What I’ve Learned So Far About Collaborating for Analytics Maturity

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Bob Morgan
CEO, NorthCountry Federal Credit Union
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Picking the right partner is worth every second of what can be an exhaustive search.

Years ago, our credit union established a vision is to be the community’s most loved financial institution and to make dreams come true for all. As you can imagine, data and analytics ties to every strategy and initiative we have embarked on as a part of that vision. Our thinking is that if we can use data to better understand our members and deliver the products and services they most want, we’ll be well on our way to living out our vision more fully. 

Thanks to some smart investments and equally smart partnerships, NorthCountry Federal Credit Union is on the right road to data and analytics maturity. Chief among those partnerships is our collaboration with AdvantEdge Digital. When we began our data transformation journey, we talked to a lot of vendors who offered us one of two things: either a cookie-cutter proposal or an overly exhaustive strategy. 

We were not interested in either. 

We knew for the most part what we wanted to achieve, so we needed a partner willing to listen. At the same time, we weren’t looking for an overprescribed ‘War and Peace’-style strategy. We needed something highly executable with built-in opportunities for momentum-generating quick wins. 

AdvantEdge Digital offered us exactly that. 

The company’s consulting services and the development of a roadmap that made sense for us was a refreshing proposal. The team understood exactly what we were looking for and tailored their offerings and scope of work to our specifications. It was a rare find in today’s crowded and noisy analytics marketplace. 

Although I knew it was a good fit from the beginning, there are several discoveries I’ve learned since the outset of our engagement. Perhaps other credit unions on their own data transformation journey can benefit from that experience. Here are three few things to consider as you search for your own data analytics partner… 

Cultural alignment

When it comes to analytics acceleration, NorthCountry is driving the car down the highway as we’re building it. It’s been very important to have a partner with the same general philosophy around innovation. There must be a strong cultural fit between a credit union and its analytics support, not to mention a core understanding of the credit union difference. 

Trading off driver's seat duties

A strong partnership is also really valuable when a credit union’s internal analytics team takes ideas and proposals before a leadership or board group to secure buy-in. While there are certainly times when it makes sense for us to steer the ship, it was nice to have the AdvantEdge team co-facilitate priorities conversations as we were securing the buy-in we needed to move our data strategy forward.

Huge, quick wins

For NorthCountry, bringing in an outside source has been crucially formative for our data analytics team. The team is building meaningful momentum through the achievement of quick wins that make believers out of every internal stakeholder who matters to our progress. In a short period of time, we have implemented PowerBI to put self-directed dashboard reporting in the hands of different team leads. This is huge. In the past, if an internal marketer or lender needed to know something, they would email our data group and ask for analysis. PowerBI automates a lot of this and provides a self-service component to our data strategy that is bound to stimulate even more excitement across our business. 

Every credit union’s data transformation journey is unique, and therefore, what’s needed from an analytics partner will vary widely. The key is to find people you like to work with, who lead with strategic empathy and are willing to bend and flex their strategies to meet you where you are. AdvantEdge Digital has done this for us, and we are looking forward to an even brighter future where cultural alignment, co-leadership and quick wins continue to shine.