A new venture aims to make analytics more than just a buzz word for credit unions and turn it into a practical application at more institutions.

A representative from CUNA Mutual Group’s new data analytics technology and services subsidiary, CUNA Mutual AdvantEdge Analytics, LLC, told Credit Union Journal the firm hopes to help CUs solve problems and stay relevant in a hypercompetitive marketplace.

The service has signed some of the industry’s biggest institutions since launching in early May – including $2.8 billion Baxter Credit Union, Vernon Hills, Ill., $2.9 billion Coastal Credit Union, Raleigh, N.C., and $8 billion Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union, Live Oak, Texas – and Tim Peterson, president of CUNA Mutual AdvantEdge Analytics, said there were 12 months of preparation involved in getting the company ready to go.

“We surveyed credit union executives to see what credit unions needed,” he said. “We focused on understanding credit unions’ strategies, and then helping them create analytics strategies. We looked at what they have tried and what has not worked for them so we can employ advanced analytics to develop better results.”

Tim Peterson, president of CUNA Mutual AdvantEdge Analytics
Tim Peterson, president of CUNA Mutual AdvantEdge Analytics

AdvantEdge Analytics acquired Savvy Intel in February, which Peterson said has helped the company provide a data platform that is tailored to CUs. As AdvantEdge moves toward advanced analytics, he said the focus is two drivers: growth strategies and providing a better member experience.

“There also are elements of helping operations and cutting expenses, but growth and the member experience are what credit unions worry about most,” he added.

Also in development are new techniques in machine learning, which Peterson said will leverage 60 years of data held by CUNA Mutual Group. He said this will lead to better identification of new members and increased cross-sell opportunities for all members.

Advanced data analytics means understanding consumers and what their preferences are, Peterson explained. “We are more than a technology company. We close the loop on execution and help credit unions act on analytics. There are many reporting tools, but until you actually execute on the insights there is no value. We prepare credit unions to be able to act on the data.”

Moving forward, Peterson said credit unions’ marketing departments and call centers will be able to better execute outreach to engage with consumers at their point of need so the CU can capitalize on data. He said it will look as much like a marketing firm as a technology firm.

The system works by feeing information into software tools, which then execute a campaign. Peterson said the company will offer marketing as a service for CUs that do not have an at-scale call center.

“We have hundreds of people to make calls and make offers to credit union members,” he said.

As part of CUNA Mutual Group’s multi-year investment in innovation, the company earmarked more than $250 million for new technology and capabilities to help the credit union industry.

There are other players that do “some” of what AdvantEdge does, Peterson acknowledged, but he said he sees a “big gap” in true advanced analytics.

“The other companies do not take the time to really understand how a credit union operates,” he asserted. “It takes money to really embrace analytics. We feel a responsibility to help the credit union system. We see this as an opportunity.”