The Decision Maker

2nd Annual Credit Union Big Data & Analytics Conference Makes a Splash in Minneapolis

Posted by Peter Keers, PMP on Oct 29, 2015 4:40:15 PM

Last week, the 2nd annual Credit Union Big Data Analytics Conference took place in Minneapolis. There were 100 attendees which represented a 250% increase over attendance at last year’s conference. For those who attended, it was an opportunity to network with their industry peers who recognize the disruptive threat and opportunity created by Big Data and Analytics. A couple of attendees commented on how they felt that they had finally found their “tribe” as they networked with others who understand that their world is changing and credit unions need to quickly make the transformation to becoming Analytic Competitors.

Day 1 got the Conference off to a Fast Start

Paul Ablack, CEO, OnApproach, kicked off the conference with a message about the threat of disruption that the industry is facing. A threat very similar to the disruption that the taxi industry in struggling with as a result of Uber’s entry into the market within the last 5 years. Paul stated that “Big Data & Analytics is a reality that will change the retail banking industry and that this is the top strategic priority for credit union executives.” He went on to say that, “credit unions serve 102 million members and that 80 million of those members are served by credit unions that do not have the money, expertise or time needed to develop an analytics culture. This can only be achieved through the collaboration provided by a CUSO.” Paul talked about an analytics platform, analogous to a smart phone strategy, where OnApproach can provide each credit union with their own software solution to integrate all of their data while also allowing them to share resources like predictive analytics and applications with other credit unions because of the standardization afforded by the platform.

The breakout sessions offered some solid information for credit unions. Rich Jones and Brewster Knowlton’s presentation “Making Your Data Actionable!” drew upon their extensive experience in helping credit unions prepare both strategically and tactically for Big Data and Analytics initiatives. One of the key areas they highlighted was the importance of data quality. They noted that the mantra “garbage in, garbage out” was especially applicable in this area and that lack of attention to data quality could be very costly.

In the Technology track, Yuriy Dermidko and Kat Grigg of DataStax presented “Emerging Big Data Technologies”.  One of the highlights of their talk was the about the advantages of NoSQL.  They noted that NoSQL refers to innovative data management engines that can be effective when traditional relational databases cannot scale for very large databases.  Some of these advantages mentioned were a flexible data model, horizontal scalability, and distributed architectures.

The final presentation of the day featured Paul Fiore, Founder and CEO of CUWallet. Paul presented an overview of various mobile payment (a.k.a – mobile wallet) systems such as Apple Pay. He noted that while a credit union may have already adopted Apple Pay, it should not be the only component in a mobile wallet strategy. Paul pointed out factors to consider were fee impact on the credit union, brand defense, protecting member data,  and the fact not all members have iPhones. Overall, he said the goal of a mobile wallet was not merely to replace the card swipe. Most importantly, credit unions need to focus on the new revenue streams that will be available as members change the way they shop.

For pricing information to budget for the 2016 conference, please reference the pricing table and the “more information” section on the 2015 webpage here, or contact Austin Wentzlaff at or (320) 444-0291.

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Topics: Big Data, Payments, AXFI Conference