Managed Network Navigation: Do You Have It, and Can You Deliver Its Value?

What new technology projects should credit union leaders consider in 2003 and beyond? With the right approach to buying, building, and coordinating solutions, credit unions can eliminate inefficient network duplications and simplify network use. Here's how to ensure your employees get the most value out of the tools available to them.


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 a transaction?

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 network environment?

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
(800) 327-3478 ext 101



This sponsored content article is provided to the credit union community for shared insights and knowledge from a recognized solutions provider in the industry. Please note that the views and opinions offered here do not reflect those of Callahan & Associates, and Callahan does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer.

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Jan. 20, 2003



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