Happy holidays...
Part of the holiday season means the return of traditions that have stood the test of time, like taking the kids to see Santa, dreidels and latkes, hearing Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas,” elaborate holiday lights displays around the neighborhood and, of course, Credit Union Journal’s annual holiday wish list.

Each year, CU Journal queries tech professionals and executives from across the industry to get a sense of what institutions want – and need – from a technology perspective. Read on for this year's responses.
Eric Pointer, CEO of CU of Texas
Eric Pointer, CEO of Credit Union of Texas
My wish is to create a 360-degree view where both members and employees are connected and aligned. In order to achieve a connected future state we need to have well-defined data, processes around data and data in real-time. It is no longer good enough to push out data every 24 hours. We must ensure our vendors and organization are producing relevant data in real-time because the consumer expects us to be there when they are in the midst of their buying decisions, not a day later.

This is not just an IT initiative though – it’s an organizational effort. Our marketing teams need to move away from legacy MCIF systems that don’t help us drive real-time advertising and offers when our members are engaging online. Operations teams need to allow our members to submit service requests via mobile and our website. And sales teams need to be able to see know where they are to goal in real-time on a dynamic dashboard, not time-consuming Excel spreadsheets.

My wish is for CUTX to be more than transactional to our members. We want to leverage our data to become financial partners and begin predicting through artificial intelligence and machine learning. So really, IT Santa, I want it all yesterday!
Samantha Amburgey, chief information officer at Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU)
Sam Amburgey, chief information officer at Michigan State University Federal Credit Union
There are a number of ways technology can make accessing financial services faster and more convenient for our members and our employees. Automation could improve efficiencies by streamlining routine tasks and processes, giving employees more time to focus on members’ needs and freeing up resources to invest in other areas to improve member service. While we currently use some biometric technology, I would like to expand the use of it to include functions such as voice recognition, which we would use to further enhance our members’ experience. I would also like to implement artificial intelligence to gain insight about how to improve the experience we provide to both members and employees.

Providing more time and resources for our employees to help our members achieve their dreams is key to our continued growth. Identifying applicable business uses for these technologies and ensuring that they align with our credit union’s mission and culture are critical to ensuring this holiday wish comes true.
Ben Morales is CEO of QCash Financial
Ben Morales, chief technology and operations officer at Washington State Employees Credit Union
The No. 1 thing that keeps me up at night is cybersecurity. My wish would be to get members fully engaged in making cybersecurity a household word, because they’re part of what is going to ultimately be the best solution to help protect their data and their privacy.

How do we get members engaged in understanding what’s involved in cybersecurity? How do we provide transparency? How do members know who they’ve allowed to have access to their data? Everyone signs up for third-party services like Mint or Quicken, but sometimes they forget who they have allowed access. So how do we provide transparency and give them control to block and say, “I allowed that before but I don’t want to allow that now”? To me it’s all about transparency, knowledge and control, and that can be done through the use of technology for some things, but the education part is where our biggest opportunity is: How do we build capability and awareness for our members?

I think this issue will get worse in the coming year, but I also think the credit union industry has the best opportunity to move this forward because it’s part of our brand. We are a cooperative, so we should be caring about our members and how we can help them protect their financial information. This is in our wheelhouse. I’m optimistic – at least from WSECU’s perspective – about taking a proactive stance on reaching out and educating and thinking about how we can put technology in their hands to let them be more aware of what’s happening with their data. We’re actively working on that, but I’m highly optimistic because the downside really is that if you don’t, large portions of consumers and members believe it’s our fault when data breaches happen. We have a brand reputation opportunity to build upon this by doing something, and by doing nothing we won’t change the perception that we’re at fault.
Clay Yearsley, Texas Trust CU - CUJ 061417.jpg
Clay Yearsley, senior vice president of data analytics at Texas Trust Credit Union
Instead of a long list of cool gadgets, our wish list this year is more conceptual. They won’t cost as much to build, but they may require more hard work.

1. To be viewed as a valuable asset to the organization, not only as overhead. We understand this is a two-way street and we have to deliver a high level of service while spending our resources wisely.

2. Partnerships with the other business units, where we understand what they want and help them get it and they bring us cookies. We’ll even leave our computer rooms and visit with other humans, if that’s what it takes.

3. Just once, we’d like to have a prospective vendor tell our teammates that implementation takes a lot of work and IT should be involved from the beginning.

4. Focus. We know it’s a lot to ask: Could we have a list of priorities? Not the kind you usually bring us; but, an ordered list that has numbers other than 1 on it.

5. New Xboxes. (It goes without saying; but we wanted to make sure Santa knows it’s on our list).

6. More self-service tools for our users. Not so they’ll leave us alone with our Xboxes, but to help them work efficiently and make our members’ financial dreams come true. (And also so they’ll leave us alone with our Xboxes.)

7. As David Bowie and Bing Crosby sang, peace on Earth, just think of all the time, energy, and money we could save if we didn’t have to constantly guard against cyberattacks.
Pradeep Ittycheria, chief technology officer at Kasasa
Pradeep Ittycheria, chief technology officer at Kasasa
These days, the economic environment is changing so quickly that even established credit unions are struggling to stay current. Now is the time for community financial institutions to make their move in the industry.

Credit unions can garner attention by following consumer-driven demands for innovation. I recommend optimizing research from real people and using that data to delve into how members want to engage with their money and their credit union. It’s especially important now for institutions to adopt new data technologies like machine learning and automation through their own efforts and partners to keep the attention of consumers and compete with megabanks.

As we approach 2019, it’s crucial that credit unions utilize data-driven modern marketing technologies to focus on the right consumers to that CUs – regardless of their size – can make a name for themselves among industry giants.
Keith Bennett, senior vice president of IT at Denali Federal Credit Union
With Nuvision Federal Credit Union ($1.6 billion in assets) and Denali Federal Credit Union ($680 million in assets) in the process of a merger, the top item on our wish list this year is an easy integration process, including joining network infrastructure, telecommunications, active directory, server virtualization, storage networks, backup solutions and disaster recovery needs — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

As Denali migrates its 70,000 members from their Finastra core to Nuvision’s Fiserv DNA core, working on a credit card conversion, a debit card conversion, a home banking conversion, a bill pay conversion and more, our biggest wish for the new year is that all of these member-impacting changes roll-out seamlessly to our combined membership by the target date of April 1.

What we really want is for the process to go so smoothly that the first day of April is just another day at the office.