Are We at a Digital Tipping Point?

Digital age is affecting CU operations, says Lass.

June 18, 2012
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The digital age has changed the way we read, listen to music and do business. And the effects of our digital lives are having an enormous impact on the credit union system. “Are we at a tipping point?”

That question was at the center of a powerful presentation Monday, at CUNA's 2012 America’s Credit Union Conference in San Diego. John Lass, CUNA Mutual Group senior vice president, strategy and business development, presented a thought leader session titled, “Building the Credit Union of the Future.”

"The credit union system could be in the midst of a ‘strategic inflection point’ due to rapid changes in the competitive landscape, digital technology, and customer channel preferences,” said Lass. A strategic inflection point is a major shift in an industry’s competitive dynamic, and "a period when we have to take a close look at the way we’ve been doing business for so many years,” he said.

Lass offered examples from the movie, music, and publishing industries to explain strategic inflection points in more detail. For instance, after Apple launched iTunes in 2003, the music industry rapidly evolved into the digital age and, since then, 2,700 record stores have closed.

“iTunes is a vivid example of the music industry caught off guard by the digital movement and as a result, the CD and record industries have been hit with devastating losses.”

Other examples he cited included Netflix versus Blockbuster, Kindle versus bookstores, and the rapid decline of Kodak due to the explosion of digital camera sales.

“The key point here is that digital and mobile technologies all played roles in these industry tipping points,” said Lass. “The credit union system now faces the challenges, but also the opportunities of incorporating digital convenience into the cooperative model.

“Unlike the music industry, the cooperative model provides credit unions with powerful competitive advantages.” Lass continued. “There are some tremendously successful examples of credit unions embracing ‘do-it-yourself’ banking, and it’s paying off for their institutions and their customers.

“The challenge for our industry is to adapt to the new competitive dynamic without sacrificing our powerful core values and attributes.”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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