Mike Winter

Mike Winter


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Mike is the CEO of fiVISION. He's been involved in a variety of technology organizations over his career ranging from online banking to process automation control systems - always focused on delivering solutions that enable user productivity and make life easier.

Posts by Mike Winter

Pause … and Refresh your Head

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A couple of weeks ago I grabbed a stack of unread trade rags and headed over to the local Starbucks to sit down and catch up on some reading with a cup of coffee. By the size of the stack I apparently had not done this in a while.

While browsing through the articles and reading the interesting items, I found myself wondering how many of these ‘headshot’ photos of the people associated with the articles are up to date? I also made a mental note to refresh mine because it is definitely a few years old now!

It could have been the quiet time away from the computer/tablet/smartphone … or it could have been whatever addictive ingredient is placed in the coffee … but my mind started to open up and some new thoughts and ideas and questions began to form. It was in that moment that I realized that I needed to do this more often.

In today’s world so much of what we see and read happens in little tiny snippets.  Blogs, email newsletters (you probably just read the headlines, don’t you?), twitter, you-name-it … and we jump from topic to topic as a new email or phone call or meeting happens.  The one thing that is missing, at least for me, is some dedicated time to just sit and think.  (more…)

Buyers Buy

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Can service-oriented staff really sell?

In the few years that I’ve been involved in fiVISION we have been interested in helping our credit union clients get better at cross selling. We even have some products that address this goal specifically … but, I have to say that there are some really different philosophical approaches to selling out there. Most of these discussions rotate around having staff – who are traditionally service oriented – become super sellers. Does it work?

The prevailing wisdom in the industry is that we need to provide sales training … to foster a sales culture … to position staff to be able to engage customers in a conversation that results in a sale of a new account or an expanded service. In other words, teaching staff to sell … because as we all know, sellers sell, right?

Hogwash. (more…)

Is Real-time Really Real-time?

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Quite often in the technology end of the financial services world we refer to so-called ‘real-time’ data communications and systems. Usually we are talking about some system-to-system interface whereby an action on one system automatically updates or causes action on another system in a relatively short time span (usually measured in seconds or less).

Last Saturday I got the chance to wander the pits during qualifications for this year’s Indy 500 and I couldn’t help but notice that what they call real-time is a lot more real than our real-time. You see, at Indy there are systems that track each car around the 2.5 mile race course at all times – including when sitting in the pits or on entrance and exit lanes to the track. (more…)

Do you really want your icing without the cake?

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If you’ve been reading some of my writing, you already know that I’m big into old ‘adages’ and ‘clichés’. This one is pretty obvious – the adage being ‘the icing on the cake’.  A quick investigation into the meaning and background of this phrase confirms what we all think it to mean, something along the lines of:  ‘An additional benefit to something that is already good’.

As a side note, I’m not quite sure why I rely on these old phrases except that I do find them generally to be pretty darn accurate. Usually offered up by older wiser, more experienced folks in various life situations, they tend to be based on a collective body of experience that is truthful, honest and sometimes all too direct.

For example, while writing this article another vision about a similar adage (it involves cake too) comes to mind. I can still see my grandmother saying while sternly looking over her glasses and down her nose at me: “Michael, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” I really have no idea what that means … guess I’ll need to investigate it a bit further.

But let’s get back to the icing on the cake … or rather … the question of having your icing without the cake. (more…)

Of Cadillacs and Chevrolets …

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Over the years I’ve heard something like this said many times: “Well, they want a Cadillac but they really only need a Chevrolet!” This colloquialism obviously goes back to the days when GM was really a dominating auto manufacturer … but I don’t think it really has as much to do with cars as it does with human nature.

The Difference between ‘Musts’ and ‘Wants’

Most everyone I know likes nice things. We like to see them, have them, use them. Anybody who doesn’t like nice things we sometimes label as ‘out there’ or ‘different’.

Even so, there are a lot of nice things that … well … just are not really necessary. Or even useful. C’mon, think about it. You bought that fancy stereo system last year. Before doing so you really dug into the research to make sure that the one you bought was the absolute best there is, right? (more…)

Merry Christmas Everyone! Count your blessings this past year …

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Wow. What a year. I suppose we should have known that 2009 was going to be very ‘unique’ () as we headed into it because of the downfall of the stock market and near financial collapse of the fourth quarter of 2008. That said, I don’t think we really thought that it would affect the credit union industry all that much. After all, the collapse was about ‘big banks’ and ‘Wall Street’ right? – those faceless, nameless giant blocks underpinning the country’s financial system. (more…)

Bingo. Bango. Bongo.

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Bingo bango bongo. I don’t really know where this phrase came from, just something from a distant memory somewhere along the line. What does it mean? Well, kind of like ‘lickity-split’ or ‘righto, boss-man’, I equate ‘Bingo Bango Bongo’ with right here, right now, real easy.

This really ought to be the universal tagline for technology. After all, why else would you ever invest in the development – or endure the pain of implementing – some kind of new technological wizardry? The world is full of countless stories where technology flops or is at best unfulfilling. But why then do we pursue technology like the Holy Grail? (more…)

To print, or not to print: That is the question!

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When I began my professional career – now many moons ago – we were just on the verge of applying technology across a broad base of business functions.  Word processing systems had just come of age – and there was this new piece of software called Lotus 1-2-3 that gave you all sorts of tools to manipulate and analyze numbers and statistics.  It even allowed you to easily generate charts. The future would be PAPERLESS!  Holy cow!!  We had arrived!!!

Nowadays you can’t find a typewriter and most employees don’t even recognize White Out as anything other than some kind of blizzard condition while you are driving.  People absolutely HATE filling out forms.  Today, we truly have so much computing horsepower at our fingertips that we can’t possibly use but a percentage of what is actually there. (more…)

Use Tech to ‘Grease’ Ops in Tough Times

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In the course of a normal workweek I end up communicating with several folks at credit unions – most of which are in a managerial or leadership position in the organization.  Recently, I’ve been checking in with many of them who put a project on the back-burner last fall or early this year because of the uncertainty of our economy.  In many ways this was a very appropriate reaction:  there’s uncertainty, we need to batten down the hatches and ride this thing out.

I must admit though – that the current perspective of a good portion of these folks is somewhat surprising.  In general, the response is something like “Mike, it’s been a tough year.  We’ve closed a couple of branches, loan volume is down, collections are up and I’ve had to reduce staff to trim our expenses.  We just are not going to be able to look at any of these projects until business picks back up.”

Are we missing the boat? (more…)

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