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2024 AC&E: Friday is All About AI

MCUL CEO Patty Corkery opened Friday morning’s Center Stage by announcing that during this year's Bids for Kids silent & live auction benefiting Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals raised more than $62,000. These donations directly impact critical treatments, innovative research, essential equipment and vital services for children and families in need. Corkery also thanked the families at the live auction who shared their CMN stories.

Over three days, Corkery said attendees raised more than $100,000 for CMN Hospitals through the auctions, Fun Run/Walk and Golf Outing.

Our Digital Future with Dr. Lamont Black

dlbDr. Lamont Black, a finance professor at DePaul University, presented at Friday morning’s Center Stage on “Our Digital Future.” He is a recognized expert on emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, blockchain and the metaverse. He recently joined Filene Research Institute as a Fellow and is now doing research on “The Credit Union of the Future.”

Black started with the phrase, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” to illustrate how quickly member expectations are changing from older delivering methods, like in-person meetings, to the digital via tools like digital wallets, instant payments, omnichannel and many decentralized platforms.

These are things that could radically change the way you do business,” he said. “Each of these trends are going to come knocking on your door and you need to know how you’re going to answer.”

“The day-to-day operations are important, but if you don’t start educating yourself on these trends, what is your role in the market going to be in the coming years?” asked Black.

To illustrate this, he brought up Blockbuster Video as an example. They owned the market on home video, until suddenly they didn’t when Netflix came around.

“You don’t want to be the next Blockbuster,” said Black. “I’m not telling you you need to leave behind your core values, it’s about reevaluating who you are, seeing what you bring to the table. It means readapt, reinvent who you are in the current conversation.”

While not being anti-partnership, Black said he thinks it’s a huge mistake to completely rely on vendors to keep you from falling behind. Instead, he advocates for creative collaboration. Additionally, don’t settle for “okay” when you have potential to be great, due to the collaborative nature of the credit union industry.

Black then turned to artificial intelligence (AI). This is the year to be having this conversation, he said, saying ChatGPT’s immersion on the scene last year was a game-changer.

“The question is, how do we apply this technology? If you don’t adapt and have this conversation, the world is going to change around you.”

Black presented the phrase “Horizontal + Vertical” to explain how you put together these different applications of AI and how to gradually get started on your AI journey.

The Horizontal refers to applications that span across the organization — not a specific tool but a general tool that anyone in your organization can pick up and use. Horizontal applications are designed to be used, while vertical applications are use cases, or “deep dives,” that most people in the organization don’t need to understand.

ChatGPT is horizontal, he said. There are many ways in which employees are using ChatGPT in the credit union today. The question is, are you talking about it? Many employees might not be talking about it because they don’t know how senior leadership feels about it.

The same way employees are using ChatGPT, he said, can also be how members can be using the same tools via member-facing uses that improve credit union service and access more of a member base.

Cybercrime & Fraud with Jen Anthony

djaCorkery introduced Jen Anthony, VP of Cybersecurity and Risk at Think|Stack, to the stage for a moderated discussion on cybercrime and fraud. Anthony has more than 24 years of experience in national defense, corporate technology and the nonprofit sector.

Anthony focused on ransomware, and began by attempting to demystify what ransomware is, simply calling it an attack, “an attempt to take advantage of you.” And the perpetrators are no longer the 18-year-olds in their grandmother’s basement, she said, but it’s global, done for a lot of money and no credit union is too small to be attacked.

She also demystified the darkweb, by calling it “just the internet, but not indexed,” and people are using it to easily access ransomware tools. It does not cost a lot of money, said Anthony.

While appreciating what the NCUA does, she said a “green light” from the NCUA does not mean that you are not vulnerable to ransomware attacks. Technology moves too fast for examiners to have the appropriate checklist.

“We have some responsibility in this room to raise the digital IQ of credit unions,” she said. “Everyone in this room, you don’t need to know how to set up a firewall, but you need to know why it’s important.”

Anthony told attendees that each credit union is only as safe as the weakest link on its team. You can have all the tools and technology in place, but one member on a staff can click on the wrong link and let in all the “bad guys.”

It is imperative that everyone on your team become technologically savvy and responsible for the credit union’s data, she said, imploring credit unions to have regular conversations about this, to raise awareness and, ultimately, raise the digital IQ.

Anthony finished by telling credit unions to be upfront with the fact that you will be victims. When you get that out of the way, she said, you can start to invest in your response plan. Additionally, she said to make your response plan practical and usable by team members.

Navigating the Future: Harnessing AI in HR for Enhanced Engagement and Efficiency

djpBryan Begola, VP of sales at Salus Group, led a AI-based presentation on Friday afternoon that took a different angle, human resources.

Begola is at the forefront of the consumer-driven healthcare movement, focusing on medium-to-large sized credit unions to reinvent/revise their group health strategies. He said he sees a diverse range of perspectives on using AI in HR from credit unions. Regardless where you stand, Begola says he believes AI is here to stay.

The most common place he sees AI at play in HR is on job descriptions, but there’s plenty of other ways to use it. Primary among them is in candidate sourcing and screening. AI can analyze resumes to predict job fit, eliminating human biases along the way — so long as AI tools are being used responsibly.

Begola also recommended AI for the use of onboarding and training, where it can be used to create training simulations, onboarding forms, algorithms for personalized employee training paths and creating pathways for continuous team member learning.

Another recommendation was using AI to assess and improve employee wellbeing, where tools such as mental health chatbots and data-based care plan personalization can be used to the benefit of team members.

Of course, all of these uses have ethical considerations. Begola told attendees that it’s paramount to be upfront and transparent about AI use, and allow employees the choice to opt out if uncomfortable. This process also includes necessary human oversight of any and all use, so that HR teams can ensure fairness is properly calibrated and access remains equitable.

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