Business Strategies Drive Technology at Today's Successful CUs
During the late 1980s and 1990s, much of business strategy, especially for credit unions, was driven by the rapid development of technology. The speed with which technology was changing the way we do business was fueled by the advent of the Internet. During the 1990s credit unions began creating Web sites and some such as Clark County Schools Employees Credit Union, now iQ Credit Union, were the first to begin offering PC-based home banking services. Today, we are seeing credit unions needing to really focus on their business objectives and match those objectives with the appropriate technology to successfully achieve those objectives. Increased competition and attacks by the banking community, no longer allows us to solely rest on the "people helping people" philosophy. This philosophy still pertains to our corporate governance as a non-profit cooperative organization. It does not allow us to try to continue to do business in the same way we have for the past 20 or so years. Rather we must understand in a deeper way the needs of our members, build stronger relationships with those members, and proactively create sales opportunities. If you have been able to build a solid technology infrastructure you are well positioned to leverage technology to support business strategies centering on your members and profitable member relationships. The CUNA Technology Council has identified the "Strategic Seven" technology trends for 2005. Three of those trends will be discussed here as a way to exemplify how business objective are now driving technology rather than the other way around: member convenience, sales management and network infrastructure management. * Member convenience refers to how we are addressing the increasing demands on people's time. The more convenient we can make it for people to utilize our credit union - how they choose, when they choose, the better. Many credit unions have automated telephone banking systems, and over the coming years interactive, multi-lingual speech recognition systems will become more prevalent. A lot also now have home banking, and there are increasing numbers of credit unions that are approaching this platform as the online financial portal for the majority of a member's relationship. You can increase the convenience to members here by allowing people to obtain not only their history, but also online versions of their statements, daily notices, order checks, make online bill payments, and view images of cleared checks. To take it one step further, the concepts of money management - where a member can bring together account aggregation, account-to-account (A2A), person-to-person (P2P), financial alerts, and electronic bill presentment into one place - provide even more convenience and perceived financial control to your members. * Successful sales management requires an understanding that member needs is a prerequisite to managing sales opportunities. Being able to track members' behavior at every point of contact and channel is critical to knowing where they are in their life cycle and what products and services would be useful to them. Customer relationship management systems, previously static member profile systems, are becoming more intelligent and providing the capacity to usefully leveraging this information. Channel usage profiles from CRM systems also provide better pricing decisions. These relationship management systems are providing statistics to help us understand how to price products and services based on the strength of a household's relationship. * The network infrastructure an organization has available predicates how some of credit unions business objectives can be met. Our ability to access these networks via the Web and collect all the information sales management requires is an immense challenge. That challenge includes meeting regulatory mandates regarding safeguarding member information and building contingency plans to continue operations should something harmful happen to your infrastructure. Credit unions are handling and storing more data, increasing the need for more economical and efficient electronic storage devices and backup strategies. Systems management requires credit unions to begin to consider solutions such as server virtualization to corral the server farms that once included two or three servers and now can exceed 25, 50, or in larger organizations in excess of 100 servers. And again we are required to ensure the security of data being stored by applying patches to operating systems, and controlling access. We must proactively monitor our networks so that problems can be addressed before they become catastrophic. The bottom line is that these more complex-network infrastructures are necessary to enable us to achieve our business objectives. Without the ability to achieve the business objectives of member convenience and sales management, a credit union will be unable to compete. A credit union unable to compete will no longer be able to sufficiently help the members we serve. Unable to serve our members, the competition will steal the convenience we are able to provide our members and destroy the relationships we have worked for so long to maintain. Member convenience, sales management and network infrastructure need to drive our business strategies. These strategies in turn drive the appropriate adaptation of technology.