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  • Writer's pictureJohn San Filippo

Industry Leaders Forum: Budgeting Tactics and Strategies, Part 1

Finopotamus has assembled a panel of experts in a recurring series, The Industry Leaders Forum (ILF). Each month, we’ll ask the panel a broad technology question and share their informative responses. Respondents are presented in alphabetical order by last name.

Presented in three parts, part 1 includes responses from:

For June 2023, Finopotamus asked the ILF panel:

Budget season will be here before we know it. What tactics and strategies should credit union technologists consider to ensure they get the most bang for their tech buck in 2024?

Quantalytix’s Christopher Aliotta

Christopher Aliotta

Avoid blindly following trends and think critically about technology investments. Just because a certain technology is popular doesn't mean it's the right fit for every credit union. Technologists should carefully assess the value proposition of each technology and determine if it aligns with their specific needs and goals.

Understanding the business goals of the credit union is essential before making any tech investments. Technologists should align their technology choices with these goals to maximize the impact and value generated. A strategic approach will ensure that the technology implemented effectively moves the needle for the company.

Additionally, considering the cost of technology investments is crucial. Technologists should be able to deduce the value that a particular technology will bring to their credit union. Investing in technology that falls short can be expensive and wasteful, so a thoughtful and diligent approach is necessary to ensure that the end value justifies the investment.

Lastly, consider partnering with a technology provider. By leveraging the skills and insights of the technology partner, a credit union can save time, money and resources while having more control over the final product.

Origence’s Brit Barker

Brit Barker

Beyond the pure cost of investing in new technology, credit union decision makers need to understand the wider impact of any new investment and take a holistic approach to identifying the right technology for their company. How does it impact the big picture? How will it save employees time? How will it ultimately make members happy?

Every business has points of friction and areas they’d like to improve, and adding new technology can be an obvious way to solve those challenges. But how does solving those problems ladder up to the bigger picture of what a credit union wants to accomplish? If improving the speed at which a credit union can make lending decisions is an organizational priority, decision-makers need to identify the pain points that slow the lending process and find technology that directly solves those problems; thus, helping the company reach its long-term goals.

We’ve all seen it before: a company invests in a shiny new technology for its novelty and lofty promises, only to realize it’s too complicated or doesn’t actually solve the problem at hand. Beyond the obvious financial cost of paying for something employees can’t use, the time spent trying to make it work for your organization can make employees’ day-to-day work less efficient and could cause frustration that has the ripple effect of increased turnover and decreased member satisfaction.

And most importantly, how does investing in new technology make members happier? They’re at the core of everything that credit unions do, so every decision made should always have a clear path toward making members happy. Ask them: do they want faster loan decisions? Do they want a better app experience? Giving them a voice in the process provides actionable insights for decision-makers and ultimately helps build a better, more trusting relationship with members.

NCR’s Doug Brown

Doug Brown

The most impactful technology decisions are based on insights from member data. Analyzing member patterns and behaviors can uncover member preferences or unmet needs, illuminating which products and services will best resonate with and serve members. Nothing wastes a tech budget more than investing in features or functionality that members don’t want or need.

Establishing a baseline for what members are doing and how they interact with a credit union’s products and services and then identifying trends over time can help credit unions better understand the profitability of their products and what is driving member engagement. For example, understanding top actions members make when leveraging their mobile banking app can help inform areas of investment, where to personalize experiences and how to alter or segment the experience based on demographics.

Even though credit unions have access to a wide range of data, many are overwhelmed with how to effectively analyze it and make it actionable. That is why we are seeing more credit unions invest in data warehousing and analytics platforms, providing a centralized location for decision makers across the institution to view pertinent member and business data.

The importance of leveraging data to make business decisions will only continue to increase. Those credit unions that lean on data to drive choices around technology spend are likely to create better experiences, increase wallet share and strengthen member retention.

Glia’s Jay Choi

Jay Choi

Optimizing efficiencies will continue to be a major focus this year and next, and credit unions should allocate their technology budget accordingly. For example, there is a significant opportunity for credit unions to consolidate member support systems by incorporating traditional call center phone service with Digital Customer Service (DCS). Such a shift also enhances the member experience, to deliver on another top priority.

A common misconception is that phone interactions are decreasing. Even though the preference for digital channels continues to grow, many members still pick up the phone when a question or issue arises, especially during a critical moment of need, such as dealing with fraud. For most credit unions, this means managing multiple disparate systems, which perpetuates inefficiencies and higher costs. Worse yet, a mix of numerous systems creates fragmented member experiences that drive up abandonments and damage long term loyalty.

Consolidating all interactions onto a single member engagement platform can deliver significant cost, staffing and ease-of-management advantages. By leveraging a unified member interaction platform that supports both traditional phone support and digital channels like chat and video, credit unions can create a seamless experience for members across all channels. This approach eliminates silos that often trap members in one communication channel, instead accelerating resolution and driving up conversions. It also streamlines training and staffing, simplifies reporting and delivers faster, deeper insight into member interactions, all from a single source of data.

Credit unions should look for platforms that include AI-powered virtual assistants to provide uninterrupted 24/7 service that efficiently handle after-hours calls and peak demands, with the ability to seamlessly transfer to live support as needed. The right virtual assistant can lead to a better, more consistent member and employee experience across all channels, enhanced efficiencies and higher resolution rates; it’s a win all around.

By streamlining member interactions with a unified, seamless member platform, credit unions can make the most of their tech budget in 2024 – simultaneously improving efficiencies and the member experience.

TruStage Perpetual Offers’ Baron Conway

Baron Conway

Budget season will be here before we know it. What tactics and strategies should credit union technologists consider to ensure they get the most bang for their tech buck in 2024?

As we head into 2024, and amid the current economic uncertainty, credit unions should focus on how they can use technology to continue to transform their members’ lives and create more robust financial institutions. But, with so many technology options on the table it can be difficult to know what the right direction is.

When looking at budgeting for technology, credit unions should start by creating a strategy that supports a flexible planning framework, which can flex according to changing market conditions. From then on, there are a few priority areas they should analyze:

  • Firstly, it is important to invest in a technology partner that not only delivers a great solution and helps with the initial implementation, but also has a proactive account management team that can help credit unions maximize the use of the solution throughout its lifecycle.

  • Credit unions should also analyze if the technologies they are exploring place the institution in a position for growth – whether it be continuing to drive new accounts, increasing deposits, boosting loan volumes, etc. The solution needs to be flexible enough to adapt to upcoming changes in market and customer needs.

  • In addition to growth, the technology solutions explored need to also support the drive to increased efficiency and productivity. The right technology will also help credit unions automate internal processes, giving bankers more time to spend with their members, and will easily integrate across systems, while driving efficiencies and controlling and lowering cost per transaction.

  • Most importantly, credit unions must remember that it is all about the member. Focusing on the member experience and finding solutions that are relevant, intuitive, user-friendly and deliver value to the member is key. Credit unions must ensure that the services they are known for in-branch translate seamlessly to desktop and mobile devices, keeping members satisfied and boosting retention rates.

Good planning will help credit unions deal with multiple partners, conflicting needs, and project fatigue, allowing them to deliver the right value for their members and business in both the short and long term.


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