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Innovation and where it comes from

August 1, 2008

People ask me how we handle development work at the credit union. There is no simple answer or formula that one can recite as to how ideas flourish into a product, a process or a service. You wonder if they sometimes appear out of thin air.

Today was a prime example. Our e-statement project is finished, done, complete. Next Wednesday the interface will be in place for actual use by the members. All the components were developed in house except for the web site interface which was done by Central 1’s MemberDirect people. What does it do? It puts a link on the web site to a monthly PDF which is an exact duplicate of what the members have been receiving in the mail in paper form. For all the benefits it saves money and paper. But then as we talked about it, something happened.

Why not have a link for an up to date, real time PDF statement? If it is the 10th or 20th or whatever date in the current month, why not just click and a PDF created on the fly and delivered. Your transaction of 1 minute ago would be included. That means besides the depository of a few years of statements on your account, you could get a real time version statement anytime. As all of the methods and code were built, it looks like it would only take a half a day to do that. That means before Wednesday of next week this added feature will part of the launch.

But where did that idea come from? From a simple suggestion that with our ability to trigger real time transactions we could move that forward to being part of triggering real time statements. Was it valuable? I spoke to a few people and yes it was valuable. In fact it would make some businesses very happy in reconciling their accounts on a daily basis. The beauty of the whole function is that we aren’t using an outside supplier to do this on a month-end batch basis. What has been built is real time in-house the ultimate IT mantra. Expanding what we can do in real time gives us the idea for another product. If statement processing had been done by a 3rd party we would have been stuck in thinking in a ‘batch’ mode and never contemplated doing it differently.

I believe that innovation comes from dynamic thinking. Thinking how something can be done now and not later is important in what you have to offer. In today’s instant age much is possible by keeping everything fluid. It is important that you work in the environment you want to live in. There is always another step. If I ever have to get into a lifeboat I want a life preserver now, not pink plastic water wings later.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2008 6:25 pm

    I love how your credit union has been able to shed dependency on many external IT providers. Not only are you saving your members money, you are able to develop custom solutions that fit their specific needs.

  2. August 11, 2008 8:56 pm

    @CU Warrior – I lost you at “custom solutions that fit their specific needs.” Who exactly would NOT want or benefit from real-time statements? This usefulness of this service is not limited to 3,000 people in British Columbia.

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