Bots in the Boardroom

Make room for QB at your next credit union staff or board meeting.

July 1, 2010
Make room for QB at your next credit union staff or board meeting. It’s one of the latest “telepresence bots” emerging—yes, robots. They can easily take the “form” of staff or directors who simply log in from across town or across the world.

The QB is “like a videoconferencing system,” says Trevor Blackwell, CEO, Anybots, in Wiredmagazine. Blackwell says the QB increases a team presence in organizations.

Think of it as a self-propelled Skype-cam on a stick, using Segway-like balancing properties, the magazine says. It weighs about 35 lbs. and its neck can rise from three feet to about six feet.

Finding ways to make telecommuting easier for office workers or helping teams spread across different locations work together has been a major area of research and product development in robotics, according to Wired. Research firm Gartner estimates the videoconferencing market could grow 17.8% between 2008 and 2013, rising from $3.8 billion to $8.6 billion.

Other companies are combining telepresence and robots, with mixed results. IRobot announced ConnectR, a Roomba with a video camera, while WowWee’s Rovio is a three-wheeled webcam bot. Willow Garage created Texai.


Avoid ‘Innovation Gridlock’

More than half of business and technology executives indicate their organizations suffer from “innovation gridlock,” where the majority of technology funding is consumed by operating the status quo.

Employ a holistic approach with a combination of hardware, software, and services, according to HP Enterprise Business. This will drive your budget from operations to innovation and break the gridlock.

Other survey results:

•  70% of respondents indicate they’re unable to invest in new technology to meet changing business needs.

•  95% believe innovation gridlock resulted in lost opportunities.

•  73% indicate it prevented them from generating real flexibility in their operations.

•  Nearly 60% believe gridlock prevented their organizations from keeping up with their competition.


Get More Social With Members

Thanks to Facebook’s growing presence, more than half of Internet users, or 127 million people, will use a social network at least once a month this year, research from eMarketer shows.

There’s no doubt that social networks are an essential part of the Internet experience,” says Debra Aho Williamson, senior analyst of the firm.

By 2014, nearly two-thirds of all Internet users, or 164.9 million people, will be regular users of social networks.

But who should credit unions expect to target as future users? “Teens and young adults are old news,” Williamson points out. “This year, 60% of Internet users ages 35 to 44 and 50% of users in the 45- to 54-year-old age group will use social networks at least once a month.” Women especially are driving much of the growth.

By 2014, these changes will become more pronounced. More than half, or 56.8%, of 55- to 64-year-old Internet users will visit social networks regularly, up from 34.3% last year. Even seniors ages 65 and up will join the club. Last year, just 14.1% of this group used social networks, but 37.9% will by 2014.

For information, visit


Emphasize ‘Voice’

Good ideas are just as likely to come from the front line as they are to come from the executive office. And job tenure and education have no bearing on who’s most likely to come up with a good idea. But most credit union employees don’t feel comfortable enough sharing their “voice.”

That comes from “Employee Voice and (Missed) Opportunities for Learning in Credit Unions,” a new study from the Filene Research Institute.

Four ways leaders can best gather employee input:

1. Spread a wide net throughout the credit union.

2. Emphasize “voice” with midlevel managers.

3. Actively solicit ideas rather than wait for them to bubble up.

4. Train employees to present ideas in terms of how they benefit the credit union.

For information, visit