Q: What will be the event/trend that will define financial services in 2007?
A: Joseph Ferra, Fidelity Investments: In wireless financial services, 2007 will be remembered for growth in SMS (Short Message Service) and text messaging. There is a tremendous audience, and it is a great way to communicate with customers. A second trend is the deepening of the personalization capabilities in wireless technology. We are getting to a point where what you reference on your device will be much different than what the person who is standing right next to you is looking at on their device.
Q: What emerging wireless technologies, or wireless trends, have the potential to change the industry?
A: One big technology is the multimodal capability, or asynchronous data and voice capability, on phones -- basically, the ability to perform an action while talking to a representative at the same time. The service was recently launched with Cingular, and it is on a select number of handsets. Sprint and Verizon have made announcements about it as well. We are taking advantage of the technology. Today, we do it in a very elementary way, where making a phone call basically suspends the browsing capability temporarily.
Q: What are Fidelity Investments' top three wireless projects for 2007?
A: All are focused on improving the user experience, without being too specific. We are leaning toward intuitive design and usability. We want to anticipate what people are going to do so we can make the experience easier for them. We also realized early on that there is a need to have all of this managed at a centralized level. We need to have a common look and feel where everything underneath the umbrella looks the same. In 2006 and into 2007, we have a keen focus on creating synergies between Fidelity.com and Fidelity Anywhere [Fidelity's wireless application] so a person can create an action on Fidelity.com and complete it on Fidelity Anywhere. Everything is very consistent. Fidelity has determined that in order for us to remain very successful with the Web site, we need to have a mobile component because the customer is demanding the capability.
Q: Do you offer any wireless capabilities to other firms?
A: Yes. We do that as a white-label service for other firms.
Q: What has changed at Fidelity in terms of adoption of wireless offerings?
A: We see tremendous growth. But now our feedback [from customers] is less about limitations of coverage and device limitations, and it is more about asking for more functionality for their mobile device.
Q: What is the demographic of your average user?
A: The largest user base is in the retail brokerage application. The wireless application attracts people who trade more, who have more assets and are a bit younger than the typical retail customer. It is a type of customer we want more of.
Q: At the end of 2007, how will your organization look?
A: Pretty much the same. We have a dedicated development group. We leverage a lot of the resources across the teams. We have a tremendous advantage to share resources across the firm. The FCAT [Fidelity Center for Applied Technology] centrally manages and coordinates much of our research and focus groups, and it is a tremendous asset.
Joseph Ferra, Fidelity Investments
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