Data analysis.

Credit unions were founded to serve members at physical branch locations. But, with the increased desire to interact digitally and on the go, times have changed and so must you. In order to truly reimagine the member experience inside and outside the walls of a branch, a digital transformation strategy requires more than a social presence, a mobile responsive website and a savvy mobile app; a winning digital transformation strategy first requires a financial institution to unlock and begin leveraging data across the enterprise.

Data and digital transformation flourishes in an environment where data is gathered, stored securely and used effectively. Even the most organized and comprehensive strategies cannot stand on a crumbling foundation of poor, limited or inaccurate data. When an organization lacks a data strategy, the problem extends into every area of business and directly impacts the member experience.

As part of developing and deploying a successful data and digital transformation, there are four fundamental steps that must take place:

1. Align data strategy with business strategy. It’s time to put data at the heart of the organization. The first step is to clearly understand and communicate your financial institution’s enterprise initiatives and business objectives. To help maximize the value of data, align your data and digital transformation strategy with business objectives. This means taking the time to understand and communicate how data analytics can help achieve and/or measure progress toward those objectives (deposit growth, financial fitness, member or product growth, etc.), which can offer powerful growth opportunities and a clear roadmap for your credit union.

2. Create organizational buy-in and executive support. Technology is not the hard part of this equation; managing people is the hard part. Financial institutions that have not taken the time to create organizational buy-in from the top down have historically struggled to implement a successful data and digital transformation strategy. Focus first strategically, from a higher level, and build awareness before you start focusing on the operational components and the technology that data analytics require.

Executive management should consistently foster the idea that insights and opportunities drawn from data can improve everything from operations and marketing, to risk exposure and member loyalty. In the end, what gets measured gets done, and this can only be reinforced from the top down. Becoming data-driven and deploying a strategy employees will adopt means that leadership should place data at the heart of the organization.

3.  Hire, train or re-organize internally to put the right team in place. A data and digital transformation strategy is too big and strategic to be someone’s part-time job. Once you have documented and communicated the strategic direction, identify the capable individuals within your organization who, if given the time and resources, can select an appropriate technology vendor, software upgrade or technology investment as the foundation for your data analytics program.

Continue to recruit visionaries and data savvy team players to develop a team that will not only report and analyze data but also refine member data into actionable output and provide insights to make proactive, data-backed decisions.

4. Emphasize quick, small wins to build momentum. There is no need to wait for perfection – start small and start today. In a culture that is truly driven by data, everyone can be a data analyst. Share the wins, no matter how small they may seem, spend time making an effort to win employees over, and showcase how jobs can become easier through the power of data.

While data analytics has gone mainstream, senior leadership teams must drive the cultural changes that will empower utilization of analytics. Successful analytics and digital transformation initiatives require a shift in how executive management embraces and shares the value of data.

While data strategy and a successful digital transformation may seem daunting, it can go a long way toward accomplishing strategic goals and can have a profound impact on members. Data can help build trust with a new member, provide appropriate financial guidance or capture the first mortgage on a newlywed’s first home. Valuable data that can be used to enhance the member experience is available and growing rapidly within the finance industry.

Don’t put the member experience at risk. Use these four tips to unlock and appropriately leverage your data to earn the trust of your members, become their financial fitness advocate and make the most of your digital transformation efforts. If you don’t establish trust by building a data-driven relationship with your members, someone else will.

Michael Bryan Michael Bryan

Mike Bryan is Vice President of Digital and Data Strategy for Allied Solutions. He can be reached at