This breaking news has just come in from Orlando.
Several thousand bankers carrying the same blue tote bags, wearing the same name badges and lining up for the same uninteresting buffet lunch have just received a major kick in the groin from a variety of industry pundits. The message of these pundits:
Stop the drone-like mimicking of each other, quit chasing industry fads and get yourself a damn strategy!
This year’s BAI Retail Delivery Conference & Expo may very well have been one of the best ever. Not because of the sunny Florida location… not because of the abundance of free beer cozies and mouse pads… and certainly not because of the food. This year’s event was a success because of the important theme and message that emerged:
The lighting rod for these emerging themes was held confidently by keynote speaker and strategy guru Michael Porter. In a nutshell, Porter rocked! He predicated that the banking industry was about to move out of its “consolidation” phase to a new era when “strategic positioning” will dominate the landscape. Using analogies in the supermarket, retailing and car rental industries, Porter ridiculed the boring, generalized mission statements and simplistic goal-based visions that banks often confuse with strategies. Porter stuck it to us bankers pretty hard, concluding, “This industry is riddled with me-too competitors.”
The words from Porter were a breath of fresh air for the Gonzo team. For more than 10 years, our consultants have been using Porter’s framework and inspiration in our strategic planning.
Since we’re big Porter groupies (“We’re not worthy!”), we successfully stalked the poor guy and were lucky enough to spend an amazing 24 seconds alone with “Mike” as he grabbed a cab. As the picture shows here, Steve was giddier meeting Porter than a Trekkie meeting Leonard Nimoy. (Porter later confessed that he was equally thrilled to finally meet Steve.)
Porter’s message of getting real on strategy resonated in many other BAI presentations:
In aggregate, these messages are sending a clear mandate to bank executives everywhere. Buzzwords like cross-sell and customer intimacy and onboarding aren’t going to get you there. Dare to be different!
It wouldn’t be a complete BAI Retail Delivery experience without the folks at GonzoBanker giving out some awards. So here goes:
First attendee to shamelessly demand a Gonzo T-shirt
Carol Stryker – Texas Dow CU. Carol’s a big Gonzo fan and a good friend.
We’re not sure why we saw her putting the shirt in a waste basket later on!
Attendee we were most glad to meet in person
Tom Brown of Bankstocks.com. The folks at Gonzo have been huge Tom Brown fans for a long time – the guy calls it like he sees it. As you can see, Tom was fascinated by Terence’s observations about retail banking.
Hottest Technology on the Exhibit Floor Award
Remote Check Capture – whether it was branch teller capture, ATM capture or corporate capture folks like NetDeposit, the place was teeming with interest in taking geography out of the check game.
Hottest newcomer to the floor
This one should have been pretty easy to guess – PassMark Security and their two-factor authentication technology. Ever since Bank of America announcement of making two-factor standard and new regulatory guidelines encouraging stronger security, CIOs have been scrambling to talk to folks like PassMark and rival Cyota.
Most underrated technology on the floor
Adobe Systems. Okay, so a PDF doesn’t sound that glitzy. But cheap, simple Adobe software holds a lot of promise for banks to migrate to electronic documents, beef up their intranets and put together automated work flows that have a quick payback. An interesting idea – go after workflow from the doc side. Banks of any size should be developing an Adobe expert in house.
Technology Gaining Steam Award
Commercial loan workflow systems. Banks have been dying for better end-to-end workflow systems in their loan processes, and we’re just beginning to see new players emerge. Provenir shared with us news of new client signings, and new face Cyence was there to tout its front office work flow tools. With players like Baker Hill, Harland, AFS, CapitalStream and William James & Associates, the commercial automation market could get quite interesting soon.
The “Overabundance of Options” Award
Branch customer self-service terminals. There seven or more companies showing units that take cash and coin deposits, read checks, give back images, and do everything that a customer will need to do teller-less transactions in a branch. The technology is cool. But will customers really flock to them? How many tellers will we really be able to reduce? And can that many companies thrive? We’ll wait and see.
Cool Check Fraud Innovation Award
Harland Financial (working with Mitek) for its new Validify solution, which can bar-code signature information on the front of checks to detect forgery at the point the check is presented.
The Thousand Points of Light Award
Jennifer Tescher and Katy Jacob from the Center For Financial Services Innovation, an initiative of ShoreBank Advisory Services. The center was showcasing the work of four new companies providing solutions for the under-banked segment. OK, we are admittedly ShoreBank groupies and love what it is doing. Still, it was really nice to be in the middle of the vendor maze and see a booth that was focused on helping the people who need it the most. Y’all need to check these guys out.
Most Interesting Internet Banking Buzz
The two Qs. First we ran into several bankers mentioning that S1 will continue to support the community bank-focused Q-UP product – a surprise given the major “Enterprise” push but something customers wanted. Second, we heard emerging buzz that Hank Seale and former Q-UP team members had formed Q2 Software, a new Internet banking provider that was not yet hosting a booth. Thanks to Susan Reed at InfoImage for some of the scoop on Q2.
Redundant Use of a Technology Metaphor Award
i-flex, whose showcase presenter used the term “merely lipstick” to describe wrapping legacy systems with new technology – sounds a lot like the “lipstick on the pig” metaphor that U.S. vendors have been using for 10 years. i-flex packed its session with bankers curious to see what type of muscle Oracle might put behind this new core systems competitor.
Best Vendor Giveaway
Cardtronics for its junk food care package, complete with Cracker Jack and ballpark peanuts, which arrived in attendee hotel rooms on Tuesday night.
Giveaway losing its unique competitive advantage
The iPod mini – every second booth had a drawing for one of these things. Alas, the GonzoBankers still came back empty-handed.
Most Interesting Prediction
Richard Hartnack – Vice Chairman of U.S. Bancorp. Rich predicts a big up-tick in credit unions converting to banks, primarily because of the huge capitalization and wealth that could be monetized if they take that route. The investment bankers are smiling.
It’s a Wrap
The folks at GonzoBanker can get pretty bored at the same ol’/same ol’ industry conferences. But this year, the folks at BAI pushed hard for better, more thought-provoking content and it showed. Hats off to all of the team from Chicago.
And a special thanks to our BAI buddy Alice Muncaster. Thanks for letting the Gonzo team attend your annual party. As the picture below shows, we’ll pass up walking the vendor floor and any conference session if it means we can hang out with cool women.