There has been an on again off again discussion behind the scenes at Radar about the nature of the enterprise vs. the web and how they are defined not just by their technologies, but by their frames of reference. For my part, I think the enterprise view is defined implicitly by a planning mindset and a perceived scope of control that ends at the enterprise boundary. Whereas the web is too large for effective control so it tends to be an environment more conducive to serendipity and emergent behaviors. The web and the enterprise also differ in obvious cultural ways. Web culture tends toward speed and “good enough” while enterprise culture is informed by enterprise concerns like mission criticality, legal frameworks such as HIPPA and Sarbox, security, transaction volumes, and the like. These thoughts were still rattling around in my head last month when I arrived in Montreal for the weekend.
Just like every other year, as soon as I cleared customs I skipped the crappy exchange rates at the arrival area exchange vendors and headed upstairs to my favorite ATM machine in the departure hall. I needed to get cash for my cab ride to the center of town, only this time, the machine spit my card back out like day old sushi. I tried another ATM further down the hall with the same result.
After ten frustrating minutes of IVR traversal and the international roaming fees that went with it, I was talking to a Wachovia Bank customer service representative who politely suggested “you should have called us before you left the country, then we wouldn’t have automatically blocked your card.”
Apparently Wachovia (like many other banks) has decided the best way to reduce their risk of fraudulent transactions is to convert that risk to customer hassle with an algorithm that looks something like: IF Loc Home Country/County/City SET CardStatus to Blocked. My bank is now my mom and I have to call it and get permission before I am allowed to go out and play.
The funny thing about all this is that even though Wachovia suspected I hadn’t accompanied my ATM card to Montreal, plenty of others knew that I had, including at least: AT+T (my cell phone provider), Verizon (my blackberry provider), Dopplr, USAA (I booked my flight with their credit card), Travelocity (where I booked the flight), US Airways, Plazes, Yahoo Fire Eagle (fed from Plazes and Dopplr), and naturally, the U.S. and Canadian Border Authorities.
Ignoring for a moment the fact that Wachovia had plenty of data in their own databases to feed a more sophisticated algorithm (I go to Montreal every year at around the same time and have used that exact ATM machine on multiple occasions) or that they could have just called my cell phone themselves, how might they approach this issue if they were a “web” company instead of an “enterprise” with the corresponding enterprise=scope-of-control blinders on? Is there a world outside their enterprise and might they reasonably leverage data from one or more of those sources that knew where I was? Can they think of their “SOA strategy” as reaching beyond internal line of business application integration and let it tap into, or even contribute to, the swirl of data produced by and about their customers to serve them better?
While this particular example could be resolved by Wachovia becoming a consuming application of my Fire Eagle data (with my permission), perhaps there is a broader opportunity here to facilitate enterprise-spanning and enterprise-to-web mashups while maintaining the individual as the mediator of their own data. Perhaps we need a friendfeed-like service that focuses on the cloud of transactions we all generate in our wakes while just living our lives; toll plaza transactions, cell phone location, automated electric meter intervals and billing, calls sent and received, credit card purchases, gasoline purchases, and so on… What Tom Coates calls “bureaucratic sources” but what I think of as enterprise silos that will remain hidden away in the enterprise unless I explicitly facilitate their escape on my behalf.
In Montreal my cell phone and credit card providers both knew where I was but they couldn’t tell Wachovia even if it had occurred to Wachovia to ask, because they know I would go nuts over the privacy implications. I want a Jim-centric data market where I am the arbiter of the exchange. One where if enterprises could expose my location in a trusted way, I could happily be the one to share it with Wachovia for a limited time and for a limited purpose so that they could serve me better.
So, to make that possible, I want a personal Jim’s Message Service (JMS, you can call yours *MS) where the topics and data are mine, and the publishers and subscribers are the web properties and enterprises where I either produce my data or choose to share it. Enterprises can still persist my data in their silos, but I want a hand in mediating the trans-enterprise and web-enterprise-spanning data flow. And, I want it all in one place with simple to use controls so it is easy for me to keep track of what I’m sharing and who I’m sharing it with. I don’t want a Fire Eagle for each domain (or topic) scattered all over the web and I don’t want to have to go through the web pages of every business I deal with to control how they release my data.
As a bit of an aside, in this context things like Mint or Wesabe might be useful for more than the online financial management they are designed to do. To do what they do they have to connect to all of the financial institutions we are likely to deal with, and those connections themselves might be useful as sort of a big JCA-style adaptor into our JMS financial topic. This kind of aggregation might work fine until enterprises offer their own adaptors into our JMS and make it unnecessary.
By the way, just to finish the story, it turns out I was charged a significant “foreign transaction *convenience* fee” as well as a percentage of the transaction. Both fees were new and presumably assessed to pay for that complex new fraud detection algorithm. So, next time I travel to the far off land of Canada I’ll just take cash and go to the cambio exchange window like everyone else.