Remove Digital Fear to Improve Interaction
The proliferation of mobile and digital technology tools, including tablets, smartphones, apps, social networking and the cloud, has led in recent years to a shift in communication, governance and management practices.
Using mobile and virtual technology, board portals are enabling board members to perform their duties anytime, anywhere. This includes credit unions, whose boards of directors are under more pressure than ever to help the institutions thrive while embracing new, efficient technologies. While most credit unions today offer their members person-to-person payment apps and state-of-the-art mobile capabilities, credit unions are now beginning to recognize that secure board portals enable boards to become more reliable, save money and ensure more effective decision-making.
New technology helps credit unions turn data into information, information into insights and insights into solid decision-making and effective governance. With the Dodd-Frank Act closer to full implementation, financial services firms need even more efficient operations to ensure compliance.
Board portals are the perfect tool to enable seamless information-sharing, a critical component of doing business effectively in today's constantly shifting regulatory environment. This connectivity requires little IT involvement from credit union staff. In addition to the benefits of reduced labor and hard-copy material costs when compared to paper-based materials, this results in significant cost savings.
Despite the global adoption of mobile technology, some credit union boards still remain hesitant to fully commit to new technology tools, often inconveniently straddling both the paper-based and digital worlds.
Every board has a distinct personality and culture. It's that unique mix of professional and personal experience that can make a great board tick. But boards need not be full of social media whiz kids or digital programming experts to be able to successfully implement new technology. In fact, according to IBM's 2012 Digital Consumer report of 3,800 adult consumers, 65% of early adopters of new technologies were adults ages 55-64.
Of course, credit unions should be careful not to force directors to use new tools, as this strategy may backfire, leading to serious setbacks toward the goal of seamless integration of new technology into the board's activities. Rather, a more effective approach is to provide custom training and support so that whenever a director is ready to make the transition, a dedicated team is there to ease his or her entry into the digital realm.
There is good news for credit unions with board members resisting even the initial training: directors that enjoy good working relationships listen to each other and like to emulate their peers’ success. If one or more board members start using a new technology tool, the others will be increasingly more open to using it in the future.
As mobile technology becomes the primary delivery method for the financial services industry, credit union boards of directors should avail themselves of the same convenience. A successful implementation of new technology does not mean that every single director becomes a fully digital director on day one, although that does sometimes happen.
Rather, credit unions should measure their success based on technology adoption on a monthly, quarterly and even yearly basis. If, over time, an increasing number of directors adopt technology tools for routine board business, then the implementation can be termed a success.
Alex Sodi is president/CEO of Diligent Board Member Services. He can be reached at 212-741-8181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.