Technology transforms Great North Bank

Posted on Jan 30, 2019 :: Partner
Posted by Mark Burger and Dan Miller

Whether your business has thousands of employees and offices across the United States or a regional firm looking to grow into new markets, digital transformation can help you get ahead of the competition in this new era of innovation with an emphasis on value.

Even though smaller organizations have historically been challenged to access the same high-quality resources as larger businesses, technology has everyone on a more level playing field. Digital transformation is accessible to every business, and it’s even evolving traditional industries such as banking.

For one regional banking chain in northern Wisconsin — Great North Bank — digital transformation was the key to creating a mobile workforce, enabling greater collaboration and creating a stronger competitive advantage. We recently sat down with Michael Sullivan, chief operating officer of Great North Bank, to discuss how investing in technology and outsourcing its IT functions benefited his organization.

“Mobility to us is not just people on the go, but also people working remotely,” Sullivan said. “We’re looking to hire for specific skill sets. People are hard to find anywhere, but it’s especially so in small markets.”

The biggest technology priority for Great North Bank was creating a mobile workforce so it could not only hire more remote workers in markets across the country, but also ensure the workforce could communicate and collaborate with each other. Whether employees worked in a Great North Bank location or at home, the bank’s mobility solution allowed them to connect easily, which changed how Great North Bank recruits.

“The technology helped us attract experienced, skilled people from a wider pool of talent. We’re recruiting employees we never would have been able to before,” Sullivan said.

The move transitioned Great North Bank and allowed it to focus on the ability to get things done virtually, whether it’s through cultivating a mobile workforce or collaborating with examiners and auditors remotely.

But a mobility solution wasn’t the only technology tool Great North Bank focused on. To strengthen its competitive advantage, the bank needed to be more agile and connected. By building out and implementing an extensive technology plan focused on better linking its organization and processes, Great North Bank changed the way it did things internally. The work its done over the past year highlights the incredible role technology plays in helping all organizations evolve and compete in a changing landscape.

A few of the big technology tools implemented over 12 months include a CRM solution, a company-wide intranet, Skype for messaging, phone calls and video conferencing, and a training portal. While Great North Bank has fewer employees than it did before the transition, it is 60 percent larger in revenue. The efficiency the bank gained by investing in technology and changing its processes is just that significant — and it has the potential to help the company scale dramatically. Using Microsoft applications to collaborate, the bank can reach markets it didn’t think was possible two years ago.

Finding the right resources

Because Great North Bank’s core competency lies in banking, its staff members are focused on building relationships with customers and providing the best banking solutions rather than technology. Bank officials knew from the beginning they needed to choose the right firm to collaborate with on building out its digital transformation. As a national consulting firm with an experienced technology practice and a local presence in northern Wisconsin, Wipfli LLP was the partner
of choice.

“We didn’t want to be limited by one person’s thoughts about what the technology for our organization should look like,” Sullivan said. “Wipfli, as a partner, gave us people, technical skills and the confidence to say,’” This is where we want to go.’”

As for one of the most important benefits of technology — metrics — Great North Bank is poised to utilize the data it receives from Wipfli’s outsourced managed technology solution to make smarter, more informed decisions. For a small business in a small market, that’s key to its future growth and success. Technology — and digital transformation — will continue to play a significant role in
Great North Bank’s strategic planning.


Mark Burger is a senior consultant in the information technology (IT) consulting practice. His primary responsibility is to collaborate with business owners, leaders and technical staff to align technology with their organization’s objectives and develop strategic technology roadmaps to guide them forward. Mark specializes in helping organizations navigate complex decisions related to the use of cloud-based technology solutions.

With more than 34 years of experience, Dan Miller is a senior manager on the information technology (IT) management team in Wipfli LLP’s Green Bay office. He works with clients in the areas of technology infrastructure, IT strategic planning and staff development, technology risk management, business continuity planning and information security.


On the Web