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    2021 Trends in Digital Transformation for Credit Unions

    January 27, 2021

    Digital transformation is no longer on the horizon: it’s here.

    The pandemic has driven a widescale behavioural shift to digital that is now permanent. We’ve seen not only consumers make this shift but also the workforce as they’ve pivoted to maintain business continuity. Virtual servicing and engagement have gained broad acceptance and adoption.

    Digital is now the way we do business – it is no longer one team or department’s responsibility. It no longer lives within the confines of one channel or targeted to specific segments.

     

    Unscalable manual processes and gaps in digital services were exposed as Covid-19 measures were rolled out. Some organizations experimented with new ways of working and implemented new services in days and weeks that previously had lagged for months or years. These realized business continuity risks amplified the urgency for digital transformation for many organizations – including credit unions.


    Since digital transformation initiatives are here to stay and will continue to be accelerated, what can businesses expect in 2021? Let’s dive into some of the emergent trends, especially as they apply to banking and the credit union system.

    The evolution of digital transformation in 2021

    Emerging technologies will continue to introduce change and accelerate digital transformation mandates. To compete, organizations will increase their focus on optimizing their operations and will hone their ability to adapt by investing in their digital infrastructure. They will continue to grow their digital capabilities, enhance security, and retool their organizations to gain customer loyalty and maintain their relevancy as the landscape and their customers’ needs change.

    In Canada, with open banking, digital ID and payments modernization rapidly approaching, engagement models are set to extend beyond institutional borders.

    The ability to collaborate across industries will ultimately transform the customer experience, introducing innovative new products and ways to interact in the marketplace, ultimately uncovering new business models.

     

    Organizational readiness will also be a key theme in 2021. Organizations will need to invest in the technologies and requisite skills that provide them with flexibility and speed. This will be essential to keep pace and participate as the new digital paradigm evolves.

    Top three areas of focus for credit unions

    When it comes to credit unions specifically, they should pay special attention to these three key areas of digital transformation in 2021:

    1. Digital access
    2. Digital engagement
    3. Digital operations

    We can expect to see member demand for digital access across all products and services continue to grow and along with it, the bar for member consideration. We anticipate this demand to include increasing expectations for more integrative, intuitive and intelligent service experiences. Consumers want things simple, secure and they want decision support at the right time delivered in the way that is most convenient for them.

     

    Credit unions should look for ways to increase engagement and better serve their members through digital channels. How to recreate or enhance trust among members will be especially important, given that credit unions have historically relied on face-to-face interactions to build relationships with members. Reliability, security, advice and relevance needs to be interwoven at every member touch point to affirm trust and reinforce a credit union’s brand.

     

    Organizations will strive to meet this demand through operational efficiency objectives, reorienting themselves around member priorities and better equipping their employees to drive member engagement virtually.

    How credit unions can prepare

    To begin preparing for digital transformation initiatives in 2021, credit unions should first assess their current organizational strategy and roadmap to identify risks to future proofing your credit union and sustaining business continuity.

     

    Second, ensure that there is the enabling technical architecture in place to provide the connective tissue and flexibility to capitalize on emerging opportunities. This will allow credit unions to quickly partner and fully leverage their existing insights and solutions to holistically serve members.

     

    Third, invest in talent development from within and organizational readiness to respond to ongoing change. Digital expertise is in high demand across all industries. Having highly-skilled people in place will give credit unions the capacity they need to entertain new digital transformation initiatives.

     

    Lastly, move beyond replicating current operations digitally and reimagine them through the lens of the connected member journey. Pursue operational excellence with the goal to humanize members’ experience while achieving efficiency gains. Prioritize automation efforts, amp up business analytics capabilities and provide enhanced access to services when and where members need it.

     

    Effective digital engagement requires a robust content strategy informed by member and business insights that help guide members through every step of their journey to attain their goals, build their confidence and grow consideration.

    What’s next in digital transformation

    While organizations continue to lay the foundation to enable their members and customers to participate more fully in the digital economy, we’re excited for the possibilities to innovate in ways that may not be apparent to us quite yet – in particular, how might we further cultivate co-operatively-fueled innovation. Now that is inspiring.

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