Archive for Neal Leavitt

Not Your Neighborhood Community Bank Anymore

Posted by Neal Leavitt on November 27th, 2015 at 6:45 pm

Remember that term, ‘banker’s hours’? It connoted traditional opening hours of most banks in the United States from the mid-19th century until the late 1960s – usually 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Ancient history.
Bank tellers will also soon become an endangered species as there are fewer banks, fewer branches nationwide. Bank of America’s Marc Warshawsky, a digital products executive, said his company processes over 175,000 checks each day that are done via mobile phones – no need for a bank branch or ATM. As mobile and automated technology rapidly evolves, banks are further compelled to change how they market themselves, and how they interact with customers. As transactions within bank branches continue to decrease, noted American Banker, banks are expected to spend more of their marketing budgets on digital and video messaging.
Consulting firm Accenture covered the topic in depth in their 2015 report entitled, ‘Digital Banking: Stretch Your Boundaries Toward the Everyday Bank’. Accenture said that as technology continues to turn the banking industry on its head, “social, mobile, analytics, cloud and the Internet of Things present both disruption and opportunity.”
Those disruptions and opportunities have already manifested themselves in many ways. Banking industry boundaries are blurring as platforms... Read more

Marketing Baseball Cards: Bubble, Boom or Bust?

Posted by Neal Leavitt on October 30th, 2015 at 5:54 pm

“Say it ain’t so Joe!”

Those words were supposedly uttered by a small boy outside the Cook County (IL) Courthouse to ‘Shoeless Joe’ Jackson. He had just finished testifying to a grand jury; one of eight Chicago White Sox baseball players who allegedly took bribes allowing the Cincinnati Reds to win the 1919 World Series. Jackson was banned from baseball after the 1920 season but was found innocent in 1921 by a jury.
Debates have raged for 90+ years on Jackson’s guilt or innocence; his baseball cards, however, have stood the test of time. Currently on eBay, for example, you can buy a 1909 E90-1 American Caramel rookie for $10,999.95. If you’ve got some spare change hidden in the sofa, you can grab a 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps Rookie RC #311 for only $38,795, also on eBay (with free shipping!). And in late April, a T206 Honus Wagner card sold at auction for $1.32 million.
While the market for certain types of baseball cards is still strong, a paucity of children and even teenagers at major baseball card shows in recent years appears to be the proverbial canary in the coal mine. Baseball card prices have been falling in recent years... Read more

Blockchain Technology Poised to Shake Up Main Street and Wall Street

Posted by Neal Leavitt on September 28th, 2015 at 6:54 pm

Because it’s still relatively new, most consumers - and marketers - probably don’t have a clear understand of bitcoin. But it’s really the blockchain – the technology underpinning the digital currency – that could have a huge impact on financial and consumer markets.
Gil Luria, a financial technology analyst with Wedbush Securities, estimates that 20 percent of U.S. GDP – about $3.6 trillion – is generated by industries that could be disrupted by blockchain technology. And Aite Group, a market research consultancy, predicts that capital markets will spend $75 million this year alone on developing blockchain technology, reaching more than $400 million in four years.
So what exactly is a blockchain? In brief, it acts as a globally-distributed ledger that logs transactions.
Here’s one concise explanation from Re/code:
“A blockchain is essentially a record of digital events – one that’s “distributed” or shared between many different parties. It can only be updated by consensus of a majority of the participants in the system. And, once entered, information can never be erased. The bitcoin blockchain contains a certain and verifiable record of every single bitcoin transaction ever made.”
Regardless of what you think about bitcoin, the blockchain itself has so far... Read more

Emerging Technologies Showcased at SIGGRAPH 2015 Could Be Tomorrow’s Products

Posted by Neal Leavitt on August 20th, 2015 at 6:23 pm

SIGGRAPH has always served as a unique forum for an array of cool and innovative technologies and computer graphics approaches. Last week’s SIGGRAPH 2015 conference continued the trend.
This marked the 42nd conference and exhibition; SIGGRAPH reported that almost 15,000 attendees, partners and media from 70+ nations descended upon the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Kristy Pron, SIGGRAPH’s Emerging Technologies Program Chair said at this year’s conference, “we wanted to find technologies that can be applied to daily life, whether it will be tomorrow or in a few years. We also wanted to uncover practical emerging technology apps from various industries such as automotive.”
So here are a few examples that are still in the nascent stage but could have real-world applications soon:
SemanticPaint – A collaborative effort by Microsoft, the University of Oxford and Stanford University. The SIGGRAPH demo unveiled what the research team says is a “new and interactive and online approach to 3D scene understanding.” The system lets users simultaneously scan their environment and interactively segments a scene by “reaching out and touching any desired object or surface.” Users have continuous live feedback online. The researchers further stated that errors can be immediately corrected in the segmentation and/or learning, which... Read more

Can Technology Help Solve California’s Drought?

Posted by Neal Leavitt on July 26th, 2015 at 11:48 am

On April 1st, California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order mandating a substantial reduction in urban water consumption compared with 2013 levels. One key element - a 25% reduction in urban water use to help mitigate the state’s worst ongoing drought in more than a century.
And while a number of climatologists and meteorologists have predicted a better than 50% chance of an El Nino winter – which means greater than average rainfall- there’s no guarantee that the desperately needed rain will arrive.
Enter the Internet of Things (IoT). The drought has spawned a welter of startups and innovative partnerships with public agencies and the private sector that utilize the IoT to find smart solutions to manage both water distribution and electricity use.
A few examples:
The Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency (MRWPCA) has teamed up with Candi Controls and MC Engineering to install a system of low-cost, industrial-class IoT devices. By collecting data from connected sensors, the system is helping to optimize distribution of reclaimed water among farmers and everyday users; it also minimizes energy by tracking usage and power consumption.
According to Tom Kouretas, an MRWPCA engineer, the agency is able to mitigate some of the costs associated with... Read more