2 keys to mastering your own data

Do you think you’re Google’s customer? Facebook’s? Think again.

There’s an old advertising saying that originated in the 70s that goes something like this: If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product. At the time the saying first became popular, it was referring to television and radio advertising. Yes, now you can pay for cable TV as well as satellite radio, but back then you could actually plug in your “device” (meaning your TV or AM/FM transistor radio) and “stream” content for free. The money, of course, was made by “content providers” selling your eyes and ears to advertisers, making you the product.

Forty or so years later, this saying has never been truer than it is for the internet. The only reason Google and Facebook give you anything for free is that they make big, big money aggregating, using and selling your data. In fact, it’s such big business, they even call it big data.

What does this have to do with your credit union? Compared to Google’s data, your credit union possesses only a fraction. Does that make your data medium data? Small data?

Not at all. Big data is relative, and relative to your credit union, your data is very big. The problem is that thanks to both legacy technology and legacy thinking, your data probably isn’t that easy to access and use.

If you think that’s not a big deal, you’re dead wrong. If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this: Data drives decisions. Lousy data drives lousy decisions, good data drives good decisions, and great data drives great decisions.

But to make sure you have great data, you need to do two things first.

Make sure you own your data – all of it

Outsourcing various functions can be good for your credit union and at the same time, not good for your data situation. Credit cards are a prime example. If you process your credit cards in-house, you control all the data. When you outsource, depending on what model you choose, you may surrender a little or a lot of your data to your credit card provider. The more data you surrender, the worse off you are.

I’m not saying outsourcing is a bad idea. Not by a long shot. What I am saying is that when you’re evaluating an outsourcing arrangement, you need to factor in the effect it will have on your data.

Dump the legacy tools

To use your data effectively, you need to make sure it flows freely among the various systems that support your credit union. That means selecting modern tools with open APIs that don’t get you locked into evil data silos. It starts with your core and spreads out from there. There needs to be one version of the truth and everyone needs access to that truth. And no, in case you’re wondering, 12 different data silos that are synced nightly with an archaic batch process won’t cut it.

Your data is a powerful ally. Leverage it wisely.

John San Filippo

John San Filippo

John is the co-founder of OmniChannel Communications, Inc., a company that specializes in B2B marketing to community financial institutions. He started out in the savings and loan industry, but wisely ... Web: www.omnichannelcommunications.com Details