S07E03 - What does it take to build a 'big' app?

This week the team consider the challenges of building some of the 'biggest' apps out there for banks, retailers and beyond. There's some technical talk but discussion quickly moves on to decisions and processes, which we quickly agree are the real 'hard' part.


Ben: Hello and welcome to 361 Degrees podcast season 7 episode 3. My name is Ben Smith from Wireless Worker.

Rafe: I'm Rafe Blandford from the All About sites.

Ewan: And I'm Ewan MacLeod from Mobile Industry Review.

Ben: Welcome back, gents. Another episode.

Ewan: Hello.

Ben: You're looking bright and breezy.

Ewan: Well thank you. I'm delighted. I'm really excited. I'm getting great feedback from everyone on Twitter about the podcast. This is excellent.

Ben: Probably because you've got a little more time on your hands at the moment.

Ewan: Well, this is true. I have finished with the Royal Bank of Scotland and now I am urgently thinking about what else am I going to do. So any suggestions on a postcard, please.

Ben: So, please, wherever you listen to this, feel free to leave suggestions for what Ewan MacLeod should do. Or, alternatively, just send him a pound.

Ewan: Anyway, how are you, Rafe?

Rafe: I'm doing very well, thank you. I'll save you from that particular bit of persecution.

Ewan: Move on, move on.

Rafe: You never do it for me, but I'll do it for you. I've been at a mobile event at my place of work DigitasLBi, the What's Next in Mobile. Kind of talking about some of the big upcoming trends, as well as some of the existing ones. Wearables has been an interesting trend. It was talked about today. Sony came in and did a presentation, but it also came up in a lot of the other panels. And I think it's something we'll hopefully cover in a future podcast when we talk about our use of wearables and where we see the market going perhaps.

Ewan: Yes, I'm looking forward to that.

Ben: And news from me. If listeners haven't realized now, we've now got all our posts being transcribed. So if you'd like to read them, go back to them, or, more importantly, the reason we've done it is so that you can search them if you're ever looking for any information about what was in a post, every post is transcribed now. So you can go to 361podcast.com and look at the original post where the audio is and there's a button you can press there.

And, of course, the other thing that you might like to take a look at if you're on 361podcast.com, which I know I am nearly all of the time...

Rafe: Me too.

Ewan: Is it mobile responsive, by the way?

Ben: It is mobile responsive. It's beautifully mobile-responsive. Is that each post has a 3-question survey on it where we just ask you your opinion on the things that we talked about in the show. So, episode 1 was all about mobile networks and putting smart stuff in them and what you wanted. And then episode 2 was all about media unbundling and how you can consume TV and broadcast media. And we got some fascinating responses from people. We'll be collecting those together and sharing those with everyone. But if you haven't had your say yet, get there. The posts are still open. You can still enter.

Ewan: Well you can do it right now. I'm picturing the listener. Dear listener, bring them up. Because you can do this now, all right, because you've got a decent a decent smartphone. You can press, bring up your browser while you're listening to us talk. Type in 361 podcast. Find that will be the first result in Google. Click again, you'll get the latest post. Click again, you're on the survey, right?

Ben: There you go.

Ewan: So you could be doing that right now.

Ben: So if you didn't know how to use the internet, that's a handy lesson right there from Ewan MacLeod. So, Ewan, what are we talking about this week?

Ewan: Today, we are talking about apps. The future is bright with applications. You just have to look at the billions being made out of it. However, I think it's time for us to look behind the curtain for mobile application development. And, in particular, I have always been one of those guys who is blogging away about how terrible or how amazing a particular app is. I have always been the guy going, why have you changed this? No, no, no!

And I think I do wonder how many listeners are wondering why it takes so long for some big brands to make some changes to their apps. So we are going behind the curtain to see what does it take to deliver a mobile application at scale, one that you use every day.

Ben: And that's a perfect opportunity, now, to introduce our guest for this week's show: Ed Hodges, previously of RBS and Tesco, but currently doing clever things with fraud. So just tell us about that quickly.

Ed: I currently work for a company called InAuth, and we specialize in mobile and browser malware and fraud detection. And we do this by taking around a thousand plus data points out of the device, computer or handset, and through this, we are able to tell how you use your handset and your apps on it without the need for a PIN, password, or biometrics.

Ben: We wanted to pick your brains today because before you got into the world of big fraud. I should probably rephrase that. Into the world of fraud prevention, you were the brains behind Tesco's entry into mobile. Well, the UK's largest grocery retailer. I'm not really sure how to describe them. And then subsequently RBS. So some people will have heard you on the previous 361 Live events, but just fill us in on kind of your track record because it's been fully in big apps as far as I can tell.

Ed: Yeah, actually I will step back one further than that for the people who might remember me from the past. Apart from having been involved with the apps over many years that really started for Touchnote, which did physical cards. It was an app at the time in 2009 and 2010 that did physical cards and you took it and sent it. And we got that set up. And the big win for us back then was we convinced and worked with Sony Ericsson and convinced them that we were awesome, which of course we were, and we managed to get embedded on Sony Ericsson handsets even though the app stores were up and running. So that was cool.

And then, very nicely, Tesco rang and said will you come and help us set up the mobile element for Tesco. And it was 2010. Terry Leahy, who's very big on the digital side of things, a very forward thinking man, said he wanted to be mobile. I was lucky enough to get the role. And then we built the team partially in the UK, partially in Bangalore, to build the first grocery apps, to improve upon the club card apps, and then we also did some iPad apps around real food as well. And they had millions of downloads.

Ben: And it's that millions of downloads that fascinates me because I reckon I could, with a bit of reading and a bit of research, I could go and sit in my bedroom and I could go and write a second rate app. You know I maybe just got enough skills to do it.

Rafe: Third rate.

Ben: Thanks Rafe, a third rate app.

Ewan: A third rate windows phone app.

Ben: And Rafe certainly is the expert of third rate windows phone apps. So I could do it, but I think I'm also really aware that when you start to build for millions of people, suddenly everything changes. Or does it?

Ed: Well, they're the third largest retailer in the world, I think after Walmart and Carrefour, and then it's Tesco.

Rafe: And the app that you are going to take us through here is the...you can order groceries from your phone.

Ed: So, it was a native app that we built. And I'm just going to pick up a needlepoint in that, Ben, that says, yes, you can create a third rate technical app. As long as it works, it will work. If it's self contained it will work for one person or a million people.

Ben: Yeah.

Ed: If, however, you're building apps that have to pass data back into your servers and your infrastructure...

Ben: Like grocery orders.

Ed: Like grocery orders, yeah. Then that's a very different proposition. So, for instance, with Tesco. So in 2010, it had around 3 and a half million products that it sold. This app was available across the country. You've got local distribution plants that will only carry certain ones of those products so you're having to cross-reference where the person lives against the products that were available there.

Ben: So they get unique catalogs, effectually, for your location.

Ed: Not from an individual, but within a certain location. And then you're also cross-referencing against delivery times and making sure that the logistics of all of that work. And all of that data that is moving backwards and forwards from the handset back into the servers, and you're doing that for millions of people, that's where it starts to get really tricky when you're building it to scale.

Ben: Where do you start? I mean, when you're dealing with something of that size, how do you even know where to start?

Rafe: Haven't you got to start at the app, so you can actually show people, show Sir Terry Leahy, this is what it could look like.

Ed: What's great about mobile is that it's come after digital, right? So you already have the classic starter for 10, you know how people are using it online. So all of us in this room, we have a mobile background. You just have an intuitive feeling. Plus, of course, we were hiring in fantastic designers to come and work with us, right, and start wire-framing the first few. But, you already know how people are interacting and what they want to do on digital.

You can even take it straight out of a branch or out of the grocery store, okay, what people are doing. So it's not like you're starting from a blank page with absolutely nothing. So you want to take what they take, what a person takes as standard, of buying their milk, picking up their coffee and bread and everything else, and you start from that point of view. So how would you translate those basic human behaviors, the payment side, to someone else. Transfers, and seeing your balance, the obvious stuff. Right? How do you turn those into your first version of an app?

Ben: People can become quite sort of preoccupied with those technical challenges, but I presume once you've worked out what the user wants, you're going to have to address those, aren't you?

Ed: Yeah, that's right. Actually, that's a very good call, if I use an RBS point of view. Trying to work out and understand in the user flow at what point you should take someone out of the app, when they get a telephone call, or when they change to iOS 7 and they started having the drop down notifications that could come in at the top or the control center that you can now do up from the bottom. If you move these up and down, should you take someone out of the app. Is it interfering with the way the app works?

And that's really complex, looking at how you cope with, for instance, operating system changes that impact on the flow of how your app works. And it takes times in sort of a large organization to work out how you respond to that. And the reason it takes time...I can see Ben going, why?

Ben: They should just give me cool stuff.

Ed: The reason it takes time is, again, seeing with the RBS it carries a lot more legislation, is precisely that. What is the risk of allowing the control center to come up over the top and not shut out the app and take it back to having to put in your password, for instance. Right? And that takes time going back to the risk environment. And you have to spend some time educating the guys as much as they need to educate me on the finer points of legislation regarding digital. Right? So it's a two way street.

But the important bit here is that the technical side of building this actually should be the easy bit because that's our backgrounds. The much harder bit is working all the way up to the CEOs, to the global head of risk, working with the legislation side. Going and working with the people in the call center who are going to have cope, whether it's Tesco or RBS, and teaching them. They're going to have to cope with people ringing up and saying, I don't know why my app doesn't work and it's to the point to have you turn on the phone, sort of stuff like that.

Ben: If you are handling my transaction or you're looking after my money, I'm pretty sure that I want you to do this properly. In fact I insist upon it, if you don't mind.

Ed: And I'm telling you that it's done properly, whether it's done at speed.

Ben: And that's the thing. How do you balance that with being quick enough for mobile. Because one of the things everyone says about mobile is that every year a new iPhone comes out. Or every year a new device comes out. And you maybe want to use the best characteristics of the new device. Or alternatively, you just want to match the best features. Because loads of smart people are putting awesome features in apps all over the time in and you're going to have to move quickly to move the best.

Ed: Great question, and I've now spent enough time in large organizations to know that, and I'm going to stick with banking, that they are less interested in being absolutely incredible and at the forefront of the latest app developments. What I've learnt, because I went in there with that energy to make that change is that they want their customers to start migrating a way across 2 mobile to make their lives easier, to make it faster to interact with the bank more often. And that is the basics. The customers to do the basics. Not cool, funky, unusual stuff.

A bank might choose to create a separate app from its main banking app in order to try some funky stuff out. But the main banking app has to be unbelievably solid, and you improve on it over a period of time. You don't find customers choosing not to use the app just because it's been the same for 6 or 8 months. Whereas, Facebook's changed 3 times. Actually, they're getting more familiar and enjoying it and starting to feel that they can talk to another generation of people and say, hey you should be using this app too.

Interestingly, you face the same thing internally. When the app gets out there, you then need to go out and carry on with the education and keeping the energy high and teaching and educating more people across the organization so that more people get it and allow things to start to move faster. So it's as much information internally as externally. So it's not about going...it would be, you know, considered development or considered risk that you should do when you're developing these apps.

Ben: Ed, thanks so much for coming in and talking to us. I really expected you to come in and tell us about technology and about how hard it was to build apps for huge numbers of transactions and things and I think maybe that was actually a little bit too obvious. So it's fascinating that you're saying the challenge is actually the people stuff, the people in the organization and getting it out there and those sorts of things. So, that's been fascinating and thank you very much for joining us.

Ed: Thank you very much.

Ben: So, Ewan, it's about big apps or about stability, they're about reliability, they're about always working. I know you get frustrated with delays, but I also know you get frustrated with stuff that doesn't work.

Ewan: No, but that's hygiene. We are not a hygiene now. It is absolute nonsense to be saying, oh it just takes ages. I'm a guy that's paying a fiver a month, a five quid a month, on top of my Sky nonsense bill, to get Sky Go, Sky Go extra, actually. And it took ages for these guys to knock out the updates to the point where it almost kind of works. You have to still be connected to Wi-Fi for the flippin' thing to play any episodes, right. It's still class 1F. I'm not happy with this. That is a great example of what Ed was talking about, an organization that is doing its utmost, I suppose, to prevent giving me the value that I expect.

Ben: But, Rafe, if you have to do all of this testing...

Ewan: It's not good enough.

Ben: If you have to do all of this investigation with users, presumably you have to think about Sky, you have to do all of that legal stuff about do I have the rights to broadcast this content...

Ewan: They've done this stuff. It's just people staring at a wall.

Ben: The point I'm saying is that all of that stuff that you've talked about, it costs a lot more than a fiver per user, surely. I mean, that's huge complexity.

Ewan: Right, but the first couple versions that they put out weren't actually credible or weren't good enough. That I think that that might have cost actually a lot to them in terms of people's rep...you think, trying out, and going, this doesn't work very well.

Rafe: I take a different view to Ewan in that I think organizations...

Ewan: The wrong view you mean.

Rafe: To get this kind of mobile thing is that they have to learn to iterate and I don't want to use the kind of the catchphrases, you know, shut up...

Ewan: You mean every 6 months, Ed.

Rafe: You know, shut up and ship. But I think it's better to have a product out there, start learning from it. Because these organizations aren't necessarily expert. And you look at what early apps were like in some of the early services with the on-demand services, which actually we were were talking about with Sky, and things have come such a long way. And it's not just on kind of the front end of the UX, which looks nicer and the personalization elements you're getting in now, and Sky has made it possible to remote record, which is something you just couldn't do before. It's a really new interesting idea. You're then complaining about some of the little pieces...

Ewan: You think this is unreasonable. You think my position is unreasonable.

Rafe: I do, because I do think you're sort of really appreciating just how much time and effort goes into that sort of thing. Absolutely I'd like it to happen fast. I want it to be delivered as fast as possible. But when we're talking about these kind of services, often, for something like Sky, I imagine is sitting on fairly large legacy systems. And if we're talking about retail, that's really true. You know, some of these legacy systems, infrastructure and sort of logistics, will go back 40 plus years.

Ewan: I don't think that's my problem as a consumer.

Rafe: It's not your problem as a consumer, but it's certainly a problem for the companies who have to build on top of that.

Ewan: That's the end of it. Hire people, Ed, and fix it, then.

Rafe: I mean, you're very much seem to be a man of the web 2.0 era of the first startup. The reason it's easy for startups to move quickly is because they're new businesses that don't have massive legacy infrastructure.

Ewan: I can't allow you to be an apologist for this mediocrity here.

Ben: Well, hang on a second. But, isn't there something that we're pulling out here, which is that just because...

Ewan: 3 to 6 months is perfectly fine because some people can't be bothered to think about it.

Ben: Just because mobile tends to be associated with new and startups and that sort of thing, a lot of the examples you look at out there don't have the scale to have problems. Because listening to what Ed was saying about, you know, think about the banking, for example. Complying with the law is not, well I suppose it is optional, but the results are bad. So let's assume that complying with the law is not optional. But, the law only starts to apply to you in that industry when you get to a certain scale, when you have a certain amount of money to manage or your performing a certain type of transaction and thinking about, more simply, thinking about Tesco's, for example.

If I was the corner shop and I had a mobile phone you could ring me up on my phone and say, drop me some carrots off on the way home from work. You could do like a small local delivery service. But when you're trying to scale that to national, you know, millions of customers, huge scale, the further you climb of this mountain, the more you've got to carry with you and all the responsibilities and burdens. And mobile doesn't make that any different, it just gives you the illusion that it should be quicker because you're attention span with it.

Rafe: Let's give you a really good example of this. Thinking about a company that I have no doubt at all that you're in Ewan loves, which is Square, which has been getting into financial payments and services. Yes, he rates them too, thinks they’re good. Actually, it's a complete joke that they haven't been able to launch internationally because their regulatory set up was just unbelievably badly planned.

Okay, yes they're getting big in the states, but they missed out on a massive opportunity, and now you can see them trying to pivot by getting into loans and doing invoicing and they've done some appliance stuff. But, I look at that and I see a missed opportunity because they didn't think about some of the stuff. And you loved them because they were able to move fast, and they were able to do a good deal with Starbucks, and be quite disruptive. But, if I want to look at what's going to happen in the longer term, I won't be looking at a company like that. I'll be looking at the traditional financial institutions.

Ewan: OK Mr. Apologist, let me just say, we just talked about it here. So other banks having trouble doing anything in 3 to 6 months. Barclay's not going to update left, right, and center.

Rafe: Left, right, and center. You have no concept of how long that sort of thing has taken. And think about something like...

Ewan: Ben, you sit over there, we're busy.

Rafe: PingIt, you know has been rightly praised as being really innovative, but it's it's actually been around, I think, about a year and a half now.

Ewan: Barclays were the first to have Paym integrated. Paym launched on a Monday. I've got a little prompt on my thing that says, we'd like Paym activated. And I just pressed a button. Amazing. Any other bank hasn't even thought about it yet. They're still busy talking about it. That's my problem.

Rafe: No, there have been other banking apps and Paym has been something that's been planned on the industry level for a long time, and more than that...

Ben: Okay, let's all breathe just for a moment.

Rafe: Yes, thank you Ben.

Ewan: Right, Mr. Apologist.

Ben: Well, two things. One is I think the problem we don't have is we don't know how much Barclays spent, so it's easy to say...

Ewan: What does that matter? I'm a customer. I'm delighted. Thank you.

Ben: Well, but Barclays may be taking a bit of a gamble that this stuff is going to pay off. And they've decided to invest loads of money in paying to make hard stuff happen quickly and other banks have decided that they're not.

Ewan: Which is my problem. I don't think that they've decided, they just aren't.

Rafe: And I'm sorry. It wasn't just Barclays deciding to do it. It happened because quick payments came in, which basically...

Ewan: What my point here is their app was updated on the same day as Paym launched that has the little function that you can just click and register for it. That's my point.

Rafe: That's because if it didn't do that, they're [inaudible 00:20:49] thing would just die slowly.

Ewan: No, that's not a valid point, Mr. Apologist.

Ben: Let's get out the specifics, there. But the challenge there is that Barclays, you don't take that decision to adopt a new service lightly because they will have invested millions in that...

Ewan: The point is that they did it and a lot of other banks didn't bother having even thought of that.

Ben: But before we celebrate that, we don't know if it's going to be a success. Because it's pleased you because it's in their app...

Ewan: That's true.

Ben: But is it going to work reliably? Is it going to do its job? Is it going to...

Ewan: I don't know. I'm just delighted that someone's, that there's a flame alive there at Barclays. I'm really pleased someone cares enough to update my app.

Rafe: But you're not normal, you're not a normal consumer. You're being delighted by these things...

Ewan: This is true. I'm sure there's lots of listeners, I hope there's lots of listeners...put up a survey, Ben, right, and ask. I hope there's lots of listeners that are identifying with my view and yes I'm being deliberately antagonistic with you, Mr. Blandford. I'm sure I'll get letters of complaint from your millions of your fans.

Rafe: I'm sure. I have no doubt that there will be no doubt that there will be many people agree with you.

Ewan: Thank you. So you're wrong.

Rafe: But many people is very unlikely to be a majority.

Ewan: No, because we're not talking about majorities.

Rafe: This is the problem that you have. You built businesses based on what most of your customers want. You don't build them for the small, annoying sector at the top end who's complaining that it hasn't gotten Paym integration on the day it comes out. Because everyone else is barely even aware of what that is and they're going to be using it in a couple of years time.

Ewan: Okay, so you're happy with mediocrity. That's perfect, fine. I want a little bit more.

Ben: So, how do businesses know what to do? I mean, let's not talk about in speculation. I mean, literally, what things should they look at to try and understand what their customers want?

Ewan: Well, I think that's a very good point, I just don't think a lot of them are even doing that. If you look at a lot of companies that don't have...the employees haven't gotten phones.

Ben: Hold on, I think Rafe Blandford has just fallen off his chair.

Rafe: Are you sitting there telling me that companies don't do any focus groups or market research?

Ewan: They do, but I've been in these things and it's appalling, it's shockingly bad. I think what Blandford is saying is that he's quite happy to make excuses for why big companies are delivering poor services. I think that's my issue, right? I want to see modern companies delivering modern, exciting, stimulating services. And I'd like people to be taking chances and to say, hey look, here's a new update, here's a new service. I don't want these companies to think it's fine and helpful and standard. I don't think it's industry standard that you can just do nothing for 6 months in mobile. That's my frustration. I know I'm an edge case here, but where we as edge cases go, the rest of the mainstream follows. Right?

So we need companies to be experimenting and be testing with digital and not just saying, well, you know, we'll just wait and see, and think it's perfectly fine to just relax and say, we've done more but. Because this is what happens, right? Big companies go, we've done more, but. It's done. We believe it now. And that means I get poorer service and we all get poorer service. And the offering is the worse for it.

Ben: So, one of the things that fascinates me, Rafe, is that some businesses obviously would work well on mobile. But then, quite a lot of other businesses could do more or do different things by adopting mobile because it offers opportunities not to replicate but to enhance. And so how, if you're sat there with someone else's money to invest, how would you even begin to start making that decision around...actually not just, I say just because, you know, because selling groceries and delivering them is actually a multi-million pound business. It shouldn't be taken lightly. The Tesco job replicated the experience that was on the websites. But what about when you start to deliver services that weren't previously available because you can help people now that they've got funds in their hands?

Rafe: It's a great question and you could spend literally months trying to answer that one.

Ewan: You've got about 4 minutes and 50 seconds.

Rafe: The simple way is we're kind of past the point where mobile is just replicating, a replication of the digital experience. You're right, we need to look at things that mobile can do uniquely. I think that from a corporate point of view you probably need to start looking at consumer behavior and ethnographics the way that people think about things, the way they behave, the way they do things.

Ewan: The word of the week, that one.

Rafe: Do kind of a lot of consumer research. But, the reason it's called disruption, it's new stuff, is it actually hasn't been done before. So, if I'm looking at this kind of area I would look at neighboring sectors and see if there's things you can replicate. Or you just need to do some big thinking...

Ewan: Or live it.

Rafe: And say what can be done differently and it's not often something totally out there. It's about making it more convenient for the user. I think all the time with mobile and digital and technology, in general, it's about making that technology invisible and making the consumer's life easier. So, we think of the one's that are most...Uber and the other taxi services make it easier to hail a taxi. If you look at something like payments with contact lists coming in, the idea is that you don't have to put it into a machine and enter a pin number. That makes you're life easier. And so there's lots of quite small things that you can do as a business that may have quite fundamental changes in the way that your consumers interact and behave with you.

And to bring that full circle back to mobile, I think where mobile becomes so important, it allows you to develop the kind of personal relationship with your customer that you don't get on traditional digital platforms and perhaps not even on the high street because you'll have many interactions, many touch points with them, and can build real loyalty if you do it properly in a mobile app. And you can also build in advocacy as well. You can get your consumers to do the marketing for you. You get that right, it becomes sort of a virtuous circle.

Ben: Now, the challenge here...

Ewan: The slow, virtuous circle because you do it every 6 months or so.

Ben: Well, I think the speed is a symptom. It's not the problem itself, is it? But, the challenge here is if you sit in a room and say, well, what do my customers, how do they use their phones? I don't know. I don't know because...

Ewan: The really frustrating thing is a lot of these people haven't, they're on their old phone, they haven't bothered upgrading their phone, they don't care about their phone, their company won't allow them to use a new phone, or so on and so on. They don't live it. There are customers out there using the devices with lots and lots of frustrations, but the management team, or the team that's in charge of the stuff doesn't use it. They don't care about it. They haven't needed to. All they care about is the fact that the mortgage is getting paid. And they have to sit in the conference call once a week and go, is everything all right with the mobile? Yeah, well, we won't bother looking at it. They aren't seeing the frustration on a daily basis.

Rafe: And that's why, as a metric, you talk about the importance of edge case up. And I don't disagree, I want things to move as quickly as possible. But the thing I would always come back to is net happiness gain. And, you have your customers at the top end who are delighted by some kind of edge case thing. They've got Paym the day that it launches. But, then there's a massive block of customers, the majority, say, 80 percent, just put a figure out there, who are just concerned about being able to make a payment, and that's what makes them happy. And you deliver more happiness by addressing that larger sector of your customer base than going after the high end.

Which is why I don't get concerned about the 3 to 6 month. I do get concerned if it's been used as an excuse to be slow and whatever. But, I don't actually think speed at any cost is more important. What's more important is happiness at any cost.

Ewan: He's really gone it, hasn't he? But I do agree with everything he's saying.

Ben: Happiness at any cost. That's what I'll write on your gravestone, Rafe Blandford.

Ewan: Right, I agree with you, Rafe.

Ben: Okay, so lets...

Ewan: And not fully, well I should say...

Rafe: Oh well, I had more on that happiness for a while.

Ben: Okay, so lets try and draw some threads together as we wrap up this week's episode. I was surprised that we stopped talking about technology, really quickly, and we started talking about processes and things like that. Because, like it or not, big apps tend to be associated with big usage and big transactions. And with that is big value and big importance. It doesn't necessarily always mean big money value but it could be reputations or it could be importance to people's lives, or it could be brand, or something like that. And all of the sudden, the temptation to say, it's amazing, quick, make loads of stuff, throw it to the proverbial wall and see what sticks. That begins to sound a bit risky because whereas a startup can give it a try, fail, and some people will lose their investment. Now all of the sudden you could actually have a negative angle. You could actually make a business worse by adding mobile and detracting from what was already there.

Ewan: Okay, I do agree that adding 16 different features every week isn't the way ahead. I think my frustration is having seen how a lot of big companies work and deliver these things, is that a lot of the time it’s excessively political just as Ed was saying, but to the detriment of the consumer. The happiness scale is significantly reduced just because you're lucky if you'll get an update to your facility, to the service, within a year.

And let me just give you a very brief point. I would like some kind of innovation to allow me to add, this is in the banking sphere, to add new payments. You know, most banking apps will not allow you. Because no one's gone through this process yet, to say, you can add a new payment, a new payee, without having to go through 16 different reasons why or 16 different processes to actually do it. You typically, in order to send a payment to a new person, you've got to log on to the web...

Rafe: While you're talking about apps and business you have to think about the legacy and the infrastructure you have there. But more than that, Ed explained to us that it's people and education far more than anything else. And I think you can look at that internally, but I think that's just as true outside those businesses, educating people about mobile and how things work, and the potential of them. There's still far too many moments when you show your friend something with your mobile device and they go, wow that's amazing!

We're incredibly lucky to be able to understand, to be mobile natives. Just as with the web and with other technologies before that, it takes time for it to be adopted and become widespread and for everyone to understand it. And we're still relatively early on in that cycle in mobile. And so, the technology bit is going to be fixed now, or is getting there. The bit that isn't fixed is teaching everyone about making it commonplace and part of your daily life.

Ben: I can relate to that because we had our first Skype call with a member of our family this week. Here in 2014 people are still discovering Skype and being amazed by it and overcoming the intimidation of it being new. So, Ewan, it's hard, but it's clearly worthwhile. Some of the most exciting experiences and some of the brands that have the most loyalty are enhancing it and talking to customers through mobile almost in preference to other opportunities now.

Ewan: Yeah, because it's becoming increasingly more important as mobile integrates itself into life. Okay, I should point out that I am dis-impatient. I am impatient and I am intolerant. I really don't like to see just lazy companies.

Ben: I think after 90-odd episodes, that hidden rumble under the surface has come to the forefront. I think we've learned that now.

Ewan: Alright, so Rafe, I do accept a lot of your points. Most of them are just apologist nonsense, but yeah, you've made a few good contributions today.

Rafe: And I would say occasionally you said something interesting as well.

Ewan: So I love you Blandford.

Ben: Awesome. So as the team hugs as one and goes onto our team bonding exercise, we'll draw the episode to a close. No doubt people will have not just opinions to share with us about the apps and the services they like and the brands they want to use mobile, but there are a ton of people out there who do this, I know, who listen to this podcast, who know better than us. So, as far as you're able, because often this stuff is sensitive or secret, let us know your stories. Let us know what you've been involved in, what's worked, what hasn't.

I mean, for me, I love hearing the stories about the process that people go through to work this stuff out because it is absolutely fascinating and certainly you know we share that within our business as frequently as possible. So let us know your stories and perhaps let us know what it is that you would like to see in the future. And perhaps we can go and investigate that in later episodes to follow that up.

Ewan: And if you find yourself screaming, because we get a lot emails or comments from a lot of listeners saying, oh I was screaming at the podcast last night because, probably, whatever I was saying. Sadly. If you can try to bottle that and put it into a comment or something because then we can come back and we can have a good debate about it.

Ben: Okay, so leave a comment when you hear this. Go to 361podcast.com. Do the survey. You can tweet us @361podcast. And we will be back next week. Bye-bye.