Apr 10 2015

Credit Union IT Leader Offers Advice on Integrating New Tech

Early adoption is great, but credit unions should avoid integrating technology that’s not fully baked.

The bleeding edge of technology can be exciting, offering new workflows and efficiencies that can be transformational. Think email in the workplace. Few people can imagine work life without it today.

But there’s a reason why it’s called the bleeding edge — because sometimes it hurts.

David Cooper, vice president of information systems at the Charlotte Metro Credit Union (CMCU) in Charlotte, N.C., recently spoke with the Credit Union Times about how his organization introduced electronic services, mobile banking and cloud computing to push the business forward.

Cooper, who was named Credit Union Times’ 2015 Trailblazer IT Executive of the Year, pointed out that while he is a fan of emerging technology, he always makes sure to avoid integrating with technology that’s still in its infancy.

“We like to say we are cutting edge, not bleeding edge; you don't want to bleed, but you want to be an early adopter. You’re not alpha, you are beta,” said Cooper, who oversaw several projects that resulted in improved member satisfaction and credit union performance.

For instance, CMCU overhauled its overdraft program and electronic services. Cooper said the overdraft program received positive member feedback while increasing revenue and lowering losses.

Mobile deposits were on Cooper’s mind in 2012, but he wasn’t convinced that the technology had matured enough, so he waited until mid-2013 to introduce it to members, he said.

One area where Cooper was truly ahead of his time was in building a cloud-like disaster recovery solution for CMCU.

When he came on board in 2007, CMCU was growing with assets at about $182 million. Before it could level the playing field with competitors, it had to build a better IT infrastructure and strengthen its backup system.

Therefore, Cooper said another big mission was to deploy a one-to-one disaster recovery system without increasing the IT budget. The credit union accomplished that by creating a virtualized environment with two new storage-area-network devices, two new hosts and VMware. Virtual machines create an internal cloud system using virtual servers instead of actual servers. They are very commonplace now, he acknowledged, but weren't at the time.

As Cooper points out, he introduced the cloud before it was hip. “We did that back in 2008 before it was known as a cloud,” he said.

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