8th Annual Technology Workshop Draws Record Attendance and Highlights Role and Importance of Data in Credit Union Industry

Credit union professionals from across New England, and as far as West Virginia, came together in Portland for Synergent’s annual Technology Workshop on October 23. The theme “Take a Byte out of Data” played on the topics of the day: big data, how credit unions can use and leverage data, and ways that credit unions can strategically adopt rapidly advancing technologies to increase efficiencies and meet member expectations.

Synergent CEO John Murphy opened the day welcoming attendees to the workshop at The Regency in historic Portland. He reflected upon the years of experience Synergent offers credit unions, with 41 years of data processing support and 11 years on the Episys Core Processing Platform. “It’s a real honor for us to serve you day in and day out,” said Murphy.

Austin Wentzlaff, Director of Business Development for Minnesota-headquartered OnApproach, a CUSO software company that provides credit unions with the power to use data as a competitive advantage both independently and cooperatively, spoke to the audience about opportunities, threats, and the impact of big data and analytics on the credit union industry.

“Data is wiping out complete industries,” stated Wentzlaff. Defunct companies, such as movie rental and booksellers, were cited as cautionary tales, while Apple was highlighted as a company who serves as a disruptor to itself, continually evolving with technology. Credit unions also need to embrace this evolution, as the pace of data growth is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Wentzlaff closed highlighting the spirit of collaboration as a hallmark of the credit union industry and a model for future success. “Why have every credit union reinvent the wheel?” said Wentzlaff. “Success = Platform + Collaboration.”

Rich Jones President, CEO and Principal for strategic planning agency Leaders2Leadership, LLC, focused on how to make data actionable and understandable. He encouraged credit unions to set a strategy with a goal of becoming a data driven organization that includes analyzing data already held, making a list of vendors who hold data, setting definitions, and aggregating data to yield results.

“Come together and see data as an organizational asset that needs to be curated, cleansed, and understood,” urged Jones. “If there’s one point that I want you to walk away from today with it’s that data is an organizational asset. It should be treated like a deposit balance, a branch, an employee. If you can take this room full of credit unions and aggregate all that data into a central warehouse where you can manage your data, have predictive analytics, peer analysis, and forecast trending, you will all benefit and you will win the war.”

Mark Milligan from IMS, Inc., unveiled Synergent’s latest offering to credit unions: Enhanced Member Statements. IMS and Synergent have worked together for about a year to find ways to better communicate with members in a more personal way. Leveraging Episys Data to improve communications and drive membership growth can be achieved through message segmentation, personalization, and omnichannel communications.

“The more you can offer your members products and services tailored to their exact position, you’re enhancing member experience,” said Milligan. With basic, standard, and transpromo messaging levels that can targeted depending upon the campaign, the benefit is a win-win for both the credit union and the member. Presentations by Synergent staffers included member-driven marketing campaigns,  a look back and a look ahead for Synergent, and recent enhancements for services and delivery. The day ended with a question-and-answer session followed by the raffle drawing for an Apple Watch (won by Amy Irish of  University Credit Union).