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WICHITA FALLS, Texas-Credit union managers are doing some of their handiwork from iPhone, Android and BlackBerry mobile devices instead of being chained to their desks and laptops.

"iPhones are used by key employees, who are inherently mobile in today's market," suggested Kevin Scott, COO at $87-million Texoma Community CU here. "It's vital to be connected to email, text, calendar, Internet and phone," especially to ensure business continuity, he said. Texoma execs who stay connected on-the-go include C-level executives, marketing directors and IT.

Brian Todd, IT manager at $680-million Los Angeles FCU in Los Angeles, uses an iPhone to check email and read the news on his train commute, spending about one hour per day working via mobile. That's common-most of the 25 credit unions interviewed for this story said that managers spend about five hours per week working on the go.

Some CUs go further than mobile email and calendaring: Public Service CU recently used an Android 4G phone as a wireless hotspot during a meeting to connect laptops to the credit union network, according to Angelo Fanaras, VP and CIO at the $123-million CU in Romulus, Mich. He has also logged-in with Android to participate in video conferences via the credit union's website. "What a great tool for tech junkies," said Fanaras.

Some employees at Vantage CU in Bridgeton, Mo., seem to be mobile masters. They attend meetings and take notes, mainly from iPhones and iPads, said Matt Fagala, systems architect at the $600-million CU. In addition to basic productivity apps, the CU uses up to 30 other mobile applications for tasks related to social media, note taking, brainstorming, Web meetings and remote access, said Fagala.

66 FCU in Bartlesville, Okla. built some of its own mobile work tools, including an application that helps IT remotely unlock Microsoft Active Directory accounts, said Marty O'Connell, SVP and CIO at the $538-million CU.

Business Development Staff Using Mobile Out In The Field
Business development employees in the field at Stanford FCU in Palo Alto, Calif., can pull up an enterprise CRM application to access contact details without storing the information directly on the phone, according to Andrew Voorhies, VP-technology at the $1-billion CU.

Most CUs interviewed support BlackBerry, iPhone, or Android devices, with some allowing all three plus Windows Mobile phones.

"We allow all four options because we have the technology to securely support all of them," said Cameron Piercefield, VP-technology at $1-billion Forum CU in Indianapolis, Ind. Each device can be password-protected and wiped free of data if it is lost or stolen, he said. Device prices are generally the same, so in the end, "the pros and cons of the devices are specific to each user's preferences and role," Piercefield added.

Credit unions may want to extend support to any handheld device, suggested Carolyn James, SVP and CIO at San Diego-based USA FCU, recently acquired by Navy Federal.

"The days of issuing a device to employees is nearing an end," she explained. "Companies need to support devices already owned by staff. With new technology, such as Good Technology's solution, you could support any device." Good Technology of Redwood City, Calif., enables secure, easy access to the network from various mobile devices and operating systems.

SECU in North Carolina restricts mobile work, said Rick Rhoads, SVP, e-services, at the $21-billion CU in Raleigh. "Only technical personnel who support applications network or security have a device. It's used only for after-hours notifications-access to email is not provided. We don't want general employees to work after hours, and there isn't a compelling business need for access. If you don't provide access, you don't open the network to potential security issues."

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