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Having worked with credit unions for more than 15 years, I have seen this industry go through a metamorphosis from institutions where manual work was the overshadowing events of the day and the month, to today’s systems that can virtually automate most any process and enable an institution to deliver cutting edge technologies. So the question remains . are today’s financial institutions taking advantage of core system functionality in order to achieve this optimum level of automation? Many business decisions today are either enabled or hampered by the technology available to the decision maker. To ensure that the former applies, core systems need to be parameter-driven, configurable, and open. From configuring product and service offerings with the core system to extending those offerings through the integration of third-party systems, business decisions are impacted. Even ensuring policies are followed consistently through the application of repeatable workflows and enhanced security is dependent of the core system. Furthermore, the cost associated with proposed changes is impacted by the underlying core system and can mean the difference between acceptable ROI on a proposed project and another shelved idea. Core system functionality can support business strategy and provide the framework for enabling extensions of business planning. These systems need to be equipped to facilitate necessary activities with the core and provide flexibility for expanding business opportunities with an open architecture. This “open and integrated” approach is vital to the success of an institution that has both growth and efficiency goals in place. Striking this balancing act, however, can be challenging and requires a core system and partner capable of providing it all. Integration with the core data is essential to provide the service level that members expect and deserve. Enabling data to immediately be pulled from the core to populate applications also provides internal efficiencies as well as added convenience and time savings to members. Furthermore, the true integration of all functional areas into a single, unified architecture results in a well-trained staff capable of delivering immediate service and results to members. At the same time, combining best-in-class solutions, such as business lending technology, member relationship management, business intelligence and analytic solutions, mortgage origination and servicing solutions, by integrating them with the core will contribute to the ability of an institution to deliver a broader array of services to members. If a core system is capable of connecting with virtually any technology application, then the true definition of an open system has been attained. Using industry standard Web services that include Interactive Financial Exchange (IFX), SOAP, and eXtended Markup Language (XML), the easy exchange of data with virtually any application of choice is made possible. By gaining access to the core through the use of data objects, distribution of that data in real time is made possible with all necessary business rules to ensure the institution’s data is consistent, secure and in compliance. Using such standards and methodologies, successful connections have been achieved from the core to everything from Internet banking solutions, direct/indirect and commercial lending systems, bill payment, cash management and opening new accounts, to voice recognition and authentication solutions, to instant issue ATM and Debit cards, and much more. Exchanging data from the member, employee and transaction perspectives utilizing these industry standard formats and communication methods provides a simplified approach to data exchange and enables the delivery of pre-configured industry standard interfaces that can be easily modified by credit unions or third-party vendors. The end result is an open and integrated total core solution that supports a wide variety of services, maximizes technology investments, and contributes to an institution’s long-term success. So, core system functionality can indeed affect your business. It’s whether or not your credit union has the right core system that can offer the functionality, flexibility and open and integrated approach necessary that can be a key to your success in today’s competitive marketplace.

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