While the concept of “tablet” computers was first introduced about a decade ago, Apple revolutionized the concept with the introduction of its iPad this year. The iPad has catapulted tablet technology from a note-taking, word-processing device to a true computing tool that opens the door to an endless array of uses.
A tablet is a portable computer with a flatpanel display and a touchscreen and/or stylus. Tablets typically measure and weigh between the size and weight of a full-size laptop and a smart phone, and combine much of the functionality of both.
Some financial institutions already use tablets in their lobbies to improve efficiencies and offer members more convenient options. Tablets can increase self-service and possibly reduce the number of staff needed in branches.
When members visit a branch equipped with tablets, for example, they can start by entering their information into a tablet, then check the products and services they want to open or inquire about, read special credit union offers that pertain only to them, and finally transmit the data to the credit union’s database. Member service representatives, equipped with this information, can then meet with members to review pertinent offerings and answer questions.
In the next five years, the opportunities for tablet technology are endless—including social networking and preference customization. Members will be able to customize their experiences across all channels—retail, online, mobile, and in-branch.
Tablet technology can pinpoint a member’s location and capture his or her preferences. Credit unions can use these features to proactively offer services to individual members. For example, when members input desired services (car loans, mortgages, or credit cards), the technology can find them the best deal, best rate, and best financial institution to meet their needs.
Credit unions can further use tablet technology as portable replacements for desktop computers. Members can input their own information on the tablet, agree to disclosures, sign the tablet, and e-mail themselves documentation. It’s a great example of efficient use of technology—using a device that’s not only portable but versatile and able to handle a range of technology solutions.
Social media use, by all businesses, is a hot topic. Credit unions likely will continue to increase their social media presence for at least the next few years—until it matures or until yet another new communication concept emerges.
While it comes with risks, social media also carries the risk of opportunity lost if you don’t use it intelligently to benefit your credit union and its members. Most credit unions have an established presence on social networks, and many use social media to interact with members through blogs and chat.
Our industry will fine-tune its use of social media in the next few years, but some credit unions are considering replacing websites or portions of websites with social media sites. Some businesses have already done this as consumers continue to migrate from brand websites to social network pages.
Brands such as Coca-Cola, Pampers, Walgreens, and Kraft Foods all have increasing numbers of fans on Facebook. And their Facebook fans continue to increase, while visits to their own brand websites decrease, reports Advertising Age.
Cost and traffic are factors in the decision to move resources toward social media and away from corporate websites. Facebook, for example, currently hosts participants’ pages and provides usage analysis for free. And company employees can easily develop and maintain the pages. Branded websites, on the other hand, include costs for either in-house or third-party hosting systems. Many organizations are hiring outside companies to design, develop, and maintain corporate websites.
In the next few years, social media might replace both websites (or portions of websites) for consumer communication, and internal intranets and extranets for employee communication.
Next: Preference technologies