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Big data boost for credit unions

A new partnership between CUNA Mutual AdvantEdge Analytics and Microsoft aims to create a state-of-the-art data analytics tool that will let the credit union industry better serve its members and compete with big banks.

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Knowledge is power, which explains why data analytics has become such an important focal point for businesses and industries trying to stay ahead of the curve and get a competitive edge, while at the same time providing better service to customers and clients.

It’s also why CUNA Mutual AdvantEdge Analytics announced March 21 that it would work with Microsoft to develop a next generation data platform for the credit union industry. The collaboration seeks to create a standardized, cloud-based platform for the industry, as well as enable credit unions to benefit from Microsoft’s scalable technology and integration tools.

“Working with Microsoft is a major step in our continued commitment to delivering innovation to the credit union industry and strengthening for the future,” says Robert N. Trunzo, president and CEO, CUNA Mutual Group. “We are not only addressing the changing financial needs of credit unions and their members, we are leading the way by collaborating with one of the world’s most innovative companies. This is an exciting time for our industry.”

According to a press release, the new data platform will deliver deeper insights into a credit union’s business data by utilizing Microsoft’s Power BI business analytics tool and translating these insights into action through Dynamics 365 and other digital transformation tools like Power Apps and Microsoft Flow.

CUNA Mutual AdvantEdge Analytics got its start as a way to help credit unions better understand their challenges, notes Chris Nicholas, chief analytics officer of AdvantEdge Analytics.

“Data and analytics bubbled to the top of their [the credit union industry] priority list,” Nicholas explains. “Given our history and strength with data and analytics, we realized the problem and quickly began to strategize on how we could bring data and analytics capabilities to the industry.”

Over the last 3 years, CUNA Mutual Group has undergone a digital transformation journey of its own, Nicholas says. That journey has been focused on instilling agility and customer-driven development into the way CUNA Mutual operates as a company. “Out of our interactions with numerous large credit unions, we were consistently asked to help them along their data and analytics journey. Given we have been an industry partner over the last 80-plus years, and we have a tremendous amount of experience in data and analytics, we took those capabilities and expanded them out into credit union-facing solutions.”

AdvantEdge Analytics employs both internal credit union data as well as externally sourced data to implement business use cases. Its first two use cases are “indirect member conversion” and “churn reduction,” according to Nicholas. Both use cases utilize third-party data.

“It is important to emphasize that analytics is only one small piece of the solution — the most important piece is ‘activation,’” Nicholas explains. “In other words, the execution of the insights has as much value as the insights themselves. The organization needs to be able to implement and incorporate the solution into the business.”

In contrast to social media platforms, financial institutions don’t sell member data and use their platforms for marketing purposes, says Nicholas; rather, they use it to optimize the member experience with the goal of creating additional value through insights that improve financial lives.

“For example, data can optimize the member experience by helping finalize transactions and providing more relevant and timely offers,” says Nicholas. “Also, value-added services can provide recommendations and insights on spending behavior, achieving saving targets, or streamlining finances. Ultimately, the data is used by the credit union, for the member.”

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