You Can Get Grandiose Results With Garden-Variety Data

green beans
By Keith Dunlap

3 minutes

Don’t be intimidated by the apparent analytic wizardry of market disruptors.

The hype around artificial intelligence and other neural technologies has spun up some pretty fantastic tall tales, a few scary enough to make a person want to drop completely off the grid (if that were even still possible). Expertly culled, National Security Administration-style data plays a starring role in much of the fiction about the ways companies profit from our most private information. But, if there’s anything my time at auto industry disruptor Carvana taught me, it’s that the data the world’s most intrepid companies rely on to change the world is rarely that melodramatic (nor that private).

In fact, a lot of the information sourced by today’s data-driven organizations is remarkably accessible, often even publicly available. Then there is the data most organizations already have within their shops but rarely use to its fullest potential. For financial services organizations, this includes information from sources like the general ledger, core processor, loan origination system and payments portfolio. Generally, this internal data has untapped potential because it's often housed in silos rather than joined for a more complete picture of the end-user.

A clearer view provides credit union leaders with a multitude of strategic opportunities, from offering more relevant, personalized experiences to providing loans to underserved market segments.

Big tech and other disruptors understand it’s not really the data itself that’s important. Rather, it’s what you do with the data that matters. Yes, the disruptors have access to some very big, very proprietary data sources, but they also have the expertise to activate that data. Credit unions, too, have the potential to access a treasure trove of data; many just need to figure out the best way to activate the insights it generates daily. (That could be with a partner!)

Carvana and other equally exciting tech companies do an outstanding job turning rudimentary data into incredible, almost wizard-like insights. The secret sauce is how these organizations inject data into every aspect of their business. As Carvana CEO Ernie Garcia has said, data runs throughout the business, powering everything from purchasing to underwriting. But again, this is all—for the most part—highly accessible information, such as click-stream data from its website and scheduling data from its own logistics network.

I share this by way of advising those at the outset of their organization’s data transformation journey not to be intimidated by the apparent magic of market disruptors. Every provider can join in the data analytics game. Credit unions, with their people-centric values and financial health-based missions, should feel not only competent, but compelled to begin leveraging more data to make informed decisions at scale.

Starting small is possible, and actually, it’s preferable. Leaders who attempt to boil the ocean often wind up frustrated and burnt out as they search endlessly for the value in their data transformation investments.

The first step is to create a strategy—a plan for moving your data analytics competency forward in calendared, measurable and achievable ways. One thing talked about at AdvantEdge Analytics Consulting Services is the value of a custom strategy with a “land-and-expand” approach that allows organizations to add new data sources and analytics tools incrementally over time.

Are you ready to get started?

Keith Dunlap is managing director of sales, CUESolutions Platinum provider AdvantEdge Analytics, Madison, Wisconsin. To learn more, access your copy of The Strategy-First Approach to Data Analytics: Six Guideposts for Credit Unions on the Journey to Data Transformation.

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