If Encyclopedia Britannica Can Digitally Transform, So Can You

July 18, 2017 Co-op Solutions

Although they are often referred to as “digital natives,” consumers raised in the Internet age have expectations that go far beyond technology. For them, a great experience is less about the app, tool or channel used to deliver that experience and more about the intuitive, frictionless and hyper-personalized way it’s delivered.

In other words, digital consumers find value in simple, secure paths to solving their problems.

To open up those paths for digital-natives looking to solve financial problems, credit unions should avoid the tendency to focus on technology, and instead focus on the needs of their members. That was the advice delivered by digital consultant David Rogers at THINK 17.

“Value propositions are not defined by your industry; they’re defined by your customer, so we have to be ready to adapt and evolve,” Rogers told the audience of credit union thought leaders. A faculty director of the Columbia Business School’s executive education programs in digital business strategy and digital marketing, Rogers is also the author of four books on brands and digital strategy, including The Digital Transformation Playbook.

On stage in New York City, Rogers illustrated the transformation possibilities for credit unions by sharing the example of Encyclopedia Britannica. Although nearly 250 years old, the company has transformed to continue meeting the modern and evolving needs of its core customers – even as technology has changed the way they prefer to receive educational information.


Rogers asserted that Encyclopedia Britannica was, in fact, not disrupted. By focusing on the unfulfilled needs of their customers – families and schools –, they developed a digital encyclopedia and an entire set of lesson plans and teaching tools all aligned with the evolving needs of curriculum. And notably, they did this before any new entrants to the marketplace could. “By the time they finished printing [encyclopedia books], it was only 1 percent of their business,” said Rogers. “They are as profitable now as they’ve ever been.”

“If Encyclopedia Britannica can transform and reinvent itself by focusing on the customer and thinking of how to serve them in the digital era, then surely any business can,” insisted Rogers. “We just have to remember that digital transformation is not fundamentally about technology. It’s about strategy, leadership and new ways of thinking.”

To begin your credit union’s digital transformation, ask yourself and your teams: What is the value we bring to the world? And is there a new way to meet the unfulfilled needs of our members?

The young, fast-growing companies that keep credit union leaders awake at night are not winning market share because they offer or use the latest and greatest technology. Instead, Rocket Mortgage, Lemonade, Uber and other startups have identified unmet consumer needs. They are simply using technology to meet them.

To help our clients navigate the digital transformation landscape, CO-OP is offering credit unions exclusive access to several pieces of research. Among them is a report created in conjunction with Rogers, including the results of a credit union survey on digital transformation.

We hope you’ll download and share this with your teams especially as you head into strategic planning. CO-OP is continuing to build upon our payments and technology ecosystem to provide credit unions with a strategic partner to come along as you head into this digital age.

The original article If Encyclopedia Britannica Can Digitally Transform, So Can You can be found on Insight Vault.

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