We are half-way through the year! Now is an excellent time to stop and assess the credit union’s data analytics initiatives and course-correct any gaps in your program.

Take this quick check-up to assess your progress on becoming a data-driven organization.

(  ) Are you integrating data from multiple data sources regularly into a single source of truth?

How well data is integrated throughout the organization is anchored on how fast and how well the credit union can glean meaningful insights from the data assets to generate better products, services, and member experiences.  Data integration involves techniques and processes that ingest, transform, and combine data across all sources, wherever that data may live, creating a unified, single view of the data.  The faster you can access the insights from your data, the faster you can take action. Speed and responsiveness supported by accurate, trustworthy data leads to successful business outcomes.

Data that is not integrated remains siloed, not cleansed, un-mastered, can be difficult to analyze and potentially be unreliable. If the organization is lacking data integration tools, investing in a leading data warehouse  ensures your data is clean and unified from all sources and that the integration capabilities can keep your credit union moving with as much speed and agility as possible. 

(  ) Are custom data definitions embedded into your analytics platform?

Every credit union has custom definitions they use for regular reporting and analytics.  How are your credit tiers defined?  Do you have a different definition for a member or household?  Each of these fields are essential to get accurate and can be difficult to identify without a data warehouse.  A successful analytics platform ensures these critical elements are at your fingertips with no manual calculation required.

(  ) Are KPIs and other critical metrics entirely automated?

Has your organization spent time clearly defining the data’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? Having clearly defined organizational KPIs gives your analytics efforts a guiding direction.  There are thousands of different analytic opportunities your team could explore. The Knowlton Group recommends determining the metrics that matter most to your credit union.

Many credit unions struggle to align their strategic goals with operational goals.  This can be due to changing of traditional KPIs (like return on assets or membership growth), but this realignment is essential and should be automated. If your business is committed to data-driven decision making, establishing the right KPIs is crucial. Remember, the point of a KPI is to gain focus and align goals for measurable improvement. You can only improve what you measure, so focusing on the right KPIs will help the organization track and measure improvement.  If you need help defining the best KPIs, The Knowlton Group can help.

(  ) Can business users self-service their data and reporting?

Have you taken the time to understand each line-of-business’s needs regarding what information is required and how to act on insights?  Business users need to access their reporting and pull data at any time with minimal involvement from developers.  You can start by establishing what systems and processes are needed to drive the flow of data throughout the credit union. Each line-of-business will require different data outputs to hit their set goals. By providing easy access to the data, and a streamlined process to put the data into action, alignment of the overall business initiatives becomes routine. 

In a data-driven culture, everyone can be a data analyst. The data needs to be transparent, and employees need the tools to access it. Spend time and effort providing resources and training so business units have access to dashboards and analytic tools to extract insights from the data.  Once they learn how to extract insights, encourage them to share their ideas with all areas of the credit union.

Another recommendation is to train employees from all departments in data literacy and how to interpret raw data into knowledge and action. With proper and ongoing training, employees will use the data analytics tools to their fullest capabilities. 

If your credit union has hit some obstacles along the journey, it’s best to partner with experts who can develop a strategy and a roadmap for accountability.  This is what the Knowlton Group does exceptionally well.  Our industry-leading VeriCU Data Platform will give your credit union then platform it needs to win with data. Start the discussion today,  send us an email or give us a call at 860-593-7842 to learn how we can help.

Creating a clear path to design your data analytics initiatives around the Credit Union’s business goals. 
As organizations look to accelerate their data analytics competency, one of the big strategy questions is “what is the best approach to getting there?”. The key to unlocking your credit union’s analytics potential includes:

·        A thoroughly articulated data strategy and business plan

·        Quick implementation of a scalable/adaptable data warehouse

·        Robust visualization tools

·        Expertise of a data scientist and/or chief data officer

Today, analytics needs to dive deeper into the behavior and decision-making processes of members through analysis of critical, real-time data.  In our new digital and data analytics age, credit unions are relying more on data than even just a year ago, pre-pandemic, to serve members and thrive in a highly competitive market.  If using data to its full potential is something your credit union struggles with, you are in luck.  This quick read shares four actionable strategies you can put in place to get the most value and ROI from data analysis.

A Strategic Road Map for Success

Like most successful ventures, you need to start with a plan – a roadmap – that drives accountability, goal-setting and metrics for success.

We encounter countless organizations that are ready to transform their data into knowledge, growth and profits, but they are still hazy on that first step – Defining the desired business outcome(s) of data analytics.

Teams will need to clearly understand and outline the long-term strategic goals of the credit union (i.e. growth, branching, new products and services, etc.) to identify and select technology solutions that fit the requirements both today and, more importantly, where you want to be in the future. Otherwise, you run the risk of investing in technology, resources, vendors, and staff that might not fit the credit union’s vision; and the cost of pivoting later can be significant.

Analytics efforts should empower data-driven decisions and fuel growth.  As part of this strategy assessment, it’s essential to understand the specific, measurable actions your credit union wants to undertake.  In our experience, we’ve seen tremendous success with past CUs by driving digital branch growth through a focus on identifying member segments and delivering targeted marketing actions.

Too often, executive management teams have an unclear strategic direction with regards to their technology investments and how they align with their corporate objectives. Take the time to clarify the overall strategic direction and outlook. Without this direction as a guide, the credit union’s technology decisions end up driving the overall strategic direction by accident.

Maximize the Value of a Data Warehouse

Are your data strategy and business objectives clarified?  Are you driving growth through measured, systematic, recurring action lists from analytics? If not, now it is time to ramp up the data analytics potential by using a data warehouse. Data warehouses can yield a tremendous ROI for organizations that leverage them to their greatest potential.

Rapidly evolving and improving data warehouse technologies have greatly benefited the financial services industry.  They allow organizations to easily retrieve and store valuable data about members, products, services and more. Data Warehousing solves the ongoing problem of analyzing data from disparate systems and transforming it into actionable information you can use.  It provides a plethora of benefits to a credit union, such as ensuring data consistency, providing a single source of truth to store and cleanse data, improving speed and accuracy on insights, and generating greater efficiency and time-saving solutions.

Developing and maintaining sophisticated data warehouse systems is often too expensive for individual organizations, so many have partnered with service vendors and their cloud-based platforms. To successfully build and deploy your data warehouse, start with a strong plan and foundation. Be sure you have executive sponsorship, adequate architecture and documentation, an implementation team, a sophisticated data integration plan and scalable and adaptable data warehouse.

Waiting to get a data warehouse solution implemented will lead to lost opportunities and insights that could have been gained through an analytics solution. The Knowlton Group’s guide: Buying vs. Building a Data Warehouse drills deep into the advantages, and some of the hiccups, of both scenarios.  Fortunately, our 72 hour Data Warehouse, VeriCU, is designed with a strong pre-built foundation and tons of customizable components. It blends the cost and speed of implementation of a pre-built solution with the flexibility and customization of a custom-built data warehouse.

Extracting Needed Business Insights

With a robust data warehouse in place, you can now get the insights that lead to innovation, superior member services, greater efficiency and so much more. The faster you can extract key insights and analyze data through sets of queries, the further your credit union can achieve business goals.  Visualization tools are paramount to make this happen.

Sophisticated visualization tools allow you to dial into the most important aspects of your member data, such as the profitability of member, branch, region, household, or product.  Visualization tools allow you to segment members based on any segmentation you define, so you can further improve member engagement and marketing messages. You can run reports that share defined information on member attrition, including which members are most at risk of leaving, with specific action plans to boost retainment. Imagine assigning an engagement score to each member based on their overall activity and tracking progress as targeted action helps drive members to the segment-specific ideal-product-bundle.

 Putting Data Science in Practice

Sure, most credit unions don’t need an army of data scientists to put their data to action. But, they need experience, expertise, and real analysis to solve key challenges and unlock what’s working and what can be improved within the organization.

One of the big impediments to implementing a data and analytics program that delivers business value is a misalignment between the business organization and the data organization.  The guidance and experience of a data expert, such as a Data Scientist, Chief Data Officer, or Data Strategy Officer, will help overcome this challenge.

A 2021 survey1 reveals that 65% of organizations have appointed a CDO, up from just 12% in 2012.  Why?  A CDO keeps everyone accountable and aligned with the overall strategic business objectives associated with your data and analytics projects.  Whether hiring a full-time executive or an outsourced expert like The Knowlton Group,  you will view them as a trusted advisor and strategic partner.  Consultants and data scientists will work with your data analytics teams to pour through the data and train your staff to uncover and act on new opportunities that lead to your desired goals. These experts can advise decision-makers, monitor progress, track success, and establish best practices that will position your data analytics project for success. Striking the right balance and partnership with the business side of the organization and the data analytics initiatives through a CDO is a winning formula.

While many success stories confirm data can add enormous value, most organizations still struggle to build data analytics into their business strategies, and to align their data efforts to the needs of the business.

With proper integration, data can accelerate many business strategies by improving the processes and empowering the people needed to execute them. Propelling your data, unlocking its full potential, and solving key business issues with data does not happen overnight.  Let’s help you lay the groundwork today.  For guidance, contact The Knowlton Group https://knowlton-group.com/

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  1. CXO Today Survey Report



5 Business Value Drivers to Optimize Your Data Warehouse Investment

Data warehouses can yield a tremendous ROI for organizations that leverage them properly. However, many financial institutions that invest in a data warehouse are not maximizing the potential business outcomes that will drive a positive return on investment.

The amount of stored data and exceeding interest in data analytics has resulted in the growing popularity of data warehousing solutions and analytics platforms. Over the years we have seen that as data management and analysis needs have skyrocketed, the market has introduced data warehouse solutions to address the evolving data centralization and storage dilemma. Well-built data warehouses offer the ability to store vast amounts of data and deliver fast results that a traditional database could not compete against.

As credit unions move away from the traditional database to a data warehouse, whether it is built, purchased, or in the cloud, it’s essential to use the data warehouse strategically to optimize all the potential value it promises.

If your credit union has invested in or is considering purchasing a data warehouse solution, are you leveraging its full value?

Here’s a quick Q&A on value drivers to get you started:

Value Driver #1: Are you gaining faster insights and better decision making?

The goal of a data warehouse is to help answer business questions faster.

In what once took days, can now take seconds. This provides management the ability to make clearer and more accurate decisions regarding the credit union’s members, products, services, branches and so much more. A data warehouse allows the credit union to analyze their data effectively as well as trust it! It creates accuracy, dependably and democratizing data so that more than just the purely technical employees can access it— your team can use and benefit from the insights gleaned from running data queries. This avoids bottlenecks and allows management to make decisions based on pure, clean, data—not on gut instincts.

The data warehouse provides a way to mine, refine, and harvest actionable insights faster – increasing the amount of time available to realize the benefits from those insights. The best data warehouses allow you to gather and analyze various types of data from diverse sources and not only collect and convert that data, but turn it into action plans that drive business decisions for the organization.

Value Driver #2: Are your business units/departments aligned and embracing the benefits of the data warehouse?

Each line of business in your organization (e.g. sales, marketing, lending, product management), and third-party tools should have a centralized data warehouse.  Your data warehouse should not limit data access or produce silos of data. Data remains centrally stored and can be accessed through any warehouse, as long as the user has the necessary permissions.

Most credit unions operate hundreds of disparate application systems.  Individual departments in an organization often focus on their own narrow system and information needs and don’t see the corporate value of integrating data.  A data warehouse helps breakdown those silos of disparate data so your data doesn’t get out of sync.  Best-in-class data warehousing technology will enable better department alignment, a single version of truth that ensures clean and accurate data management that everyone can rally around.  All this leads to more informed managers, making data driven, objective decisions – for which you’ll see the results to your credit union’s business outcomes.

Value Driver #3:  Is the data warehouse automating data collection and scaling with your credit union?

The best data warehouse solution should provide automated end-to-end data management—from initial data collection to analysis and reporting.

Your organization’s data assets will continue to increase, therefore, a data warehouse is one of the best available tools for managing data growth by enabling archival, aggregation and analysis of data from many different data sources. Whether an in-house or cloud-based solution, data warehouses can be highly scalable solutions. Having scalability to meet business needs is an important value driver to take advantage of as it will allow your organization to automatically scale to support any increase in data, workload, and concurrent users and applications without the need for data movement or expensive upgrades down the road.

Value Driver #4:  Are you utilizing powerful visualization tools?

A data warehouse makes it easier to work with popular visualizations tools like Power BI or Tableau. This enables non-technical users to quickly build insightful visualizations and dashboards to highlight critical information in an appealing fashion.  These tools can be used for advanced analytics output as well as traditional operational reports.

Value Driver #5:  Are you easily integrating key non-core data sources within your data warehouse?

With the increasing volume of information collected through a variety of channels, credit unions need a single interface where data is collected and stored – integrating data from common non-core applications such as loan origination systems, third-party servicers, credit and debit card processors, GL systems, and much more.

The right data warehousing solutions allow you to easily combine data from multiple sources to create a unified, single view of the data.  The ultimate goal is to provide users with consistent access and delivery of data across the entire credit union.  Data integration benefits everything from business intelligence and member segmentation to data governance and real time information delivery. Data warehouses can help bring disparate datasets together to further increase the value of your information.

Are you ready to drive greater business value? Getting the most out of your data warehouse means making smarter, quicker business decisions.

If your credit union is embarking on a business intelligence journey, or already down the path and looking to increase ROI of your data analytics investments with a powerful data warehouse, learn more about VeriCU data warehouse platform created by the Knowlton Group.  You could be up and running in 72 hours driving value data insights right away.


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By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard the terms “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning”.  If you haven’t already, take a quick read of our previous article where we explain the basics of machine learning.

Today, banks and credit unions are learning how to use the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to boost customer engagement, decrease costs, improve revenue, and pin-point fraud. AI is poised to truly revolutionize the way financial institutions gather information, harness data and interact with customers and members.

So, what exactly is AI?

AI all started out as science fiction: computers that can talk and think like humans.  Industry experts use the term artificial intelligence as an umbrella term that includes multiple technologies, such as machine learning, deep learning, and computer vision.  AI is the general field that covers everything that has anything to do with programming machines with “intelligence,” with the goal of emulating a human’s unique reasoning ability.  Think of AI as developing computer systems to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, translation between languages, and much more.

Uses Cases and The Power of AI

From Google’s development of the driverless cars to Skype’s launch of real-time voice translation, AI is now becoming an everyday reality that is changing aspects of our lives. To give you a better idea of how AI is becoming more prevalent and how it’s evolved, here’s a short list of popular AI use cases and some applications FI’s are widely embracing today:

Voice enabled assistants. Did you know the first tool enabled to perform digital speech recognition was the IBM Shoebox, presented at the 1962 World’s Fair? Today, everyone is familiar with voice assistants and other smart device voice technologies. As more and more people gain familiarity with voice assistance to quickly gather information, we will be seeing an increase in acceptance of and a rise in the demand for other applications that rely on voice enabled technology.  From healthcare to driving directions to workspace operations, this form of AI can make a significant impact on how businesses operate.

Financial services are a high-profile industry for voice assistance. In December 2017, Jack Henry’s Symitar® division introduced voice-enabled financial transactions to Amazon® Alexa®  through its Financial Innovations Voice Experience (FIVE) solution. Consumers can simply speak to Alexa to conduct a wide variety of transactions such as: check account balances, transfer funds, make payments, get loan payoff amounts, cancel payment cards, and more.

Smart Assistants: Smart assistants and home robots like Aido have come into the domestic scene. From assisted healthcare to automated customer service, consumers are experiencing the power of smart machines all the time. Even the Drone technology has been re-designed to accomplish tasks for you autonomously by a command on your smart phone.

The capabilities and usage of smart assistants is expanding rapidly, with new products entering the market. An online poll found the most widely used in the US were Apple’s Siri (34%), Google Assistant (19%), Amazon Alexa (6%), and Microsoft Cortana (4%).

Marketing Automation: Retailers and big brands are investing in the power of AI to further personalize and customize marketing emails based on customer preferences and behavior to engage them more and to prompt consumers to make a purchase. AI tools and software allow companies to send customized email newsletters based on previous interactions recipients have had with content to create a richer, more engaging brand image.

Risk Management: Fraud detection and risk management is an imperative focus for banks and credit unions. That’s why AI is being applied to fraud mitigation technology at a rapid pace. Through AI and algorithms, financial institutions are more effectively mining data to uncover suspicious activity and meaningful patterns, which then translates to information used to detect, spot, and mitigate fraud. Using AI to identify accounts, customers or transactions, for instance, that have unusual characteristics can expedite warning signs of abnormalities and verify suspicious activity that fraud is taking place.

Analytic Tools: Financial institutions realize they have a head start with the application of AI, since they have large data sets and experience with analytical tools.  Improving the customer experience is one of the greatest use cases for banks and credit unions since AI and advanced data analytics provides the opportunity for improved and faster decision making by deriving deep and actionable insights (e.g. customer behavior patterns). Some of these interactions will be with new voice or chatbot technology, while other applications will be behind the scenes, supporting marketing communication.

The use cases of AI are limitless—especially for financial institutions. AI helps us open our minds to how machines can help perform task more efficient and more accurate, while delivering greater overall results.

By partnering with right data analytic professionals, the power of AI and the insights it leads to can be realized faster, ultimately determining the financial institutions’ competitive differentiation in the future. If you have questions regarding AI or machine learning, contact The Knowlton Group today.


Financial Brand:  How FI are Turing AI into ROI. Sept. 2017

USA Today: June 5, 2017: Apple Unveils $349 HomePod to bring voice to home audio

Dataversity: AI overview May 2017
Internet of Things: Tech Target