Holiday IT Wish List for 2021

By W.B. King


A historically challenging year, many people will not miss 2020. And while the pandemic caused countless problems and heartaches, COVID-19 also afforded time for introspection leading to thoughts on what promise 2021 might hold. To this end, Finopotamus reached out to some industry IT professionals to see what is on their respective holiday wish lists for the coming year.


Improving Member Experience


“Our number one tech want is a great natural-language system for our contact center to help us improve member experience,” said Jeffrey Staw, chief innovation officer at Open Technology Solutions. The $17 billion Centennial, Colo.-based organization is a consortium of Bethpage Federal Credit Union, Bellco Credit Union, SECU and S3 Shared Service Solutions LLC. It represents more than one million members and 2,000 employees, 140 of which are in the technology department.


Open Technology Solutions' Chief Innovation Officer Jeffrey Staw.

“A solution that understands member needs and allows us to serve them more effectively,” noted Staw. “With the novel use of natural language processing (NLP), we can leverage our human resources for conversations that provide greater value for members, giving those members that need an extra human touch the opportunity to have it available.”


When asked what the likeness of this wish being implemented in the coming year, Staw responded: “It’ll be a long road to achieve full implementation, but I think we’re likely to achieve this goal in some capacity in 2021.”



New Service Desk


Gary Lee, chief client officer for the Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Member Driven Technologies, said his top IT wish for 2021 is the installation of a new service desk.


Member Driven Technologies' Chief Client Officer Gary Lee.

“This installation will provide improved efficiencies both internally and externally for our 100-plus credit union clients; mobile accessibility in addition to desktop access for all users; new, modern technology that allows us to work with more agility; and key integrations with complementary software applications,” said Lee. The CUSO, which was founded in 2003, delivers service and comprehensive, integrated and secure technology solutions to its valued credit union clients.



“We are confident that this new service desk will directly support and improve our credit unions’ service experience,” said Lee. “The likeliness of implementing this is 99.99%. The only challenge I can envision is resistance to initial change both internally and externally, but I believe that any hesitation will quickly be put to rest once people experience the efficiencies and value of the new platform.”


Data Analytics Platform


One of MDT’s clients is Cheyenne, Wyo.-based WyHy Federal Credit Union. Chief Information Officer Eric Valla said his IT wish is to continue development of, and begin utilizing, a data analytics platform.


“This will provide executive dashboards to the WyHy management team, reduce the number of systems that are required to gather important and actionable data to make sound business decisions, and will set the groundwork in 2021 to allow WyHy to position ourselves to increase integration of data analytics into all aspects of WyHy’s ecosystem,” said Valla.

He continued, “Once implemented, this will set the stage for the following: scorecards, KPIs, predictive analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence.”


WyHy FCU's Chief Information Officer Eric Valla.

And while phase one of the strategy will go live in 2021, Valla said that WyHy FCU is currently working with multiple business partners on rolling out a data analytics warehouse and culture. This part of the process, he noted, will be a learning experience.


“Here are the challenges: successful integration of additional data points, buy-in from WyHy executive management on effectively using data analytics, keeping expenses in alignment with budget, and adding FIs to this product offering,” he said.




Digital-First Interactions


Dan Michaeli, CEO and co-founder of Glia, said he was encouraged by the accelerated evolution of credit unions toward digital member service during 2020 and he hopes this trend continues.


“For 2021, my wish is that institutions continue to move away from legacy phone calls with members and toward digital-first interactions,” said Michaeli.


Glia CEO and Co-Founder Dan Michaeli.

Founded in 2012 in New York City, the company’s digital customer service solution brings the in-person experience to all customer interactions - whether they start online or on the phone, he explained.


“Given that businesses are rapidly evolving in light of the pandemic, it is very likely that my wish comes true,” added Michaeli.


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