Apple iOS 6: Passbook is a Game Changer for Omni-channel Marketing

At the Analytics Executive Forum, I facilitated a session on Omni-channel analytics. It struck me how every leading consumer facing firm seems convinced that mobile is becoming the dominant B2C interaction channel.  Mobile is the gateway to insight based marketing,

Insight-based interactions -  The company knows who you are, what you prefer, and communicates with relevant, timely messages, using the power of analytical intelligence to detect patterns, decode strands of information and create meaningful offers and value.

The opposite of insight-based is "spray-and-pray" marketing - The company has very limited knowledge about who you are, forgets what you prefer, and tries to reach you with off-target communications that alienate you – based on fragmented data, poor data quality and  inadequate integration, resulting in confusing, chaotic interactions.  A good example: "I have 2 million frequent flyer miles with your airline and still do not get any recognition, respect or value from this loyalty."

As companies architect new insight based mobile use cases I suggest that they look at what is coming next. With IOS 6, Apple is delivering several new features. The most interesting is a new integrated time-saver feature called Passbook that I think will be a game changer in terms of user experience and value. Also Apple ditched Google Maps for their own in IOS 6 allows them to integrate user latitude/longitude coordinates combined with maps into a valuable location-aware platform for app development.

Retailers, banks and other customer facing firms/brands better pay attention. 100+ million iPhones are automatically getting this feature with the new OS upgrade making this a mega-disruptor in the coveted target segment everyone is chasing.

Apple PassBook - An Omni-Channel Disruptor?

Every retailer is systematically moving along this trajectory: single channel -> multi-channel -> cross-channel -> Omni-channel.  This transition is not trivial as it requires sophisticated channel integration strategies as well as organizing around customer behavior to create personalized experiences.

This evolution has given birth to new strategies like So-Lo-Mo-Me (social + local + mobile + personalized) interactions and marketing.  Why SoLoMoMe?  Because every day we have interactions with companies from which we come away thinking --"I can’t believe it. I’ve been a good customer for ten years. And they still don’t ‘get’ me and the things that interest me."

But traditional thinking around SoLoMo is about to get uprooted. Customers are looking for new integrated experiences and new time-saving (queue busters) all from their mobile devices.

With IOS 6.0, Apple is introducing a new "ticket" aggregation feature that I will be using a lot when IPhone 5 comes out.  It annoys me when I have to go into different apps or websites to get confirmation numbers, boarding passes, coupons, receipts etc.  [Especially when I am at a crowded airport juggling multiple luggage pieces, on a conference call, in line and I have to figure out where my boarding pass is on my phone]. For the procrastinators (or multi-taskers),  I  always wished there was a clever way aggregate all of these retail interactions in one place. In other words, have my interests in one place and not be centered around the retailer or provider of the service.

Well Apple has heard me and is delivering a new integrated feature called Passbook that (no hype) will be a game changer in terms of  integrated UI, and time-saving potential.  iPhone 5 is going to have this feature and the 100+ million iPhones 4 and 4S models are getting this feature with the new OS upgrade. So basically by Jan 2013, 200+M will have Passbook (including iPad users).

With Passbook... boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more are now all in one place. With Passbook, users can scan iPhone or iPod touch to check in for a flight, get into a movie, and redeem a coupon. They can see when coupons expire, where concert seats are, and the balance left on store cards.

Mobile Coupons -- No more hunting through your wallet searching for gift cards, coupons, passes, or tickets. Passbook keeps everything organized — and handy.

Time and Location-Based  --  Passbook is time and location enabled, so passes and tickets show on your Lock screen when and where you need them — just swipe to get your pass.

Simple Use case -- Wake the iPhone or iPod touch, and passes appear on the Lock screen at the appropriate time and place — like when you reach the airport or walk into the store to redeem your gift card or coupon.  And if your gate changes after you’ve checked in for your flight, Passbook will even alert you to make sure you’re not relaxing in the wrong terminal.

Mobile Wallet-- Apple is already a big player in the payments space. It is said to have 400 million payment-enable iTunes accounts in 2012.  But Passbook initially won't link directly to credit or debit cards, so consumers can't use it to replace their wallets.  Holding back in mobile payments was a deliberate strategy by Apple according to the Wall Street Journal (6/7/2012).  Some Apple engineers argued for a more-aggressive approach that would integrate payments more directly. But Apple chose a go-slow platform strategy to see how things will evolve in Mobile Payments before jumping in. Being a fast follower and letting Google do some leg-work could be smart strategy as this is early days in Mobile Payments.

Passbook has broad implications in payments and commerce in my opinion.  It potentially disrupts the relationship between the brand and consumer.  Passbook now become a powerful intermediary or gateway to the brands. Features like being able to close the loop - coupon - purchase - receipt - retrieve --- in one place is a major convenience. This can potentially steer people away from using the store card or even credit cards..Amex/MC/Visa.

Apple Passbook and So-Lo-Mo-Me Analytics

Passbook also is enabler of So-Lo-Mo-Me (SoLoMoMe = social + local + mobile + personalized) and some interesting new predictive analytics capabilities.

Integrating location-awareness seamlessly is great productivity booster.  Apple clearly is moving towards location aware computing as it move towards its own Map software as opposed to using Google Maps.

“When you get to the movie theater, your ticket automatically pops up on the lockscreen,” explained Scott Forstall, Apple’s SVP for iPhone software, demonstrating how a Fandago movie ticket works.

Geo-aware analytics -- As you walk into a brings to the forefront the coupons or specials that you care about.  It can even enable sophisticated Next Best Offer or Recommendations.

The other interesting feature in IOS 6 is seamless Facebook integration.  Apple and Facebook are ganging up against Google.  This power-duo combination makes for some very interesting new social experiences. Look for Facebook to leverage this new valuable asset to innovate and deliver interesting analytics driven value.

To support the mobile point-of-contact, marketers need sophisticated technology ‘power tools’ to gather, analyze and interpret thousands or millions of data strands of customer interaction detail from countless touch points, channels and data sources – cracking the DNA profile of each customer and learning over time to communicate and build meaningful relationships.

Next Generation Location Aware Apps with Apple Maps

Apple already captures the latitude and longitude of the phone's  coordinates along with a timestamp. Now tap on a pin to see a card full of useful information about that location. Apple ditched Google Maps so it can offer developers a whole new range of capabilities.  With SIRI integration, SoLoMoMe is taken to whole new level.

We are entering an exciting new era of innovation.


More convenience, more time-saver apps, more making my life easier... who doesn't want this.  We are in the early stages of letting our imagination run wild with possibilities.

I rarely have been this excited by a mobile feature set in while.  Passbook is really an aggregation platform that supports third-party integrations for everyday things we need to get done (boarding passes, coupons, tickets, receipts etc.). This will enable it penetrate rapidly as third party developers figure out how to leverage this to create more convenience for the end-user.

Notes and References

  1. IOS 6 Preview from Apple
  2. Is Passbook’s launch bad news for mobile wallet players like Square, PayPal, and others?  How do they adapt?
  3. iPhoneHacks published an article on how business owners can jump on the Passbook bandwagon ahead of Apple's pubic release of its Pass Kit APIs.  Some  developers created a website called PassSource that allows users to create test passes for the Passbook app.
  4. Good IOS developers are already in short supply.  This shortage is going to become acute as every firm races to develop or modify apps for Iphone 5. How to Organize for Mobile BI should be an important topic for discussion in executive suites.
  5. Inside Apple's Approach to Mobile Payments - Wall Street Journal - 7/6/2012 -- A look at Apple's decision-making on mobile payments gives a window into the wait-and-see approach Apple often takes towards new markets.While Apple has revolutionized a number of industries—from music to mobile phones—it isn't often the first mover, choosing instead to wait for others to work out the kinks in a market.
This post originally appeared in Business Analytics 3.0.