Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Power outages. Pandemics. Cyber attacks. We can’t predict the future and what will come next, but whether man-made or a natural disaster, credit unions have to be prepared to address challenges as they occur while maintaining access for members.
We talk to credit unions across the country and there are usually two common challenges:
- IT staff spends more time updating software and keeping servers upgraded than proactively preparing for future technologies that could improve efficiency or member experiences
- New technologies require a lot of time to adopt and significant investment due to the physical infrastructure that has to be built to meet the capability requirements
The uncertain future of technology makes it difficult for credit unions to effectively plan for what’s to come. Capital investments in legacy hardware require guesswork and in today’s volatile world it’s impossible to know what they might really need and when.
To compete in today’s marketplace and be nimble enough to provide members with cutting-edge technology that is always available and secure, credit unions need to build a technology foundation that will allow them to respond and react to opportunities for growth or risks like cybersecurity attacks or natural disasters.
There are several steps credit unions can take to effectively adopt and implement cloud-based technologies:
- Take a human-centered approach. Establish expectations – what goals might you have to take advantage of opportunities and mitigate risk. Using personas and journey mapping, understand how these goals will impact all humans involved – employees, partners and vendors, current members and new members. Know what it will take for employees to work securely and efficiently to serve members as well as they can.
- Determine talent gaps. Based on your goals, do you have what you need in human resources to achieve your goals? An analysis of existing staff will help you to know what you can handle internally and what will require external support. Many credit unions find they need 24/7 external support – someone monitoring and maintaining their systems so that the internal team can work on strategies for future needs and ways to improve the member experience.
- Know your technology footprint. To accomplish these goals, what does the technology footprint need to look like. The design of the technology footprint should reflect the way the technology will be used.
- Build confidence in leadership. Effective communication with executive teams and boards of directors is critical to adoption and efficient implementation. Education requires explaining complex technology problems and solutions in a way non-tech leaders can understand so they are confident in the services and products they are purchasing. Education also means ensuring leaders understand industry regulations and overcome misperceptions of what is allowed. Leaders need to understand how the investment will positively impact the credit union and its members.
According to Michael Matthews, CEO of Mutual Credit Union, “The transition to the cloud has been a lot smoother than we expected. Based on what many vendors shared with us, we expected issues during the transition such as failures of servers or downtime for staff or members when an application or software didn’t work. Since we have transitioned, the biggest surprise has been the speed of implementation – when we want to add a new technology or feature, there is no lag time – our team has to be ready to go.”
While transitioning to the cloud can seem daunting and impossible, the reality is that most credit unions are connected to the cloud in some way through a vendor or software product. According to Gartner, 94% of enterprises already use a cloud service. And an article in Venture Beat notes Gartner forecasts “Worldwide spending on public cloud services is expected to reach $332.3 billion in 2021, an increase of 23.1% from 2020”.
“We realized that most vendors are cloud based and that the cloud allowed us to scale up or down as needed, we had more up time and less down time, and its easier to back up our data. It also reduces the burden for our team to monitor physical infrastructure space,” adds Matthews.
As credit unions explore transformative technologies such as AI, machine learning and blockchain, the cloud offers flexibility and nimbleness to pivot and adopt quickly and securely. We can’t predict the future but we can build a platform that will offer you the flexibility to scale and respond to opportunities, challenges and risks.