Learn Marketing & Strategy Insights, You Will.

Tag: technology (Page 1 of 8)

Change Has Changed – Your Guide to Adapting

Originally published on CUInsight.com

2016 feels like a long time ago, right? Towards the end of that year, I wrote about how, unlike the way our brains work, change doesn’t happen linearly. Sidestepping any math, this means people are unprepared for the realities of today, never mind tomorrow.

Sadly, few leaders (elected or otherwise) understand this concept. But you, my dear reader and honorary geek, can!

Linear Change

Measuring Tape on Wood
One number after the last. No surprise jumps.

We think in a line. A → B → C and so on. The Industrial Revolution led to mechanical advances which moved forward greatly during (and because of) the World Wars, and this spawned the modern technological age. Transistors launched a million possibilities, and we live in that digital era.

The Small Screen Got Bigger (And Crisper)

Depending on your generation, you grew up with a B&W or color TV available in some fashion. Then came VCRs (or DVD players), along with cable/satellite boxes, and, by then, you might go for a snazzy HD TV. You’re living in the future! A future where you can finally make out the hockey puck!

A few more years passed and 3D was all the rage (and then it wasn’t), only to be replaced by 4K and HDR. For most of us, that’s where we are today (end of 2023). A lot of change, but not difficult to grasp. Screens got incrementally better, with some jumps larger than others.

Banking Goes Digital

During this same timeframe, banking has remained pretty similar. People can have a checking (share draft) and savings (share) account, along with special accounts like CDs, plus lending products. However, the act of interacting with these services couldn’t be more different.

First, there was online banking, which revolutionized accessing account details. In the early days, it was mainly a ledger that supported transfers. The web portal was akin to walking into a branch, only, paper and people-less, and open 24/7 (phone banking is a thing, but it’s a pain).

Mobile Check Deposit
The innovation that put change on an exponential path.

Then, we got what I consider the biggest banking innovation of the modern era: Mobile check deposit. This fundamentally changed how you interact with your banking institution, and eliminated the need for many to ever visit a branch. It also laid the “mindshare” groundwork for future P2P services.

Which brings us into the smartphone era with services like Zelle (bank-owned), Venmo (private company), Apple Cash, Cash App, etc. At this point, if you can’t do something on your phone (in the app or other simple path), and there’s no regulatory prohibition, why not?

These are massive changes, but they’re still pretty much linear. One thing led to the next. Many of us pushed credit unions for years to truly take on digital transformation strategies (that particular ship has sailed). Most are still woefully behind.

It’s time for a new approach. One that aligns with how the world is changing today.

Exponential (or Logarithmic) Change

Exponential Growth Dial

Spoiler: Change has always been exponential, it’s just that the rate was slow enough that we perceived it as linear.

Transistors? While their number (used to) double every 18-24 months (Moore’s Law), the scales in which they existed were shrinking dramatically. There’s a bit of marketing-speak involved, but modern chips have components less than 10nm across (a silicon atom is 0.2nm)!

Climate change, biodiversity, sea level rise, and other environmental issues are also seeing an increased rate of change. In other words, extreme weather is getting both more extreme and more common. Rising seas of last century are now coming up faster. Species loss is increasing.

The challenge today is the rate of change…of change.

It’s Not Just Tech

When we think of change, it’s easy to gravitate towards technology. Its forward march highlights the concept in tangible ways. Your really old phone was hanging on a wall. Your current one is a glass slab in your pocket that vastly outperforms the Apollo moon landers…and Mission Control.

It’s true, tech has revolutionized society and how we interact. At this point, you’re probably expecting me to dive into “AI” and chatbots. I could, but there’s so much already written, and frankly, I think what I already wrote about them explains their issues (and potential) just fine.

Change in Environment and Society

While technology lets us put our finger on specific change, it’s the more abstract stuff that creates real challenges.

The entire concept of “culture wars”, outlawing discussion of systemic racial inequities, and taking away women’s rights…each of these are symptoms of parts of society encountering exponential change and not knowing how to cope. Fear leads to poor choices (and groups taking advantage of that).

So…Banking?

Your credit union isn’t immune to these changes. And it’s not just implementing more streamlined LOS platforms or mobile apps. A credit union is made of its members, and those are just people…people who are facing a rapidly (and more rapidly) changing world.

Credit unions have a future in embracing their past. Sure, you still gotta improve your tech stack (look forward rather than just at today’s expectations). But it’s about growing into the credit union you could be. Change will continue to occur; evolve your systems and processes, retain your culture.

Turns out, I went into this back in 2018. And dove deep into the concept in 2020 with a focus on credit union’s role in society. Thus, I inadvertently proved my point that lots may evolve but the core principles should remain true. Didn’t Edward Filene once say “keep purpose constant”?

The Times They Are A Changin’

Time and Change
It’s easy to feel spun around as…the times are a changin’.

Change will continue at an increasing rate, and don’t feel bad if it seems overwhelming. It is. But stay focused on the things that matter: Fair treatment of all peoples (in rights and respect) and our shared planet, plus the prosperity of society (across a wide range of definitions).

Sidenote: That sentence is pulled from our company’s original mission statement in 2008. We strive to “keep purpose constant”.

Oh, and AI platforms will play a role in all of this (the 2023 word of the year is “hallucinate”, for when these systems confidently make stuff up). That role will definitely be to further mix up the status quo. I’m confident you will also find uses to improve member financial wellness!

And here you are, 1000 words in, better understanding and prepared for the changing change of the world (or just with your head spinning)! It’s pervasive across all areas, so keep an eye out for it, as well as for people who are using the uncertainty this change brings to advance their own agendas.

Embrace openness and curiosity over fear. Credit unions were built to make the world a better place, one member at a time. Let’s do all we can to ensure change always leans towards kindness and prosperity for all.

Credit Unions Already Lost. So, How Do They Win?

Originally published in CUInsight.com

Raise your hand if your credit union is a leader in digital offerings. Keep that hand up if your members agree. Finally, hold it just a little longer (you didn’t expect this article to be a literal workout!) if your local community agrees.

Of course, I’m just writing on a page, so my presumption of response is just that, a guess. However, I can wager no one held their hand up the whole time. This may shock you, so grip your phone tightly, but credit unions…aren’t digital banking leaders. Then what group is?

Digital banks and fintechs. And, frankly, it’s not even close. To rub it in just a bit more, they also won the race for younger, tech-savvy generations.

According to Cornerstone Advisors research, “[m]ore Gen Zers and Millennials call a digital bank their primary checking account provider than those that consider a community bank or a credit union…combined.”

That data point bears repeating:

More people 40 and under use a digital bank for their primary checking than every credit union combined. 

Maybe credit unions just need to work on their marketing. Members love dealing with the best not-for-profit financial cooperatives around! Right? Wait, right? Oh no, not here too!

Turns out, member satisfaction with credit unions is down, and has been on that path for a while, especially with Millennials and Gen Zers. Interestingly, member satisfaction levels fell for credit unions at the same amount as digital banks grew their satisfaction levels (around 2%).

In other words, people who make up the bulk of the population (and more moving forward) prefer digital banks to credit unions. The biggest reasons? Lack of satisfaction with “online banking capabilities that are easy to use” and the credit union being “easy to deal with”.

What is a humble credit union to do?

Mission

Group of Young Men Together
They just want connection and simplicity.

Yes, mission.

Just not the way you may think. GAC and other gatherings bring together credit union lovers to celebrate driving their mission of financial education, inclusion, and empowerment. But, given the data, that’s either not what people want, or it’s not getting across.

Otherwise, credit unions would be the dominant banking option of choice, right? Which means there’s a disconnect.

I’d bet people do want these things. It’s why they use digital banks, which make managing savings, spending, budgeting, debt elimination, and investing easy. With a bit of education, apps guide users to take positive steps with their own money.

In other words, they help more people take greater control of their financial life. Financial empowerment, you could say.

How is that not the credit union mission?

Combined with community impact, it is the mission. Which means people want it, but don’t feel they’re getting it from credit unions. Or to do so, have to deal with disappointing digital services. Something’s gotta give.

Claim Your Measured Mission Identity

Table of People with Phones and Laptops
Working together through technology.

So what’s missing? Obviously, first, you need quality digital options. You won’t be able to build them yourself. Partner with great providers. Ensure everyone has APIs so it all talks seamlessly and makes members and staff lives easier. I’ve covered that before.

Tech in hand, that’s not all. You still need something else. Branding and connection. Let’s achieve that in two, highly simplified, steps:

  1. “Measure your mission.” My CU Geek posts called for this concept numerous times, but when Anne Legg spoke the phrase in a recent chat, I had to give her the credit.
  2. Claim your identity. A common concept for my loyal readers, but, once again, someone else explained it more clearly than my dozen posts did. Jackie Brown of JB Collaborates suggests you “discover your individual credit union’s true identity”.

And step 3? Well that’s spreading the word, through actions made obvious in the previous two exercises. If you did them right, and continue to tweak as you go, the outreach will stem from self-appointed brand ambassadors: Your members.

After all this effort, will your credit union attract back all those people already lost to digital banking platforms? Probably not. But you will stem the tide, while building existing relationships and engaging the community, inspiring others to join.

In other words, shore up your digital offerings. Once you’re directly competitive and comparable to digital banks in people’s minds, the community focus shines through. And that’s where you excel.

Credit unions won’t make every person a member, but they can make a positive difference in more lives. And after all, isn’t that the mission?

Zero UI: What It Is and Why It Matters to Your Credit Union.

Originally published on CUInsight.com with 2021 & 2022 updates included here.

Speaking Through Tin Can and String
Can you hear me now?

I want you to share a piece of information. Anything. There’s only one catch: You have to do it using only your voice. You’ve just used Zero UI.

Pretty easy, right? Thank millions of years of evolution (and a unique amino acid order in a specific gene) for its silent help.

Try Talking To Your Computer

Now, imagine I placed you in front of a computer and said, “convey information to this system, receive additional information in response, then ask it to perform an action, all while using only your voice.”

You’d offer me an exasperated look. Because you’ve done this before. And it’s…not fun. Voice assistants improve every day, yet they’re still a ways off from equaling a simple person-to-person exchange.

Part of that is due to the complexity of computer systems, plus the depth of information they can access, while adding the struggle of context.

Harry Potter Playing Quiddich

Asking a coworker about “the game” incorporates prior knowledge of the person, their activities, their preferences, and much more.

You’re thinking it was a professional sports event. Nope. They’re really into Muggle quidditch. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Conveying Information

Computers are getting frighteningly good at context (see constant stream of, “I know what you did last summer…and will do for the next 5 summers” demonstrations from large tech firms). Yet the user interaction still leaves much to be desired.

As I write this post, I’m typing on a keyboard into a section of screen, surrounded by a lot of tappable (iPad) spots which do everything from change how the text looks to switch to another notebook (I’m in Evernote).

At its core, what am I trying to do here? Convey information to you. If we were standing face-to-face, it’d be stupid easy. No “user interfaces” (UI) needed to take in my thoughts, process them, format what’s written, and so much more.

I mean, really. Think about all the little steps that have to occur for me to get my thoughts to your brain. It’s not simple at all.

That we manage to communicate at all is amazing (though, we seem to be struggling with it lately).

Holding Voice To A Higher Standard

The easiest and most direct way to communicate is with voice. That’s why Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri have enormous potential (I’m not the only one to say this), and are so vocally (see what I did there?) critiqued when they fail. We expect an app to crash. A browser to freeze.

Yet when Siri misses one word of our dictated sentence, we’re all, “this tech is such garbage…YOU KNOW NOTHING, JON SNOW!”

Because our voice is part of us, and it’s pretty reliable, we hold it to a higher standard. Until you’re in front of an important crowd. Then it just shuts off like the computer giving you those low battery warnings.

You can smash that speech! I believe in you!

Barring stressful situations, our voice accomplishes its task really well.

Bringing Everyone To The (Tech) Table

The idea of interacting with tech using only our voice is called Zero UI. And it’s a goal of most tech firms. It’s also really hard, because computers haven’t had millions of years to learn how to do it best.

Teaching Computers…To Help People

We’re trying to teach them to teach themselves in less than 0.0001% of the time it took us. Imagine the potential, though. It eliminates the need to learn specific steps for any computer-assisted task. You just say it.

Think of the person who struggles to find the icon for the web browser. Or looks at modern tech and recoils, dreading the learning curve. Zero UI makes them part of all improvements, and they can reap the benefits as much as a total geek like me.

Zero UI As A Guide

Think of your entire digital ecosystem. I’m certain it isn’t Zero UI, and that’s ok. The technology isn’t there yet. In the meantime, how can you reduce what a user has to do to accomplish their goal, while minimizing any learning curves?

Veggie Burger
Not that burger. (This one’s veggie, anyway)

Remember, a learning curve can be as simple as knowing that the icons on the bottom of the phone screen in your app actually represent different sections. Or, that the three lines on the top left mean it’s a “hamburger menu” (which, after becoming the norm, faded away, only to remerge again as of 2021) with more sections within?

Ask Your Grandmother!

When designing websites, phone systems, mobile platforms, and more, I’ve always deferred to the tried-and-true method: If you showed it to your grandmother, would she have a basic idea of what to do?

I’m not suggesting she’ll start using Alexa to pay her bills (though, being a Zero UI solution, she probably would rather that than the app, if it were easy, which it isn’t yet), only, did you design something basic enough to explain simply?

Voice Isn’t Profitable

In 2021, Ally Bank decided their own Alexa skill wasn’t getting the response originally hoped. It was shut down. I’m disappointed, but not surprised. Alexa Skills never made sense to me. Most are harder than an app.

It’s why I was caught off-guard when I learned that a credit union technology provider is adding an Alexa Skill for members to use. Because you have to use specific phrasing, it will always be a frustration. One day, but not yet.

As of late-2022, that day is still not here. Reports out of Amazon show that the Alexa division loses $10B a year and the team has failed at every effort for monetization. This should come as zero (UI) surprise to anyone.

Have you ever ordered an item using your voice? No, because obviously not. You want to read reviews, check pricing, review the images, and possibly look at any questions asked/answered. All of this is nay-impossible with voice alone (today).

The lesson here is that for Zero UI to be successful, it has to be the best and easiest way to perform a task. For turning on lights from the couch, it passes. For shopping, banking, and most other things, it fails miserably.

An Alexa Song Sendoff

Here’s a thing Alexa can do extremely well:

Alexa, help close us out.  Sing a song about paper airplanes. (Seriously, ask her!)

Paper Airplane Held in Hand
« Older posts

© 2024 Credit Union Geek

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑