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OREM, Utah – Credit union data processor SOSystems believes core processing and CRM have to be one in the same for credit unions to thrive in the future. About six years ago SOSystems embarked on a complete rewrite of its legacy code with that as one of its primary goals. “Before we embarked on the rewrite, we called in several local professors from Brigham Young University’s science department. They came in and discussed with us where they thought the industry was going, and what credit unions and banks may want down the road,” said Richard Verhaaren, COO of SOSystems. The company also worked with McGladrey and Pullen as well as its clients, and the verdict was in for the system of the future: open, able to pull data from anywhere, and sales-oriented. The processor believed that if it did all this it would have a “member-centric” system that could help CU staff better serve members by painting a picture of them and their financial needs. SOSystems liked the term “member-centric” so much, it trademarked it – six years ago. These ambitious goals required a complete rewrite. “We wanted to redesign the whole system from the ground up, not just put lipstick on a pig,” said Dan Mueller Director of Development for SOSystems. That humorous analogy refers to other processors jazzing up the front-end by moving to Windows or a browser-based system, yet the back-end stays the same. SOSystems’ core system is built around a Sybase relational database queried by Infomaker SQL. It’s an in-house system running on the IBM RISC 6000. SOSystems describes itself as a Java shop from a programming standpoint, with everything written in browser format. “It appears to me that suppliers have realized we have to deliver more than just an accounting system,” said Verhaaren. The key is to pull data from multiple sources -Internet banking, ATMs, POS, telephony and mobile devices, etc. – and store it in one place, he said. That one place on its Centryx IT/S system is the Central Information File. It’s here where member data is constantly updated and matched with CU products. CRM-features inherent in Centryx IT/S include loan volume reports, new shares, new member and asset growth graphs, customer profiles, product history, and on the bleeding edge is something SOSystems calls the Alerts/Notifications Package. It can deliver targeted messages to its e*Teller online banking system, as well as mobile devices through its m*Teller product. It is using Short Messaging Service to send messages to any digital cellular phone, wireless Palm devices and Blackberry pagers. Since it’s using SMS, the devices do not have to be Web-enabled. All the technology behind the system is great, but at the end of the day what it means to the CU is a tool that they can utilize to increase product penetration and thus member profitability, said Joe Shelby, director of sales and marketing. “We have focused the system on relationship pricing and relationship marketing,” said Shelby. For example, when a loan officer pulls an application, the system can be set up to look at the member’s FICO score; services he or she currently uses with the CU; and other factors and offer a rate based on not only that member’s credit history, but current relationships with the CU. The system can also ticker-tape product suggestions to the desktops of member service reps and tellers as they are helping a member. “We’re going to ticker-tape products across the screen to be more proactive. It may be something like a member automatically qualifying for a $5,000 credit card,” said Shelby. Shelby said SOSystems believes members will like being catered to and feel more important if the CU is looking to give them something they need financially. Verhaaren said it’s no secret the number of CUs is shrinking, and SOSystems wanted to be positioned to serve larger CUs. Traditionally, its niche market has been CUs in the $25 million to $150 million (though it has clients as small as $3 million and as large as $300 million). “We have to focus very carefully on the credit unions that we feel are going to be the leaders. Credit unions that are going to be around,” said Verhaaren. The revamp of the system started with the General Ledger. It did that because many other processes key off of the G/L. The next was its e*teller Net banking system; then teller and members service platforms, followed by loan origination. The final development stage will be back office, which it says it is currently underway. Verhaaren believes while many processors will be playing catch-up, SOSystems is positioned for the future. “I think the others are going to come along. Competition is exciting.” [email protected]

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