SEATTLE — As members continue to feel the economic fallout, credit unions may find the most precious thing they have is information on those members.

BECU employees are more dependent on business intelligence (BI) than they realize, and the credit union is responding by enhancing its member relationship management and BI dashboards — enhancements that report not only the member's finances, but also the member's transaction behaviors, according to Karrie Cunningham, business intelligence architect at the $9-billion CU.

"If you shut off BI right now, employees would definitely notice," Cunningham said. "As the economy goes down, the need for information goes up. Delinquency rates are a little higher than what we usually see, so reporting has increased. There's a proliferation of dashboards. Some employees spend their entire day doing analyses."

Now BECU is enhancing its member relationship management (MRM) program, she continued, allowing BI to take a particular member's demographics and location and combine them with the channels the member uses, and help predict the next best product offer for that member. "We've never really automated cross-sales," said Cunningham. "Automated cross-sales will be consistent, and the member will be preauthorized for the offer."

Tellers will see the offers on-screen, and the software will prevent a member from seeing the same offer twice, across all channels. Next year, BI will give employees a sense of the member's transaction behavior, she added. Behavioral data will include the number of times a member uses the teller line versus other channels, for example, and that will complement existing monetary data about each member. "In 2010, BI is going to get more attention than it has gotten in its nine-year history because the monetary and behavioral data will be integrated," said Cunningham. "Employees are going to make a lot of decisions using this BI."

Multi-dimensional representations of charts and tables will help employees visualize this new array of variables, and these "data cubes" will be automatically e-mailed to appropriate users.

BI is a "very valuable operational tool," said Butch Leonardson, CIO at BECU. "The dashboards do a good job of driving employee behavior and keeping us all on the same page." But BI is not the kind of technology that hits lots of "homeruns" for the CU, he suggested. Instead, Leonardson said BECU has hit homeruns along the way via other means, such as a major branch expansion through a relationship with the Safeway grocery chain. "The relationship with Safeway came from leadership efforts," he explained. Data supports "tactical decision-making" during those efforts: "The selection of Safeway branch sites was facilitated through the use of our BI tools."

BECU uses the Sagent Data Flow data integration and analysis engine to pull data from source systems and write graphical reports. The data is fed into a warehouse built on Microsoft SQL Server 2005, which runs on storage area network (SAN) attached disks.

Microsoft Analysis Services provides a unified view of the data and the foundation for reporting, data cubes, dashboards and data mining. Front-end users analyze data within Microsoft Explorer using the Group 1 WebLink interface. Sagent and Group 1 are subsidiaries of Pitney Bowes.

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