How do you know what to do, when you are not sure about the numbers behind the hype?
Disclosure: I have spent 25 years in the technology industry that has manufactured numbers as the indicator of what credit unions have to do: the “what.” But I am not sure that numbers ever really tell you the “why” or the “how” you will need for success.
Recently I sat through a presentation on a P2P platform that we will very likely add to our suite of online and mobile products later this year. It has a nice twist: it can be native to the user experience. And we are in the business, after all. P2P is a classic example of “what” we need these days. It has been for a while. It sits nicely alongside RDC, Apple Pay, A2A, and every other “what” we have to have these days to stay on the curve of where people are going.
One of the attendees asked for some usage numbers. He wanted some hint of the importance of this to members, some indication of what kind of splash it would make in his membership community. The presenter claimed that the standard accepted by people in the know is that a member would use P2P for about 5% of the bills they paid. And like many other things that start out small with a lot of promise, that got me thinking about how we all try to use numbers to justify our selections of the “what” we must do.
When I reflected on my world and the twenty-odd bills I pay through bill pay every month, I cyphered that I would be on track to use this new mobile tool one time per month. Ouch! That would not change much for my credit union. Then I thought, maybe instead of thinking of bills paid through bill pay, I should consider all transactions I do in a month to pay for things. Credit card transactions at retailers, cash transactions on days I have cash in my pocket, and so on. Most P2P is not really for retailers…they have stuff for that, and I do, too.
So I tried to count how many times I paid just plain old people on the fly. Not people I transfer to regularly – I have tools for that. Not people I give money to that are not really even fans of bank accounts at all – they don’t want tools for that. Just some people I pay that would actually like to receive a payment made “fun” (which is, of course in the eye of the beholder), by working it out on a phone and or web site that needed credentials, and details like routing numbers, and account instructions to get their money a day later—wow, I need some new friends if this is going to work.
I know what you are thinking. Randy, you are old and P2P is lost on you. Randy, you don’t get this, this is our way of impressing the unbanked, the bank haters. Randy, who cares about how many times people will use this, this is just icing on a cake that says we love youth-minded people and we have to have it. It is a tactical “what” that we need, and no numbers are needed to justify the project, just get it done! And I will!
But it is time for more people to really discuss “why” and “how” fun technology tools are implemented for members.
Without a dedicated and committed desire to win based on some much bigger goal, can a growing list of cool “whats” really make a difference for you… what is the missing goal here? Can you link your reason for doing something, the “why”, to more than a quick hit on your list of “we have that, too”?
And most importantly, the “hows” go beyond price, access, and one time announcements. Have you defined how you have to change your retail models to ensure success as you spend a growing portion of your budgets on tools for the future?
When it comes to technology innovation the marketplace has to make a lot of noise to generate the investment needed to work out the kinks. As a matter of fact, the louder the noise the longer it takes to really come to market and bear fruit. The industry needs a big buzz about the “what” everybody has to have to survive in order to create the cult buying that leads to more investment, sounder practices, and real deals that businesses and consumers hang in there with.
So maybe, instead of jumping on the next hot thing and filling in the need for it later, it is time we spent more time talking about the close-to-home “whys” that we are dead set on—the ones we are dedicated to building a future for. Then we pick the “what” to meet that vision. “Whys” with budgets, priorities, and sustaining values that will push us to succeed. And then once committed, we would evolve our methods—the “hows” to ensure we do. Tell Me Why I’m Wrong.