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September 23, 2019

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No Title Could Be Cool Enough For This Blog

We didn’t know it at the time, but when we started working on the project that has eventually become 6 Degrees MRM, this new SaaS (cloud-based) solution would someday be a perfect example of “disruptive innovation.”

Since Clayton Christensen, a well-known professor at the Harvard Business School, started talking and writing about disruptive innovations back in the ’90s, it’s an understatement to say a lot of disruptive innovations have changed our lives – including the way we manage our personal finances and the technology we use to strengthen relationships with our clients.

One of the reasons we believe 6 Degrees has an opportunity to be a real disruptor is that it fits very nicely into Dr. Christensen’s rather specific description. (Lots of products claim to be disruptive, but when looked at closely, they don’t quite fit the bill.)

That said, the “Disruption Theory” has a few innovation types that could identify a product as a potential disruptor.

  1. Low-end disruptive – this is a significantly less expensive way of developing a very basic product for consumers currently over-served by existing technology. Credit unions using traditional CRMs (like Salesforce) to manage member relationships fall into this category. These credit unions are perfect candidates for 6 Degrees because, in its current version, it provides only essential member relationship management services at a fraction of the cost of a more recognizable CRM.
  2. New market disruptive – this is also a cheaper, more accessible, and rudimentary product that grabs the attention of credit unions currently managing member relationships using spreadsheets, word documents, etc. They are excited because they now have the essential functionality needed, yet they don’t have to pay for a CRM. (CRMs were never designed for credit unions in the first place.) In this scenario, 6 Degrees has turned non-consumers into customers! (Very exciting stuff for a marketing guy. We genuinely live dull lives.)
  3. Efficiency-sustaining – these innovations in the credit union space would include products that make credit union employees more efficient in their day-to-day responsibilities. If 6 Degrees can help business development, marketing, community relations, and executives better able to serve their members by providing a “good enough” solution at an affordable price point, we’re on to something special. (Think air-conditioned automobile seats – yes, it’s literally a cool idea, but I’m not going to pay an extra $1,500 for them.)

So, where do we think 6 Degrees will catch on first? Our idea is that non-consuming credit unions will be the first to recognize the value. Per Christensen’s theory, these are the credit unions currently using spreadsheets. Now I’m not going to say anything negative about spreadsheets because they’re great apps if you’re an accountant – but if you’ve ever spent time with a marketing and business development person, you know they shouldn’t be doing your taxes.

One sweet thing about software developed in an “agile” environment (like 6 Degrees), improvements happen fast. In fact, customers will go to bed at night, and by the time they wake up, the software engineering fairies have released an updated version. Because you’re accessing 6 Degrees in the cloud, you get to start enjoying the benefits immediately. Over time, you’re no longer using a basic product. You’re using a robust product built with the help of many credit union customers.

What could be cooler than all this? Only air-conditioned seats.