Posts Tagged ‘Partnership Symposium’

Confessions of a reformed wallflower

April 8, 2009

When I was a kid, I was painfully shy. Those of you who have met me in person would probably not believe it, but it’s true.

When I met William Azaroff of Vancouver in Manchester, NH a couple of weeks ago to tour America’s CU Museum, and then later that same night went out for dinner and drinks with Matt Davis of North Carolina and Ron Shevlin in North Reading, MA, we discussed that one of the criticisms leveled at us “social media” types who attended and presented at the 2008 Partnership Symposium in Indianapolis was that we didn’t mingle with others. I hadn’t consciously realized that, but looking back, it was true. And I am sad about that.

And though there is no excuse for that, there is a reason for it, and l will explain and tie paragraph one to paragraph two. It’s human nature to greet friends warmly, and not to walk up to strangers to introduce yourself. I try to greet people at most opportunities, and say hi to those I pass in a hallway. When given a choice between giving a handshake or a hug to an old friend, and introducing yourself to a stranger, it’s human nature to greet a friend first, because that’s much easier.

And that’s the amazing thing about social media and social networking. Sometimes you give an especially hearty greeting to someone you are meeting in person for the first time if you have already gotten to know that person online. Because, as Ron Shevlin has pointed out, you can get to know, online, a person who lives 3,000 miles away better than your colleague down the hallway who isn’t online in any meaningful way. When you get together, you already “know” that person. Especially given the conversational nature of twitter, you probably know more than you ever wanted to know about them on a personal basis. When you meet, you don’t need to use small talk to find common interests, you just naturally pick up the conversation that you’ve already been having online, and will continue online later.

I remember my first PodCamp Boston experience; it was the second of the PodCamps that they have held. I missed the first day entirely, but arrived in time to catch the tail end of the official evening party. I met a couple of folks who I had connected with online previously, but felt very much the outsider. It seemed like everyone else already knew each other. Undaunted, I continued to meet people throughout the second day and learn more about what this social media thing was all about.

And so I write this blog post to encourage everyone who is a.) relatively new to social media, b.) naturally shy, or c.) both, to put aside that shyness and to do your best to overcome that feeling of being a social media “outsider” when you come upon a group of social media people hanging out with each other, such as that which occurred just two weekends ago at PodCamp WesternMass. Bear in mind that most people involved in the online social world are exactly that: fairly social. Please understand that although it’s human nature to hang out with friends that you already know, most of us involved in the field really WANT to meet new people. Sometimes we just need a nudge of encouragement.

Remember that everyone in the world of social media was an outsider at first. If you introduce yourself, the folks worth talking to will be more than glad to have met you.

The Innovator’s Dilemma

January 29, 2009

Today, Matt Davis, aka the CUWarrior, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at last October’s 2008 Indy Partnership Symposium, and has a blog here, posted a great article on Open Source CU, titled Using the Blue Light to get a Green Light.

He brings up some great points about innovation, which I can’t disagree with in the abstract. It is indeed an excellent technique to start an innovative project at the lowest cost possible in order to get buy-in from upper management. It doesn’t make sense to spend large dollar amounts if the payoff is unsure. Financial institutions, or any businesses for that matter, would go downhill rapidly if they did so often.

But I want to make the case that it’s not always possible or advisable to innovate by dipping a toe in the water. Here are a few cases where “DYI” innovation won’t make the grade:

1.) The innovation requires a large scale for the desired effect to be realized, or it’s launched in such a small scale that it doesn’t get noticed.
2.) More cost in dollars is expended trying to do it yourself than it would have taken to hire a professional
3.) The innovation does not take off because it was ahead of its time
4.) Your competitor spots your innovation, and implements it more fully than you did, stealing customers in the process

But on the flip side, here are reasons why you SHOULD attempt something on a small scale before going bigger:

1.) It turns out no one wanted your innovation after all. At least you didn’t through money away, and you’ve learned something along the way about your customers and/or your organization.
2.) Your original idea was too complicated; it turns out that the foundation was right, but it needed to turn in a different direction. By expending the minimum resources in development, you can make the necessary adjustments without having spent too much.
3.) If the innovation is a good one, it should reach a self-funding state relatively quickly. You can test, prove the business case with results, then develop it in due course as funds warrant.

So how do you tell in which camp an innovation belongs? It comes down to your organization’s DNA, the filter by which you run everything. The more an innovation directly lines up with your organizations brand, its DNA, the more resources should be allocated to the innovation.

On a completely unrelated note, check out this cool restoration of an old school traffic light, made before the color yellow was invented.

Thank you, Doug True, Forum Solutions, and Trabian

October 7, 2008

Symposium 2008I had the privilege of speaking to credit union professionals last week at this year’s Partnership Symposium. This unique event was hosted by Forum Solutions and Trabian. I had heard last year’s event was quite the happening, via the CU blog/twittersphere, from such sources as Trabian’s Open Source CU. In fact, last year’s event was one of the first times I learned something valuable from someone (Brent) twittering at a conference (when Shari Storm was speaking) that I wasn’t attending in person.

My presentation was on strategies for successfully building community online. In the first part of my talk, I made the case for why online community building is a natural and important extension of a credit union’s offline community. I then presented seven strategies that I’ve found to work in creating EverythingCU.com’s online community of 6404 credit union professionals, and showed ways in which credit unions are applying those same strategies in their own online community building efforts.

I enjoyed immensely the Q&A portion of the event with moderator Ron Shevlin, and loved the questions that he asked me (as well as all of the other speakers). There is only one question that I would have answered differently had I anticipated it, and that is the question, “for which CUs is online community building NOT right for?” My off-the-cuff answer was that it’s not right for CUs who don’t care about community and run their shops just like a bank. But what I should have answered is that it all depends on their members and potential members, and what online communities currently exist for those people. If there already exists an online community for a CU’s core membership, then it makes no sense to re-invent the wheel. Instead, staff of the CU should join and participate in the existing community. But if there is currently no online community for the core membership, then there is a huge opportunity for the credit union to fill the void.

My only disappointment from the week is that the internet bandwidth was not sufficient during my presentation for it to be recorded. But I have posted the slides of it here. I am gratified that Andy LaFlamme of Maine State Credit Union live blogged my talk on the CU Loop.

StretchIt was an honor to be asked to present, and a joy to reconnect with so many CU colleagues, as well as meet so many participants in the CU blog/twittersphere in person for the first time. Extra special thanks to the gracious Forum Solutions team, including Doug, Jen, Leah, Kristi, Ashli, Cameron, and Andy for taking such good care of us during our stay, and making us all feel like rock stars. The stretch limo taking me and Tim McAlpine back to the airport was an extra nice touch. (I’m sure the limo was for keynoter Tim, and I just happened to be catching a ride at the same time.)
(Photo credit: Gene Blishen)

Robbie Wright; Fi-linx

October 3, 2008

Robbie Wright, Manager of Fi-Linx, a CUSO created by MaPS CU in Oregon, gave a talk on CUSOs at Forum Solutions/Trabian’s Partnership Symposium yesterday.

Deposit Reclassification: Came out of a need that MaPS CU had to reduce reserve requirement with the Fed.

CUSOs are going multi-owned route to gain economies of scale.

Non-traditional CUSOs are being created to help differentiate credit unions.

Ongoing Operations CUSO created for Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery based on 9/11 disaster.

Future CUSO ideas:
• REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust). CU sells its real estate into the REIT, gains a profit, and members can invest in it.

• Geek Squad: A take-home nerd for members.

• Online Safe Deposit Box: Secure and keep private your digital data, with the trust of the credit union.

Gene Blishen: Mobile banking

October 2, 2008

Gene Blishen & coGene Blishen at the Partnership Symposium on Mobile Banking. Note: Gene’s small Mt. Lehman CU is doing amazing things in the mobile banking arena that billion dollar CUs don’t find feasible.

[Brent Dixon recorded this session on video here.]

Small CU in Vancouver area (3000 members), where 62% of all BC CU System assets are within a 15 minute drive.

Saw the internet would kill faxing in 1994.

Decided to integrate technology in house.

MemberNote came out of staff meeting. Text message sent when member uses card.

MemberNote 2: more variables needed for alerts. Turn on/off, balance included. Builds more based on what members say to front line.

Product is self-managed.

The difference between Push and Pull.

[Condition] {poll} +send alert message+ (a batch process)

Push operates differently: Occurs real time. Emergency alerts can be set up. Extensive logs. Housed at CU. Can tweak it internally based on member feedback.

1.) Transaction occurs: 2. Compared to the variables established by member about notification rules: 3. Alert is sent.

TextUs is second product. Built by third-party, along with 2nd largest CU in Alberta.
Can send a query (BAL or ACT) to short code then sends you a message back.

Released iPhone interface on same day iPhone was released in Canada. Same as TextUs, but on the iPhone.

History of checking account is available on iPhone.

Mobile banking is very broad. too new to have complete definition.

Can make transfers via phone, but not via mobile device yet. Believes it is a huge area for development.

Why is it popular?
Member note: Set and forget

TextUs- seeking information at various times for various reasons.

48% of members have POS/ATM card: 1343 members (must have to have MemberNote)

63% of cardbase use MemberNote

60% are active users (alerts within 90 days)

68% have more than 5 transactions per month

Biggest group using MemberNote: 29% 41-55; next is 28% 25-40; 23% are 56+!!!!! Only 11% are 18-24

Gene asks his members in the 56 years old and older group, “Why are you using this?” The answer: “I hardly used piece of plastic, but MemberNote tells us that the transaction is complete.” They feel secure about that!

Working on Version 3 now: Quantum leap in variables that you can receive alerts on. Will release Feb 2009. Still the only CU using Pull technology.

What does mobile banking do?
Another method to touch your members via SMS.
Gives the CU a unique position in marketplace.
Distribute communications.
Combats card fraud.
Makes you aware of current market conditions and trends.

Use it prudently and with common sense.

Create an engaged member. Transact with the engaged member. Educated your members about your products and services.

Next?
Web-based ATMs.
Chip cards and use of the chips “real estate”
Smart phones that allow specific programs, i.e. ATM locator.

Innovation:
bought all staff an iPhone when they came out.
comes from establishing the right culture at the CU. Not one individual, is collaborative.
Failure creates successes.
iSmart: Everything that his core processor isn’t

Q&A with the Shevlinator:
Q: Alerts: more than just a transaction? Deeper meaning?
A: Natural extension of a phone call follow up. Technology allowing them to do what would happen manually. Member OWNS CU. Do they feel that they own it still? This helps make them feel like they own it and influence what is going on there. They know that no one else has this.

Q: Surveys to determine what they want?
A: They have conversations with the member. They ask them. What do you think? Staff are aware that this is a vital area. What do you want with MemberNote? Biggest thing? Payday. secondary: alimony payment goes through.

Q: ROI projections?
A: The board requires a certain amount of money to be made. Gene and staff does the rest. If they can’t make it, will sell it back to members rather than merge.

Q: Security and privacy concerns? This seems to be the opposite.
A: Members become evangelists for you. MEMBERS GET ALERT BEFORE THEY GET RECEIPT. They are proud of this, of their CU.

Q: Location based services?
A: Sent his devs to SF. With iPhone, location is a given.

Matt Dean of Trabian: A vision of the hyperlocal CU

October 2, 2008

Matt Dean, President of Trabian, shares his vision for the hyperlocal CU at the Partnership Symposium in Indianapolis.

[Brent Dixon recorded this session on video here.]

Online banking: Statements become live links to transactions.

For instance, you spend $32.94 at the RAM, an excellent local restaurant and brewery. This becomes a live link to the restaurant and live reviews. Not just a garbled bunch of unintelligible numbers and letters. Logo included. Then merchant has a dashboard with the information.

From member point of view: Savings goal integrated in. Shows item and progress toward goals. Dashboard given to the local shop carrying the product. What if merchant could then see that people were saving and give special offer to them? Member then has the option to see offer if desired. And make counter offer. Credit union can then offer to help member finance the difference, know what the loan is offered for.

Transaction is more than a line item in a database. Is a relationship between member and merchant. CUs can bring tangible benefit with local focus. CUs can do this because they have trust. This also promotes thrift and prudent lending.

Currently: tiny value in online banking statements; this would have much more value. Right now, statement is read-only. This would add interaction.

William Azaroff is Changing Everything

October 2, 2008

CU SymposiumLive blogging of William’s talk to the Partnership Symposium in Indianapolis.

[Brent Dixon recorded this session on video here.]

In Canada, we do things a little bit differently.

33% of Canadians view the environment and global warming as the most important issues affecting the world today.

Vancity members represent 5% of discretionary spending in BC.

Vancity has a role to play in the social economy, and has a chance to influence.

Approx. 30% of not-for profits in their region bank with Vancity CU. (We have opportunity to do more with this.)

Dark green consumer segment – 16% of their member base

Dark green is a psychographic segment. William feels there is opportunity that 30-40% dark green members make up Vancity.

Vancity used to do generic advertising and branding. Rebranded effort shows their personality/values, uses humor.

Billboard with solar panels – dark green consumers get it.

High interest savings account – part of it funds a scholarship that gives 200% to very low income people. Message to world – the account that helps fight poverty.

Magnet Marketing – put a stake in the ground with who they are. If you’re not comfortable with that, you are welcome to leave.

Change Everything – online community to engender change, personal and social, in Vancouver and BC

Has become a resource for people who want to live more sustainably.

Message: no reason why a car loan can’t change more than just your car

Snow storm hit Vancouver in Nov 2006: People organized to help the homeless through the Change Everything blog. Press loved it; big earned media. Heartfelt testimonials poured in.

Bike share program: Take it, ride it, pass it on. People kept honest via online community. Front page of Vancouver Sun (which you can not buy.) Huge PR event.

Results: 125 people per day; 1200 visits per day
Registrations: 162% increase
media value: $50k+ (which is half of the original cost of program)

bike share:
registrations: 7/day; 95 day
media value: $175k+
ROI: 300%
bikes returned (and donated) 28 out of 45

Vancity CU: 2nd most trusted business operating in Vancouver.

Number one trusted financial institution.

Q&A with Ron:
What are internal discussions like? marketing? senior management?
A: Willingness to try new things. There isn’t always time to try new things. How do we balance trying new things vs. doing what works.

At senior management, no one is questioning this brand positioning, have been through that. Crystalizing what they can do, and be strategic focused, biggest impact. Debates about where is the focus, how to focus. Prioritization, being disciplined.

Q: Top priorities for next 12-18 months?
A: 1.) Internal- intranet development. Get info to the employees when they need it. 2) Online banking development to catch up and also lead. 3.) Other opportunities in social media to help business; help members connect to staff and other members

Q: do you manage and create a social media strategy?
A: Board just had a retreat in rundown area (not fancy place)- went straight to heart of what ails Vancouver. They are coming out with: What is Vancity in 10 years? Line up social media strategy with organization goals. So that William’s group is not isolated.

Social media strategy comes from organizational strategy.

Q: Now values are coming into Vancity’s product. How does social media strategy fit?
A: Differentiation. Product starts with being competitive. How do we make it our own? But then social aspect fits in addition. Likelihood to try measure is very very high. Members get to say where the charitable part goes to.

Q: Measure customer engagement?
A: Need to get better here. Newly formed group from several different departments. Critical to work on this. We know how to measure traditional marketing. Need to work on definition to get on same page.

Q: from audience: attaching to existing social initiatives in community?
A: Vancity was already partners with them, but just didn’t know it. Couldn’t have done BikeShare if not partnered with 4 local orgs that dovetailed. Partner with lots of folks now.

Q: from Ginny: Vancity has a vision. If members don’t share it, too bad for them. What about employees and board members in regards to this? Hiring/recruiting process?
A: Board members: definitely. 22 people ran for 9 slots. Because org is really making change, people want to be a part of that. Members really want Vancity to do even more for environment and poverty. Employees: looking for those whose values resonate with Vancity. HR understands our values.

Q: (From Jeff Stephens) Did Ron really invent the term Magnet Marketing?
A: Yes, he was referring to refrigerator magnets.

Q: If you went to another CU? How/where would you start?
A: Won’t go anywhere else. He realizes that at Vancity, he has become a values snob. He would have a tough time working somewhere where values weren’t the driver of the organization. There must be commitment from the top, that William could help bring it to life, in a way that is measured in his performance plan. Has to come from the top down, starts with CEO and board, and be organization wide.