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July 4, 2013

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Two Gig Tank teams modernize information management

Two Gig Tank teams are developing mobile applications that turn familiar aspect of business inside out by exploiting the ubiquity of smart phones and social media. Sisasa and Tidbit are two of the seven teams spending the summer working on highly accelerated launches of products that use Chattanooga's gig-speed Internet bandwidth. One is targeting the hospitality industry, and one is taking aim at banking for 20-somethings. Both companies are business-to-business products with the help—and potential interest—of Chattanooga companies they have met through the Gig Tank.

Sisasa: Clueful Social Banking

Sisasa begins from the premise that there is a huge gap between 20-somethings and financial institutions. Young adults use smart phones and social media for everything, but most banks really haven't figured out how to reach them that way.

 "Everyone is trying to figure out social banking, and no one has figured it out yet," said Debbie Tien, cofounder of Sisasa. "Right now social banking for most banks is creating a Facebook page, making a twitter, maybe having a hashtag if they're super revolutionary."

She sees some upstart banks doing well with mobile applications, but says those companies are, essentially, trying to create an alternative banking system.

"We don't want to do that," she said. "We are trying to work with existing banks and credit unions because we think they are far more efficient and effective in spreading financial literacy."

Sisasa's product is a social banking app that uses gamification techniques to encourage friendly competition among savers and Facebook-like sharing functions to draw young adults in and encourage financial literacy. The company plans to market the app to banks, which would provide it as an option for customers.

Though young adults are not profitable banking customers to start with, she said, "If the bank can keep a customer their whole life, that lifetime value is very high, especially if they are interacting on a mobile channel, which has a much lower cost per transaction than a branch transaction."

Tidbit: Training Goes Social and Mobile

Tidbit also relies heavily on the ubiquity of mobile devices. Starting with the hospitality industry, it wants to turn corporate training on its head by offering employers a platform that allows employees to create training material themselves in the form of short text, images, one-minute video captured via smart phone and tablet.

"We want to kill the learning management system," said Sam Bowen of Tidbit, referring to the seemingly inescapable digital training interface that presents information on a computer screen and quizzes the "learner" before moving on to additional PowerPoint-like slides, followed by another quiz. "Also the employee handbook. Handbooks suck."

Tidbit offers an alternative to suffering through corporate training video, online read-and-quiz systems and employee handbooks. Instead, Tidbit will allow employees to document their own best practices.

Imagine some arcane bit of knowledge that needs to be documented, like maintenance tips for the plumbing system of an old building that only one person knows how to fix. Tidbit would allow that employee to shoot a quick video of the procedure—or a series of several—for a knowledge base anyone could access. 

Or consider a relatively small but rapidly changing bit of information at a restaurant, like instructions for the next shift of servers. If the information is typed into an email, it might never be read by servers, who are mostly in an age band that has largely abandoned email. If it's recorded in a video and pushed to workers' phones, they're more likely to get the message. 

Competitive gaming elements are also part of the mix for Tidbit, in the form of incentives for employees competing to document the most efficient way do something, for example.

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July 4, 2013

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