Posted by Mr. Michael Salyer, IT Analyst, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 12/12/2017

Is your credit union ready for a disaster? Is your disaster recovery plan (DRP) up to date? Are employees properly trained in its execution? Has it been tested? Does your business continuity plan (BCP) meet your credit union’s growing needs? If the answer to any of these questions is, “No,” or “I’m not sure,” then it is time revisit DRP/BCP now, before it is too late.

First let’s discuss the difference between a disaster recovery plan and a business continuity plan. Business continuity refers to plans about how your credit union should plan for continuing in case of a disaster. Disaster recovery refers to how your branches should recover in case of a disaster. Basically, a BCP tells your credit union the detailed steps to be taken to continue its key products and services, while a DRP tells your credit union the detailed steps to be taken to recover post disaster.

Some credit unions in the Gulf Coast area had a rude awakening in August when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and caused massive and wide spread devastation. At last count, at least six credit unions in Southern California were forced to close some of their branches due to the raging wild fires currently out of control in the region. Both events caught some credit unions off guard and tested how well they were ready for disasters of this magnitude.

Having worked with several credit union’s affected by Hurricane Harvey, one thing became clear. Although their facilities suffered little or no damage, most of them were not ready for so many employees unable to make it to work. Excessive road flooding made travel in the Houston area extremely difficult, if not impossible. Their business continuity plans didn’t foresee having to run on a skeleton crew for such an extended period. Even their disaster recovery plans wouldn’t have been able to have been enacted due to IT personnel unable to make it in.

Although there is no way to predict and prepare for every emergency, proper planning is essential to mitigate the effects. First, ensure that your plans are up to date, including any new technology, services, or facilities. Make sure ALL employees are trained on the plan. Someone who wasn’t trained on the plan might be one of the few employees who was able to make it in to work. Be creative and use tabletop scenarios to run through a multitude of “what ifs”.  Finally, test your plan. The most robust DRP/BCP plans in the world will be useless if it fails at step one.

Categories: Technology Consulting & Compliance
Posted by Steve Stovall, AVP, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 12/7/2017

Credit unions and many other organizations have long admired Uber for its signature friction-free app. In fact, the ride-sharing startup is often hailed as being something of a pacesetter in user experience circles. What fewer people talk about is Uber’s emerging command of machine learning, an artificial intelligence technology experiencing exponential growth.

While the company is using its machine learning platform in several different areas of its business, the application of Michelangelo (Uber’s moniker for the platform) to UberEATS is particularly noteworthy. The food-delivery arm of the business, UberEATS is relying on machine learning for, among other things, delivery time predictions.

Because Uber is known and loved for its pinpoint accuracy on ride-share arrival times, the startup naturally aims to “deliver” the same experience to in-home diners. And yet, food prep and distribution is an entirely different ballgame – one that requires the intelligence of machines.

Michelangelo relies on an immense amount of data to work. Things like time of day, location, historical data and average times are collected, analyzed and used to calculate delivery time. More importantly, the data is leveraged for learning. Michelangelo pays very close attention to the past to predict delivery times more accurately in the future.

As machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence are deployed in mainstream services like ride-sharing, consumer expectations for seamless, hyper-personalized and predictive experiences are only going to increase. How will credit unions respond?

Machine Learning in the Movement

Alongside its credit union clients, CO-OP Financial Services is formulating an answer to that important question. The credit union leaders who partner with CO-OP on innovative payments solutions are actively engaged in the co-creation of democratized machine learning and artificial intelligence platforms that will ultimately benefit the entire movement.

One of the main ways credit unions stand to benefit from mastery of this technology is differentiation. According to Aite Group, even the largest financial institutions in the country appear to have a long way to go before they achieve success with machine learning in action. Aite’s study surveyed financial institutions of $30 billion in assets and above. Among them, 30 percent had no plans to deploy machine learning. Just 40 percent had machine learning in production. Credit unions and CO-OP, on the other hand, will soon enable the technology for the benefit of the nation’s cooperatives and their members.

Here’s how…

Predictability is crucial to providing hyper-personalized banking services. Using data that flows in and out of the CO-OP ecosystem, our analysts are deriving rich insights that predict what’s ahead for the credit union members we collectively serve. Models that predict everything from member attrition to credit card delinquency help people-centric financial institutions intervene to keep their members and the cooperative financially healthy.

Predictive Models Transform Banking

The big idea of machine learning is the more data we take in, the more likely we’re able to identify and predict performance. The CO-OP ecosystem, encompassing nearly 30,000 ATMs, the second largest branch network in the U.S. and more than 4 billion payment transactions, generates a vast amount of data. When machine learning algorithms that teach and adjust over time are applied, the insights are real – and importantly, they’re actionable.

Take, for example, two predictive models we are using right now to help credit unions execute credit line increase (CLI) and delinquency prevention strategies.

Each model predicts, up to 3 months out, which eligible cardholders are most likely to utilize a credit line increase, as well as which are most likely to become delinquent. Presenting credit line increase promotions only to those identified by the model optimizes revenue for the credit union. Similarly, taking a proactive approach to managing only the most-probable delinquencies puts efficiency at entirely new levels.

In the very near future, credit unions will have the ability to apply machine learning technologies and predictive models like the ones above in exciting new ways. They’ll transform the member experience, develop innovative banking solutions and perhaps even discover new forms of revenue. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the credit union movement, and we look forward to reporting machine learning and artificial intelligence updates here on Insight Vault.

If you’re interested in learning more about the opportunities for credit unions to truly leverage their data in today’s digital age, please sign up to receive the next issue of THINK Review Magazine: The Data Strategy Issue. And be sure to join us for THINK 18 taking place in Chandler, AZ May 7 – 10 where experts will dig into this topic and much more.

This blog originally posted by CO-OP Financial Services at Insight Vault on November 29, 2017.

Categories: Business Partners, Marketing & Printing, Sales & Service, Technology Consulting & Compliance
Posted by Jon Knoll, VP Sales and Service, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 12/6/2017

When I first started in my role nearly 3 years ago, I knew I would be attending many chapter meetings.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It had been years since I had regularly attended any chapter meetings.  Before I get started here, I would also like to add fine print by saying, there are great chapters everywhere in the Cornerstone Region, and they are all doing great things, and these are just a few examples of all the great work.  When I started in 2015, I expected chapter chicken.  Thankfully, I was wrong.

So when I started in January 2015, the first chapter meeting I attended was in Dallas, I won the $200 cash raffle.  I hadn’t been to a chapter meeting in years prior to this, I did not even know I was in the drawing for the cash raffle, someone just handed me a ticket for attending so I grabbed it and moved on down the registration line.  We didn’t have chicken that night, it was steak, and we raised a bunch of money for the Dallas Food Bank and listened to Mr. Ensweiler talk about the state of the credit union industry.  I donated the cash prize back into the raffle money raised.  Never again did I try and win door prizes or anything else at the chapter meetings, because I am actually pretty lucky at those things.  It was looking like chapter meetings could have been a very lucrative future business for me, with all the potential door prizes and cash raffle winnings.

In my second chapter meeting, February 2015, I found myself in Corpus Christi, Texas.  The meeting was at a BBQ joint, and the agenda had us listening to Jim Phelps.  He discussed our upcoming challenges and opportunities with our advocacy efforts, state and federal for the calendar year.  I am pretty sure Jim did a great job as always, but all I remember when I walked in was the BBQ behind the glass counter. It was piled up high, maybe 3 feet.  None of it was separated out, ribs, brisket, sausage, I don’t remember seeing the chicken.  Everyone went through the line and had piles of pork and beef on their plates, with a scant amount of sides that would barely fit on the plate.

For my third chapter meeting, March of 2015, I found myself at a large crawfish boil at the Sabine Chapter meeting, 450+ attendees strong. It was amazing!   I remember the chapter raised thousands of dollars, raffled off really cool prizes, including a golf cart on steroids. 

So in my first three chapter meetings that I remember visiting, we raised thousands of dollars for the local communities, learned how to be great advocates for our credit union industry, ate steak, BBQ, and Crawfish or Chicken Fried Steak, but no actual chickens were sighted.  I think I can do this.

Let’s fast forward to 2016, enjoying some time in Houston at a chapter meeting.  The chapter presented a check to the local Children’s Miracle Network.  I believe it was a 2 or 3 year commitment, and the check was north of $200,000 plus.  Still, no chicken sighted.

In 2017 I attended my first Arkansas chapter meeting in Malvern.  We learned through a reality fair simulation what it was like to live under the poverty line.  At the end, everyone was asked to think of one word or an emotion to describe our individual experience.  The one that stuck out in my mind was the word “Exhausting”.  It was a great event and we learned so many things about the communities we serve, challenges that exist, and how to be the best financial stewards for our members. 

In San Angelo, the chapter put on a food drive for a local ministry.  All in, they donated hundreds of pounds of food!

In 2017, from Corpus Christi all the way over to the Sabine chapter, we had more challenges than we ever thought could happen with Hurricane Harvey.  The Cornerstone League and Cornerstone Foundation received donated goods and hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from credit union leagues and chapters all over the country, our regional chapters stepped up to the plate and donated all kinds of supplies and funds as well, just a few highlights that I know of:

  • Arkansas credit unions rounded up 30,000 lbs of water

  • Oklahoma credit unions rounded up trucks and trailers full of supplies

  • All over Texas, the chapters donated supplies and funds

  • And the shipments kept coming in at the league office from all over the country

I haven’t even scratched the service on what our chapters are doing these days, these are just a few examples, and rarely are there any chicken sightings.  Did you notice that pun?  Scratched?  It was unintended.

Recently I have attended two chapter Christmas events, Festival of Trees, and the Fort Worth Chapter Christmas Party (just last night). 

The Fort Worth Chapter presented a record high check of $107,000 to Children’s Miracle Network last night.  At Festival of Trees, credit unions all over the region donated decorated Christmas Trees, Wreaths, and other Christmas decorations for auction.  The Dallas and Fort Worth Chapter put the event together, and over $31,000 was raised for the Cornerstone Foundation.  Two nights later in Little Rock, they partied down at the Rockin’ The Wreaths Celebration at the Little Rock league office, they raised over $5,000.

My apologies to all of those chapters that were not mentioned.  I know there is so much more being done in our region.  I am in awe of the chapter work that is being done throughout Cornerstone, and truly blessed to be a part of it.  It is great to be a very small part in these chapter activities.  Chapter Chicken has never tasted so good, especially when it tastes like Steak, Fajitas, Crawfish, BBQ, and anything but chicken.

Categories: Business Partners, Education & Training, Employment & Staffing, Human Resources, Marketing & Printing, Sales & Service, Strategic Planning & Consulting
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