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Recap - AFT 2017 Spring Summit

CSI Refocuses Strategic Growth Initiative

Stan Eckenberg, President and COO of Paducah, Ky.-based core processor Computer Services, Inc. (CSI), a longtime member of the Association for Financial Technology, generously offered insights into his company’s strategic growth initiative at the 2017 AFT Spring Meeting in Amelia Island, Fla.

Eckenberg, a two-time AFT president, provided a quintessential presentation that other attendees could use to make their company stronger by providing intellectual nourishment. “That’s the tradition of AFT, that’s what I’ve always loved about AFT and why we’re here,” he said.

“Over the last 50 years we’ve seen tons of change and the only way that we’re still here as one of a handful of core processors left in the industry is by reinventing ourselves over and over again,” Eckenberg stated. “That’s how you make it to 52 years in this business.”

CSI’s last transformational period began in January 2011. Even though CSI at the time was very successful by any measure they decided to forge ahead with what they viewed as necessary changes. Eckenberg mentioned the concept of the sigmoid curve, which refers to a route to continued business success and technological growth.

Change was necessary in today’s market with:

  • Fewer companies
  • Price and profit pressures
  • New government regulations

Internally they saw an aging management team. In 2011, CSI changed its course and set out to develop a method to produce better leaders. They created a development group as part of a leadership program.

Eckenberg described how CSI also needed more bench strength in their organization and a more inefficient operation in certain areas due to five acquisitions in eight years.

Therefore, in 2011, they developed their strategic growth initiative, broken down in four broad categories: innovation, talent, acquisition, and regulatory compliance.

They also needed to establish a national brand, Eckenberg commented at the time they had five national brands. “You can’t have five national brands.”

So, they set out to combine company assets under a unified brand, build a unified sales team, and looked to reset customer service, reporting, product development, operations and titles.

They formed a succession plan, and formed groups, not divisions, built around financial services, technology services, and regulatory compliance.

“We did core processing for about 400 banks, but we had about 2,700 customers,” Eckenberg explained. CSI does business in 50 states and 11 foreign countries.

Results following the transformation to the new CSI showed customer satisfaction ratings up, retention skyrocketing, and cross sales improved dramatically, simply because they had a unified mission.

Looking ahead Eckenberg emphasized “We’re looking to diversify our revenues.” He added, “There are tangent industries that need our products, especially in the area of compliance.” Online services like Google and Facebook, people in the payments industry like Stripe; and other companies like DHL trucking and Uber. “We found this niche and now we are doubling down.”