Data analytics, part II

Data-centric advantages

Invest in an analytics solution to remain competitive.

February 21, 2019

Altra Federal Credit Union in Onalaska, Wis., prides itself on being data-centric.

Kevin Strangman, executive vice president of administration at the $1.5 billion asset credit union, says that reflects an understanding that intelligent business decisions require the use of data.

“Part of our challenge was that it wasn’t always easy to get that data,” Strangman says. Every time Altra Federal had a new problem to solve, it had to start over with seeking out data that would provide solutions.

“To become more nimble, we had to do something different than what we were doing before,” he says.

The credit union turned to CUNA Mutual Group's AdvantEdge Analytics, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider. Together, they defined three goals for Altra Federal's data analytics project:

  1. Get more member insights. Altra Federal already has data about where members’ money is going. Now, they want to use this data for personalized marketing messages and interactions that show they understand members’ needs.
  2. Reduce employee friction. Altra Federal wants to extract information from data with a streamlined process.
  3. Reduce member friction. Instead of requiring members to go through a lengthy process to prove who they are when they visit a branch, Altra Federal hopes to combine technology and data to quickly verify members’ identities.

The credit union is working with AdvantEdge Analytics to build its data warehouse. The project includes visualization software that will produce reporting and dashboards to let staff monitor progress in key indicators such as new members, new accounts, and loan growth.

“Our goal is to be able to say that our data warehouse is our single point of truth,” Strangman says.

Staying competitive

Strangman views this effort as an investment in staying competitive. Working with AdvantEdge provided a roadmap with milestones to keep the project on target. Along the way, Altra Federal also invested in educational workshops so management and staff would understand how the credit union wanted to use data analytics differently going forward.

“It was less expensive by partnering with AdvantEdge than it would have been had we tried to do it on our own,” Strangman says. “It would have taken so much longer, we would have had more mistakes, and there would have been more challenges along the way.”

Strangman advises other credit unions to get started with data analytics now. Begin matching your technology experts with your business units to identify business problems. Working together on solutions will show them new ways to apply data analytics.

“The business people know the problem, but they don’t know the solution or where to get the data to help them,” Strangman says. The technology people listen, ponder their options for applying data analytics, and then come back with ideas.

“The more they work together, the more they will see how they can help each other out,” Strangman says. “It’s really fun to see that process start to happen.”

Expect some experiments to fail as people explore their options and learn to use data effectively. Successes will come as staff becomes more adept in using data analytics.

“Once you get staff who are used to getting access to reports and data, and they see how much it can help them, it will increase that engagement and excitement about wanting to consume more,” Strangman says.

Shazia Manus

‘Standing still is not an option. Having an agile mindset is the most important part of transforming not just digital channels and data strategies, but the business model.’

Shazia Manus

Don't stand still

Data analytics will quickly make a big difference in how credit unions operate and compete for a bigger share of members’ wallets. AdvantEdge Analytics reminds its clients to be aware of the pace at change.

Shazia Manus, AdvantEdge Analytics' chief strategy and business development officer,  advises credit unions to explore data analytics now by building a use case for a specific business problem.

“Get your feet wet trying to use analytics-driven approaches,” Manus says. “That creates the business case for people to justify their investment in data analytics.”

Next, engage the entire organization in transforming operations with data analytics. Keep in mind the “opportunity cost” when you lack the ability to make personalized marketing offers, gain meaningful insights, or base decisions on data instead of instincts.

“Standing still is not an option,” Manus says. “Having an agile mindset is the most important part of transforming not just digital channels and data strategies, but the business model.”

► Analytics drives journey toward 'data nirvana'