From ATM Magazine|
September 1, 1999
The cult of Diebold
Fill a room with bankers at a conference, and the last thing one
might expect to find is two of them jamming on bass guitar.
Yet that's exactly what happened at a national meeting of The
Advisory Group TAG, a Diebold user's group, in Nashville, Tenn.
Board member Steve Pidgeon, an assistant vice president of ATM
services for Union Federal Bank in Indianapolis, and his colleague
Matt McClellan traded licks as part of a presentation on MPEG video
at the ATM.
Pidgeon, who didn't let the fact that he just learned to play deter him
from a solo of "Mary Had a Little Lamb", said the duo's musical
interlude sprang from a desire to do something different. McClellan,
who has been playing the bass for 15 years, turned in a far more
accomplished version of "Mary."
"We hate seeing speakers that are just dead boring," Pidgeon said.
"Listening to someone talk about the float". "That puts me to sleep."
Far from putting attendees to sleep, Pidgeon and McClellan got a
rousing round of applause for their efforts.
TAG president Chad Lynch sees Pidgeon's presentation as one sign
that creative minds are at work in the group. "(TAG members) are
willing to address change", he said. "In our industry, you have to
change or you die."
Lynch, an ATM services manager at Riverdale, Utah-based America
First Credit Union, also lauded the "synergy" found in the conference's
roundtable sessions. "We encourage everybody to share. It's not a
classroom style where one guy just lectures for 45 minutes."
In addition to annual regional and national conferences, TAG
benefits include a quarterly newsletter, a directory of members, a
technical assistance hotline, escalation procedures and discounts on
supplies and classes.
The regional and national conferences were combined this year. The
move was so popular with members, it's likely to happen again.
According to Gretchen Thomas, a TAG West region director, the first
day will feature regional networking and small breakout groups, while
the final two days will be devoted to national concerns.
Networking is one of the biggest draws for Thomas, who works in
information systems at First Republic Bank in San Francisco. She was
assistant manager of a bank card department and "hated ATMs from
being out in the branches" before changing her career path. "Without
the group support, I would have never made it in my job", she said.
She added, "You can call anywhere in the country and get different
perspectives on market trends. You don't find that in a lot of user's
Originally formed in 1978 as a beta test group for Diebold machines,
TAG has evolved into an independent user's group with about 140
members. Some members own as few as three ATMs, while others
have a network of thousands.
In the early days, "ATMs were a new venture for financial institutions,
so there was a lot of ground to investigate together", said Charles
"Hank" Collette, a special projects director at Diebold and company
representative to the TAG board of directors.
According to TAG's mission statement, the group will "provide a
network of communication between membership and Diebold for the
purpose of sharing information on industry trends relevant to Diebold
products, services and systems."
Noting the emergence of many new developments in the industry
after several fairly static years, Collette said it's more important than
ever to provide a forum for exchanging ideas. "If somebody wants to
try something new, they can find a TAG member who has done it."
Collette believes TAG's independent status is one key to the mutual
admiration between the group and Diebold. "The cooperation
between the two is because it's beneficial to both. It's not mandated
in any way", he said.
Keeping the line of communication open seems important to both
sides. A message from the company appears in every TAG
newsletter. TAG directors often attend Diebold divisional meetings to
speak with sales and service representatives. The company's
executive committee answers member questions during a forum at
the national conference; their responses appear in the newsletter for
members who were unable to attend.
Diebold VIPs get up-close and personal with TAG members at their
conferences. Lynch recalls attending his first national conference in
St. Louis and watching senior vice presidents split up and work the
crowd at lunch, making their way from table to table.
"When you get that kind of commitment from senior-level executives,
everybody gets enthusiastic", he said.