Thursday morning, a movie theater in Hollywood featured showings of Big Eyes, American Sniper and a more obscure flick — a one-hour film portraying the new Diebold and its vision.
The reinvention of an ATM manufacturer is hardly the stuff of popcorn and Oscars, but the gimmick shows to what lengths hardware and software firms (not to mention their customers, banks) will go to foster the image that they're ready for the digital future of financial services.
Organizers even teased the event by sending cookies to industry members that had "Diebold's Next Big Thing Is Coming" written in frosting.
That said, the Diebold filmmakers may need to brush up on some Hitchcock to build more suspense. The company's "next big thing" is — surprise — nothing to do with hardware or software.
Rather, the video, which features executives from Forrester Research, TD Bank, Microsoft and others, was used to shine a spotlight on two themes: how the 156-year-old company increasingly plans to nurture change by collaborating with other companies, including financial institutions, and more broadly, how to infuse innovation into corporations and improve customer experience.
The marketing event isn't the first attempt by the large ATM manufacturer to broaden its image from boxes to innovation, and it won't be the last.
"2015 is the year where we take our Diebold transformation from being internally focused into being externally focused," Chief Executive Andy Mattes said in the video.
A number of banks are trying their hands at similar innovation events. Recently, Ulster Bank in Ireland announced it partnered with Tesobe to put on a hackathon event. In the U.S., Citigroup, Wells Fargo, First National Bank of Omaha, BBVA Compass and American Express have all held new idea contests or dedicated resources to grooming startups.
Diebold aired its film at 50 viewing party locations in 10 countries. The marketing effort is designed to get banks jazzed about change and to regard Diebold as a brainstorming partner.
It represents part of a trend in which ATM companies are rebranding themselves to better suit the digital age. NCR Corp., which owns Digital Insight, recently launched an innovation lab that works with banks to test emerging technologies, for example. And NCR is also selling its devices as a means to tackle one of the banks' thorniest to dos: branch transformation.
Raja Bose, Diebold's vice president of branch transformation and advisory services and former executive at Bank of America, said Diebold has long nurtured innovation internally. More recently, Diebold has been a part of the team working with Wintrust Financial in the Chicago area to let customers request cash withdrawals at ATMs using their mobile banking apps. It also partnered with Microsoft on a branch-pod concept that includes artificial intelligence tellers and location-based services. Some Microsoft technologies are used throughout the branch, such as Kinect motion sensors.
Sam Ditzion, the CEO of Tremont Capital Group, said Diebold has historically been viewed as an ATM manufacturer even though the company has diversified into other areas like software and security for years.
"The move is more of a marketing and positioning story versus a fundamental shift in the core business model," Ditzion said.
Yet rebranding is never easy, particularly on a subject like innovation.
"It's extremely ambitious for a big, public, 150-year-old manufacturing company to reinvent itself into a high-tech innovator, but it's possible to change perception over time with the right leadership and ideas," Ditzion said.
Bob Meara, a senior analyst with Celent's banking practice, says the video exemplifies how Diebold has been doing things differently under new management — including its marketing.
Take the way the firm has showcased new products recently — such as the micro-branch concept it unveiled at trade shows late last year. The design included "a collection of concepts to get spontaneous reactions," Meara said. In other words, it was meant to inspire bankers' imaginations.
"Rebranding is very much a necessity for Diebold to coach banks to think about it differently," Meara said.
Diebold's work also underscores the trend of ATM manufacturers trying to reinvent themselves at a time when branch transactions continue to decline. The companies are also rolling out fancy cash-dispensing machines that come with videoconferencing and mobile app authentication, to assist banks with their branch makeovers.
Smithsonian magazine recently published an intriguing feature on ATMs — chronicling their history and their potential future of automating more of what had been teller tasks. And most recently, TD Bank in Canada announced its "smart" ATMS that include a help option to get in-branch assistance and can also spit out a variety of bills.
From Diebold's vantage point, however, bank strategy trumps any new bell or whistle. And up next, Diebold plans to collaborate more with its bank customers and other companies. As Mattes said in the video:
"The thought around collaborative innovation is how do we get the whole industry to be more nimble, to be faster, to be more creative, to be a little bit more daring. We've seen customers opening up their doors, opening up their arms and doing something they've never done before.
We're an industry in transformation, and we're a company that's transforming. From everything that I can see, from all the energy I can see going in to this, we're just at the beginning of many great things to come."