With the growing importance of data analytics for credit unions, it’s no surprise that a flood of new vendors have rushed to offer services in the industry.  Unfortunately, the necessary knowledge of data analytics, the credit union industry, and the tactical elements needed for success are often lacking.

Identifying the right data analytics vendor to fit your needs can be confusing. Buzz words abound and its easy for a façade of expertise to exist.  To combat this, we’ve compiled some tips to help you evaluate and select the right vendor for your data analytics journey.

Technology Expertise

Credit unions embarking on data and analytics initiatives cannot have vendors with singular skills. Sound business decisions need to be based on analytics that can scale. Unfortunately, many data strategy service offerings are led by either line-of-business strategic leaders or by pure technologists. Just like this doesn’t work within a credit union, it certainly doesn’t work with your data analytics vendor.

Once you’ve got hold of your data, you will need the right technology to turn data into actionable important insights. Your vendor needs to have a strong understanding of the technology and tools for your data analytics program to make sure the organization is using the data and technology in the most effective way.

Even if your vendor is experienced in the financial services sector, they need to have the acumen to effectively orchestrate your information strategy, governance, control, and policy development.  They need to go beyond the data analytics and help your credit union use the data to enhance member experiences, improve member loyalty, predict the next best product and create action plans using your data that create a continuous ROI.

Find a firm that has the right resources from both the technology/ tactical realm as well as those with deep strategic line-of-business expertise.  Only with that blend of skills will you yield a data strategy that can guide your credit union to both short-term and long-term analytics success, turning data into actionable program.

Engineering Your Data Analytics Program

“Where do I start and how do I plan for data analytics?” This is a common question we hear from organizations trying to translate business strategy into a data analytics strategy. To build a solid program, your vendor should focus more on process and strategy rather than encouraging the credit union to purchase continuously under-utilized software.  If all your “data strategist” is doing is looking at Gartner quadrants, you may want to think twice.

Developing a successful credit union data strategy and analytics program requires balancing many parallel efforts. It involves a combination of business and technical expertise while simultaneously balancing the goals of your credit union, timeline, and costs. When beginning to develop your initial business intelligence/data strategy, partner with a vendor who caters to the data, analysis and reporting needs of business functions of the credit union.

They need to truly understand and work with your current business intelligence environment and make recommendations on how to maximize or augment your existing talent.  Understanding what you truly want to measure is key to building a successful program. This is where you will gain the greatest return on your investment.

A vendor should be with you for the long-run. This is not a one-time transaction, but a long-term commitment. A solid vendor partnership will help you define your goals and enact on new strategic initiatives while providing staff with training and ROI validation. As we’ve said in past blog posts and speaking engagements, it takes a minimum of 18-to-36 months to become data-driven.  Treat your intended vendor relationships accordingly given the expected timeline.

Most credit unions are not equipped to manage all facets of a data analytics program deployment. However, by creating a long-term relationship with a committed third-party vendor, credit unions can develop a cost-effective, sustainable, and successful business intelligence environment that accomplishes your data-related goals.

Count on The Knowlton Group to be your committed partner. We specialize in helping credit unions navigate through the analytics journey.

Let’s transform your organization into a data-driven credit union. If you are ready to become data-driven, send us an email or give us a call at 860-593-7842.