If you aren’t giving engineers a leading role in your organization, Ken Auletta, The New Yorker magazine columnist and author of Googled: The End of the World as We Know It, thinks you’re putting your organization at peril. “I’m not saying that every executive should be an engineer,” he says, “but it’s insane to have a business in this digital age without an engineer at your elbow.”
In an interview with CO-OP Financial Services’ Bill Prichard, Auletta argues that technology will likely determine your organization’s future viability. Not every credit union leader is going to agree. Credit unions, one might argue, are not technology companies. They don’t run on gadgetry or novelty. Credit unions are founded on human principles, and they run on the power of human intellect and interaction.
At the same time, consider how technology is changing our lives. Ten years ago, you consulted a paper map to find an unknown location. A few years back you might have “Mapquested” the same information. Today, millions of iPhone users couldn’t find their own dry cleaners without GPS. Nostalgic for college? Find out what your old roommate is doingright now on Facebook or Twitter. Download books to your iPad or Kindle, learn how to unclog your sink on YouTube, get the dish on the new pizza joint down the street on Yelp. These technologies don’t merely exist: They’re in play – and they’ve changed the way we live our lives.
Why, then, would consumers settle for anything less than 24×7 customer service, remote deposit capture, mobile banking – and an avalanche of apps we’ve yet to conceive? Short answer: They won’t.
The same goes for tech tools that don’t work brilliantly. A WorkLight study found that over half of smartphone users are unhappy with their banking institution’s mobile application. Only 26 percent of respondents were completely satisfied with their apps, while a discouraging 40 percent were completely dissatisfied.
Which is why Auletta thinks you need an engineer on your team. “I would empower that person to help me figure out how to navigate this new digital world, to help decide what new things we should be doing that an engineer understands better than an ordinary civilian [would],” Auletta says. Neglecting this side of your business not only places you in danger of lagging behind, but also makes you vulnerable to extinction.
Years ago, during an interview with Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Auletta asked what kept Gates up at night. Gates wasn’t anxious about his considerable competition. “I worry about two guys in a garage inventing a new technology I’ve never thought of,” he said.