“Become an intelligent bank” for the cyber age
In the discussion ‘Welcome to the Age of Big Data’ during Wednesday’s Sibos, Andy Hirst, vice-president of banking solutions at SAP, said speed and accuracy of customer data are paramount.
“You have to become an intelligent bank,” he told delegates. “You need to be able to hold information so that it can be accessed in just a few seconds – real time information is vital.
“If you have a customer, you can’t pause to look for the right products, he has a mobile device and there’s a good chance he will find out before you and get up and leave mid-conversation.”
Fuad Mohamed, vice-president of application management at Emirates NBD, one of the UAE’s largest banks, said large-scale data management can be as valuable internally as externally.
“Our information was scattered and we knew things had to change. As well as being able to target the right customers with the right products, we also needed to be able to be more accountable to our stakeholders. Our board members went from wanting monthly reports to almost ‘as it happens’ updates.”
Hirst told the audience that at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), real-time transactions were illustrated to the bank’s customer relations managers with user friendly maps and even Google Street view so that they could see the branches they were monitoring.
“It’s important to not only gather the data, but also to relay it in an interesting, understandable, familiar way. CBA can see real-time transactions in an easy format and the team can act according to the account activity in a matter of minutes.”
Hirst’s colleague, Clemens Praendl, a senior vice-president at SAP, believes the banking industry is already playing catch-up with its clients. “A lot of wealthy under 30s don’t trust banks. They may occasionally build a relationship, but they will transact online. These young customers will dictate the future of banking and if we don’t understand what they want, we are lost. They have mobiles, they have tablets, they have their own access to information and many of them are giving advice to their parents on how to invest.”
As for the value of data collection, Mohamed said while it was difficult to gauge, the return on investment was immense. “If I take your business laptop away, how much money will you lose? The return on investment is almost impossible to measure, but it doesn’t make it any less valuable. Collecting and using real-time data is vital to the future of banking and we are developing the right technology to benefit from that. But there is a vast difference between an invention and an innovation. An invention is creating something new, an innovation is creating something you can implement with success.”
The cross-border, cross-cultural revolution of social media means there is more access to personal information than ever, but Hirst insists this could be as much of a hindrance as a help.
“Social media presents a lot of confusion and regulatory issues. Many banks are going to be very wary of using information for business propositions, even if that information is already in the public domain. What, for instance, if a bank sees on your Facebook page that you have just got married? Is it ethical to call you to offer mortgage advice? It’s something of a minefield that will need some fairly heavy legislation and regulation.”