Last month, on a plane to India to open our company’s newest office, I had hours to reflect on changes in the credit union industry since my work here began in 2004.
The digitization of financial services has, in many ways, challenged and changed the way credit unions think about themselves. As organizations that were built around community and personal touch, the accelerated role of technology has for some felt like a departure from long-held traditions.
But change has been necessary, and with new thinking, incredible opportunities for growth have emerged. On that plane to India, I couldn’t help but feel I was heading toward an exciting future where credit unions act local, but think global.
Here is why I see a world full of possibilities for credit unions.
Credit Unions Without Boundaries
Sweeping changes have been needed to meet financial consumers where they are today, and the result is that all organizations – not just credit unions – have become powered by technology. Organizations are hungry for talent with the skills to adapt to changing paradigms.
More industry resources are needed to manage these changes in order for credit unions to strategize, redesign, and implement technology-driven experiences that satisfy modern member preferences. In this war for talent, it has become more clear to me that credit unions stand to gain from embracing very different strategies to meet their tech talent needs. To come out ahead in the race, credit unions must think like global citizens.
Accommodating an expansive new organizational view requires a change in mindset, but not in values. In fact, we believe “boundaryless credit unions” are much better poised to deliver exceptional, personal member experiences. Credit unions can act local while thinking globally at the very same time.
Leveraging the Global Information Technology Centers
Returning to our new company office in Bangalore, India; It’s actually our second India office, and combined, they will add hundreds to our bench of talent. So, what took us to the country, and why do we think credit unions should come with us?
We certainly aren’t unique as a business looking to leverage a global center of the information technology industry. Among the 2,000 IT companies in the Indian state of Karnataka, 87 are global Fortune 500 companies. The state houses top-tier engineering and technical institutions, and the mingling forces of business and education have resulted in a highly-skilled, English-speaking population that’s ready for the global business economy.
Credit unions need cloud computing specialists, programmers, data engineers, data analysts, data scientists, core system developers, and experienced technicians in business intelligence, visual dashboarding, and system infrastructure. These are the in-demand, high-tech skills the industry needs today to remain competitive, but filling these positions and developing the necessary technology in-house is a nearly impossible task due to talent constraints and expense.
This involves collecting and integrating data from multiple sources, arranging and structuring it so that it is valid and usable, as well as storing and handling data securely. Having a framework and processes for good data management is vital for every credit union. Retroactively implementing them is expensive, time-consuming, and less effective.
Even the U.S. tech industry relies heavily on sourcing talent from across globe. In the tech hub of the Silicon Valley, 60 percent of those working in computer, mathematics and engineering come from other parts of world, many hailing from India and China.
We are sourcing hundreds of bright technical minds to build the talent force credit unions need. With highly modern and secure infrastructure, distributed tech teams can work seamlessly and securely to catapult credit unions into the future of financial services.
The industry stands to gain tremendously by leveraging the technology centers of the world to bring their members innovation with contemporary speed and scale. This is what tech-savvy competitors are already doing – and they are aggressively making inroads into credit unions’ market share.
Today’s fiercely competitive financial services environment, coupled with the quickly changing idea of member service, is a double-edged sword of incredible new opportunities and threats. We firmly believe the industry can, and will, demonstrate it can respond to the demands of change better than anyone expected. With the right blend of digital and personal, local and global, credit unions can earn their place on the world stage.