Readers with nothing better to think about may have been wondering about the last line in my prior post: “Speaking of which, stay tuned for a major announcement from yours truly …”
Wonder no longer; here is the promised announcement. I have accepted a position with Fiserv.
Whether or not you know Fiserv outright, you have likely interacted with them, and at that many a time. They are the thinking and execution behind payments, processing services, risk and compliance, customer and channel management, and business insights and optimization for financial institutions around the world.
I don’t envy the designer who has to fit my title onto a business card. It’s “Managing Director, Marketing Strategy and Innovation.” (We may have to wrap it onto the back of the card.) Officially I will “… guide the holistic marketing of Fiserv payment solutions, with a focus on those that support digital and emerging payments for consumers and small businesses … [and] oversee collaboration opportunities with Fiserv clients who are early adopters of emerging payments technologies and establish partnerships with other emerging technology companies.”
I’m delighted and honored. I cannot imagine a higher professional honor than to be joining Fiserv.
Wonderful as the opportunity is, leaving my position as a Senior Vice President at Zions Bank was by no means easy. I joined Zions Bank 14 years ago as a college intern. Since then, Zions Bank gave me one opportunity after another to learn, grow, and take on new responsibilities. Any value that Fiserv saw in me is thanks to Zions Bank CEO Scott Anderson, Executive Vice President Rob Brough, retired EVP George Hofmann — and others too numerous to list — for believing in me in the first place.
My new boss, Digital Payments Group President Rahul Gupta, had kind words for me: “With Matt overseeing the marketing of the broad set of Fiserv digital payments capabilities, we can show our clients how our solutions can work together to enable them to better serve their consumer and small business customers and compete successfully in a fast-changing marketplace.”
(A few colleagues have kidded that working for banks instead of a bank is tantamount to joining “the dark side.” All I can say is, never has a dark side been so illuminated.)
Onward and upward. I’m eager to continue championing innovation in financial services. I look forward to working with many different partners who are already doing great things to shape the industry. Meanwhile, my blog will continue to be a place you can turn for up-to-date, relevant and useful information.
ACCORDING TO a recent TBR survey, North American banks are planning to invest some $74 billion in IT improvements in 2014. That’s two percent more than they look to spend this year.
My only surprise is that banks won’t be spending more. It isn’t news that technology drives banking, nor that the extent to which it does will only increase.
In an earlier post I alluded to Moore’s Law, which essentially states that technological speed and capability grow geometrically. Banks that think they can prosper by doing things the old way are setting themselves up for a rude awakening.
Part of said rude awakening involves facing the fact that, at the current rate of technological advancement, “the old way” doesn’t refer to “the way you did a few years ago.” It refers to “the way you’re doing things right now.”
Banks that understand that are preparing for tomorrow by investing, right now, in infrastructure, business applications, databases and middleware, systems management, business intelligence and analytics, productivity applications … and in relationships with outside, expert firms that keep up on the state of the art in a way that no bank of any size can possibly do on its own.
Whoa, wait. Outside expert firms?
Indeed. Smart banks know they can’t do everything themselves. Not even the ones big enough to support their own mega technological development department.
Speaking of which, stay tuned for a major announcement from yours truly …
Blame whoever named Boomers “Boomers.” Ever since, the mass media seem to have indulged some sort of compulsion to give succeeding generations names. Unfortunately, no one troubled to come up with anything cool or even appealing. In a dazzling display of no creativity at all, photographer Robert Capa came up with “Generation X” for a photo essay of people born from about 1960 to 1980. Author Douglas Coupland picked up the sad excuse for a moniker when he named his 1991 novel, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. From there, amazingly, the X stuck.
I suppose it followed logically, though with equal lack of creativity, that someone would dub the succeeding group “Generation Y.” Gen Y-ers were defined as pretty much anyone born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. As one born nearer the earlier end of that time frame, I am pleased that eventually a better name came along. I’d rather be a Millennial than a Y.
Uninspired, chromosome-recalling names aside, Gen X and later Gen Y had demarcation problems from the start. No one can quite say where either begins or ends. Moreover, there is something naive in treating in the same group someone born in, say, 1987 and someone else born in, say, 2003. The latter may recall PCs with floppy drives. The former most likely cannot recall a time without iPhones. The latter may have launched her or his career. The former will start fifth grade this month.
Fuzziness and wideness of the category aside, Millennials pose a bit of a dilemma for financial institutions. As an older Millennial myself (you’ve no idea how little I care for applying that word “older” to myself—I like it less than “Y”), I am well out of graduate school and 15 years into my career. But many later-born Millennials are still in college. Many will emerge saddled with debt which may put the kibosh on their spending for a while after graduation. It can make investing in keeping technological pace to please them something of a bitter pill, knowing that payoff will not come until a decade or more later.
Yet putting off development until the entirety of Millennials attain a degree of spending power is nothing short of foolhardy. For one thing, a lot of Millennials are spending right now. Millennials spent an estimated $1.3 trillion in the U.S last year. Not bad for a not even half-emerged demographic. For another, if Moore’s Law continues to hold—as it has since 1966—you can count on the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubling every two years. Translation: technological speed and capability will continue growing geometrically. Fall a day behind and there will be no catching up.
We Millennials make for a great market in the world of interactive banking. Ours is the first generation to embrace technology fearlessly and whole hog. We are early adopters and adept networkers. We are not offended when you push us to devices instead of bodies behind counters. In fact, we prefer it. We spread ideas and recommend products faster than any prior generation. Make us happy and we will help you grow, often through sheer networking alone. In prior years, word-of-mouth was the most credible but also the slowest form of advertising. Today’s interactive devices and media provide Millennials with virtual word-of-mouth advertising that can make—or kill—a product or service overnight. As you grow your digital offerings, Millennials promise to be your biggest fans and most ardent salespeople.
Yet you likely will see little of us face-to-face. If you intend to pursue banking as a relationship business, not just a hard-to-move-accounts-away-from business, you’re going to have to master making us feel valued, recognized, and connected over an array of devices of various sizes and features. The popularity of the likes of texting and tweeting means that, increasingly, you will need to learn to communicate brand values without the use of logos, jingles, fonts or other brand trappings. (Sad news for banks that mistake their logo and slogan for a brand. But that’s another post.)
You’re going to have to keep up with Millennials’ lust for newest and fastest. I admit we’re a little spoiled. In fact, financial institutions, it is you who have spoiled us. Letting us use your toys at no or low cost while you scurry to keep up-to-date is something you’ve trained us to expect. As both a Millennial and a financial services professional, I’d advise against wasting time wondering how we let that happen, instead focusing on where we take it from here.
Millennials represent a great opportunity for financial institutions. Look at the spending punch older Millennials pack now, and consider what younger ones will pack over the next 10 to 20 years. Marketers who wooed Boomers while they finished school and launched careers ended up richly rewarded. There is a good chance that those who woo Millennials will be rewarded in their turn.
I apologize if you find that headline strikes you as redundant or obvious. It is both. But from the way some marketers fail to use the interactive media interactively, you’d think it was news.
A limitation of older media like TV, radio and newspaper was that they provide the market no direct means to interact. To gauge advertising effectiveness, marketers were limited to indirect measures. Often this took the form of measuring how many people recalled an ad. Ads with high recall scores were deemed successful.
Sales were not terribly useful as a success measure. For one thing, causation was elusive. Did sales go up because the ads were great or because someone saw a celebrity using the product? For another, success as a standard was slippery. Advertising congratulated itself when sales were strong and, when sales were weak, for the fact that sales weren’t even weaker.
But today we have media that let the market interact. They let us track links followed, time spent per page, referring pages, calls placed from a device, chat, texts, navigation, forwards, Facebook likes, Tweets, and so on, ad infinitum.
Best of all, we can directly measure whether and how much all of that activity is just activity, as opposed to how much of it actually results in cold, hard sales. And that matters. When there is no spending, no buying—no sales—no amount of activity counts for anything. We don’t call sales “the bottom line” just because it sounds cool.
In this golden age of interactivity, you’d think marketers would hang their ultimate hats on sales. Yet despite all the data, measurement and tracking available down to the penny on the balance sheet, many marketers today are content to hang their hats on … hits. Just hits. And bosses and clients let them get away with it. With some, it’s as if hits alone are the quintessential measure of success.
News flash: Just as in the old days you could garner record recall scores and not sell a thing (New Coke), today you can garner record hits and not sell a thing (Anthony Weiner).
The interactive media are interactive. If you’re a marketer who fails to take advantage of that particular feature, I recommend putting serious thought into emerging from the Stone Age.