Saturday, May 28, 2005

Community / collaboration: Financial services???
by Ron Lichty

I made the sweeping prediction, in pitching the July 27 Architecting Community and Collaboration Solutions event, that "We predict virtually every business (as well as every nonprofit, church,and political campaign) will expand their online web presence to incorporate at least one and probably several collaboration and community solutions in the next five years."

Every business? Will that be true in financial services?

Certainly, the credit card associations may provide secure extranet collaboration opportunities with and among their member banks.

But that's business-to-business. How about consumers -- B2C? Is there a compelling role for community with and among bank, brokerage or credit card customers?

In conversations this week with colleagues at Schwab, Wells Fargo and Barclays banks, the formidable barrier of regulation repeatedly came up. When I was at Schwab, nothing went into print that an audience outside Schwab could see without intense scrutiny and approval from Schwab's Compliance department first -- not a technology white paper, not a JavaOne Conference slide deck, not a comment to someone else's blog.

Schwab did try out some online webinars. I don't know if public questions were allowed, but I'm certain they would have been highly moderated. Regardless, time-and-place events did not seem to fit well with the timeless philosophy of the web -- at least there didn't seem to be a rush to attend. (Of course, that was the era in which our investments were all making money. Maybe we just all thought we were already smart investors and not in need of help!)



At 8:47 AM, May 30, 2005, Blogger Craig Prickett said...

With respect to Webinars at Schwab- public questions were allowed and encouraged... however, each question that was submitted from the live audience was first scrubbed by a Schwab employee for appropriateness "behind the scenes", and any responses by the facilitator were first reviewed by an on-site compliance officer. You can imagine the number of people working "behind the curtain" for a largely attended Webinar.
Regulated financial services firms will indeed have challenges getting into the collaboration and community based solution business in that these are communications with the public are likely subject to the scrutiny of a regulatory board and possibly a courtroom.


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