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People Will Talk…Tweet, Snap, and More – Part 2

Originally published on CUInsight.com

Welcome to part two of the Two Peoples series. Last time, we learned about the “great divide” between individuals who are deeply connected and those who prefer to go the analog route. Now, we’re looking at those “connected folks” and trying to understand how they approach the world differently, if at all. And, if so, does it matter?

I already hear your objection: There are plenty of members who will not do these “techie” things, and your in-person service will always be essential for them. I know…my own family is part of that group. You’re right. It is an important part of your operation.

But you’re missing a whole lot of people who are connected. At this point, I can go into the talk on embracing social media, empowering your staff, and championing your most loyal members. Yet I won’t. You know these things, and there are countless articles to guide you if you don’t.

What you need to understand is that the social side of the technical evolution is not a fad. It’s become more than just staying in touch with friends and family. It is now the ability to do anything by way of a technological device. Want food in front of you right now? GrubHub or Seamless. Need to get out and exercise with a digital reward? Pokemon Go, Running With Zombies, Nike + Running Club. Show everyone how you look with a dog nose? Snapchat (really, I still don’t get the platform). Learn about and buy whatever you want? You know the sites.

Yes, I hear you, again. “How does a running app or food delivery system help a financial institution?” It’s about the connections the technologies enable. Even though I don’t use the social aspects, I do understand the idea of being disconnected from some people by being connected. There’s even a name for it: Digital Footprint Score. Let’s explore.

Do you remember when the World Wide Web was in its infancy? If you were one of the early adopters, you knew how separated you had become with those who were still not connected. I was ordering pizza online in the mid-90s. The precursor to my own company had a dynamic website even earlier. We had taken such a leap beyond our previous life, that you couldn’t even explain it sufficiently to those who didn’t experience the daily “brrrzz, whoosh, ba dum, ba dum” of the 14.4kbps (or 28.8 if you were way cool) modem.

We are in that position yet again. I talk with my karate students often about the games they play, apps they use, and I’m amazed at the connections they are making within these environments. The newest trend is where that virtual community extends into the real world, a la Pokemon Go and similar “augmented reality” experiences. Between gaming, interacting with friends, businesses, and associated services, their Digital Footprint Score is extremely high. It may not come as a surprise, but this score trends higher as you get younger (Why aren’t we calling it the Benjamin Button Score? I crack myself up.). Your digital footprint will continue to increase, and we are still in the early days. I believe financial technologies (fintech) will enter this crossover realm in the coming years as well. The hyper-connected don’t carry money. They pass it around like you would an emoji. In fact, you can pay with emoji now, really (don’t get me started on them…it’s like we’ve come full circle from hieroglyphics). And peer-to-peer payments within your favorite messaging service is a reality.

However, we aren’t entering a post-bank world. We’re evolving into a new way of banking. One where you have a crucial role, if you take your virtual seat at the table. Looking back at these new concepts above, what do you recognize? Direct communication…you do that. Community-building…didn’t credit unions start this concept? I get that you’re not going to build the next billion-dollar platform. But why not work with the company which does? It’s as if we’ve had this talk before…

The final part in this series will look ahead to what the future may hold. Hang tight, because we’re talking artificial intelligence! And it’s not even close to what you’re thinking. Sorry, HAL.

The Future, Less the Rocket Packs

Actually, it’s not the future until we all have hoverboards. It’s 2014, and I want my hoverboard! Tech industry: You have one more year.

Turns out, revolutionizing our methods of travel didn’t quite pan out, yet. We don’t fly in glass bubble ships a-la Jetsons, nor do we have the flying cars depicted in Fifth Element (Is he really the taxi driver you want? Only if you want to save the universe.)

What we do have is an incredible level of interconnectedness. Devices can communicate across the globe, each end remaining completely wireless. Voices and music can spring into our ears from a phone 30 feet away, and all we need is a small headset which lets the world know you are oblivious by its consistent blue flash. It seems like everything can talk to everything else, and my data is accessible where ever I need it.

This is only the beginning of what is called The Internet of Things.

Imagine waking up one day to a slight vibration from your wrist-mounted activity monitor (which, of course, analyzed your sleep patterns to wake you at the best possible time). Upon noting you are up and moving, the monitor notifies your home lighting to illuminate a path to the bathroom. While there, you weigh yourself (lost a pound, yeah!), which is automatically uploaded into your daily nutrition log. By the time you get to the kitchen, your toaster has already pre-heated for the waffle it’s anticipating you will have (since your nutrition profile today has accounted for your improved weight/BMI). Fast-forward to leaving for work, and as you drive out of the garage, you realize you forgot to switch off the lights, adjust the A/C, and even set the alarm. Is the fan still on? No worries, your phone detects it has left the house, and as the garage doors close, the lighting shuts off, A/C switches to an energy-efficient schedule, alarm arms itself, and fans shut down. Not knowing this, you quickly say, “Hey, Siri, is my home secured?” “Your home is set for away mode. All accessories have been switched to your pre-set schedule. Don’t worry!” “Thanks, Siri, now play my favorite music playlist.”

Sounds like a wild future, right? Except you can do all of that right now, with products available on store shelves (or at least online).

Companies are aiming to become the master of your domain, literally. At Google’s recent developer conference, they announced a home automation platform upon which products and software can be developed so that everything talks to each other. Same ideas in mind, last month, Apple announced HomeKit, a platform designed, in their words, to be, “a new framework for communicating with and controlling connected devices in a user’s home.”

This is the type of future your members will expect. Where everything communicates with everything else, and not just swaps data, but can provide valuable information from this interaction. Your member has just changed their mailing address and, one month later, their last name. The CU system “of the future” then automatically notifies you that they are likely just married (or divorced). Can you see how having that information brought to light might help your efforts? And for your members, a banking platform that can detect they have been visiting car dealerships lately, and sends a notice asking if they would like to get pre-approved for a loan.

The Internet of Things is in its infancy, and these situations are likely only the tip of an iceberg capable of changing our lives as much as introducing the personal computer or the Internet.

How is your credit union planning for a connected future?

Not Another Paper Jam!

You know the machine, and you know the feeling of seeing that red light…Paper Jam. If evil was embodied in a physical form, for you, that would be a likely candidate. So short of performing a ritual, um, recycling, of the unit, what can be done?

It isn’t uncommon to have service contracts for all of the technology products within a credit union, or any business, for that matter. Unfortunately, credit unions tend to get the short straw. In fact, they pay up to 20% more than those in other industries, for the same maintenance contracts.

Credit unions are rough places, obviously.  What with the food fights, office conga lines, and indoor car test drives…

Oh, those aren’t typical of your institution?  They aren’t in other business environments either (or so I’m told). So why are you paying so much more for machine maintenance programs?  No upper-level involvement.  C-level employees are rarely involved in decisions regarding operations contracts; no one wants to be known as the micro-manager, yet there is value to being part of the process.

A big-picture view on the devices used by a credit union can save time, money, and a lot of frustration for your entire staff.  When that dreaded paper jam comes back, and you know it will, who calls whom for service? (Assuming the rain dance doesn’t fix it first) Can any of your employees file a service request for a specific device?  How is that request then managed?  What about for multiple branches?

As you’d imagine, it gets very complicated without much complexity.  Take a look at your own credit union.  Count the number of cash counting units, computers, printers, copiers, ATM machines, and teller consoles you have.  How many of those are under a service contract?  And where do you store all of them?  Then, when does each get renewed?

On top of it all, each year the companies raise your rate by up to 10%…just because.

Unifying all of this into a single system easily accessed by anyone on your team, well, think of the printers.  And your staff, knowing the dreaded paper jam has an easy solution!

Full Disclosure: My company has a working relationship with a firm which offers an equipment management platform.

Photo from gifrific.com and the 100% historically-accurate 1999 film Office Space

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