Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

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Are You Bluetooth Or WiFi? Why Not Be Both! (Part 2)

When this blog was much younger, I shared a post asking if you were Bluetooth or WiFi.  The premise was simple: Bluetooth represented slower and small-scale, with the added benefit of low-energy. You could make numerous connections nearby and interact with them all seamlessly.  Does that sound like you?  If not, perhaps you were WiFi.  Like your electronic namesake, it stood for high-speed, long reach, and high energy.  Decisions happened quickly, decisively, and everything was high-energy.  However, everything came back to a central location, rather than the point-to-point nature of Bluetooth (Mesh WiFi wasn’t yet a thing).

One wasn’t better than the other, simply a different approach.  Which is necessary in our varied industry.  What works in one place may not provide the same results elsewhere.

And then I got myself an Apple Watch.

What does that have to do with the topic?  As I learned about its capabilities, I discovered an interesting feature.  The normal operation is for the watch to remain connected to my iPhone through Bluetooth (the Low Energy standard, actually, taking our previous metaphor to the next level).  However, if the phone is not available or otherwise out of range, the watch will attempt to connect to known WiFi networks.  It’s the fallback, since, as you learned, WiFi uses more power, thus decreasing the battery life.  Yet the watch adapts as it must.

An important lesson the watch brings to us all.

If you read the original and, before finishing, exclaimed, “yes, I’m definitely WiFi,” take this opportunity to…slow…down…and…look…around.  Switch to Bluetooth and see if there’s anything you can bring from its close-knit and low-energy platform.  On the other hand, if you studied each sentence of the first post, deliberated over it, shared with your close colleagues, then decided that you seem to be Bluetooth, there’s value for you, too.  Go outside your comfort zone.  Give that SVP acquaintenance of yours a call.  You know, the one who exhausts you just by talking.  And if you’re that SVP, force yourself to slow down and connect with your immediate network.  Recharge, breathe (as my Apple Watch just guided me through a “mindfulness” session), and absorb what you can from your calm, collected colleague.

When I wrote the first post, I made a mistake.  I assumed (you know what happens then!) you could only be one or the other.  Why limit yourself?  Be like my Apple Watch and do what works best for the situation, your credit union, and your members.  And be sure to close your rings!

Image credit: https://openclipart.org

Data Security: Car Edition. Really.

Originally published on CUInsight.com

When you hear “data security”, what comes to mind? Your laptop? Phone? Internet of Things “smart” oven? (I’d hate to let a hacker know how badly I burnt that casserole)

Anything else? How about your computer on wheels?

Modern cars are rolling supercomputers. They have dozens of systems collecting unique data to make your driving experience safer, more enjoyable, and sometimes more distracting. For example, the traction control computer collects information on road conditions hundreds of times a second. However, it’s probably not a source of identity theft (though what could be learned from its records would surprise you). Nor is the network of proximity sensors to help you navigate tight areas.

Your car does contain a number of personalized systems. Let’s look at the big ones:

GPS: Your car knows where it is at all times, where it has been, the paths you take, and even the speed at which those drives were made.

Bluetooth: When you pair your phone, it does more than share a 4-digit code. To automatically reconnect, the car remembers your phone’s unique ID. This isn’t a huge privacy issue on its own, but today’s cars save far more. To make dialing easier, a lot of systems import your contacts and synchronize your text messages. No big deal, just your entire phone book and call/text history.

HomeLink: Do you have buttons on your mirror or visor? Do they open your gate/garage? Then you have HomeLink. These can even support turning on/off lights, though new smart integrations have made that a bit redundant. Combined with the GPS history, this is the biggest privacy risk in your car. The former tells anyone in the car where your house is located. The latter Opens. Your. Home.

Those are the big three. Others vary by manufacturer and features. Things like a custom entry code (many Ford vehicles still use this feature…do not choose a birthday!) are seen on occasion. App integration is becoming more common, making your phone an advanced car key.

So, what of all these features? I’m a huge fan of integrations which make sense, and I use them often. However, I also know there is a level of security necessary. To add a small degree, I never program my actual home address into the GPS. The “point” is around the entrance to my community, not in my driveway. Do you really need those last 4 turns? Granted, someone could just find my address on the registration, but I’m hoping a potential thief is just too dumb to consider such an option. Why make it easy? Note: My garage opener doesn’t reach from the home “point”.

It’s good to know what these features can reveal while you have the car, but what about when you sell it?  Given the privacy/security risk inherent, I find it almost criminal that an easy “I’m selling my car, delete everything” button is not available in every car. For mine, I’ve had to do the following:

  1. Delete my phone pairing from the car.
  2. Remove the “Home” location in my GPS.
  3. Remove all recent waypoints in the GPS.
  4. Reset the HomeLink buttons.
  5. Cancel/transfer satellite radio service (technically, with an active Radio ID, one can use a phishing strategy to get my personal information from SiriusXM)

You’re right, there is no direct credit union guidance in this post. However, given my recent experience in buying a new car, I felt it necessary enough to share. Be honest, how many cars do you think are traded-in with the prior owner’s home address and garage code?

Help protect your staff and membership by sharing this with everyone! (And along with every booked loan)

Image credit: That’s me, while owning two cars.

If Your AI Is Only For Chatting, You’re Doing It Wrong

“Ask Our Friendly AI!” Your credit union’s website is excitedly promoting their new chat bot, there to answer questions 24/7. “Cool, so how can it help me save money or time?” Whether they admit it or not, that’s what your members will be thinking. In some cases, such tech is fielding member requests without burdening traditional staff time. And their resolution rates can be similar to human representatives. What are you waiting for? Get Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and friends to every CU! (HAL is not welcome, sorry)

It’s not that simple. “AI” support agents are uniquely programmed to understand financial world terminology. Plus, computers don’t excel at interacting like a person, since we learn and process the world in a different way. One day, I’m certain this will no longer be the case, and all systems will talk to each other in the background, so you could ask Siri (remember that post?) to transfer money from one account to another, explain the tax implications of your specific IRA contributions, and what the score is for your favorite team. But we’re not at that point…yet. And look who spoke too soon…we’re actually getting awfully close.

Readers know my passion (that’s 3 links!) for the “AI Revolution”. With its arrival, a lot of ideas are being thrown around on best use. Right now, the most common answer is: Everywhere!!!

Patience, my young Padawan. A fancy chat bot might seem like the natural first step, but let’s look at it from a member benefit perspective. If they have a question, they don’t care who/what responds. They just want a quick and accurate answer. If your team is currently able to keep members served quickly and effectively (through any medium they contact), then this may not be a fit for you at this time. Unless you have unlimited resources, in which case, yes, do all of this at once. Just make sure you have top-notch project management to ensure the focus is always on the unified credit union goals.

For the rest of us, the AI which makes the most sense, if less “sexy”, is the Big Data side of AI, the machine learning. Here, you have solutions which can analyze a member’s credit (beyond the report) and offer a rapid loan decision with high rate accuracy. You can implement systems to monitor patterns in spending to identify fraud the moment it occurs, saving the institution money and the member frustration. Machine learning is also enabling security of the body, biometrics. You know it as the fingerprint sensor on your phone, but facial recognition is also commonplace on new Windows 10 computers, while retina scanners are the “top level” of security at large financial institutions.

Speed. Savings. Security. Three great reasons to implement aspects of AI in your credit union. A recent post about this topic ended with a wonderful quote:

“When a bank…effectively uses AI, they run more efficiently and are able to connect more effectively with a segment of the population that will never be replaced by machines: their customers.” – Mohit Joshi, Innovations in FinTech

Ok, ok.  I’ve given you way too much to consider.  AI, Big Data, machine learning, algorithmic analysis…yeah, I get it.  Overwhelming when you just want to know, “can this stuff help my credit union?”  So, I had a realization right after writing this post.  Remember that series I did about tech in the financial industry?  As part of it, I mentioned that financial institutions are at risk of becoming “dumb banks” in the same way that ISPs are “dumb pipes”, simply being the corridor for other companies’ information.  You hold the money, but your members use other company services to move, spend, invest, even check on their funds.   The same is the case here with AI.

There will always be a place for information as you manage it now: Raw account balances aren’t going anywhere.  But that’s “dumb data”.  The future is in “smart data”.  Where your credit union and members can find patterns in spending, opportunities in lending, and personalized recommendations for minimizing debt (or maximizing wealth).

How will you become the “smart data” of the future?

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