James Mazarakis, EVP and CIO, WSFS Bank [NASDAQ: WSFS]
Hardly a day goes by without someone mentioning a new “app” that performs a function that we all need to keep ourselves sane during our work day or to have more fun during our leisure time. If there is a need, then there is someone out there thinking of an app solution that can help us perform it a little bit better and faster or a little more amusing than we ever did before.
It is hard to complain about all these great conveniences and new found capabilities that tend to make our lives simpler and keep us entertained. Those individual apps are terrific, but they present us with a new-found problem. The challenge is that every given slice of life is split up into a multitude of little tasks that we still need to put together. So what might work a little better for me? Now that we have many apps that perform individual tasks well, we need much better connectivity across all these capabilities. To make life even easier for consumers, more standards across all these applications are required to allow multiple tasks to be put together to perform more effective work units, eliminating the need for consumers to store hundreds of individual apps on their phones and tablets.
What is missing now is the ability to string individual apps together in a reasonable way to really make life simpler
Here is an example of what I would like to propose: As I’m driving to the airport to catch a flight I would like my navigational app to compute the time it will take me to get to the airport, look at my calendar for the scheduled time of my flight, check with the airline to see if the flight is leaving on time, check the GPS on my phone and tell me that I will not be able to make the flight due to traffic congestion problems ahead. Then I would like to be presented with three alternative flights that I can actually make, along with the surcharge or I would need to pay for each new ticket and the likelihood or I can actually board each of these flights, given the expected size of the waitlist for each flight. Once I decide which flight to choose, please make my reservation, present my card on file for payment for business trips and my card on file for pleasure trips, confirm my boarding status with the airline and store the boarding pass on my phone. Should I go on? Please let me know the best place to park at the airport, for the length of time of my trip and which location is also in closest proximity to my departure gate. Do you still want more integration? When I return please guide me to my car and find any coupons available for me to present to the attendant at the gate. Finally, save all my mileage for the trip, the cost of airline tickets, calculated tolls paid along the way and parking fees for the trip in a file, which I can submit upon my return to the office. I can go on, but I think you get the point.
There is either an app or Google results that can perform all the tasks that I described above.
What is missing now is the ability to string all these individual apps together in a reasonable way to really make life simpler. As the appification of everything continues to expand, then, in my humble opinion, the missing ingredient will be integration across apps or super apps that make daily work efforts easier, without ever having to string together two dozen different apps to get the work done.
Who will be most successful in fulfilling this consumer and business need which will continue to grow as many smaller tasks get digitized with new apps? Will it be Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon or someone we don’t even know today? This integration has the potential to be a major step forward in automation, especially as the IoT (Internet of Things) era starts to get more steam. The possibilities for these integrations will become nearly endless in combination with IoT. As every device gets ready to be connected to the internet, the ability to connect multiple tasks to complete larger work units will also become infinitely more interesting.
What this will mean for different service companies’ digital portfolios is an opportunity to improve integration of the services they provide in a unified and consolidated picture for their clients. Weather the company is a financial services company, auto rental, hotel management, travel agency, auto repair, consumer products, hospital services, entertainment company, medical practice etc. this ability to provide an end-to-end digital service model has the potential to transform that business and significantly improve all services provided to their clients. More importantly the companies that chose to provide more integrated digital services to their clients have the potential to significantly increase market share and attract more business from their siloed competitors.