Last updated: July 28th, 2020
Today’s credit unions must compete against large, well-funded banks as well as a growing cadre of FinTech companies. Properly collecting, visualizing, and analyzing member data distinguishes market leaders from market laggards. To compete effectively in this rapidly changing financial services landscape, Sound Credit Union (Sound) created an analytical data mart that delivers key performance indicators (KPIs), branch performance insights, and lending metrics through a self-service business intelligence (BI) and analytics environment.
“With help from WebFOCUS, we are putting data at the center of everything we do,” says Martin Walker, digital platform ecosystem and innovation manager for Sound. “We are making better business decisions based on facts, not assumptions.”
Before WebFOCUS, employees could not easily combine data from diverse sources to achieve a cohesive, 360-degree view of member activities, which made it difficult to knowledgeably answer questions or take action on their behalf.
“We didn’t want to get pigeonholed with a simple reporting tool that only works with our core banking data. WebFOCUS allowed us to create a cohesive platform that can access data from many ancillary systems – in a form that is highly accessible to the business community.”
Walker and his colleagues evaluated several industry-specific software packages that offered out of-the-box analytics functionality for banks and credit unions, but none had the flexibility needed to meet Sound’s unique business requirements. Instead, they decided to purchase a general purpose platform that would empower them to create their own analytics system from scratch. “We liked Information Builders’ WebFOCUS because it allowed us to develop several different portals, and we can review the data through a variety of screens, reports, and visualizations without having to write code,” Walker says.
Through this process it was imperative that Sound find a product that would not compromise member information. “The privacy of our members is of utmost importance to us. Their privacy is, and will continue, to be a priority at Sound,” says Walker.
In addition to a code-free environment for creating dynamic charts, dashboards, and graphs, WebFOCUS had a comprehensive data management layer for integrating and cleansing the data. “The way WebFOCUS uses metadata really pushed it to the forefront,” says Jason McDougal, business intelligence manager at Sound. “We didn’t want to get pigeonholed with a simple reporting tool that only works with our core banking data. WebFOCUS allowed us to create a cohesive platform that can access data from many ancillary systems – in a form that is highly accessible to the business community.”
McDougal worked with Danielle Kiger, a senior business intelligence analyst at Sound, to create an analytical data mart comprising three portals: Branch Metrics, Credit Union Insights, and Lending Metrics. They also wrote extract, transform, and load (ETL) scripts to pull nightly data extracts from multiple source systems: core banking data from a Symitar Episys system; signature and point-of-sale; and shared branching data from their ATM dialog, online banking platform, the Federal Reserve, mortgage lending, and automated clearinghouse (ACH) data connected with member accounts.
Previously, this data was in silos, and difficult to integrate. Today, it resides in a consolidated data warehouse that forms the basis for the credit union’s growing knowledge about member behavior, with details about deposits, withdrawals, transfers, credit card payments, loan payments, checking and savings balances, payment histories, and more.
“It is very intuitive for business users,” says Kiger. “Once they understand how to navigate the tool, they can click, drag, and play around with it on their own. There really isn’t any learning curve with respect to WebFOCUS.”
One of the things that makes WebFOCUS so intuitive is its comprehensive metadata layer, which makes it easy for business professionals to analyze, share, and visualize data within various domains, including finance, lending, operations, and sales. “The metadata abstracts the physical characteristics of the data so that people don’t need to understand the complexities of the underlying systems,” Kiger explains. “Users gain visibility into broad financial and operational trends and can also drill down to discrete metrics.” “We didn’t want to get pigeonholed with a simple reporting tool that only works with our core banking data. WebFOCUS allowed us to create a cohesive platform that can access data from many ancillary systems.”