Recently, we hosted with CUInsight a webinar featuring Think|Stack CEO Chris Sachse, AWS Principal Strategist George Estrada, and Chad Ritchie, Chief Information Officer for Ventura Credit Union. They explored the disruptions and member demands driving digital transformation across the credit union industry.

Credit unions, like other financial institutions and businesses across all industries, are rapidly responding to the increased volatility from the pandemic to cyber threats that are impacting the way credit unions operate and changing the demands of members. In a fast-moving world, members are seeking businesses that can be agile and innovative to provide secure, digital experiences.

While credit unions certainly need to catch up with the rest of the financial industry, they can’t add new technology for the sake of technology.

Ritchie stresses the importance of communication.

“Digital transformation requires a culture change. You can’t overcommunicate. Changing the way people work is scary. They need to be assured and understand how this shift will impact them. Will they be fired? Will they be successful? The vision may be clear to leaders of transformation but not to everyone else. Frequent communication and helping people understand how the transformation will benefit them will keep them excited.”

Digital transformations are not limited to technology. New digital infrastructure, programs, vendors and procedures will require new skills and a shift in what an internal credit union IT team looks like. Credit unions have to rethink and repurpose staff – not a negative, but instead a positive opportunity for technology professionals.

According to Ritchie, “Digital transformations eliminate the need for staff to do manual functions all day. With the right partners in place who can provide 24/7/365 managed services, credit union IT teams can focus on business strategy and member experiences.”

Estrada has observed that credit unions can benefit from employees who are creative, resourceful, and have a passion for the mission.

Ritchie shares, “It’s hard to compete with Amazon, Microsoft, Google. But we no longer need a deep bench of expertise. We can create development plans to help people who want to learn and partner with vendors who provide the deep bench of expertise.”

When a credit union understands the outcomes it wants such as short recovery times in the event of a cyber breach, they can identify the right partners who can guide them through the digital transformation process.

According to Sachse, “The credit union has to own the transformation. We can guide them through the process and help create the strategy but it is the credit union that informs the strategy."

Ritchie adds, “Partners like Think|Stack can help credit union teams establish credibility with leadership through a strategic approach. Partners can advise about costs and potential obstacles, which helps the internal team build credibility with colleagues and leaders.”

Sachse shares, “We have done 50+ migrations. It’s an emotional journey that requires tremendous work. You have to have buy-in from the top down and continually find ways to help leadership navigate the process and keep momentum going. Everyone involved needs to be motivated and the focus on the vision.”