If you have any doubt that data is a major driving force behind growth and progress, consider the predictions for this year’s holiday season. This year the greatest gift – for smart retailers, at least – just might be data. Not only is this year’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend projected to be the biggest ever, but it’s also likely to be the most data-driven in history. According to a National Retail Federation survey of 2,040 holiday shoppers, 54 percent say they use retailer recommendations to make purchase choices; 64 percent would like to use more online wish lists; and more than seven in 10 buy gifts for themselves, meaning they’re susceptible to retailer suggestions. Retailers that have captured the best data and have the best strategies for leveraging it have a significant advantage as we head into the holidays.
The same data-driven reality applies to our industry. Data underpins everything we’re trying to accomplish in the digital era – and it’s behind just about every initiative we’ve been working on at CO-OP this year. Data makes it possible to achieve the speed and intelligence we all need to compete, whether that means anticipating member needs and behavior through predictive analytics or detecting fraud at lightning speed through machine learning.
Yet, data transformation is neither easy nor simple. Credit unions know this better than anyone. For years, digitally-savvy credit union leaders have been saying the same thing: We have mountains of data to work with, but we lack the infrastructure, tools and vision to put it to work.
In 2017, we set out to change that. Creating the ecosystem needed to make data useful requires a massive effort and investment. Legacy systems and multiple data pools make synthesizing data a challenge. For an organization the size of CO-OP, that challenge has been huge. Yet, there’s no real way around data transformation. To participate in the future of financial services, we need to do the groundwork. Among the key steps CO-OP took this year to make data transformation a reality:
- Formulating an ambitious data strategy (see end of this article for infographic on CO-OP’s data strategy). We’re beginning with data aggregation and warehousing, and moving toward predictive analytics, building out business use cases that will truly put your data to work.
- Building a single ecosystem that integrates all of CO-OP’s business lines and networks, including credit processing with legacy TMG. In so doing, we’re creating a client experience that operates from a single portal, MyCO-OP, with one secure sign-in across the enterprise.
- Utilizing new technologies like machine learning and AI to leverage the value of data. As an example, our new machine learning fraud detection tool is currently being built.
- Doubling down on cybersecurity with a new information security team and a redoubled commitment to keep your data safe as we grow our capacity to capture, store and use data.
Much of the data transformation work CO-OP has done this year has been behind the scenes, but the results have been nothing short of…transformative. As we move to create a singular CO-OP client experience and an aggregated pool of data – and as we bolster our cybersecurity and fraud detection – we are moving confidently toward the digital future.
Data drives much of the progress we need to make, as organizations and as an industry. Personalization and convenience, speed and intelligence are completely changing what it means to transact. As the financial services industry moves toward a more “open banking” future of shared data and technology, the foundational work we’re doing now will play an even more important role in meeting member expectations.
Meanwhile, what a difference a year makes. As we look forward to 2018, we are a different organization than we were a year ago today. Our data and digital transformation will continue over the next few years, but already we have made giant strides. We are a larger company than we were in 2016 – but that isn’t all. As we welcomed the team from TMG into our ranks this year, we’ve also expanded our technological and strategic expertise through new hires. Now, roughly half of us here at CO-OP are technologists.
If my holiday wishes come true, these changes at CO-OP will translate into a very fast-paced 2018. Look for a speedier client experience as we roll out the newly-integrated MyCO-OP platform early next year. With a large part of our data aggregation work complete, we’ll be developing ways to help you access, interpret and utilize that data to grow your credit unions. Integration facilitates speed. We’re looking toward an agile future.
Of course, the transformative work we’ve been doing at CO-OP isn’t just for our benefit: It’s for all of us. We are navigating a new digitally- and data-driven world, and we’ll be reminded of this every time we click the “buy” button in the weeks to come. Data will bring us up to speed in this new reality. And though the transformation will continue into 2018 and beyond, the tracks are already being laid.