Stop patching – Focus on member facing technology in 2016

If you are a mid-sized credit union, that is competing with much bigger financial institutions, struggling to hire talent, and feeling attacked from regulators – this article is for you!   Earlier this week I was visiting one of our early adopter fully hosted and managed cloud customers.  The client is a $200 million dollar credit union that has struggled with the ever increasing IT Security, Disaster Recovery, lousy bandwidth and never ending IT projects.  They are located outside of an urban area and have had difficulties recruiting and maintaining high-end technical talent.   About 2 years ago they made a tough choice and went to a service bureau core system (stealth for cloud core…) and moved all of their telecom, server, disaster recovery and key infrastructure to the OGO community cloud.

During our meeting, I asked about the credit unions goals for 2016.   Despite missing key IT staff during 2015, the CEO named a series of key technology projects. They included creating a strategic branch redesign with integrated technology, a full-fledged mobile strategy, data analytics and other member facing technologies.  All in all, every project and goal was about creating a better member experience that would differentiate and rival the big competitors.  I was stunned.  Sure, I am an avid believer in cloud and its ability to transform credit unions back into credit unions – but here was living proof!   Instead of worrying about missing a key IT resource or upgrading storage, this CEO was able to be 100% focused on establishing key member experience differentiators and providing more value to his members.

So as you get ready for the 2016 budget, you may want to take a look at your priorities.  Is your budget full of storage and server purchases, IT security work, server replication and upgrades?   If it is, it is probably worth taking a much closer look at how your credit union is providing its member services.  Instead – your budget and strategy should be focused on the following:

  • Mobile Strategy including wallets
  • Take a good luck at mobile authentication choices (voice, facial recognition and finger print)
  • Consider that the new mobile authentication choices can greatly improve call center and branch traffic if they are decoupled from the mobile providers
  • Consistent Branding
  • Adding cool functionality – like ads and offers, yelp integration, or remote deposit capture
  • Alternative Payment Options and impacts (Paypal, WalmartPay, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, CU Wallet)
  • Research the impact of these alternative payment rails on your transaction volumes and profitability
  • Make plans to be involved in some of the new ones
  • Data Analytics
  • Brainstorm key questions
  • Figure out what you would do differently if you had the answers
  • Find a data warehouse vendor and model (Intellectual Dimensions, OnApproach, etc. are good options)
  • Determine which data is most valuable (to your members and to others)
  • Cyber Security
  • Even if you are already in the Cloud – This is a big one!
  • Make sure you have a good idea of the new FFIEC requirements
  • Plan for adding new tools and make sure they integrate and share data with each other
  • Omni-Channel
  • Take a close look at your member experience, SLA’s and branding across all of your delivery channels
  • Build profiles of members
  • Adjust and tweak the experience to create ubiquity and drive the relationship you want
  • Target A Members
  • Research and get to know your best members
  • Figure out the similarities
  • Develop specific plans to attract and build relationships with your best members

We all have busy IT agendas and goals.  IT has the ability to disrupt even the best laid plans if executed poorly or behind.   Taking a key look at how you can free-up critical resources from tasks and duties that are the cost of doing business – should be a key strategy to help your credit union grow, thrive and compete with new and existing competitors.

Kirk Drake

Kirk Drake

Kirk Drake is founder and CEO of Ongoing Operations, LLC, a rapidly growing CUSO that provides complete business continuity and technology solutions. With its recent acquisition of Cloudworks, Ongoing Operations ... Web: Details