All IT wants for Christ­mas

In a long-stand­ing tra­di­tion, Credit Union Jour­nal asked IT pro­fes­sion­als to share the new things they’d like to have to help them have a suc­cess­ful new year.

Credit Union Journal - - Front Page - BY W.B. KING

WITH VI­SIONS OF DATA SECURITY danc­ing in their heads, credit union ex­ec­u­tives’ hol­i­day wish lists prob­a­bly look a lit­tle dif­fer­ent from most.

For the six­teenth con­sec­u­tive year, Credit Union Jour­nal asked top tech­nol­ogy ex­ecs from credit unions around the na­tion to share what tech­nol­ogy “wishes” would make their 2018 more proac­tive, pro­duc­tive and ex­cit­ing.

Read on to learn what new in­no­va­tions IT pro­fes­sion­als are hop­ing to get for their credit unions, this year—in­clud­ing some­thing de­cid­edly low-tech: more staff.

AN­OTHER EM­PLOYEE, PLEASE

Adam Siruchek, as­sis­tant vice pres­i­dent of In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy for Hud­son Her­itage Fed­eral Credit Union, is hop­ing that he finds a new data security spe­cial­ist un­der­neath his prover­bial tree.

“My wish is to sharpen our fo­cus to even more ag­gres­sively pur­sue our al­ready ro­bust in­for­ma­tion security [plat­form], and specif­i­cally add a data security po­si­tion,” he said.

The $378 mil­lion Mid­dle­town, Ny­based CU sup­ports 40,000 mem­bers at 12 branch lo­ca­tions as well as 150 em­ploy­ees. Siruchek noted that the IT depart­ment is staffed with four em­ploy­ees and one tem­po­rary em­ployee.

Siruchek and his team are cur­rently in the “fi­nal phases of tran­si­tion­ing to a vir­tual desk­top in­fra­struc­ture en­vi­ron­ment.” This process, he added, will al­low the CU to cen­trally man­age soft­ware, ap­pli­ca­tions, patch­ing and de­vice man­age­ment.

When asked the chances of his 2018 wish be­ing re­al­ized, he re­sponded: “Highly likely given the ever-in­creas­ing num­ber of threats to in­for­ma­tion and data.”

DREAM­ING OF A NEW DATA CEN­TER

Across the na­tion in Fort Worth, Texas, Amer­i­can Air­lines Fed­eral Credit Union col­lec­tively wishes to suc­cess­fully move its data cen­ter from its head­quar­ters build­ing to a new co-lo­ca­tion data cen­ter, ex­plained SVP Tech­nol­ogy & In­no­va­tion Brad Asp­gren.

Asp­gren said this move aligns with the build­ing and mov­ing of the $6.8 bil­lion CU’S new head­quar­ters that is sched­uled for 2019. “These will be lo­cated a half mile from its cur­rent lo­ca­tion,” he noted.

“This will im­prove power, con­nec­tiv­ity and HVAC re­dun­dancy than our cur­rent data cen­ter,” said Asp­gren who added that the CU sup­ports 690 em­ploy­ees, 65 of which are in the IT depart­ment, 47 branches and 247,000 mem­bers.

When asked what are the chances that this wish will be granted, Asp­gren summed it up in one word: “High.”

IF IT’S NOT TOO MUCH TO ASK…

Early in 2016, the $347 mil­lion Sag­i­naw, Mich.– based Catholic Fed­eral Credit Union part­nered with Mem­ber Driven Tech­nolo­gies (MDT) to han­dle its core pro­cess­ing plat­form. “Ev­ery­thing is new for us,” noted Pres­i­dent and CEO Alan Wat­son.

“The con­ver­sion process was well-or­ga­nized and me­thod­i­cal and our in­ter­nal team was ready,” said Wat­son. “We are happy to be run­ning the Symi­tar plat­form and a lot of other an­cil­lary prod­ucts, in­clud­ing a new mo­bile prod­uct that is vastly su­pe­rior and more re­li­able than what we had pre­vi­ously.”

Af­ter un­der­tak­ing a core con­ver­sion, many ex­ec­u­tives might hold off on a hol­i­day tech wish un­til 2019, but Wat­son had his pen and pa­per ready for old Saint Nick. He wants to add a syn­ergy ad­min­is­tra­tor to his team of 100 em­ploy­ees, five of whom serve in the IT depart­ment.

“We use Symi­tar’s Syn­ergy Doc­u­ment Man­age­ment sys­tem, which is an in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful imag­ing tool. Doc­u­ments can be cen­tral­ized, de­cen­tral­ized or both and doc­u­ment search and re­trieval is amaz­ingly fast and ac­cu­rate,” said Wat­son. “We are ready to take our ad­min­is­tra­tion to the next level and man­age our own doc­u­ments and cab­i­nets within Syn­ergy so we can be self-suf­fi­cient in mak­ing changes of this type as well.”

On the heels of a suc­cess­ful core con­ver­sion, Wat­son, with a lit­tle help from his new friends, has high hopes that his 2018 wish will be re­al­ized.

“I ex­pect this to be a sure thing. MDT knows that their clients rely on them for the de­liv­ery of new prod­ucts and

ser­vices,” Wat­son sug­gested. “MDT has worked hard to stream­line im­ple­men­ta­tion pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures, so I ex­pect the im­ple­men­ta­tion to be straight­for­ward.”

FREE­DOM FROM ‘MONOLITHS’

Yakima, Wash.-based So­lar­ity Credit Union’s CIO Chad Ritchie seeks to change a tech par­a­digm in 2018. He wants to do away with legacy sys­tems, an in­dus­try norm that he said has re­sulted in “mono­lithic ven­dors” that pro­vide closed, pro­pri­etary, endto-end solutions that “dom­i­nate” the CU space. “So­lar­ity must be ag­ile and pro­vide mean­ing­ful ex­pe­ri­ences to our mem­bers and po­ten­tial mem­bers in­de­pen­dent of our ven­dors’ ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” said Ritchie. “We are do­ing that through de­cou­pling our ven­dor de­pen­den­cies and tak­ing own­er­ship of our ex­pe­ri­ence layer.”

To this end, Ritchie’s tech wish list for 2018 is adopt­ing APIS and cloud ser­vices plat­forms.

“As for the cloud, our mi­gra­tion wraps us around the end of this year,” he said. “We al­ready have some APIS de­ployed, and while it is an on­go­ing and it­er­a­tive strat­egy, we no longer al­low any new ven­dors to do busi­ness with us un­less they pro­vide APIS at project kick­off.”

Ritchie re­mains op­ti­mistic that the tran­si­tion will be both smooth and com­pleted in the com­ing year. “The like­li­ness of this wish be­ing im­ple­mented is 100 per­cent,” he said.

ADAM HUD­SON,

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