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A solid digital strategy is just the beginning. Credit unions must take into account a wide range of other considerations when evaluating the right organizational approach. Among these: the urgency for change based on competition and emerging trends; the technical and digital sophistication of the credit union; the current level of investment in technology and tools; the knowledge base and capabilities available for digital efforts; the readiness of business processes and systems to support digital; and the realities of credit union culture that can hinder or support change, or attract and retain top talent.

Ultimately, the way credit unions organize for digital is a function of the strategy and analysis of these issues. Some credit unions will choose to establish separate digital units to jump-start an initiative. In order to quickly develop a capability in analytics, for example, some companies are building dedicated analytics teams in a completely separate location where the expertise can be found. Other companies will create “virtual business units” that draw in cross-functional resources and provide both structure and creative freedom to pursue digital opportunities. One advantage of a centralized digital team also may enable your organization to attract and retain more experienced leaders and ensure a coordinated and strategic approach to digital initiatives. When digital needs to be part of everyday business operations or when it has matured sufficiently, companies are more likely to integrate digital capabilities into existing functions and business units.

As member demand for a seamless omnichannel experience has grown, many financial institutions that originally established separate e-commerce units with distinct leadership and resources are now reconsidering whether to integrate digital into the overall business. Such integration has encouraged the broader use of digital marketing techniques to drive members to the branches, experimentation with geo-targeting and SMS messaging for special events, and the creation of customized apps.

For many credit unions, organizing around digital is initially less about whether or not to establish a separate digital business unit or even whether to add specific digital capabilities than about building a culture that thinks and behaves differently — one that is flexible enough to take advantage of the digital forces that matter to the business over time. You can spend a lot of time chasing the latest shiny object and miss something much more fundamental: That is, the need to develop a set of behaviors that makes digital part of your culture. The number-one priority around digital technology is becoming digital and making digital part of your culture — moving quickly, adapting and integrating, innovating, and developing competency with the collection and analysis of data. Credit unions can begin to shift their cultures by seeding teams with digital evangelists who can model and teach these attributes, or by encouraging senior leaders to participate in “boot camps” that help them understand digital trends and their impact on business. The most successful digital enterprises embed disruptive ideation into their regular business planning.

Finally, it is important to recognize that reviewing the digital forces that are meaningful for your business, refining your strategy and evaluating organizational challenges are an ongoing process that never ends. Organizational approaches cannot be static and must evolve as strategic priorities change. Every organizational structure is temporary because you are constantly matching your credit union against what tomorrow’s opportunity will be, and tomorrow’s opportunity changes as you learn.

Download the 10-Step Action Guide to Kickstart your Digital Transformation Journey.

Join us September 28 for the Digital Transformation Webinar Series: Grow Your Capacity for Change: How Credit Unions Can Thrive in Dynamic Markets.

CO-OP Financial Services partnered with NOBL, an Organizational Design Firm, to assess the readiness of credit unions for change. During this webinar, Bud Caddell, NOBL Founder, and Uwe Hook, Digital Transformation Consultant, will share with the audience an inside look at the opportunities and threats facing credit unions today, as well as first steps you can take to grow your capacity for change.

Register now