A Strategy To Build Business Intelligence Across A Credit Union

How Keesler FCU is using a marketing systems manager to springboard into enterprise-level business intelligence.



Data as of 06.30.15
  • HQ: Biloxi, MS
  • ASSETS: $2.3B
  • MEMBERS: 192,777
  • BRANCHES: 23
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 3.95%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 11.92%
  • ROA: 1.07%

When the technical demands of the marketing database analyst at Keesler Federal Credit Union ($2.3B, Biloxi, MS) advanced to the point that the position turned into a systems manager role, the credit union realized the entire organization could benefit from a broader business intelligence initiative.

In this Q&A with Sharon Keller, vice president of marketing, and Larry Mayo, vice president of information technology, the Keesler cooperative leaders discuss how the credit union uses advanced data analysis in marketing and how the two teams are laying the foundation for enterprise-level business intelligence.

What is Keesler’s business intelligence initiative?

Larry Mayo: At a high level, marketing kicked off the initiative last year with its advanced systems manager. As we got deeper into the unit’s project, we quickly realized we needed to look at business intelligence from an organizationwide perspective and consider how every unit can leverage the data we have. The credit union was able to use marketing as a springboard to move forward into enterprise-level business intelligence.

We made this position a marketing systems manager because we needed someone who understood the advanced details of programming within our system.

We’re still in the beginning stages of our business intelligence — or BI — initiative. We are planning to add at least three people to focus on BI over the next couple of years. The marketing systems manager is doing a great job, but she is only one person and her focus to has been primarily in the marketing area. The BI team will meet more of the full organization’s needs.

Sharon Keller, VP Marketing, Keesler Federal Credit Union

Why did you add a marketing systems manager? What skills does this position require?

Sharon Keller: The position started as a marketing database analyst in the marketing department and evolved with our needs. Our marketing needs have become more advanced and have required more technical skill sets.

A few years ago, our database analyst used the marketing database (MCIF) to select criteria for mailing and emailing members, based on data appended from our core system. She would also create measurement reports for direct mail campaigns. We made this position a marketing systems manager because we needed someone who understood the advanced details of programming within our system. 

The skills for the new position include knowing how to use SQL database tools, interfaces, and SQL languages. It requires proficiency in Excel and Power Pivot as well as experience maintaining and using marketing databases. The marketing systems manager also must be able to append information for potential sales opportunities and marketing campaign information into our CRM system, Synapsys, which our credit union uses a lot.

Does the marketing systems manager work solely in marketing or does she collaborate with other departments as well?

SK: The marketing systems manager works in the marketing department; however, she works heavily with the IT department putting the pieces together. One of her main focuses currently is building, with the IT department’s support, a data warehouse that will allow us to not only use the data from our core system but also information extracted from other databases containing member information as well as third-party lead data, prospect information, competitive information, and industry data.

Currently, no other departments are involved with this.

Talk more about the new data warehouse.

SK: We are calling it MID (member insight database). It will include information such as how credit cards are being used and real time data from our new account opening system and online mortgage system.  Eventually, we’ll be able to connect our website and social media usage information from a web analytics program.

The more sources of data, the better. The more we know about our members, the better we will be able to provide the right messages at the right time and provide the products they need, not just the products we want them to sign up for.

Although we update the marketing database only twice a month, we’ll update the MID near real-time for more responsive marketing.               

We are in the beginning stages of developing Big Data at Keesler Federal, but we envision there will be a time in the next year or two that the member insight database will be a tremendous resource for several other business units.

We are in the beginning stages of developing Big Data at Keesler Federal, but we envision there will be a time in the next year or two that MID will be a tremendous resource for several other business units.  Perhaps we will be able to predict potential fraud with MID. Maybe MID will help us hire the best staff. The capabilities are endless, really.

Has anything surprised you as you’ve analyzed member data more extensively?

SK: The amount of data clean up we had to do surprised our marketing systems manager. We have missing social security numbers, bad addresses, and members who are deceased that we don’t know about. I think this is a challenge for credit unions in general, maintaining accurate and complete data.

Another surprise has been the number of members that close their accounts every month. The credit union closes some of these for various reasons, but wonderful members close others, and we just let them walk away. We need to do a better job of explaining the benefits of staying with us. 

Lastly, we have a lot of one-year holiday helper loans that mostly the same members open every year. I’m sure as we continue to develop our BI initiative, there will be countless other surprises/opportunities we uncover.

How does the marketing systems manager prioritize her time?

SK: That is a challenge. She updates our marketing database twice a month and then has to prepare numerous reports after auditing the system. She also provides profiles for our advertising staff, so they know who to target. 

I’d say her biggest priority is testing our MID, running and producing consistent reports. Another priority is figuring out new ways to target market with our online banking system.