The power of big data to make a big difference at credit unions large and not-so-large is well established, yet realizing the full potential of these software tools eludes far too many cooperatives.
That’s because successful analytics depends on the smart use of the business intelligence capabilities built into the systems those cooperatives purchased to warehouse their data and crunch the numbers on the journey to creating better products and delivering better service.
All too often, however, those systems fail to deliver on those expectations, and fingers get pointed at the technology itself when, really, it’s a people problem. BI platforms and the data warehouses that support them need some support themselves.
Andrea Brown, who joined Lodestar Technologies in January 2022 in the newly created role of vice president of client engagement, has seen this and more in nearly a decade of working with the company’s solution at a client credit union.
Many credit unions that have been successful in creating and sustaining an analytics strategy share a common characteristic: they involve the right people not just internally, but externally as well, she says. Because this is such a new area for many cooperatives, those that rely on their in-house expertise to craft a solid strategy can find this a daunting task. This is where a trusted partner comes in to provide strategic guidance along the way.
Here she explains more:
Please describe the opportunities that business intelligence technology offers today’s credit union.
Andrea Brown: Credit unions today have access to so many different systems from a number of different providers. This is a wonderful thing, because it means credit unions have more control over the types of technologies and, more importantly, the experience they provide to their members.
The other great thing about the level of control credit unions have in choosing their partners is that they can ensure the systems they work with can provide data in a way that provides the credit union significant value. By ensuring their systems provide easy access to quality data, credit unions can ensure their business intelligence tools can bring their data together in ways that provide benefits in terms of operational efficiency, risk management, member experience, and even employee experience.
Please describe the challenges in leveraging those opportunities.
AB: The flip side of having the freedom to use multiple systems is that the data from each system often ends up in silos throughout the credit union. Even the systems that claim to integrate with others often leave gaps from data that does not flow through correctly or at all.
This leads to extra effort for employees to perform data entry and quality control to keep systems in sync. It also leads to employees having to go back and forth between multiple applications to find the information they need to provide service to the members. Worst of all, it can lead to a disjointed member experience when information is not all coming from a single source of truth.
How does Lodestar’s platform break down silos and create a holistic data warehouse and how does that help a credit union more effectively use that data for business strategies?
AB: Lodestar provides a multi-source data warehouse with a streamlined methodology that makes it easy to integrate all of the systems in use at a credit union. Whether the data is available through a direct connection, database, or even a flat file, Lodestar can integrate it into the warehouse.
Lodestar ties the data together in meaningful ways, empowering clients to spend less time pulling and preparing data and spend more time using it for actionable insights. By providing comprehensive views of product adoption, member engagement, financial reporting, and more, credit union leaders can make decisions with confidence.
What about the people part of this? Why are they so important to this process and how can Lodestar help credit unions support and develop their internal skills to maximize the effectiveness of their technology tools?
AB: People are at the heart of Lodestarfrom our clients to our staff. We’re all data people with financial institution backgrounds, and the experience and expertise of our team elevate the level of support we provide to our clients. Not only do we know the technology and the data, we’re also able to provide personalized strategic guidance for each client no matter where they are on their analytics journey.
Ultimately, if people aren’t using the data, then our technology doesn’t do anybody any good. We support our clients in all aspects of their data strategy, including promoting adoption and consumption of data throughout the organization. We work with clients to provide ongoing training, share success stories, and facilitate collaboration among clients. When a client finds something that works extremely well at their institution, we love to share that with our entire client base.
What differentiates Lodestar Technologies in the marketplace?
AB: The combination of a best-in-class business intelligence platform along with highly skilled people is the key differentiator for Lodestar. We’re invested in our clients’ strategies and are always looking for ways to make them successful whether that means integrating new data sources, enhancing our purpose-built workflow modules, or spending time preparing and presenting business cases to key stakeholders. We believe in the power of partnership and aim to prove that with every interaction.
How can I find out more about Lodestar Technologies?