Friday, February 10, 2012

The Rise of the Self-Driving Company

A Parable of the Service Economy

The New York Times reports the following story in it's Business Section today, 10 February 2012. Please note the following timing sequence:

1. July 2011 - Citibank releases an iPad app that allows customers to pay bills via their iPads for a transaction fee. There is a technical flaw in the app such that approximately 2% of transactions cause the customer to be charged the transaction fee two times.

2. December 2011 - Citibank detects this error.

3. Late-December 2011 - Citibank tracks down the cause of the error

4. Mid-January 2012 - Citibank informs its customers.

I am especially interested in the length of time that ensued between 1 and 2. You know that when customers are overcharged, they are not shy about exercising voice. Overcharging is the one service failure that will earn you lots of complaints. Yet five months went by before the problem was "detected" by the bank.

Does anybody believe that Citi did not receive thousands of calls about being overcharged? According to the article customers were complaining in social media within days of the release of the app. Five months later some grownup at Citi "detects" the problem.

It is time to admit that service quality is so unimportant in service firms that we might describe our era as the era of the self-driving company. Citi worked its way through traffic for five months not unlike one of those Google Self-Driving Cars.

Finally, in December, a human managed to hop on the running board, crawl in the window, and pull the key out of the ignition.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cambridge University Press et al v. Patton et al

Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Inc. and Sage Publications, Inc. are suing Georgia State University.

Here is a very brief synopsis of the suit from the publishers' point of view:

The higher Ed trade press weighs in here:

Kevin Smith, a blogger at Duke, is afraid of the situation and refers to it as a nightmare scenario:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


IBM has purchased SPSS. Not sure really why so many colleagues insisted on using SPSS, even while SAS is a far superior product for academic research. In any case, maybe Big Blue can make SPSS more logical and useful:,0,7990855.story

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Reed Elsevier Sues FL Man for Predator Database

WEST BOCA - A South Florida man is at the center of a billion-dollar lawsuit that he says has hindered his efforts to help law enforcement find child predators.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Who Controls Journals?

Sage apologizes to board of political science journal for making leadership change without consulting academics -- and signs deal to run sociology association's scholarly publications. This story, covered by Inside Higher Ed, is likely to become more common as academic publishing becomes more of a business: