You may or may not have heard that an important inventor died recently. While this passing did not make news around the world, this inventor’s innovation made a world-wide impact and transformed the entire banking industry. The inventor was John Shepherd-Barron from Scotland, and his invention was the automated teller machine (ATM). During the 1960’s, Shepherd-Barron created the ATM because he was frustrated that he could not cash a check when his bank was closed. Today, there are more than 1.7 million ATM’s worldwide, according to the ATM Industry Association.
Think back to the pre-ATM world. In order to get cash, people had to walk into banks and wait in line – not out of choice, but out of necessity. There were no machines at supermarkets, airports, sporting events, or movie theater lobbies. In order to cash checks, make deposits, and change currency denominations, face-to-face interactions were necessary inside a bank.
But, today, thanks to Shepherd-Barron, the ATM has transformed the entire banking experience. Simple tasks, such as, deposits, withdrawals, and even postage stamp purchases, can all be completed in a matter of seconds at external bank ATM’s, stand-alone ATM’s scattered at a myriad of locations from gas stations to shopping malls to airports, etc., or while seated in your car at drive-thru ATM’s.
There is no doubt that many in the banking industry were not as exuberant about the invention of the ATM as customers were. But today, there are still customers in banks, and there are still “live” tellers. While some may have predicted the death of banking, the ATM has become an important aspect of the overall banking experience.
Now, consider your company and your industry. How can you create a product or service with the potential to transform your industry? Despite naysayers, there are always improvements that have yet to be developed, and customers are always eager to embrace improvements. So, at your next brainstorming session, think about the ATM, and maybe, your company will introduce this century’s greatest invention.
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