Strategic Link 2020: Ready to Bring High-Tech Value to Northwest Credit Unions


As we enter a new decade, the tech race will only continue to heat up. To remain competitive and a step ahead of their members’ expectations, credit unions will need to find the right business partners offering cutting-edge products and services. That’s where Strategic Link comes in.

There are a number of ways the Strategic Link team works to accomplish that particular goal, said Vice President of Strategic Resources, Jason Smith. Whether it’s by staying steadfastly up-to-date on those who are investing in the latest technology, attending industry events that showcase emerging trends, or by continuing its personal outreach in the credit union and business communities that the team is known for.

“One of our goals focuses on the importance of working together. We want to help Northwest credit unions have a collective voice at the table with business partners and investors, not just to receive what comes out of the process but also to help guide the process as a large group that represents the leading credit union association in the country,” said Smith.

Last year, Strategic Link brought innovation and emerging technology to its members through its work with the Value Creation Task Force, which is made up of leaders from member credit unions who evaluate the latest industry solutions and best practices. According to Smith, this initiative is a prime example of what working together can accomplish and exceeds member expectations.

“We’re excited to highlight our betaSpace partners and leading industry solutions in 2020. Partners like Iluma Labs, Eltropy, and Narmi, along with many others, are offering great value for our members,” Smith said.

Strategic Link continues to help its credit union members stay a step ahead of their members’ expectations by being a thought leader, bringing value and new ideas to the Northwest.

2020 Priorities and Trends
  1. Voice Technology

There is a growing focus on the future of “voice” in emerging technology. Some industry experts have gone so far as to say that the advances in voice technology will one day be bigger than the internet itself. One of Strategic Link’s partners in this area, Iluma Labs, won Best in Show at VentureTech 2019.

  1. Artificial Intelligence

There’s no doubt that AI is going to continue to drive business in a number of ways in 2020. It’s leading the way in determining customer preferences, as well as risk and fraud detection, and as companies continue to research and develop its capacity, its value for credit unions will grow. 

  1. Data Analytics

Credit unions that interpret and make changes based on data stay ahead of industry shifts in several ways. Reliable data helps to increase operational efficiency. By studying and responding to it, credit unions will be able to identify and support their members’ needs. Data is critical to developing a strategic marketing plan for new products.

  1. Small-Pilot Tests

There is an opportunity for credit unions to compete with larger financial institutions and banks by being nimble and willing to test small-pilot solutions in the emerging tech space. Products such as voice recognition and voice authentication are coming onto the scene and Northwest credit unions can help determine their effectiveness through pilot programs in order to move more quickly and bring innovation to their members.

  1.  Blockchain

Blockchain technology is expected to continue to play a role in some aspects of operational risk management. Many fintech companies are integrating blockchain technology into apps that optimize offerings via mobile platforms. Blockchain also plays an important role in personal identity security to reduce fraud risk.

Smith also stresses the importance of the Value Creation Task Force’s work in 2020 and the role it plays in ensuring that NWCUA members stay a step ahead of their members’ expectations. The group looks at companies that are well-aligned to serve credit union members’ needs. It’s top-of-mind for the group to bring the best of the best to NWCUA members.

“I may see something and bring it back to the VCTF and they may not think it’s the right or best thing for the members, and that’s why this group is so important,” Smith said. “The task force selects businesses for the high degree of relevancy, innovation, and customization capabilities they bring to member credit unions.

“We’re always looking to get stronger and better to support our members. All of our Northwest credit unions are thought leaders and they’re doing incredible things,” said Smith. “We’re all working together—and we’re just scratching the surface. Last year we were excited to highlight our business partners during MAXX and our inaugural CU Pitch contest. We’re anxious to see what this year’s contest will bring. We know that 2020 is going to be another great year for credit unions,” Smith said.

To learn about the latest Strategic Link business partners, visit them online. If you’re interested in learning more about the Value Creation Task Force, contact Jason Smith, VP Strategic Resources, at 208-286-6794.

Posted in GoWest Solutions.