The mood of the economy is down, and business leaders are not as
likely to listen to the promise of technology investment as they
were a few years ago. Many businesses have lost faith in investments
for MCIF and CRM, and are less confident that they can really squeeze
ROA from an elusive sales culture. So what new technology projects
should credit union leaders put forward in 2003 and beyond?
My previous article, ''Digital Intelligence: Do You Have It,
and Can You Deliver Its Value to Your Customers?'' outlined
a critical goal for every credit union leader. This article will
explore adopting a Managed Network Navigation (MNN) strategy for
buying, building, and coordinating solutions to ensure that you
are your own best ASP.
Set Goals for Network Navigation:
Get a Plan
The first thing to do is take inventory of your organization's
IT capabilities and resources. Consider the tools you have accumulated
for your end users. Most network planners have surrounded their users
with a legion of different tools and resources. Today's credit union
employee is not without options-just the time, understanding, or desire
to navigate all of the solutions that might add up to a better experience
for the member.
Today's planners need to consider how their network products add
up to a total solution for the end user. Consider the purpose of
software databases, presentation tools, and the processes that complete
a transaction. What network tool is being used to navigate the multiple
solutions? What tool is being used to coordinate the combination
of sales, process, and policy databases that are used in completing
Most network components fall into one of three categories: core
processing tools, employee Intranet tools, or external web site/Internet
tools. The information that is built into these areas often overlaps.
For example, your network users need access to a list of marketing
tips for selling products to members. You may have the ability to
key this information into your core processing tool for your tellers
to use. You then repeat the process in your Intranet for training
your call center personnel and as a general network reference. You
repeat the process yet again to communicate with your members via
your web site.
Not only is this extra work inefficient, but a lack of careful
coordination can result in different messages being delivered via
each component, making it difficult for an employee to decide which
message to use in their daily work. In the future, credit union
leaders will need to have a plan and take the lead on how these
network tools should be orchestrated for the end user. There are
many methods to choose from for orchestrating these components;
here are two ideas:
Consider Your Core Processing Solution
What goals have you set for your core processing software to
interact in your network environment?
As a core processor, WESCO has begun to focus on how its own core
processing solution, CU*BASE, can interact with the resources already
present in a rich credit union network. As an efficient Application
Service Provider (ASP), the core processing software can reach into
the Intranet for procedure or policy information, initiate web site
activity and deliver information (statements, etc.), deliver other
network software solutions, and interact with email to embed content.
Can your core processing software be your primary network navigator?
Consider Your Intranet
What goals have you set for your Intranet to interact in your
Some credit union developers are actually building transaction
capabilities into their Intranet environment. They believe that
it is easier for transactions to be completed by employees when
they start from an environment rich in policies, procedures and
credit union organizational knowledge as the basis for network navigation.
For example, an Intranet may include details about how to open and
process IRAs-what accounts are available, what paperwork needs to
be completed, who the IRA specialist is, etc. A credit union may
then decide to add the ability to actually open the account from
the Intranet session, and have the Intranet interface directly to
the core data processing software. In this way, the Intranet developer
can improve presentation while making it easier for employees to
use the tools.
Can you embed processes into your Intranet to allow employees to
start using the Intranet as the launch point for network navigation?
Is your Intranet a valuable contributor to employee interaction
with members, other employees, or management? Can your Intranet
deliver value to other network components? Will it interact with
your core processing software for member transactions? How does
your Intranet interact with your web site or home banking application?
Can your Intranet be your primary network navigator?
Be Your Own Best ASP
For most, the term ASP means a vendor that will provide and coordinate
multiple solutions. What these vendors are really doing is providing
a form of Managed Network Navigation for your credit union. In the
future, credit union leaders will see that MNN is a strategy they
cannot do without. Get the most from your network and your technology
investments by developing a MNN strategy this year.
Randy Karnes, CEO