Jeff Judy

Jeff's Thoughts - May 30, 2018

Technology and Competition

Our industry is highly dependent on technology, and that dependence is only going to grow. In fact, technology plays too big a role in your success to leave it to the technical experts.

Yes, it is up to your technology team to recommend and to implement the appropriate tools. But it is up to management to make sure that technology is serving the strategic aims of the institution.

Naturally, the overarching strategic aim is to thrive and grow as an organization. That includes outperforming your rivals. And your use of technology will be a key factor.

I was reminded of this by a recent post by Andrew Michaels on the National Association of Credit Management blog. The post title, "Tech Use Huge Factor in Banking Competition," tells the tale almost by itself. He suggested that the ability to keep up with advances in technology will be a key to thriving as an institution.

To my mind, the question is not, "Do we have the latest technology?" Better to ask, "Do we have the technology we need to implement the strategies we have chosen to ensure our future success?"

You may find it helpful to do your technology audit – comparing what technology is doing for you to what it needs to do to support your competitive strategies – by looking at four broad areas for discussion.

First comes the customer experience. Are you providing the access and services your customers have come to expect, even demand? Remember, their expectations are not set so much by your rivals as by their experiences in shopping, scheduling a plumber, exchanging messages with their healthcare providers!

Second, are your administrative and analytical tools both efficient and accurate in the results they produce? Are you saving time and effort that you can then apply toward growing your customer base? Or does your technology seem to make part of the process harder and slower rather than easier?

Third, is your security up to date and up to the task? Almost everyone who reads this will have had a credit card replaced because of a data breach at some merchant or service. You do not want your name associated with all the hassle customers experience when their data is hacked.

Finally, do you use technology to enhance collaboration among team members? (Technology may go beyond e-mail and messaging systems to include things like video conferencing.) Many institutions have central underwriting at one location serving customer relationship managers at many other locations. Or perhaps there are more efficient ways for branch managers to share ideas and experiences. The benefits of more efficient (and often better documented) collaboration are often overlooked, but the right tools can save you time, encourage a more consistent customer experience across locations, and contribute to your competitive edge.

Naturally, you'll have to trust your technology team to take care of the details. But you will also have to hold that team accountable for maintaining their focus on the strategies set out by your leaders. Insist that your technology team be able to speak the language of your business, and you are more likely to end up with, not just the latest tools, but the right tools to help you achieve the success you are after.