Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C., will begin to offer LiveCard, a new contact management solution for its associates from Peoplestreet, a web services company based in Cambridge, Mass. The service will allow BofA associates to exchange bank-branded, self-updating business cards with each other and with customers.
"It's really nice to have branded business cards in your outgoing e-mail," said Daniel Friel, SVP in the strategic alliances and investments group at Bank of America. "It literally looks exactly like my physical Bank of America business card."
Bank of America, which in addition to using Peoplestreet products is an investor in the company, will pilot the service this year with selected associates in preparation for a wider deployment among its 140,000 associates. If things go well for internal users, the next step would be to offer Peoplestreet services outside the bank.
"This is something we can offer online at BankofAmerica.com as a value-added service for our customers," said Friel.
Aside from providing branded e-mail capabilities, Peoplestreet software addresses a fundamental weakness in most personal information management programs: people change. They change jobs, move to new cities, get married, switch mobile phone providers and e-mail accounts.
As each of these changes occur, even the most meticulously maintained contact database grows more and more outdated, especially when dealing with a highly-mobile, highly-wired population. "People change information approximately 50 to 55 million times per year, and that rate is increasing," said Alper Caglayan, CEO of Peoplestreet.
But what if someone could enter updated information in one central location and have those changes automatically reflected in the Outlook and Lotus Notes databases of everyone she knows? That's the premise of the Peoplestreet LiveCard. Peoplestreet maintains an online contact database that allows people to manage their own information. From there, it's a classic viral marketing approach: Peoplestreet users are encouraged to include at the bottom of their e-mails a link to their "LiveCard." When the recipient clicks on the link, he is prompted to create his own LiveCard.
Once two people exchange LiveCards, then either party can choose to notify the other whenever there's a change in personal information. Since Peoplestreet offers modules that work with Lotus Notes and Microsoft Outlook, these changes can be automatically reflected within contact databases. "I can synchronize with the people that I want to stay in contact with, and this can happen essentially seamlessly to me," said Friel.
Rest assured that you haven't heard the last about this new technology. On Monday, Peoplestreet announced a strategic alliance with Microsoft in which the new Windows XP operating system will include prominent links to LiveCard services. "Our alliance with Microsoft provides massive exposure of the Peoplestreet LiveCard service to users of Windows XP worldwide," said Caglayan.