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Innovation is the Fuel That Grows Companies

Innovation starts with an idea - so what's yours?

It all begins with a simple idea.

Mitek Systems had a long history as a digital capture and imaging company. The new CEO, Jim DeBello, had a deep background in mobile communications. And like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups brought together chocolate and peanut butter for a new synergistic combination, some smart staff at Mitek realized they might have a similarly powerful combination.

"Somebody sees something, gets an idea, figures out how to capitalize on it and the next thing you know, it takes off," said Drew Hyatt, Mitek's VP of Business Development. With Mitek's image capturing experience and DeBello's mobile computing knowledge, it eventually all came together, said Hyatt.

"Somewhere somebody got the idea that a smartphone can be used as a scanner," he noted. "Then we started thinking, wow, a smartphone can be a scanner. What can we do with that?"

That's when we got the idea to use a smartphone to take digital photos of checks, so that the images can be accepted by banks and used to make electronic deposits - all through the convenience and ease of a smartphone photograph, and without a trip to the bank.

"What we're good at is taking paper-based scans from a smartphone and converting them into 3-D color images, then converting them into 2-D gray scale images which can be electronically transmitted," Hyatt commented. "Data fields can be accurately identified, such as the currency amount, bank account number, signatures, routing number and related information. It sounds easy, but it really isn't.

That was cool enough, but now San Diego-based Mitek is taking the next step forward. The company is developing a software technology product that allows consumers to take photographs of any bill with their smartphone, transmit the image to their bank, and the invoice will automatically be processed and paid.

Consumer bill paying by smartphones. Pretty cool. NetBanker.com also thinks it's cool, according to a blog post earlier this week. "While the deposit of a paper check has a little more of a wow factor (as in wow, I don't need to travel to the branch anymore), the mobile scan-and-pay of a vendor bill is actually far more useful," the blog post noted. "So not only is the market for photo bill-pay about 10 times that of mobile deposits, but the helpful service also solves a bigger problem for most end-users, and that is getting their bills paid on time, something that has more financial consequences than processing the occasional paper check gathering dust in the drawer."

The digital process uses the power of the image and the system being built by Mitek along with participating banks. This is a classic example of business innovation.

Mitek last recently won an award for their innovation, being named a Mobile Pace Setter in BAI's (Bank Administration Institutes) MobileLink Award for mobile accomplishments in retail banking at the BAI Retail Delivery Conference and Expo in Las Vegas, NV.

Banking customers are excited about the possibilities. "We get direct feedback from our customers and their consumers. Everybody loves the convenience and speed factors, says Hyatt"

Innovation is what makes or breaks companies from the largest to the smallest.

We all hear of ideas like these and then I think "why aren't more businesses looking to build better ideas using innovative thinking?" Where are the better mousetraps inventions of tomorrow?

Surprising to some, they're already in your company, waiting to be flushed out. Some are inside your IT department, your research and development labs, inside the cubicles of your office buildings and inside your meeting rooms. When was the last time you asked your staff for their best ideas and innovative thinking to help grow the business?

When was the last time management budgeted time just for innovation seeking? Have you mixed odd combinations from product A with product B to see if you can find an amazing product C?

It all starts with one little idea. Dedicate the time, inspire the participants and measure the effects of institutionalized innovation.

 

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