Monday, October 12, 2009

The flat normal distribution of mobile banking deployments.

Having seen many mobile banking and payment deployments during my ten years in this industry, I know that many deployments fail. Unfortunately, not many individuals like to talk about failures and important lessons than can be learned are swept under the carpet. In stead of talking about specific failures, I though I will write a blog about failures and successes in general.

It is common knowledge that most naturally occurrences if sampled sufficiently, will display a Gaussian curve. This is supposedly also true for mobile banking deployment successes. (or is it?). All of us have heard of the small number of successful deployments of mobile banking and payment solutions. They do exist and is growing slowly. Because the industry is still young, the numbers are still low, but all indications are that this will grow. At the same time we also see failures - this is instances where the technology was deployed successfully, but then gets discontinued after some time. It is my estimate that the percentage of deployments that fail after five years may be as high as 25%. (I would be happy to argue this in person). This means that mobile banking successes do not show a normal distribution, but rather quite a flat graph skewed to the failure side. This is the picture of an immature industry without a good understanding of what is required to be successful.

As the industry matures, the graph should start getting steeper and the percentage of failures should reduce. Only by talking about the failures, will we be able to figure out what is being done incorrectly, so that we have a better change of not doing this in subsequent deployments.

Unfortunately, this is not the style of the industry. Nobody wants to acknowledge failure nor want to talk about it. This does not spell well for our industry.

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