AI, machine learning, IoT and blockchain have the potential to transform businesses. But if technology is to fulfil that potential, it must be on the agenda of the entire C-suite.
That’s the view of Geoff Wenborn, Chief Digital and Technology Officer at People’s Choice Credit Union — an organisation currently transforming its business in an effort to be more member-centric.
Wenborn told Which-50 that to achieve that goal it is “absolutely critical” for executives to be aware of what is — and what isn’t — possible with new technology, in order to manage expectations and allow the necessary collaboration across departments.
“The whole executive team needs to understand what we can and can’t do with technology, but — really importantly — at what pace,” Wenborn said.
“Because the pace of change is really important. There’s no point having a technology if, firstly, it doesn’t give that end-to-end experience and, secondly, we can’t support it within the organisation.”
Without that support and executive alignment it is unlikely People’s Choice Credit Union will gain the “total value” from new technology investments, which Wenborn stresses must be made with member experiences in mind.
“Deploying a technology that doesn’t give a great experience — even though it might track efficiency or be a benefit to us — is actually of no value,” Wenborn said.
“We’ve really got to give an end-to-end benefit to our members. So the experience is really important, and that means that you need to make sure the technologies work together.”
According to Wenborn, integration is made all the more challenging by legacy systems — a hallmark of the financial services industry and often designed and implemented without regard for the data-driven realities of modern organisations.
Emerging technology is, by its nature, cutting edge, and will present challenges in implementation. But Wenborn argues that it is a necessary challenge, and part of a “continual evolution”.
“You have just always got to be looking at how you can deploy [technologies] and develop more value for the ecosystem you’re working in,” Wenborn told Which-50.
The rapid pace of change in the financial services industry — one beset by agile, CX-focused fintechs — also means incumbents like People’s Choice must be proactive and focused on member experience, according to Wenborn.
“Our strategic transformation [includes] looking at what this business needs to be for the future. It’s really about how can we be centred around our members’ needs — it’s very much a member-centric operating model.”
The “human-centred design concept” is fundamental to the organisation’s approach to innovation and technology procurement, Wenborn told Which-50.
As part of their transformation, People’s Choice is developing an innovation lab. But Wenborn doesn’t see technology innovation as a separate strategy. Rather, it is a part of more holistic enterprise initiatives.
“We’re building an innovation lab. We don’t really formalise it so much, but it’s like a sandpit environment where we can try out new technologies and just see what benefit they give us.”
But it’s far from innovation for the sake of it. Wenborn explained that the innovation is always driven by specific use cases or problems to solve. Because, ultimately, what a technology can actually deliver for members is key.
For example data, machine learning and artificial intelligence are a focus for People’s Choice Credit Union, largely because they are more likely to provide a direct benefit to members.
“I think the technologies that help us tie together member behaviours, driven by data, are probably the key ones [for now],” Wenborn told Which-50.
By collecting member data and analysing broad trends, Wenborn believes the organisation is able to understand what members are doing and anticipate their needs. Applying machine learning and other emerging technologies like IoT and blockchain to that dataset is expected to unlock further value.
A fundamental change
And as the technologies matures, Wenborn says, there is a potential to radically change the organisation’s operating model.
“We think that a combination of those technologies could fundamentally change the way we actually provide financial services to our members in a business context.
“It may be that we are providing integrated services end-to-end, which might mean partnering with other service providers, as well,” Wenborn explained — suggesting a future scenario may include People’s Choice acting as one part in a larger service ecosystem.
He used the example of a consumer getting a loan to buy a car. Of course, Wenborn explains, the consumer doesn’t want a car loan, they want a car. It’s important for organisations to recognise this and consider what role they play in those future exchanges.
“We’re rethinking our whole business model based on leveraging that sort of technology capability,” Wenborn said.
About the author
Joseph Brookes is a writer for the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit, of which SAP is a corporate member. Our members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.