It's the mantra in every industry: Know your customer. In the years ahead, companies will be busy figuring us our through our data, developing chummy relationships, selling us customized services. You've heard it all before, and it has a faint ring of Big Brother. But some industries appear clueless.

Yesterday I was at a math conference at IBM. Larry Rosenberger, chief scientist (and former CEO) at Fair Isaac, the credit rating powerhouse, brought up banks. He goes to the ATM and takes out money, and 500 times in a row the first question is whether he wants English or Spanish. If banks are going to get to know us, he asked, don't you think they could figure that one out? I guess the bigger question is this: It's certainly in the banks' interest to know us. But would we rather have them remain in the dark? No matter. If banks don't give us customized financial services, other companies will.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE