Artificial Intelligence Enters the Mainstream

Use technology to meet member expectations for personalized products and services.

By Shazia Manus, Chief Strategy & Business Development Officer, AdvantEdge Analytics

The following article first appeared in Credit Union Magazine on June 12, 2019.

Several new market realities are putting pressure on credit unions to adapt and evolve, an undertaking difficult for any industry, and particularly one rooted in altruism.

When you exist for your members, you view the prospect of change through their eyes. Especially when technology is part of the change equation, purpose-driven, tenured leaders often fear a tech revolution inside the cooperative could alter the credit union’s DNA.

One such technology causing apprehension today is artificial intelligence (AI).

But consider this: Technology is just a tool, a means to an end. Taking care of members is that end, and a tool doesn’t change that. It can simply enhance a credit union’s effectiveness at meeting fast-changing member expectations for highly personalized products and services.


Why consider AI?

While many in the credit union space believe AI has the potential to improve their cooperatives, they are unsure exactly how or when they will integrate AI into their operations. An AdvantEdge Analytics 2018 survey of 263 senior and C-suite credit union executives showed a near perfect split between those who expect to use AI in the next 3 to 5 years and those who do not.

Some of this is likely due to the fact AI in banking is still in its infancy. Although the technology has been around for decades, it has only recently become democratized enough to enter the mainstream financial institution environment.

That will change, and rapidly. New AI case studies with eye-opening results are giving more credit union executives reason to look closer at the technology.

Machine-human collaboration

The most effective AI strategies today have one thing in common: They succeed thanks to collaboration between humans and machines.

So, how can humans and machines work together to optimize credit union operations and improve the member experience? Here are just a few of the many possibilities.

  • A machine learning platform provides prescriptive analysis on a product likely to enhance the financial wellness of a member. A human contact center agent delivers the offer with the help of a hyper-personalized script. The platform learns over time which phrases, call times and other factors trigger positive outcomes.
  • A chatbot answers basic questions via voice, text and/or messaging apps. More complex questions are routed to a credit union staff member who is immediately apprised of all relevant information and authentication data. Not having to ask the member to repeat information streamlines the inquiry.
  • Propensity models offer suggestions for personalizing a web page or mobile banking pop-up based on where the member is in his or her financial journey. Credit union marketers layer content and creativity on top of the suggestions, helping migrate a member from interest to purchase.

Since the dawn of the Information Age, humans have filled the gaps between what technology can do and what the enterprise needs. AI fills its own gaps, rapidly evolving without the need for human intervention. The result is not the replacement of humans; it is the freeing up of humans to engage in more valuable activities.

When we spend less time on menial, repetitive tasks, we are free to apply our humanity to next-level thinking and purpose-driven initiatives, two competencies critical to the transformation and growth of the credit union movement.

This article is an excerpt from the white paper, “How Humans and Machines Will Transform the Credit Union Industry.” To download and read the paper in its entirety, visit