantly moving target currently ranging from a few dozen terabytes to many petabytes of data in a single data set.

Opinion mining from noisy text data
Twitter mood maps reveal emotional states of America
Automatic Identification of Pro and Con Reasons in Online Reviews
Opinion Mining and Sentiment Analysis

Data-sets 

What types of data-sets are out there?

Data, data everywhere: Information has gone from scarce to superabundant.
That brings huge new benefits, says Kenneth Cukier, but also big headaches

Data-management

How do we efficiently process large quantities of data within tolerable elapsed times?

Big data sizes are a constantly moving target currently ranging from a few dozen terabytes to many petabytes of data in a single data set.
Facebook handles 40 billion photos from its user base.
Decoding the human genome originally took 10 years to process; now it can be achieved in one week.

Sandia sees data management challenges spiral
Community cleverness required

Crowd-sourcing 

Is this crowd-sourcing thing still worth the buzz?

Crowd Sourcing Turns Business On Its Head
Looking Forward – Emerging and Declining Networks for 2009
Crowdsourcing without a Crowd: Levia’s Failed Attempt

Permeable Data Sources 

Who has the keys to the lock box?

Dispatch Box: On the road to Open Data
Open Government Data Catalogues 
Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data

New concepts:

time banking

social gaming

microcredit

9 types of business models: Which one are you?


Let’s Get A Few Things Straight

All this talk about Facebook, Apps, Open Graph, and Timeline, has my head spinning. Let’s pause for a moment to get some much-needed clarification.

Earlier this year Facebook debuted about 60 Timeline apps. Today, there are 84 timeline apps available. These apps are broken down into 9 categories: Entertainment (18), Fitness (2), Food (5), Giving (3), Music (12), News (17), Shopping and Fashion (12), Travel (5), and Other (10).

What is the difference between a Timeline app and a regular Facebook app? 

Well, simply put, Timeline apps publish Actions to your profile. Timeline apps are “meant for the activities you want to share with friends.” Other applications may be considered social, but they do not publish information about you to your profile. Both Timeline apps and regular apps on Facebook can use Open Graph.

Since Facebook is making a permanent transition to Timeline, will that make all apps Timeline apps?

Yes, no, and maybe. Not every app will post Actions to your Timeline. But, Facebook does want apps to take a more prominent role in your profile. Apps were originally used to access content. The next generation of Facebook apps are meant to reflect what you do in the real world: what you eat, buy, exercise, cook, listen to, etc. Basically, Facebook wants your Timeline to be a convergence of your “real” and “digital” lives.

What are the advantages for a company to use a Timeline app?

Facebook is already publishing success stories about Timeline apps. Content discovery, increased website traffic, time spent on site, new users, and overall “engagement” are areas where companies have seen benefits. 50% of eCommerce site visitors are loged into Facebook so there is a lot of potential for companies who want to increase online sales.

Zukerberg’s “frictionless sharing” business model means “permissionless sharing.” Since users will have to opt-out rather than opt-in, markets, and your friends, will now have access to vast amounts of data they would not have had before.

What’s up with the ticker on the right-hand-side of home page?

 

When you use games and apps, the ticker on the right-hand column shows your friends’ app activity in real time. The ticker may include Sponsored Stories that may or may not be about games.

 

 


It’s My Data, and I Want It Now!

[Ben Elliot and William Wickey]

How much access do you have to the data you put online? How much of what you do online is being recorded? 

In the case of Facebook, the answer to both these questions is “quite a bit.”

Facebook now allows anyone to download a copy their data saved. Users now have the opportunity to see just how much they are contributing in a “raw” format.  This is part of Mark Zukerburg’s initiative to give Facebook users more control.

What’s the advantage? Well, you’ll be able to see JUST how much of your “deleted” information Facebook still holds on to. Also, you’ll receive a comprehensive guide to EVERY action you have EVER made on Facebook. Theoretically, you could even upload all your data to Google Plus and leave Facebook altogether.

Downloading your data is actually quite simple.  At the top right corner click “Account Settings”, and then on the general account page find “download a copy” of your Facebook data.

The following information is included in the data download.

It will take time for Facebook to process your request, but eventually you will receive an email with a ZIP file to download all of your data.

How you download your data on Facebook”, a ZDNet article, provides a step-by-step guide of screenshots on how to download your data if further instructions are needed. Also, CNET has released a “how to” video as well.

http://www.cnet.com/av/video/embed/player.swf

Once the data is unzipped, inside the main folder are individual’s .HTML files organized by content. These .HTML files consist of photos, messages, events, wall posts, notes, friends, etc.  It’s best to open the “Index.html” file for the best viewing options of your data.

The amount of data in the file, viewed as code, really puts into perspective how much information Facebook users put out into the open. But in reality the average Facebook user’s data is not that large (about 62MB).

Seeing all of the wall posts, messages and uploaded contact puts into perspective the amount and value of contributed data. How this allocated data is applied is important in determining the overall value of the data. Ideally, the data users and individuals contribute can enhance their social media experience. Since Facebook it letting users and developers toy with their data, we don’t necessarily have to rely on Facebook to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

It is also worth nothing that throughout their tutorials Facebook refers to this as “your” data, even though it has been suggested that the company’s terms of agreement give them a legal claim to ownership over all the data uploaded to their site. For now, users may not have control of their data but they at least have access to it


The Weather Channel

“Fair weather weddings make fair weather lives.” – Richard Hovey

My name is William Wickey. I majored in advertising at The University of Georgia, graduating in 2009. I am currently in the second semester of a two-year mass-media studies masters program, working as a graduate assistant for Dr. Shamp, the director of the NMI. Academically, I am focusing on online and social media advertising. In between undergrad and my masters program I lived in Jackson Hole, WY. I worked at JH Weekly Newspaper, Jackson Hole Community Radio, a social media start-up called Surf the Tetons, and for the marketing team at Grand Teton Music Festival. I also started a small LLC that purchases wine for restaurants [BombSomm.com].

This semester I am digging into Big Data.

The purpose of NMIX 6200 is to explore ways that organizations can leverage permeable data sources to improve their services. The newest vein in the data gold rush is Facebook’s Open Graph. For a reasonably social-media-savvy company such as The Weather Channel, the next step is developing a Facebook application.

There are two reasons why The Weather Channel needs to develop an Open Graph application. First, a Facebook app adds to the diverse catalogue of media properties already available to Weather users for accessing their forecast. Right now, Facebook users must go to The Weather Channel’s page and search for weather information. An application improves this process by making the user’s homepage a weather dashboard. Moreover, adding Facebook Connect – which is transitioning into Open Graph – to weather.com will crate an easy way for people to log in and stay logged in. Second, and more importantly, an Open Graph application adds value for The Weather Channel’s advertisers.

Picture Jim: a 44-year-old working professional from Austin, Texas. He and his wife took their daughter Amy, now 10-years-old, and their son Hunter, now 7-years-old, to Disney World in Orlando, FL a few years back. Hunter was a little too young to really remember the trip and Jim never got to play Disney’s Osprey Ridge golf course, but the family had a great time. Jim has been thinking about making fresh vacation plans for a while now, but he just hasn’t been inspired to pull the trigger.

Taking a break from his spreadsheet, Jim clicks over to Facebook and his eyes catch an item in his newsfeed: the forecast for Walt Disney World Resort that reads 88 degrees and sunny, with 5 smiling sun icons running through the end of the week. Accompanying the forecast is an offer. “Returning visitors save 20% on a 4-night stay. Plus, one free greens fee at any Disney golf course.

The ad knows Jim. I knows he is ready for a vacation. It is enticing without being intrusive and is presented in his newsfeed as information, rather than off to the side as a banner advertisement. And even better, it is automatically generated based on information Jim is already providing Facebook through his wall posts, check-ins, likes, geo-location and more. There is even the ability to market a similar vacation package to Jim’s friends who shares similar characteristics. The ability to personalize these offers are endless. Weather plays a key role in marketing for vacation destinations but an Open Graph application offers similar advantages to a variety of advertisers.

The Weather Channel is the most trusted name in weather. Moreover, mobile TWC apps have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times on a variety of devices. Encouraging users to connect with Facebook should be a relatively easy proposition. This is not necessarily the case for other companies.

I am not a programmer or a mathematician capable of coding this application or it algorithms. I am, however, able and willing to create a blueprint for building such an application. I will spend a minimum of six hours a week for the next two months doing so.

To accomplish this goal, I will need speak with an individual at The Weather Channel who can make decisions about digital marketing over the phone. Over the coming weeks I need to correspond with that individual through email no more that 5 times. I will present my finished blueprint at our NMI Spring Show-Off on 5/5/12.

I look forward to this opportunity and would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Thank you. Have a great day.


metrics [ME-triks] -noun

metrics [ME-triks] -noun

  • the application of statistics and mathematical analysis to a field of study.
  • a combining form with the meaning “the science of measuring,” that specified by the initial element: biometrics; econometrics.

It sounds like a science, but it is really an art.

Often times, when we are discussing metrics (or web analytics) we are talking about more than just numbers, raw measurement or statistics. Metrics involve the interpretation of of data.

Look at google analytics and you will see the type of data that most people think of when you say [web] “metrics:” Visits, Unique Visitors, Pageviews, Pages/Visit, Avg. Time on Site, Bounce Rate, New Visits, Location, Language, Network, Traffic Sources, Site Speed, Searches, Sales, etc.

This type of information can be helpful on its own, but it is largely one-dimensional. Raw statistics loose significance without context. Good metrics are defined in terms of strategy. What is our goal and what kind of specific statistics indicate success? A statistic like unique visits may be less important than net sales for a business like CustomInk.com that is a totally online operation. The opposite may be true if you are Coca-Cola and your website is more for branding purposes, not sales.

To add dimension to the numbers, metrics can also be constructed in the form of an equation or an aggregation of data. These analytics express valuable but subjective concepts such as loyalty, engagement, and virality. Take Facebook Insights relatively recent introduction of two new metrics: Weekly Total Reach and People Talking About This Total reach refers to the number of unique individuals who saw any content related to your page. People Talking About This combines all likes, posts, check-ins, mentions, etc.

These simplified metrics reflect data that Facebook considers important. However, it is always important to dig deeper in order avoid “measurement inversion.” This is when metrics seem to emphasize what organizations find immediately measurable — even if those are low value — and tend to ignore high value measurements simply because they seem harder to measure (whether they are or not). For example, while Facebook is more interested in measuing the overall “conversation” surrounding a given page, an individual business may be more interested in investigating a particular element, such as check-ins, if that metrics relates to an ongoing promotion.

Today, metrics are evolving quickly. Batch metrics (collected daily, hourly, etc.) were once the standard. Now, many companies demand real-time metrics, especially when it comes to social media. Advertising metrics that drive much of the value online are constantly being tweaked in an attempt to more accurately reflect the true worth of a given ad. Code metrics that calculate how efficient a program or script is running can get very complicated but are essential for optimizing web performance.

For our purposes, we will most likely be dealing with metrics in the social graph. You can think of it as metrics 2.0 [or, even 3.0] . The key distinction between basic web analytics and metics in the social graph are relationships. How are things (both “individuals” and “objects”) related to one another ? These types of interrelationships can be conceptualized by sociograms and emphasize choices and preferences.

Social network analysis software (SNA software) facilitates both quantitative and qualitative analysis of social networks by describing features of a network, either through numerical or visual representation. We now have much more data than we know what to do with. Creatively identifying how to interpret the information is the tricky part. This is why we often see larger, more established internet companies buying up analytics start-ups who have an interesting twist on interpreting different types of data.

The first step for each of our companies is to identify a goal. Next, we must find out what data is available and investigate what types of relationships can indicate success.

And always remember, if you don’t measure it, you cannot optimize it.


Permission to Share, Please

As an individual without a background in programming, here is my [admittedly feeble] attempt to dig into how Open Graph accesses information.

I spoke with Dr. Aldridge today about how information is retrieved. He told me that information can be pulled in 3 different ways: FQL (Facebook query language), Java Script and php. Most apps will use a combination of these programming languages based on their needs.

The data must then be pulled, processed, then conceptualized. Actions logged by 3rd party apps are not necessarily logged by Facebook. The potential is there to monitor what kind of data a given app is pulling, but Facebook does not have the explicit ability to observe or track what third parties then do with the information they pull.

In terms of visualizing Facebook’s Open Graph, I found Facebook’s Graph API page, the most helpful resource out there.

Public information for any user can be found at https://graph.facebook.com/ID.

Here’s what my public information looks like:

{
   "id": "4928378",
   "name": "William Wickey",
   "first_name": "William",
   "last_name": "Wickey",
   "username": "williamwickey",
   "gender": "male",
   "locale": "en_US"
}

Pretty basic.

Any additional information about an individual must be retrieved through the use of an access token generated when a user accepts a permission request. Depending on the permissions of the app, that token may also allow that app to perform action on behalf of the user such a post things.

To access additional information, an app must ask for specific permissions from the user. Permissions are then divided into “Auth Dialog” and “Enhanced Auth Dialog” on two different screens. The first permission screen grants access to basic info such as user id, name, profile picture, gender, age range, locale, networks, user ID, list of friends, and any other information they have made public. The second screen (Enhanced Auth Dialog) must be used to access additional information about the user or their friends. One interesting aspect of Enhanced Auth Dialog is that these permissions are non-revocable; i.e. once users have allowed your application from the Auth Dialog, they cannot be revoked [by a user].

Permission Screen 1:

Permission Screen 2:

Here is a more extensive list of the information that an app can potentially access and the permissions required. This also includes actions that can be performed on the behalf of a user by an app possessing the necessary permissions such as create and modify events, create and edit the user’s friend lists, perform checkins on behalf of the user, etc. https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/api/permissions/

If you’re curious, you can check out the apps you have already granted permission to here: http://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=applications

Some websites that Facebook has specifically partnered with, like the ones listed below, access public information automatically in order to personalize experiences the moment you arrive.

While this list is small for the time being, Instant Personalization will doubtlessly grow rapidly. Essentially, the services listed above are trusted partners who have already been grated the initial stage of permissions to access user’s information. This is all part of Facebook’s “frictionless sharing” plan that aims to phase out the Like button in favor of automating the sharing experience. As more organizations partner with Facebook we may see the permission screen slowly phased out under the assumption that you want to share everything you do, unless you explicitly specify otherwise.


First Data

There are seemingly endless applications for First Data to leverage “big data.” In fact, First Data is big data. Their business is to gather and manage information, specifically payment information. However, there are security concerns regarding most of these transactions. In spite of the sensitivity of payment information, there very well may be an additional opportunity to provide merchants with invaluable demographic and psychographic information about their customers gathered from data stored on customer’s smart phones. First Data’s promise to offer merchants an easy and secure way to receive payments from tech-savvy customers could be expanded into helping businesses better understand their customers. Developing a specific and practical strategy for First Data to implement may be difficult to dial in, but this company is well positioned to take the next step in leveraging big data.

Right now, First Data is pushing a concept called uCommerce, or “universal commerce.” This is an area where I could see the New Media Institute getting involved. uCommerce is a fast-payment method using a connected device like a smart phone, blurring the lines between in-store commerce, eCommerce, and mobile commerce. Part of this strategy includes Google Wallet. Google Wallet is a new payment system using near-field communication (NFC) on cellphones to pay for goods. Though this is a Google service, there is nothing indicating that First Data, or individual merchants, cannot also leverage Facebook’s Open Graph data when accepting a payment.

First Data has written extensive white papers on security and direct marketing through gifts cards, but nothing about social media or collecting/analyzing data from customers who use their uCommerce options.

Who is the constituency that the client wants to reach?

First Data has 5 primary types of services:

1. Selling point-of-sale (POS) uCommerce terminals to large and small merchants. 2. Providing payment solutions for businesses, meaning monitoring and securing in-house credit card transactions, bill pay, internet banking, etc. 3. Managing payments for government institutions and universities. 4. Issuing and monitoring fuel cards and payroll options for businesses that move goods via truck. 5. Providing customer payment options like automated bill-pay and call center support for businesses.

Who does the company want to show that it really gets?

Judging by their white papers, webinars, and promotional videos from the past two years, the most important issue to First Data is security. Security seems to be the number one issue they want to demonstrate that they understand, inside and out. Other recurring topics are the adoption rates of mobile payment options by consumers and pre-paid cards as an effective way to encourage spending.

What is it that the company wants out of the interaction?

Overall, First Data wants more businesses to adopt their services to manage payments. More specific aspects of this include,

  • encourage businesses to use pre-pay [gift] cards
  • demonstrate to small businesses that consumers are adopting mobile payments services like Google Wallet
  • demonstrate that managing payroll and purchasing is more efficient through online banking
  • show that customers are beginning to buy on credit once again, after a several year lull
  • convince businesses that uCommerce is safe from fraud

What does the constituency get?

First Data’s customer’s customers want an easy and safe way to pay for goods. Paying for goods via cell phone promises to be a time-saver and allows individuals to track their spending. Also, individuals will receive special offers and rewards. However, it appears that all these special offers will be administered on Google’s end or by individual merchants. This is an area where First Data can get more involved.