Becoming More Customer-Centric

Becoming More Customer-Centric—How Community Banks and Credit Unions Can Cultivate This Mindset and Act on It

Personal, white glove service has always been a competitive advantage for community banks and credit unions. Therefore, a customer-centric mindset is vital. While a customer may be just another number at a large, national bank, community-based financial organizations can get to know people on a more personal level—and they may in turn feel a larger sense of connection and loyalty to a bank or credit union that has a history within the community.

But, as banking moves to be more digitally-focused, a familiar, friendly face at the bank counter is not enough, especially as younger generations embrace the convenience of online and mobile banking. Customer touch points are increasingly digital—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Financial institutions now have a wealth of data about each individual. Large, national banks are already using this to their advantage.

Many large financial institutions have invested billions in technology, including data and AI-based solutions that allow them to fully embrace customer centricity in their business practice. This allows them to foster relationships based heavily on digital interactions.

But without ample resources that can be focused on developing data-backed solutions, how can a smaller, community-based institution compete?

Adopting a Customer-First Mindset

While a focus on the customer or member is the bread and butter of most community banks and credit unions, there is always room for improvement. While customer centricity is a sought after ideal, only about 9% of organizations have achieved this goal. This can make it a competitive differentiator for organizations who manage to fully embrace this mindset. To become a truly customer-centric organization, it’s not enough to provide a high level of customer service. It requires customer centricity to be embedded in the organization’s DNA and across all functional areas of the financial institution.

A customer’s interaction with an organization goes beyond the tellers at the branch, or a mobile app’s user interface (though these are each vitally important elements!) There are some questions to consider when evaluating whether an organization is truly putting the customer first:

360 View of a Customer

  • Are your products and services what your customers really want and need?
  • Are recommendations and advice being tailored to each unique individual?
  • Are customers experiencing seamless interactions across all touchpoints?
  • Are you using direct feedback and data to inform decision-making?
  • Are you able to provide customers with “unexpected value,” beyond what they would normally expect from their financial institution?

In order to reach these lofty goals, organizations must first get buy-in across the organization and actively work to shift goals and mindsets.

Embracing The Power of Data and AI

Once a bank or credit union has determined that it is on its way to cultivating a customer-centric mindset, it is time to start taking action. One of the most powerful ways to become more customer-centric is to rely on insights from data. But the first step is to organize data into a 360-degree view of each customer—breaking down data silos in order to capture the entire customer journey.

Once data has been aggregated, cleansed, and organized around each customer, it can be used to make data-driven decisions, personalize the customer journey, and increase the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, and optimize operations. With the power of AI and predictive analytics, organizations can:

  • Enhance digital interactions with chatbots;
  • Enact offer relevant product suggestions;
  • Determine which customers or members are most likely to churn;
  • Identify potential new customers who look the most like their current best customers;
  • Optimize loyalty programs to increase customer satisfaction; and more.

Where To Start?

If all of this sounds like a lofty goal, that is because it is. This undertaking can be a huge challenge for most midsized banks and credit unions. In many cases, it could take several months—or even years—to get to this point. That is why many organizations are looking outside their own walls to work with experienced partners to guide them through the process along with pre-built technology solutions that can reduce the time to implementation.

To meet the unique challenges of community banks and credit unions, Aunalytics has developed the Daybreak Analytics Database—an end-to-end data and analytics platform using AI and machine learning to enrich a bank or credit union’s existing data and create a customer-centric view. This ultimately allows midsized financial institutions to more effectively identify and deliver new services and solutions so they can increase wallet share and better compete with large financial institutions.

Think You Know Ransomware? Fighting Cybercrime: Weapons and Warriors

Think You Know Ransomware? Fighting Cybercrime: Weapons and Warriors

Cybercrime is no longer an inconvenience for an unlucky few—rather, it has far-reaching implications for the global economy, as well as national security. According to the World Economic Forum, the annual cost of cybercrime is projected to reach $10.5 trillion in 2025. In addition to economic consequences, hostile countries such as North Korea have been known to fund their weapons programs through cyberattacks and crypto theft. Therefore, fighting cybercrime should be a top priority for both governments and organizations of all sizes.

It is almost impossible to find an organization, or even an individual, who does not deal with the storage and transmission of data in one way or another. That makes anyone a target. And, unfortunately, the weakest links in the chain are oftentimes the users themselves. Anyone can mistakenly open a dangerous email or click on a malicious link, and that is all it can take to compromise an entire organization.

So how can organizations fight back and protect themselves from this looming threat?

Threat detection illustration

As technology enables more complex attacks, experts say that combatting cybercrime requires a human skillset—including security awareness education for each and every individual, as well as advanced cybersecurity technology paired with 24×7 monitoring. In the last video of their three-part series on ransomware, Sophos, an Aunalytics technology partner, explores ways the security community is fighting cybercrime—from blockchain analytics to advanced prevention techniques.

View the episode on Vimeo.

Are you certain your organization is fully protected? If you aren’t sure, the security experts at Aunalytics can help you determine your organization’s risk. We offer a complete suite of managed security services and maintain a highly secure cloud environment utilizing security best practices. Aunalytics partners with leading technologies in the security field, such as Sophos, to ensure that your organization always stays a step ahead of hackers and other bad actors. Don’t leave your organization vulnerable—contact Aunalytics today.

Think You Know Ransomware_ The Faces of Cybercrime: the Hunters and the Hunted

Think You Know Ransomware? The Faces of Cybercrime: The Hunters and The Hunted

Ransomware attacks are not simply a nuisance—a single attack can affect thousands of computers and servers, cost companies huge sums of money, or prevent businesses from operating altogether. And it’s not just large corporations that are at risk. Governments, universities, police forces, healthcare organizations, and even small businesses are brought to their knees by cybercrime. Anyone can be a victim—it can be as simple as one person clicking on a malicious link in an email.

Think You Know Ransomware: Hunters and Hunted

Once attacked, organizations are faced with a dilemma. Either pay a large ransom and hope the attacker will actually provide the key to recover their data, or try to mitigate the loss of data on their own, which can be expensive and extremely time consuming. Yet, even if an organization chooses to pay a ransom to recover data right away, they will likely still face negative consequences from the breech, including lost productivity, risk of litigation, and loss of customer trust.

Despite the magnitude of this issue, it has been very difficult for authorities to catch and prosecute cybercriminals. In fact, the problem is only getting worse as these individuals continue to succeed in making large sums of money from the comfort of their own homes—without facing any consequences.

Why are cybercriminals able to flourish, and what can we do to stop them? Part two of Sophos‘ documentary series on ransomware explores the risks of cybercrime to organizations both large and small, and examines the various factors that have led to an increase in ransomware attacks.

View the episode on Vimeo.

Are you certain your organization is fully protected? If you aren’t sure, the security experts at Aunalytics can help you determine your organization’s risk. We offer a complete suite of managed security services and maintain a highly secure cloud environment utilizing security best practices. Aunalytics partners with leading technologies in the security field, such as Sophos, to ensure that your organization always stays a step ahead of hackers and other bad actors. Don’t leave your organization vulnerable—contact Aunalytics today.

Think You Know Ransomware? The Origins of Cybercrime

Think You Know Ransomware? The Origins of Cybercrime

How well do you know ransomware? Security hacks and ransomware attacks are constantly in the news. In fact, in June 2023, a zero-day vulnerability in Progress Software’s MOVEit Transfer managed file transfer (MFT) product affected over 130 organizations and millions of individuals. And that is only the latest in a constant stream of cybercrime.

Since the advent of the internet, hackers have been developing increasingly sophisticated attacks. But what is most concerning may be that what was once only achievable by highly-skilled hackers is now accessible to anyone. Would-be cybercriminals can easily access the tools and knowledge via the internet to mount an attack. Currently, that most often takes the shape of a ransomware attack—which makes any industry with data a target. Despite this fact, many organizations and individuals continue to remain vulnerable.

Intense hacker committing a cybercrime

Sophos, a leading security software and hardware company, and one of Aunalytics’ technology partners, has released a three-part documentary series examining the history of cybercrime and how it affects everyone—from small businesses to local and national governments. The first episode examines origins of cybercrime and explores why many interconnected systems are susceptible to ransomware attacks. Watch it below:

View the episode on Vimeo.

Are you certain your organization is fully protected? If you aren’t sure, the security experts at Aunalytics can help you determine your organization’s risk. We offer a complete suite of managed security services and maintain a highly secure cloud environment utilizing security best practices. Aunalytics partners with leading technologies in the security field, such as Sophos, to ensure that your organization always stays a step ahead of hackers and other bad actors. Don’t leave your organization vulnerable—contact Aunalytics today.

Organizations Shift to Cloud-Based Analytics and IT Platforms

Organizations Shift to Cloud-Based Analytics and IT Platforms

The growth rates of cloud-based IT solutions in the areas of analytics and artificial intelligence have been substantial in recent years. The increasing volume of data and the need for faster, more accurate insights have driven organizations to adopt cloud-based analytics solutions at a rapid pace. This has resulted in the growth of cloud-based data warehousing, business intelligence, and big data analytics solutions.

Similarly, the growth of artificial intelligence has been driven by the cloud, as it allows organizations to access powerful AI algorithms and training data without having to invest in expensive hardware. The cloud has also made it possible for organizations to scale AI solutions quickly and easily, leading to an increase in the adoption of cloud-based machine learning and deep learning solutions. These trends are expected to continue as organizations look to leverage the power of AI and analytics to gain a competitive edge in the market.

Organizations Shift to Cloud-Based Analytics and IT Platforms (1)

This growth in cloud-based analytics and AI has been driven by the larger business adoption of cloud IT because of its numerous benefits such as increased flexibility, scalability, and cost savings. Cloud technology allows companies to access their data and applications from anywhere, reducing the need for physical infrastructure and freeing up resources for other areas of the business. This shift towards cloud computing has also improved disaster recovery and business continuity, as data can be stored and accessed remotely. Additionally, with the rise of cloud-based solutions, businesses have been able to access advanced technologies and services without having to invest in expensive hardware and software. This has resulted in increased competitiveness, innovation and better overall business performance.

APIs add efficiency and flexibility to cloud environments

The power behind the most widely adopted cloud platforms are APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), which play a crucial role as they allow different software systems to communicate with each other and access data from the cloud. This has enabled organizations to build custom solutions and integrate disparate systems seamlessly, making the use of cloud technology much more efficient and flexible.

APIs also allow for automation and streamlining of processes, reducing manual errors and freeing up time for more valuable tasks. APIs make it possible to add new functionality and services to existing systems, allowing for continuous improvement and innovation. In essence, APIs provide a bridge between the cloud and an organization’s systems, enabling organizations to harness the full potential of cloud computing and drive digital transformation.

Analytics moves to the cloud

In terms of business outcomes, cloud-based analytics allow businesses to access and process large amounts of data in real-time, regardless of the size or location of their operations. This enables organizations to make informed decisions quickly and respond to changing market conditions with agility. Secondly, these solutions are much more cost-effective, as businesses only pay for what they use and do not have to invest in expensive hardware or IT infrastructure. The cloud provides businesses with access to a wide range of advanced analytics tools and technologies, enabling them to gain insights from their data in new and innovative ways. These solutions are highly secure and reliable when they are managed by experienced cloud service providers who ensure that data is protected and the solution is always available. Overall, they are considered to be a better choice for businesses because of their scalability, flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and secure approach to data analysis.

Likewise, cloud-based AI or AI as a Service (AIaaS) provides organizations with access to deep insights without having to invest in expensive experts or the necessary hardware and software to implement such solutions. This makes it easier for organizations to deploy and scale AI solutions as they only pay for what they use and do not have to invest in maintaining their own infrastructure. Furthermore, these solutions are more flexible and can be customized to meet specific business requirements, enabling organizations to generate valuable insights that help them to differentiate from their competitors. Finally, cloud-based AI makes it possible for organizations to collaborate and share AI models, allowing them to leverage the collective expertise of their partners, customers, and employees to create better solutions. In short, it is a high-value choice for businesses as it provides a more accessible, scalable, affordable, and collaborative approach to artificial intelligence.

Moving to the cloud accelerates digital transformation

Leading research and advisory firm Gartner reported that “Cloud migration is not stopping, IaaS will naturally continue to grow as businesses accelerate IT modernization initiatives to minimize risk and optimize costs. Moving operations to the cloud also reduces capital expenditures by extending cash outlays over a subscription term, a key benefit in an environment where cash may be critical to maintain operations.”

Aunalytics provides a highly redundant and scalable cloud infrastructure that enables midsized businesses to reap the benefits of the cloud at a reasonable cost. The Aunalytics Cloud provides a wide range of solutions—including cloud storage, backup and disaster recovery, application hosting, advanced analytics, and AI. Moving from on-premises computing to a cloud environment is a key step in an organization’s digital transformation.

Financial Institution Cyber Attacks Are on the Rise—Your Institution Is Not Immune

Financial Institution Cyber Attacks Are on the Rise—Your Institution Is Not Immune

With recent uncertainty in the economy and bank closures hitting the news this year, you may be scrambling to find ways to increase deposits to protect your institution. But a larger, more urgent risk has always been lurking. With over half of financial institutions reporting cyber attacks in a single year, your organization may be next.

Nearly every day we learn of new horror stories from financial institutions who were the victims of elaborate attacks—in fact, 55% reported being a victim of a cyber-attack in a single year.

Bad actors are becoming more sophisticated in their methods. These prevalent attacks have high costs to your business uptime and productivity. A bad attack can also damage your reputation due to closure and data loss, while still costing your bank or credit union large sums of money to pay off ransoms—and you may not even get all of your data back.

55% of financial institutions were hit by ransomware in the previous year

Financial institutions hit by cyber-attacks pay, on average, $272,655 in ransom payments. And the average overall cost to remediate the ransomware attack in this sector is $1.59 million.

Do you know where your data lives?

Where you store your data matters, and your storage location may not be optimal for disaster recovery. Storing your backups locally, even if located at another of your facilities, may not protect your data from unknown risks.

In-house servers require large capital expenditures, and you miss out on economies of scale for regular upkeep and maintenance. Giant vendors may seem convenient, but you won’t know exactly where your data resides, and you lose control over the environment.

There’s a  better way—Aunalytics backup and disaster recovery solutions can help you avoid losing data or paying large ransoms. We offer concierge solutions tailored to community banks and credit unions—helping you stay steps ahead of increasingly malicious attackers.

Enterprise Cloud Solutions Allow Businesses to Scale and Thrive

Backup and disaster recovery solutions enable the continuous operations of an organization during a disaster event, whether it involves a set of networks or servers, or when all primary IT services have become unavailable. Our solutions leverage the power of data, analytics, and Machine Learning. Disaster Recovery Services, coupled with a comprehensive backup and archival strategy, allow you to remain confident that you are prepared should your business encounter a disaster event.

Investment in Artificial Intelligence is Vital for Banks and Credit Unions

Investment in Artificial Intelligence is Vital for Banks and Credit Unions

Has your bank or credit union made investments in artificial intelligence yet?

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI), and the promise it holds for the future, have been making news all year. And it’s no wonder that financial institutions are taking notice—a recent survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit found that 77% of bankers believe that unlocking value from AI will be the differentiator between winning and losing banks. Yet, many institutions are falling behind in AI maturity.

Despite its promise, making a large investment in artificial intelligence may seem risky to many midsized financial institutions. Hiring talent, developing a data management and analytics strategy, building a data platform, and creating AI models can be both time- and resource-intensive. Banks and credit unions want to ensure that the efforts spent to get an AI program off the ground will yield a high ROI, especially in times of economic uncertainty. Yet, failure to innovate and make progress toward digital transformation is not always an option in the highly competitive landscape.

Investment in Artificial Intelligence
Financial institutions find many uses for AI technologies

Thankfully, an investment in artificial intelligence can improve many processes across an institution. AI can optimize both time- and resource-intensive tasks, decrease risk, and increase revenue by improving the customer experience. For instance, by applying AI and machine learning algorithms to transactional data, banks and credit unions can gain insights into customers or members’ habits and preferences. Some use cases include:

  • Detecting and preventing fraud
  • Identifying loan default risk at the time of application
  • Predicting customer churn
  • Winning back business by discovering customer payments going to competitors, and subsequently making a more attractive offer
  • Predicting the next best product for each customer then targeting them with the right product at the right time
  • Calculating customer value scores in order to better allocate resources to target more valuable customers

Don’t get left behind

Large banks are already utilizing artificial intelligence use cases at scale. In a recent letter to shareholders, Jamie Dimon, Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase wrote, “Artificial intelligence (AI) is an extraordinary and groundbreaking technology. AI and the raw material that feeds it, data, will be critical to our company’s future success—the importance of implementing new technologies simply cannot be overstated.”

Because of this focus, his company has made tremendous investments in AI. They currently have over 300 AI use cases in production, and employ almost 3,000 people in data management, data science, and AI-research-related roles. This underscores how vital these new technologies are to success in the future.

Unfortunately, not every institution has access to talent and technology at the scale of JPMorgan Chase. That’s why Aunaytics has developed a cloud-based data and analytics platform to provide data management, advanced reporting, and predictive AI and machine learning solutions for midsized community banks and credit unions.

Daybreak for Financial Services allows institutions to learn more about their customers and members in order to provide a better overall experience—which in turn reduces risk, increases wallet share, and reduces expenses.

Microsoft will be ending patch support for Windows 10—what does that mean for you?

Preparations to end patch support for Windows 10, and eventually end of support entirely, have been in process for quite some time on Microsoft’s part. As far back as 2021, in an article by The Verge which talks about the then upcoming Windows 11, the author commented on the end of support date for Windows 10. The current version of Windows 10, 22H2, will be the final version of Windows 10, and all editions will continue to receive monthly security update releases through the end of support on October 14, 2025. This information applies to all of the following editions of Windows 10: Home, Pro, Pro Education, and Pro for Workstations

With the end of patch support for Windows 10, vulnerabilities will begin to appear, leaving your network more exposed than ever. The number of bad actors encrypting and stealing data can be overwhelming on the best of days and can cause massive issues and downtime for your company. Any hole in your cyber security could spell disaster for your company.

While it may seem like you have plenty of time to prepare, deadlines can quietly slip by, leaving your network and machines suddenly vulnerable because they are no longer receiving support or security patches. The rate of ransomware attacks remains high, with 66% of respondents across all industries indicating they had been hacked within the last year, says Sophos in their State of Ransomware 2023 report.

With a total of 36% respondents, Sophos also reported exploited vulnerabilities as the number one root cause of ransomware attacks within the last year. Knowing that 66% of companies surveyed in the last year were attacked by malicious actors, the number of ransomware attacks with the root cause of exploited vulnerabilities is quite large.

It’s hard to admit that your network may become unsafe at any point in time, but it’s necessary if you want to be prepared for when your Windows 10 network will no longer be supported. If you can keep track of those important dates, your cyber security should be on the right track. However, it can be a huge undertaking to efficiently manage patching or replace workstations in a timely manner.

With the right partner, you can stop worrying about missing important updates, especially as the end of patch support for Windows 10 is nearing. Aunalytics has a team of security experts, as well as technical support, with the ability to act as your Network Operations Center (NOC). Aunalytics also offers Co-Managed Patching-as-a-Service and many other ways to support the technology that keeps your business up and running. With the support of an experienced Managed IT Services partner, you can rest easy knowing that your cyber security is working hard to keep your data and network safe.

Why You Should Include an Analytics Platform in your Banking Software Arsenal

Banking software is vital to the success of all financial institutions. With an increasing focus on digital transformation, banks and credit unions amass a collection of platforms and software systems. Financial institutions not only rely on their banking core, but also CRM systems, online and mobile banking applications, loan management software, payment processing systems, and wealth management, risk, and compliance software, to name a few. Not only do these systems make banking more efficient, but they are collecting data that can be used to improve the business itself.

How can financial institutions best utilize their existing data? Thanks to their existing banking software, every institution holds valuable information about each customer or member that can be used to increase their lifetime value. PWC estimates that banks can generate a 70% return on initiatives targeting existing customers versus 10% when targeting new customers.  Therefore, one of the best ways to use data to achieve better returns and higher margins is to focus on improving the customer or member experience.

Having access to an abundance of data points across various systems presents a tremendous opportunity to strengthen existing relationships—but it also poses a challenge. While each banking software system includes valuable information, it does not give the whole story. The problem for many institutions is that they have no way of getting a complete, 360-degree view of each individual from disparate software systems.

The Importance of an Analytics Platform

That is why a data and analytics platform is essential. An analytics platform can aggregate data from multiple systems, cleanse and organize that data into a 360-degree customer view, then apply artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to gain data-driven insights.

Once an analytics platform has been implemented, there are many customer intelligence use cases that can help banks and credit unions target the right customers, with the right offer, at the right time, including:

  • Gaining transaction insights – Gaining access to transaction data, paired with AI and machine learning, gives great insights into consumer spending habits and preferences.
  • Identifying competitor payments – By mining transactional data, financial institutions can discover customer payments going to competitors, then use that information to reach out to customers or members and win back business with a more attractive offer.
  • Generating product recommendations – With access to data points from several software systems, machine learning and AI models can make predictions such as the next best product to offer for each customer.
  • Predicting churn – AI algorithms identify trends in transactional data, and determine which customers are most likely to churn—so financial institutions can take actions to prevent it.
  • Calculating Customer Lifetime Value – An analytics platform can calculate customer value scores based on a large number of relevant data points using AI and machine learning. Banks and credit unions can use this information to allocate resources toward targeting customers with higher customer lifetime value scores.

These are just a few of the ways banks and credit unions can implement insights from a data and analytics platform that mines data from across their organization’s many software systems. Once the platform is implemented, any number of use cases can be developed using AI and machine learning—getting the data collected, aggregated, updated, cleansed, and organized for analytics is one of the largest obstacles for organizations.

Thankfully, Aunalytics has developed a robust data and analytics platform called Daybreak for Financial Services. Daybreak provides all of these services and more to make sure your bank or credit union is making the most of its banking software data to reduce risk, optimize processes, increase revenue, and most importantly, improve the customer or member experience.

Customer Intelligence for Financial Institutions Data Flow

A Managed IT Services Partner Gives In-House IT Teams Much-Needed Support

A Managed IT Services Partner Gives In-House IT Teams Much-Needed Support

Managing IT environments is a little bit like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re going to be faced with on any given day. Regardless of the size of your business, your company still has a unique IT infrastructure that can be difficult to manage easily and efficiently. Those variabilities are where a beneficial relationship with an experienced managed IT services partner comes into play.

Partnering with a managed services provider gives you many advantages, including support and improvement for your security initiatives, increased efficiency in your everyday technology environment, and a happy partnership can lead to cost savings in the long run.

A Managed IT Services Partner Gives In-House IT Teams Much-Needed Support

Let’s dive a little deeper into the advantages mentioned above:

  • Improved security initiatives and better support – Business organizations are often targeted by bad actors due to not only the amount, but also due to the value of the data that can be gained from stealing your important information. By providing security services, an experienced partner can better protect and insulate your company from cyberthreats. Those security services could include constant vulnerability scanning, manning a Security Operations Center (SOC) when your team is too small or too spread out to do so, and even work with you on patch management.
  • Increased efficiency – By reducing downtime in case of attack and bringing productivity back online as quickly as possible, a managed IT services partner helps keep your company up and running efficiently. In addition to keeping your company up and running from a security standpoint, a managed services partner can also help keep your data safe in case of disaster, system wipe, and more, allowing you to get back to doing what you do best as quickly as possible.
  • Cost savings – By giving your company access to advanced cloud-based technology and a drove of experts right at their fingertips, you can reduce large capital expenditures and avoid hiring more expensive full-time employees (FTEs). Let the experts do the work for you, giving your team the ability to focus on your internal initiatives instead of attempting to defend your network while shorthanded.

Regardless of your needs, enlisting the help of a managed IT services partner can help ease the burden on your business in both the short- and long-term, allowing your team to focus on working toward the future of your company with experts at their sides, helping them every step of the way. Not only is it a burden off of your team’s shoulders, but it’s also a burden off of your shoulders. Knowing that your company is secured by both your team and a trusted managed services partner gives you the peace of mind that, no matter what happens, your company is safe from serious cyber threats.

From Backup & Disaster Recovery to Cloud Storage and Advanced Security, Aunalytics offers a wide variety of managed services products, all backed by our certified and talented technology experts. We are here to work with you through both your everyday needs and those moments when disaster strikes.