I think I need to crowdsouce a flag design.  I’m passionate about systems savvy.  I’m passionate about organizational learning.  I think my newly discovered passion around the integration of systems is a real world integration of these other passions (duplication of terms intended).  Give me integration or give me death to our relationship.

I became aware of this new militance over the weekend. It started out as a rosy glow.  I was a judge at Prof. Kumar Sarangee’s MBA Product Development demos.  Several of the projects focused on providing integration across disparate services and systems.  I can’t give away their ideas, but imagine things that let you carry less in your purse/pocket and achieve the same ends or tying together multiple accounts into a seamless whole.  They had done their homework and knew where the market’s (our) pain points were.  I was impressed with their ingenuity and in many cases told them to let me know when their products were ready, as I already was.

Then came Saturday.  

I’m an easy target for company reward programs.  I’m learning more about the gamification of marketing, read the recent Wired article, The Coupon Rebellion, with great interest, and generally am willing to spend time to see the latest gimmick.  Safeway had hit me with the “Just for U” promotion and I had time to take a look -- and needed to get some eggs and paper products. Just the basics:

  • The Safeway page presents three different sets of offers, each to be clicked on separately.
  • Just for U is an in-store-only promotion.  Create a shopping list there and it doesn’t transfer to their delivery service.  The login doesn’t even transfer.
  • I dutifully loaded up my card with possible savings.
  • I printed out my list (could have emailed to my phone -- no Safeway iPhone app)
  • Shopped at the store.  Found only two six-packs of my beloved Diet Pepsi (4 were allocated to my coupon).
  • Approached the checkout line.  Readied my Key Ring iPhone app (digitally holds all those customer loyalty barcode key ring tags).  I knew from a prior trip that this Safeway’s scanners couldn’t read my iphone screen directly and that I would have to verbalize the barcode number.
  • Items totalled.
  • Took three tries before clerk realized I wasn’t giving her my phone number.
  • Had to show ID and some set of numbers typed in (I’d added wine to my shopping list).
  • Left the store having saved $10 -- for 15 minutes worth of work before shopping.

Was it worth it?  Probably.  Could it have been worth far more? Certainly.

Integration is Freedom.  

Google’s e-book play is an integration play. I’ve already admitted that Google hosts my life -- and I guarantee you it’s because of the integration, not the primary color scheme.

We know that “exit and voice are our options. Depending on your loyalty to the firm, you can choose to take your business/employment elsewhere, or you can provide feedback (voice) to the firm regarding the issues that have you thinking about exit" (Hirschman, 1970).

This is my voice: Integrate or Die.  Do we let the market work (the first grocery to integrate our loyalty cards, on-line search, delivery -- wins), or do we more actively demand integration from our service providers?  Am I the only one irritated?  I suspect that anyone with systems savvy is at least slightly annoyed by systems that are anything but savvy about how to integrate technology tools, organizational practice, and human capability (and needs).

Soon: A list of companies that seem to integrate well, or at least understand that it's important. Comments, greatest wins or failures, all appreciated.