No Need To Lose SLEEP over IT, says 1 Analyst

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If CEOs are losing sleep over technology, then there's something wrong with their systems, according to one core processing and software provider to credit unions.

"The simple truth is that CEOs and senior staff need to take back control of information technology by focusing on technologies that preclude the need for oversight," said Sean Holcomb, sales representative at Computer Marketing Corporation (CMC), which provides the FLEX data processing solution.

The secret is simplicity, Holcomb continued.

"It's all about architecture and system design," Holcomb explained. "Other providers have no incentive to simplify their solutions as the real money is online. The FLEX System is neither in-house nor online-it's the industry's first deliberately-designed hybrid solution. Hybrid technology is all about saving money and creating value, and we are the only core vendor in this industry designing an 'in-house' solution built upon this model."

Simpler solutions are better solutions, according to The Sageza Group, Inc., a research firm based in Union City, Calif.

Simple systems allow credit unions to do more computing with fewer employees and less money, said The Sageza Group.

Holcomb advised CEOs to "have the courage to seek out technologies which can deliver the information necessary to serve members' needs while cutting IT staff in half or completely outsourcing IT altogether."

"Call FLEX and leave your IT guy out of it," he said, adding that some FLEX credit unions with more than 10,000 members don't have a full-time technology manager.

Those credit unions mirror a nationwide trend, according to Gartner, a technology research firm in Stamford, Conn.

IT staff will shrink 40% nationwide by 2010 as external service providers deliver increased efficiency, Gartner recently reported.

Asked if CEOs are expected to exercise blind faith in FLEX for delivering a return on investment, Holcomb replied:

"FLEX precludes the need for high levels of oversight as ongoing IT costs are a fraction of the upfront investment in the system. Many credit unions spend significantly more just to support the technology they've purchased. If such is the case, then board-mandated oversight is certainly soon to follow."

In contrast, one vendor thinks oversight can be a good thing.

"A successful CEO is hands-on and entrepreneurial," said Alex Hart, CEO at Internet banking provider Corillian Corp. "CEOs need to be involved in the technical operations of the business.

"They should constantly evaluate a credit union's systems and strive to push the technology envelope," Hart continued. "There are innovative technologies emerging all the time that can help a credit union's system perform better."

That way, CEOs can make sure that IT complements business goals, he said.

In turn, vendors should "take an active role" to educate CEOs about new technology and prove the technology with references to other clients and live implementations, said Hart.

Corillian serves "CEOs who recognize that cheap is not necessarily a bargain and who aggressively deploy world-class technology," Hart said.

Credit unions represent 40% of Corillian's customer base, up 33 % since 2004 to 30 CUs total, he added.

CUJ Resources

For info on this story:

* CMC at www.cmcflex.com

* Corillian at www.corillian.com

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