Friday, August 3, 2018

Microsoft and AdvantEdge Analytics: A Potent Combination for Data Analytics

John Sahagian, Vice President/Chief Data Officer, BCU

I recently had the pleasure of co-presenting with AdvantEdge Analytics Chief Technology Officer Eric LeVin at the Microsoft Inspire 2018 conference in Las Vegas. It was our collective job to show attendees how AdvantEdge Analytics and Microsoft were reimagining data access for the credit union industry. No small job, but a thrilling one nonetheless.

It was a tremendous opportunity to introduce fellow technology leaders to the credit union movement and to the collective vision we have for leveraging data to improve the financial lives of consumers.

With so much hype surrounding analytics, especially when it comes to artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning, too many organizations are jumping in head first without fully understanding how the technology can make a difference for their end-users.

Here’s just a bit of what I shared from the stage. If you’d like to hear the entire presentation, it’s been recorded, and is currently hosted at Microsoft Inspire 2018 online.

A Potent Combination to Drive Analytics Forward
For BCU, which has worked with CUNA Mutual Group, of which AdvantEdge Analytics is a member company, and Microsoft for many years, the collaboration between the two companies is really exciting. Ninety-seven percent of credit unions in the U.S. work with CUNA Mutual Group. When you take that kind of an industry footprint and combine it with the power of Microsoft, that’s a very potent combination.

Analytics is Absolutely Critical… But Time Consuming
Let me tell you a bit about our analytics focus at BCU. While we have 60 locations, most of our 300K+ members do not have access to a branch. For us to deepen engagement, we have to get to know our members by analyzing their behavior and transactions. So, for us, analytics is absolutely critical.

It isn’t unusual for a credit union’s data analysts to spend upwards of 40 percent of their time simply extracting data out of systems that stubbornly don’t talk to one another. Only when they’ve pulled that data out can they start doing the analysis a credit union needs. As an industry, we have to get to a level of maturity in which our analysts spend just a fraction of their time on extraction so they can point their expertise in the direction of actionable insights for the business.

We believe that’s exactly what AdvantEdge Analytics and Microsoft are making happen.

Data is Only the Beginning
The opportunity before us is to transform the entire credit union industry. It begins with data, but it’s really about laying the foundation of an ecosystem that will reframe the way credit union members engage with their cooperatives. Eric does a great job of explaining this; you can read more about that in his own Inspire 2018 recap.

The experience of attending and presenting at the conference reminded me, at once, how special and how similar the credit union movement is to other legacy industries working to evolve for today’s digital consumer. Many of us face incredibly analogous challenges, a lot of them centered on successfully navigating the data analytics journey. That became crystal clear at Inspire 2018, and it also solidified for me that with great partners, that journey will culminate in an incredible future for the movement.

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AdvantEdge Analytics is the data analytics arm of our business. It's the only credit union data and analytics solution provider offering data transformation strategy and actionable insights via data management, reporting and performance management and predictive analytics. Learn more about it at