Top takeaways from CUNA Tech/OME

Top takeaways from CUNA Tech/OME

Speed Round sessions highlight the latest industry solutions.

September 20, 2019

Nearly 600 credit union leaders gathered in Chicago for the co-located 2019 CUNA Technology Council and Operations & Member Experience (OME) Council Conferences in Chicago.

The ever-present need for teamwork across the organization was a key theme,  reinforced by the pedigrees of the event’s two keynote speakers.

Sarah Thomas, the National Football League’s first female referee, spoke about overcoming adversity, finding one’s passion, and confidently making split-second decisions.

Gian Paul Gonzalez—a teacher, founder of a nonprofit serving at-risk youth, and one-time All-American college athlete—shared his “all in” approach to dedicating  oneself to a team goal.

It’s a message he was asked to deliver in the New York Giants’ locker room and is credited with kickstarting a late-season 2011 winning streak that culminated in an improbable Super Bowl victory.

The synergy created by co-locating these two events is increasingly clear. Although there are separate content tracks for technology and operations & member experience practitioners, the line between the two has blurred, reinforcing the extent to which technology has become central to member experience.

Many attendees customized their agendas by sampling sessions across tracks gaining powerful insights on both fronts.

This synergy was most apparent in the Speed Round general sessions, during which 23 companies each had five minutes (plus two minutes for expert judges’ Q&A) to pitch its innovative solution.

Each council ran its own selection process, but the solutions that made it to the main stage were of equal interest to technology and operations professionals. Extending the football analogy, nearly half of the presenters executed their five-minute drills down to the final buzzer—a testament to the richness of content and their passion for the topic.

Despite increased rumblings of an impending economic slowdown, it was heartening to see most solutions focused on account growth and customer engagement.

The roster included well-established credit union service providers (Temenos, Fiserv, Q2) as well as surprising newcomers, such as Amazon Web Services, with an intriguing use of its Amazon Connect technology to assist call centers in discerning member sentiment.

More of the pitches, however, reflected refreshing takes by relatively young companies. A few that stood out for me were:

Voleo. A mobile stock investment app targeting investment clubs and informal groups of friends tapping into the “wisdom of crowds.” The startup is pursuing white-label credit union partnerships as a means to deepen member engagement.

Narmi. Digital account opening integrated with identity verification and a card funding model that shortens the process and reduces abandonments.

Eltropy. Acknowledges members’ desire to communicate via text, integrating this channel within broader CRM platforms and providing necessary security.

POPi/o. Last year’s Speed Rounds winner, this video banking solution, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider, made waves by setting up a remote contact center onstage and initiating a live video call within its allotted five minutes.

The winner of this year’s audience vote was Glia, a seven-year-old, New York City-based firm focused on “digital-first customer conversations” applying artificial intelligence to optimize communications across channels.

The most recent enhancement to Glia’s platform, which has won repeat Best in Show accolades at Finovate conferences, is co-browsing capability to create better understanding between members and contact center agents.

The 2020 combined Technology/OME Council conference is scheduled for Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 in Las Vegas. You can bet the next batch of Speed Round participants will be just as interesting.

GLEN SARVADY is managing partner at 154Advisors.