2011 Industry Trends and Predictions

As we move into 2011, there's one thing we can predict for certain: Things will not slow down.

November 17, 2010

We live in the age of speed. The way we do business today has radically changed from even just a few years ago—and continues to change. And there are a number of reasons why.

The environment is one. It affects our daily business life in a variety of ways.

For example, the events of 9/11, while they seem a long time ago, still affect how we do many things. Many businesses didn’t survive that period. Those that did survive learned to adapt and move forward, quickly aligning business processes with the needs of customers who were also affected.

Hurricane Katrina raised awareness, as well. After witnessing the devastation that a hurricane brings to businesses in its wake, companies across the nation began to review or implement disaster recovery programs.

Today, growing concerns over climate change, the depletion of natural resources, waste disposal, and greenhouse gas emissions are bringing the environmental profile of companies under public review, requiring the attention of every business.

And then there’s technology. A decade ago we were just beginning to understand how the Internet and e-mail could add to our business processes.

Now, the Internet and e-mail—along with smart phones, tablets, and a myriad of other techniques that keep us connected—are a part of our daily lives and set a completely new standard.

“Nine-to-five” isn’t a place anymore. People can work anywhere, at anytime, which brings a whole new level of challenges.

For one, technology has completely changed our relationship with time, which, in turn, changes (and will continue to change) our business processes. No longer does a salesperson drive across country making calls, nor do we even typically wait for FedEx.

Information is exchanged at warp speed. Because of that, how we do business is now affected by our relationship with speed. Just as we need to embrace other changes, we need to embrace speed and use it to make our customers’ lives simpler and more productive.

For credit unions, the path in 2011 is clear. Rising postal costs in a tough economy—and postal requirements that keep changing and growing in complexity—are certainly two solid reasons to encourage more members in this New Year to become fans of electronic documents.

Another is that they simply provide a faster and more affordable way to share financial information. Credit unions face the added pressure to grow membership and revenue in 2011, and to expand the range of services they provide to compete with commercial banks and other financial institutions.

Offering e-statements and other electronic communication options, and encouraging members to choose that route, provides the convenience of around-the-clock access to their accounts.

Having the ability to manage their financial accounts online, your members gain 24/7 access to their personal information. They can check transaction activity, access a history of statements, apply for additional services or features, set up automatic transfers, and transfer funds between accounts.

With online bill pay, they have more flexibility as to when they make their loan payments or share certificate renewals because they’re no longer dependent on snail mail delivery.

The demand for e-statements will grow in 2011 and will become a source of value and new revenue for credit unions. Saving time and simplifying lifestyles will become bigger factors in consumers' decisions to stay with or join your credit union.

HARRY STEPHENS is president/CEO and founder of DATAMATX, an Atlanta-based provider of printed and electronic billing solutions. Contact him at 800-943-5240.