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Why I hate the term ’embedded’

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OK, I'm a Victor Meldrew and have several pet hates. In particular, people who use corporate-speak ...

Source: Forbes

In banking, there are two terms I hate: channel (and all of its derivatives like omnichannel and mulitchannel) and, more recently, embedded.

Folks who regularly read the blog know that I hate anyone and any article that mentions the word ‘channel’. Reason? Channels are what you add to legacy.

Never mind the channels, here’s the b******s, April, 2012

As I blogged recently, we should be talking omniaccess and not omnichannel.

I’m now going the same way with the word embedded. It’s being used more and more to basically describe services that are integrated with other services. So, embedded finance would be like jumping in an Uber and you don’t need to think about payment. It just happens. Payments are embedded in apps.

I guess the reason I don’t like the word is because it’s talking about beds. It’s too sleepy and non-descriptive.

Embedded.

It’s a word that sounds like a one-night stand. It just doesn’t feel right. It feels insulting, imho tbh.

So, what word would be better?

Invisible.

I first heard DBS talking about invisible banking a few years ago, and I quite like it as it just means it’s there, but you can’t see it. You may say that this is what embedded means, but they are different.

Embedded: fixed firmly and deeply in a surrounding mass; implanted.

Invisible: unable to be seen.

It is a subtle difference, but embedded is talking more about how you put something into something else. It’s an inside-out view. I embedded this in that. Invisible is more of the outside-in view. As a customer, I don’t think about your thing – it’s just there, seamlessly and invisibly doing its’ thing.

Now, I’m not saying I’m right, but I far prefer the outside-in view to the inside-out view. It goes to the core of things I’ve talked about for years as Copernicus Banking:

Most banks sit in a Flat Earth world.  Their Earth is the centre of their universe, and it’s called the bank’s Head Office.  From that Head Office, the CEO can see various stars and planets circling around the Earth.  The Moon is his accounting systems giving him batch overnight updates; Mars is his Senior Vice President’s planet, which is full of product incentivised salespeople; Saturn is the credit risk planet, running rings around the customer; Venus is mainly full of marketing people, as it’s very touchy-feely; Mercury is hot, and is the investment guys, making money on the markets every day; oh, and then there’s the Sun.  That’s a very shiny planet that is so far away, it’s hard to see what’s on it.   Let’s call that the Customer planet then.

The flat earth view is the inside-out view of embedded; the outside-in view is the customer view of invisible.

I think that’s why I don’t like words like channel, which is all about adding technologies to legacy systems, and embedded, which is all about how I add my product to this thing.

When we talk about invisible omniaccess, what we are really talking about is how do enable people to do these things digitally, easily, with no friction and no challenge. That is what we should be talking about: invisible omniaccess.

And then the challenge of invisible omniaccess is the relationship. If the customer no longer sees you, doesn’t think about you, and you are no longer visible, how do you show your relevance, your brand and why the customer needs you?

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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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