What Should Separate Facebook's Moneypenny From Siri, Cortana

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2015-07-15
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    What Should Separate Facebook's Moneypenny From Siri, Cortana
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    What Should Separate Facebook's Moneypenny From Siri, Cortana

    By Don Reisinger
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    Easy Access on All Platforms
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    Easy Access on All Platforms

    One of the nice things about integrating Moneypenny into Facebook Messenger is that it would be available on just about any platform. Facebook Messenger would automatically run on Android, iOS and all other platforms that Facebook runs on. Having Moneypenny running everywhere Messenger is available will be critical to its success.
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    Quick Availability of Human Concierge
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    Quick Availability of Human Concierge

    If Facebook is going to rely on humans to drive the value of Moneypenny, the company must make sure that users will have easy access to those concierge services. Moneypenny won't work if users have to wait minutes on a phone or in a chat session for someone to respond to a service request. Siri and Cortana provide instant results. Facebook must offer similarly fast results or it will be a flop. This also raises the question of whether a service that relies on people to deliver the services will be scalable.
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    Don't Discount the Importance of Digital Help
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    Don't Discount the Importance of Digital Help

    Relying on humans sounds like a great idea on the surface, but it won't work if Facebook doesn't also offer a virtual personal assistant to complement that offering. Siri and Cortana are useful for providing basic, easy-to-find information from around the Web, and relying on a human for that seems rather unnecessary. Facebook should consider integrating virtual personal assistant help in Moneypenny.
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    Moneypenny Must Be Platform-Agnostic
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    Moneypenny Must Be Platform-Agnostic

    Facebook cannot afford to give preferential treatment to certain services simply because it doesn't like the alternative. Facebook may prefer Bing over Google, but that doesn't mean the company shouldn't use Google if it delivers a better experience. The ultimate goal with Moneypenny is to offer the very best results and to offer a better solution than Google or Apple.
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    Continually Improve the Service
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    Continually Improve the Service

    If Siri's and Cortana's advancements have taught us anything, it's that continuous improvement is an absolute necessity. Over time, both platforms have received behind-the-scenes updates to improve the quality of their information and make them more useful. Facebook needs to closely monitor how users engage with Moneypenny so it can learn how to improve and refine the service.
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    Don't Force Users to Stick With Native Facebook Services
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    Don't Force Users to Stick With Native Facebook Services

    One of the easiest ways for Moneypenny to catch the ire of its users is if the service continues to drive people back to its own offerings. Not everyone looking for a picture wants to see what's on Facebook first, and even if there's a news item they're interested in, delivering Facebook's own news feed results isn't the best place to start. Moneypenny may be a Facebook product, but it doesn't need to force users to live there to see its value. Moreover, it shouldn't require users to even be Facebook users to try it out.
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    But Make It Easy to Find Things on Facebook
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    But Make It Easy to Find Things on Facebook

    While Moneypenny shouldn't drive people solely to Facebook, it should (and likely will) provide easy access to content that's on the site. So, if a person asks to see more about a particular Facebook friend, the service should quickly bring that person to the friend's profile. If a person wants to search Facebook for an old high school sweetheart, Moneypenny should react accordingly by delivering relevant results. Integration with Facebook could be quite attractive, as long as it's not overdone.
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    Anticipate User Needs, Like Cortana
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    Anticipate User Needs, Like Cortana

    One of the nicest things about Microsoft's Cortana is that it's constantly learning what users are up to and determining how it can be of help to them throughout the day. So, if a user has an event on the calendar, Cortana may provide traffic advice or other relevant information. It's a neat feature that's sorely lacking in Siri and could make Moneypenny a useful alternative to Apple's offering.
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    Use Humans to Make It 'Smarter,' Not Just Easier
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    Use Humans to Make It 'Smarter,' Not Just Easier

    Much of the talk surrounding Moneypenny suggests that the platform will be easier to use than those that it would compete with in the mobile space. But beyond that, Moneypenny must be smarter than competitors. One could argue that Cortana is smarter than Siri and is a better service for those seeking information. It's also why Cortana received so much attention in a brief period of time. To attract attention, Moneypenny should be smarter than Cortana and Siriā€”not just be easier to use. Image 9: Please use this image:
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    Ensure User Privacy Each Step of the Way
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    Ensure User Privacy Each Step of the Way

    One of the core tenets of Facebook is sharing information. But one of the core requirements of virtual personal assistants is to safeguard user privacy. Moneypenny mustn't share information with Facebook friends and advertisers or offer insight into what users are employing the service for. Moneypenny must be extremely private and secure.
 

Siri and Cortana have shown people how they can effectively use voice-activated personal digital assistants. But now Facebook is reportedly working on a different sort of virtual assistant that's aimed at making our lives a little easier. The reports say Facebook is testing a personal assistant service called Moneypenny, named after the fictional secretary in the James Bond novels and films. Facebook is building the assistant into its popular Messenger application, which has more than 700 million monthly active users. While there are similarities to the Siri and Cortana concept, according to the reports, there are significant differences. Moneypenny will be human-powered, meaning it will act more as a concierge than an automated response system for user needs. So, if someone wants to book a flight, that person would contact Moneypenny through Facebook Messenger to contact people at the other end who handle transactions and provide access to services. The idea isn't novel. There are many online concierge services like it. But it will be notable for being built into the Facebook social network.  This slide slow looks at some of apparent similarities and differences of Moneypenny, Siri and Cortana.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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