Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: future (page 1 of 2)

Strategy for the Future…and Today

“Our competitors don’t stand a chance,” goes through your head as you step out of the shower. Hey, aren’t all your best ideas conceived between shampoo and conditioner?

Write it down. Draw out a cost/benefit analysis (SMART). Share it with others. Edit, improve. It doesn’t even matter what your idea was. Remember, “a dream without a plan is just a wish.” – Katherine Paterson

As a technologist and futurist (I look to new technologies and assess how our society will evolve in coming years), I view ideas as the root of our growth. So don’t stop dreaming! Just ensure it makes sense in today’s world.

Take, for example, hydrogen fuel-cell cars. If you’re not familiar with the concept, that’s ok. They are really new. I mean, only a few exist…new. Given the right technology improvements, policy decisions, cost-scaling, and marketing, it can be the holy grail of clean transportation. Your tailpipe would emit water. That’s it. And the compressed hydrogen the vehicle uses could be made using renewable energy.

Toyota showed us a glimpse of that possible future with the Mirai, a concept vehicle running on compressed hydrogen with range in the hundreds of miles. Refueling can be done in a few minutes at a compatible hydrogen station, and you’re on your way.

So what’s stopping us from switching to this obviously better fuel source? No harmful emissions, no oil, clean energy made here…let’s do it! Not so fast. Barring a few stations in California (and others scattered around the country) there’s nowhere to refuel the vehicle. Our current fueling infrastructure was built over the course of a century and would take years (not to mention billions of dollars) to match with hydrogen. Impossible to overcome? No, just something essential to consider.

Back to your shower idea. Turns out, it is industry-changing: your staff, focus groups, even sampled members agree. Using the hydrogen vehicle example, here are some questions you need to ask:

  • Is it ahead of its time or your competition?
  • Can it run the risk of being a non-starter?
  • Does it cost you time and money with little short and unpredictable long-term benefits?
  • Are you willing to build out the figurative fueling infrastructure?

A few months ago, I suggested having an R&D budget for your institution. Depending on the answers to those questions, your idea may be best passed along to this division. That way, when you are ready to make it happen, the hard work of development is already done. And you can still crush your competition!

tl;dr (Summary) – It’s great to be ahead of your competition and have the “early mover” advantage, but there is also a danger in pursuing a strategy/solution that doesn’t make it. Must have a strategy for today and tomorrow, with how you plan to get from A (the way it’s done now) to B (your super-duper amazing solution).

Aside: Yes, it’s a click-bait image.  But it’s a puppy, in a bath!

Geeks Make the Impossible Possible

“If we can dream it, we can do it!”

Millions of people experienced those words as they rode my favorite theme park ride: Horizons in Epcot.

While the attraction is relegated to memory, pieces of it will always live on. If you are in line for Mission: Space, you may notice the badge in the center of the spinning station; it is the Horizons logo. In true Disney nerd fashion, I may or may not have the ride soundtrack and narration in my music library. And I ride Soarin’ for the orange scent borrowed from Horizons.

The ride was a unique challenge for the time. Imagineers were tasked with creating an experience tailored to the preferences and, well, dreams, of the guests. But each ride vehicle had to take the same track and finish at the exact same time. The idea was to provide this choice as the ride went on, not before boarding, so the attraction had to adapt to your whims.

How did the Imagineers make the impossible possible? Taking advice from their own attraction’s narration, they dreamed big. Upon Choosing your Tommorow Simulation (on a touchscreen appearing out of nowhere on the ride vehicle), you were sent into a future world of sights, movements, and sound. They decided on unifying the music and synchronizing the video experiences to each other. That way, everyone finished their own ride at the same time. No temporal distortions here.

This was in the 80s, when technologies powering your iPad were dreams seen only in sci-fi. But that’s what made it real, those dreams, fulfilled by a strong desire to make the future better.

Your credit unions began as a group of people pooling together their funds for the benefit of the community. What would they dream for tomorrow?

“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse” – Walt Disney

Image from Horizons1 dedication to the Horizons attraction

Tech to Confuse

Have you ever found yourself so overwhelmed with new technologies that you simply gave up? “Look at the new iOSdroid 45.759 iPhone Max 16” Extra High Resolution 4K 3D Hologram Edition!” What? Forget it. My Motorola StarTAC works just fine for me. You can keep your, um, whatever that is.

Ok, I exaggerated. Slightly. Though for someone not keenly on the “bleeding edge”, it can feel that way. Lots of technology, no idea how it connects to your life.

This can happen to anyone, even a self-proclaimed geek like myself. Through a series of odd events, I wound up getting a new car. It has everything. Here’s a rundown of just some of its advanced technologies: Smart City Brake Support, Forward Obstruction Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Support, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Smart High Beams, Adaptive Headlights, Radar Cruise Control, Capacitor Regenerative Braking, and Rain-sensing Windshield Wipers…whew!

At first blush, the technologist in me went bonkers. “Gadgets, gizmos, sensors, radar, LASERS!” Then I asked the question you’ve doubtlessly posed before as well. “So, now what?”

I read the manual, all 500 pages of it, and endeavored to press every button and instigate every advanced thing on the car. I’ve managed about half thus far. But would the average person bother? The manufacturer possibly wondered the same, since a few of the features need to be manually activated. Given how many VCRs I’ve seen over the years flashing 12:00, well, you can guess.

It’s the same way at your credit union. Each day, I notice new articles in my Twitter feed about how credit unions must implement technologies to better engage with their members, beat the banks, and survive into the future. Sure, mobile deposit is a given today. So is a clean and functional mobile app. And, of course, your website should be presented as a virtual branch, mirroring the great experience members receive upon walking into your brick-and-mortar establishments.

But technology for technology’s sake? There are a few of us who enjoy such things, but we are not the majority, and you should not stake your future on us. Even the typical technology-laden Millenial has little care for unnecessary trimmings. If it makes your member uncomfortable, confuses them, or otherwise makes them feel like they’re “missing something”, it needs to be reconsidered.

If a member is ready to take action with your credit union, get out of the way! Help, don’t hinder, their efforts. If you’re implementing new technologies, make them seamless and invisible to the member. Otherwise, prepare to have a lot of explaining to do.

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