In partnership with CUInsight, we recently hosted the second event in our webinar series Cloud Champions – this one with a focus on CIOs and ways to build a blueprint and gain buy-in for secure cloud strategies. Panelists represented deep expertise in digital transformation in both for-profit and non-profit businesses, and included Christopher Eden, Vice President of Information, Security and Technology for People’s Credit Union, Chad Ritchie, CIO for Ventura Credit Union, and Joseph Ruck, Senior Solutions Architect for AWS along with our CTO Zachary Hill.
Cloud transformation has been gaining attention following the pandemic-fueled remote work explosion and credit unions are more motivated than ever before to understand best practices for adopting flexible, secure cloud strategies.
According to an event poll, 60% of attendees shared that their credit union was currently evolving in their cloud journey, however, only half agreed they had the internal talent and vendor relationships to take advantage of modern cloud technology, and less than half of their organizations have fully embraced cloud adoption.
As our expert panelists considered the best approach to gaining buy-in and developing a blueprint for cloud adoption, 3 common themes became clear:
- Just Get Started!
- Communicate with employees
- Lead with a customer focus
Eden, who started out working on the retail-side of credit unions, considers what the company needs when looking at technology transformation, and recommends starting slow, “We knew we could do things better – we started with the phone system, got buy-in, then moved to the server – and now we are all in on our cloud strategy.”
Cost should not be a deciding factor. While savings are important, the efficiencies gained are more so.
A steady migration with defined milestones and deadlines will ensure that the transformation aligns with the existing bandwidth to handle. Smart spends on a nimble infrastructure will allow for upgrades later.
Ruck suggests working backwards, “Go slow to go fast. Due diligence is important- architect solutions, make sure all frameworks are audited. Lean on your deep bench of subject matter experts and third-party tools. Your managed service providers can help with testing, vulnerability assessment- a well architected review can develop baseline to monitor vulnerability.”
Communicate with Employees
For non-technical employees, the change can seem irrelevant, and for technical employees, there can be fear of the unknown and the impact it could have on job security.
While the technical team is wrapped up in the execution of the project, Ritchie shares the pitfall that can come from losing the pulse of the rest of the organization, “Help the staff understand why they should care and the impact this will have. Clearly define outcomes and expectations and plan for training to increase staff engagement.”
The more details employees have, the buy-in becomes more organic and automatic, generating more excitement for those who will be impacted but not involved in the transformation.
Eden encourages organizations to partner with a vendor like Think|Stack through the process to map the journey and guide along the path to better understand shift in work, new risks and opportunities to leverage the cloud experience.
“Our tools really help on the education side to help various teams/stakeholders wrap their heads around what the end product will look like and how it will solve member goals,” shared Hill.
Eden adds, “It is important to make sure staff knows why around the changes being made. No one wants to come in on Monday with a complete change.”
Lead with Customer Focus
Painting a picture for organizational leadership is critical. Ritchie suggests, “Tell stories – specific examples in non-technical speak that show how this transformation will change the lives of members or employees and how they interact.”
Ritchie believes digital transformation and the adoption of cloud solutions will increase credit unions’ relevancy in the marketplace. Credit unions are lagging behind fintechs and big banks, and are playing catch-up nationally and globally. Cloud technology increases the speed of market, allowing teams to deliver solutions to members and employees, and to roll out changes on continuous basis.
Eden agrees and shares the shift that can occur when the IT team becomes partners with application users, “Employees begin to think about ‘how can I do something different’, and we look at our member- facing technologies to think about how to improve member experience.”
Our experts encourage credit unions that are still considering a migration to the cloud to do it! Secure cloud strategies lay the foundation for the future, and cloud-native capabilities allow for stronger controls than a credit union can purchase on their own.
Cloud adoption is a game-changer, impacting not only IT staff, but all employees and, most importantly, members. Without the burden of monitoring physical infrastructure and planning for a major overhaul every few years, IT teams can help their credit unions become more nimble in solving issues, discovering new applications and solutions to improve the member experience at dramatically-increased speed and reduced downtime.
Hill has noted in working with multiple credit unions a significant change in the needs and focus of the IT teams following migration to the cloud, “The credit unions we work with go from 40-60% break/fix support tickets month to month to, following migration, 60% of support tickets become speed-related-adding new vendors, software, upgrading. The credit unions begin to look forward.”
Developing a blueprint for adopting secure cloud technologies in partnership with a trusted, expert vendor, and clearly communicating to employees and leaders the benefits it will bring to drive efficiencies and improve the member experience will help secure buy-in and ensure a well-planned journey.