NAFCU Services Blog

Dec 09, 2021

Elevating the Digital Experience for Credit Unions

By Chris Sache, CEO, Think|Stack 

Credit unions over the course of the last few years have been navigating a combination of challenges with digital demands. A critical need for remote work capabilities, an increased demand from members to drive mobile and web-based services, and the ongoing security threats the market faces have strained traditional IT systems and exposed a need for modernization.

Innovative credit unions are turning to the cloud to meet these demands. With the ability to maximize uptime, prevision and automatically analyze against threats, and scale up and down based on consumption, the cloud is helping credit unions pivot to a digitally modern infrastructure that focuses on the goals of the credit union and the member experience.

In our October webinar: CU blueprint for Secure cloud first strategies, Chad Ritchie, CIO, Ventura County Credit union states “it’s a matter of relevancy for credit unions…[innovative companies] have set this digital experience bar for the rest of us on what consumers expect when they go online. And for the credit union industry we’re dramatically behind that bar so we have to have a plan to compete and agility is key. Being able to provide a simple and seamless banking experience for our members and our staff is absolutely necessary.”

Ritchie continues to talk about the importance of your vendor relationship. When working with an IT vendor, it is imperative that you choose someone who understands the goals of your organization, and acts as a partner to help achieve those goals.

“You have to have a very clear vision of the future state of your organization. If you can paint a compelling picture of what that future state as you are going through a digital transformation or digital strategy, so much so that your board and peers and staff buy into it… it becomes a dialogue about how can [vendors] add value to that picture…When you have those kinds of conversations with vendors you know that you’ve identified a long term strategic partner that gets where you are trying to go. They can see the picture themselves, so much so that they are asking questions to challenge and bring value to that strategy.”

AWS’ Credit Union team works closely with Think|Stack, a Credit Union Services Organization that understand the specific challenges credit unions can have with migration and transformation. When taking on these change projects, it’s always best to connect with dedicated credit union experts, including architects and account managers to educate, support, and guide credit unions through their transformation journey.

While digital transformation can have a sizable impact on member experience and operational efficiencies, trusting the technology you are using and having the right resources in a partner to help identify and provision around threats is critical to any transformation.

In a panel discussion with NAFCU, Mark Schuiling, CTO of Wildfire Credit Union mentioned that “the top three worries were security, security, and security… it was the security aspect of [cloud] and regulatory compliance… to make sure that the examiners were going to be satisfied… it’s an exercise in risk management. Do your due diligence, you understand where the risks lie, what you are trying to protect.”

By leveraging resources through their vendor relationships, the team at Wildfire has been able to understand their risks associated with digital transformation, prepare for the threats, and educate their IT staff on the technology.

“When you sit down with the AWS team and go through all the controls it’s very robust from their standpoint. The things you are responsible for are the same things you are responsible for today in your own data center.” Mark reiterates, “You still need give appropriate access to the appropriate people, you still need to do logging, and you still need to make sure you are keeping things patched and have firewall controls in place…Once you understand the reality of what [cloud] is and you are able to demystify it, suddenly it's ‘here is the risk, here is how we are going to mitigate it’ and then everyone becomes a lot more comfortable with it.”

If you're interested in learning more, you can access our education resources here

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