The Collaborative Banking Technology That Rural Saskatchewan Is Talking About

Leveraging InFocus BigTouch touchscreen interaction in small branches and a mobile banking van, Innovation Credit Union is raising the bar for banking collaboration.

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Outside of online banking, the automatic teller machine (ATM) and that awesome thing that lets you fire your checks and deposit slips through a vacuum tube, the banking industry tends not to be on the cutting edge of technology.

That may be changing, says Dean Gagne, chief Omni and digital officer for Saskatchewan-based Innovation Credit Union. “The financial sector hasn’t really kept up to date and adapted as fast as some other industries, but they are now and it’s a key component of what we need moving forward.”

Industries like retail, enterprise and education are focused on providing customers, employees and students with collaborative display solutions that allow them to access various resources and share content with other parties in an interactive way. While banks and credit unions may be a little late to the party, Gagne says they’re “starting to catch up.”

Innovation Credit Union, which has 22 branches in the province, recently unveiled collaboration displays in some of its smaller branches. The InFocus BigTouch displays provide Gagne’s team with a platform to allow people to bank using digital tools they use every day such as instant messaging, email, social media, audio and video.

Related Webcast: Exploring the Future of Collaboration for Integrators

The decision to go with InFocus led Innovation to Manitoba-based integration firm Clear Concepts. Gagne had done his research, Clear Concept’s Phil Proctor says, and was leaning toward either InFocus’ Big Touch or Mondopad.

Basically, Gagne liked how InFocus Big Touch “with its large interactive display and intuitive operation” allows Innovation to replicate familiar browsing and banking experiences. “We want to think about the devices they would use in their own environment,” he says. “Most people’s smart phones are IOS or Android. We also put tablets in our branches for demo purposes so whatever devices our members would use we’d make sure we’re using the same devices internally.”

Gagne also noted that touchscreens are becoming more prevalent.

A key component of the InFocus solution deployed at Innovation is the ability to collaborate with credit union professionals at other branches. Some of those smaller branches might not have, for instance, estate planning experts on site.

Obviously, Innovation could have simply provided tablets or laptops with Skype platforms that allow customers to connect with professionals in other locations. “We wanted to use something more demonstrative,” Gagne says. That’s where the InFocus Big Touch, which ranges from 57 to 85 inches, comes into play, and whiteboarding features such as document sharing enhance the interaction.

Gagne says that the touchscreens and video sharing have been particularly helpful in exposing people to more banking services since it can face-to-face connect customers with service representatives that can explain services and get them up and running.

“It’s been well received,” says Jill Ahrens Gruetzner, AVP Omni Solutions for Innovation. “We’re seeing new memberships open up.”

Collaboration on Wheels

While the banking industry in general may be coming around to adopting collaborative solutions, that need for interaction is particularly pointed in rural areas of which Saskatchewan has many. Enough of Innovation’s 48,000 customers live far away from even the smaller branches that the credit union saw fit to take another step with its collaboration outreach.

Innovation recently rolled out its 40-foot by 8-foot Mobile Advice Center van, which is essentially a bank on wheels that, of course, features the large InFocus BigTouch interactive touch displays.

The idea is to bring the personalized banking technology directly to customers.  “We want to empower our members to access banking any way they want, anywhere they want and any time they want,” Gagne says.

“We are also seeking to enrich and expand their overall experience.  We believe that BigTouch, with its large interactive display and intuitive operation, enables this experience in our Mobile Advice Center.”

In order to incorporate the collaboration features, the Mobile Advice Center had to be connected and that provided the biggest challenge. The van, which also boasts video ATMS, an electrical generator and satellite GPS tracking was outfitted with 3G/4G LTE technology for wireless connectivity.

Look inside the Mobile Advice Center

Gagne, although he emphasizes that employee training is important, points out that the InFocus has been implemented smoothly in the branches. “Where we’ve run into some challenges—and we knew we would—is on the wireless mobile side. We run boosters to get coverage in some of the locations. It does cause issues because you get breaks in cell coverage. Those are the types of things we’re working out.”

When it comes to training, Ahrens Gruetzner adds, “When anything is new it’s about adjusting current procedures and applying them.”

As for whether or not banking customers actually want collaboration solutions—after all, most people bank at home these days—they apparently do. Customer reaction to the Mobile Advice Center has been so positive that Innovation Credit Union has commissioned a second van. 

Related: InFocus Brings 4K Collaboration with Mondopad Ultra