Gear Up for Success

Success in both financial services and snowshoeing depends largely on the gear you’re using.

January 7, 2013

A recent blizzard left our fair city blanketed with more than a foot of the white stuff, incapacitating and delighting residents at the same time.

I found fun in the fluff with a snowshoeing excursion. This was a new experience, but I adjusted quickly to the altered mode of walking. I needed to balance a bit differently; my stride seemed shorter and more “shuffle-y”, and usually I don’t have pervasive concerns about tripping over myself as I did in the woods that day.

Snow was piled high but I seemed to float atop it with the aid of my equipment. Without the snowshoes, I would have floundered in the snow banks, becoming mired well above my knees. I would have been stuck and frustrated, unable to enjoy the scenic winter beauty as I struggled.

Adaptive attire made all the difference. I enjoyed my environment with proper tools at my disposal.

How often do you encounter an issue that at first may seem burdensome but at second glance can  become easily maneuvered with the use of some type of technology or innovation that allows easy navigation in the face of adversity?

Marvel at mobile

Mobile banking continues to make strides, according to “How Banks Will Continue to Innovate in Mobile Next Year” from Mobile Commerce Daily.

As consumers become increasingly comfortable with mobile devices, financial institutions will need to apply new technologies to keep people engaged. “One mobile banking feature that is likely to play a bigger role next year is mobile payments… Financial services firms know they need to act soon or risk their opportunity to play a role in how consumers use mobile to pay for transactions—potentially a very valuable service.”

Other innovations include location-based services, augmented reality, remote deposit capture, and greater tie-ins to broader marketing programs.

How might mobile play into marketing? Answers are found in “10 Relationship-First Mobile Marketing Best Practices” from ClickZ. “Mobile marketing has become the dream channel for marketers. Not only is it ubiquitous…but its real-time nature and commercial power have elevated its importance in the marketing mix.”

Some of the 10 tips for consideration:

  • Build a strategy to tailor to certain segments of your audience;
  • Use technology to build conversations and cement loyalty;
  • Analyze data to determine what time of day is best to interact with users; and
  • Allow a “test and learn” expenditure in your mobile marketing budget.

The Best (And Worst) of Mobile Connectivity” examines what consumers really think about mobile technology. About 85% of American adults are cell phone owners, and they check their essential devices frequently, Pew reports.

The modern dilemma: “There is pronounced social pressure for people to stay connected and respond quickly… At the same time, many people wish they could disengage every once in a while…The challenge is for people to manage their time and their contacts in a way that give them oases of peace and quiet…without…missing out on important social moments.”

Mobile banking is one of the technologies addressed in the “2012 ICBA Bank Technology Survey.”  This data-rich study claims, “The mobile banking revolution has begun for community banks. Thirty-seven percent of community banks currently offer mobile banking to their customers, more than double the 15% that did so in 2010. Another 44% plan to offer the service in the next 24 months, while the percentage of community banks with no plans to offer mobile banking has declined to less than 20%.”

The survey further explores the importance of mobile apps, data security, social media, and online banking.

Tech tools

Mobile is not the only technology that can keep you on the move. “Prepaid Cards: A Survey of Banks’ Attitudes, Adoption Rates, and Deployment Plans,” a Mercator Advisory Group survey, summarizes “the industry should consider how it can make more data available to support the basic concept that prepaid is easily as important to the future of the bank as remote deposit capture or mobile.”

Banks offering prepaid assert the market is significant, profitability is achievable, and prepaid products have generally met their prelaunch expectations. But “generally reticent” banks need help evaluating the issue as a product initiative.

“Such evaluation would include determining the size of potential target market, recognition of the opportunity for prepaid relative to other initiatives, identification of a “phased product approach,” and creation of spreadsheets to identify costs, card volume, and potential income.

Will we soon see “The End of Cash?” 

This Barron’s article notes, “As fewer and fewer Americans use cash to make purchases…the big winners will be Visa and MasterCard.”

Electronic payments are becoming more prevalent—and profitable. But, “A wave of relative upstarts is beginning to garner attentions, particularly as so-called digital wallets take hold.”

PayPal, Google Wallet, and Square are becoming important players. By 2020, “cash payments could drop to 26%,” and in 30 years, “cash could fall to just 10% of U.S. retail purchases.”

This interesting article outlines competitors and our changing payment systems environment.

A discussion of technology tools requires consideration of social media, so you may want to consider “The Social Solution to Innovation Challenges” as discussed in a Harvard Business Review blog.

“Business innovation depends on speed,” states the author, but an interesting contradiction is that sometimes internet capabilities have slowed business down. Social media may help.

“Listening carefully to social media can transform a business…by creating the pressure for real-time intelligence and real-time responsiveness that lead to meaningful innovation.” Ways to effectively harness social media tools and internet advantages are outlined in this thought-provoking read.

These “Top 10 Tips for First-Time Snowshoers” are practical and helpful for those new to the sport. Some tips outlined in the article may also apply to those investigating new technologies in other venues as well: Check the weather forecast, be prepared, dress the part, get the gear, select a trail, know the basics, bring a friend—but most importantly, get out and try it!