Written by Sarah Snell Cooke from Cooke Consulting Solutions
When asked about the state of credit union technology, Jim Giacobbe President and CEO of United Solutions Company (USC) gave the analysis, “The biggest disparity between large and small credit unions is in the IT Department. Most larger credit unions have enterprise equipment, miles of security software, and staff capable of running an efficient 24x7 operation.”
United Solutions, which is a CUSO that provides core data processing services and more to credit unions, has been operating out of a private cloud since 1983; before the term cloud existed. “We’re seeing a shift toward cloud infrastructure, including a lot of hybrids that mix on premises platforms with third party public cloud services, such as Microsoft Office 365.” Giacobbe recommended credit unions take advantage of private and hybrid cloud environments.
“Cloud environments are critical for redundant communications,” according to Giacobbe. Running multiple data centers and having clients in 26 states, cloud-based phone, email, and texting systems ensure communications are not vulnerable to local issues. In the event of a disaster, many cloud-based solutions help mitigate service interruptions since these solutions aren’t bound geographically, and often provide their own redundancy and high availability.
“We are also seeing a shift to hyper-converged technology in credit unions,” Giacobbe explained. Instead of a computer room stacked floor to ceiling with servers, businesses started to move to what is now consider a traditional model. This model had the CPU and storage separate, and storage area networks and server virtualization are managed with software like VMWare and Hyper-V. Today the hyper-converged model combines the storage, computing, and networking in a single system. “These solutions are very scalable and reduce complexity, allowing credit unions to run server virtualization across many hyper-converged appliances,” stated Giacobbe.
With the advances in technology, credit unions are storing and accessing more data than ever. However, the problem now becomes knowing what questions to ask, while creating pragmatic reports and data stores that your credit union can use and understand. “Credit unions have tons of member data, but digging out the valuable nuggets can be a challenge,” Giacobbe stated, “United Solutions is working to clear through the wheat and chaff for credit unions so that our credit unions grow and remain competitive.” United Solutions created their own business intelligence program that is free to their credit unions. United Solutions started off with 10 business intelligence reports they knew were of value, and then explained to the credit unions how to use them. For instance, one report showed a credit union that they had 12 million leaving the credit union each month to pay other financial institutions; many of those were credit unions that had similar products and services.
“Once you discover information like that, you can act on it. Members were sending money to other credit unions to pay for loans or put money in another family members account,” Giacobbe explained. The credit unions, working with United Solutions, began to run soft credit bureau pulls on those accounts, to make an offer to refinance the loans at a better rate for the member which brought revenue back to the credit union. United Solutions is now working on 13 new reports that will offer additional data to help their credit unions compete.
Integration is a key component to our CUSO. As credit union systems become more complicated, having a business partner like United Solutions that can seamlessly handle system integration is huge. “We do more than core processing at United Solutions. We also provide full network services, optical & imaging systems, scanning equipment, collections and more.”
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