by Rich Edwards Jun 3, 2022

What we're reading - 06/03/22 Edition

The growing demand for personalized service, why personal efficiency is overrated, and what data really is and how is it useful

It's OK to be a little too excited about reading

Closing out the first “official” week of summer, we’re here with a few valuable reads at the intersection of community banking, technology, and marketing strategy. We have more survey data on the raising bar for personalization by FIs, a case for building slack (as in extra time) into your personal workflow, and a quick take on what data really is and isn’t but how it can be a competitive asset.

1. Personalized Experience Critical for Banking Customer Service

Not a new, but new to me, report from NTT Data on the needs and wants of consumers in personalized banking services. Their research reinforces the growing willingness of consumers, “futurists” in their parlance, to trade personal information in exchange for more relevant and personalized services from their FI. Hand in hand with this “exchange” are growing expectations in trust from FIs:

  • 59% of bank customers say they want their bank to deliver on its promises. They’re saying, “Show that I can trust you by keeping your promises. If you promise to deliver a payment in two days, make sure I can access the funds in two days. If you promise to protect my data, don’t fail.”
  • 66% say be honest with me. “If you make a mistake, come clean about it and correct it quickly.”
  • 42% say know me. “Understand enough about me to offer services I can use based on my past interactions, preferences and life situation.”

Customer interests in personalized and proactive offerings from FIs

2. Efficiency is the Enemy

“Thinking” expert and ex-spook Shane Parrish writes on the need for planning on slack, or extra time, in your day and broader organization. He points to focusing on being ultimately more effective vs. avoiding negative perceptions:

Many of us have come to expect work to involve no slack time because of the negative way we perceive it. In a world of manic efficiency, slack often comes across as laziness or a lack of initiative. Without slack time, however, we know we won’t be able to get through new tasks straight away, and if someone insists we should, we have to drop whatever we were previously doing. One way or another, something gets delayed.

If you ever find yourself stressed, overwhelmed, sinking into stasis despite wanting to change, or frustrated when you can’t respond to new opportunities, you need more slack in your life.

3. ‘Data isn’t oil - it’s sand’

In There’s No Such Thing as Data, Benedict Evans writes about the “nonfungible” nature of data and what it really means as a competitive advantage. In addition to bringing in Tim O’Reily’s quote above, Evans looks at what ‘data’ practically means, especially the sometimes 3rd rail of personally identifiable information (PII):

Most obviously, ‘data’ is not one thing, but innumerable different collections of information, each of them specific to a particular application, that aren’t interchangeable. Siemens has wind turbine telemetry and Transport for London has ticket swipes, and you can’t use the turbine telemetry to plan a new bus route. If you gave both sets of data to Google or Tencent, that wouldn’t help them build a better image recognition system.

Today’s discussions around AI and around data look a lot like discussions around databases in the 1980s. We transform what we can do with information and what questions we can ask, and how organisations can function. When databases were new, we worried, and some of those worries were real, but no-one today asks if America has more SQL, or if it matters that SAP is German.

Databases enabled just-in-time supply chains, and Walmart, and let Apple make iPhones in China - those are the strategic questions. The same for AI, and ‘data’ - it’s not the new oil, just more software, so what do you build with it?

And that’s the week. Here’s to all you Jersey Shampooers out there. Drop us a line at, even if you’re not keeping people looking fresh in the Garden State.

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