BofA's New ATMs the Wrong Kind of Innovation

Last Updated Apr 16, 2009 2:49 PM EDT

Have you encountered the latest-generation of ATMs, which Bank of America is starting to deploy?

To deposit checks and cash to your account, you run them through an optical scanner, which reads the amounts, credits them to your account, and returns images of each deposit back to you.

Great. Except when the scanner can't read a check, which apparently isn't an isolated circumstance. Then it's into the bank you go, to deposit the check manually. All that time you were saving using the ATM is now lost.

The problem, says Scott Anthony, is that the innovation helps BofA but inconveniences and frustrates customers who use them.

"The general point here is to make sure you evaluate innovations through the proper lens. The trap companies often run into is they think their view of quality is the same as the markets'. That's not always true. If the innovation isn't perceived to be better by the consumer, customer, partner, or supplier to whom it is targeted, then adoption could slow and frustration could grow."
Read his full post on Harvard Business Publishing, Better Through Whose Eyes?
  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.