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Are banks making the most of their data?

Data driven-thinking is a vital part of business in the modern era, but for all the chat about the value of analytics is anyone actually walking the walk?

ANZ chief information officer Scott Collary and chief operating officer, enterprise services Craig Sims sat down to talk about how companies are using analytics in the age of big data. They started by addressing the way banks have used analytics in the modern era.

"The tools we need to take the next step with data are available. I just wonder if companies are really taking advantage of it."
Scott Collary, CIO, ANZ

SC: The actual capability of a lot of the analytics on customer data for making decisions about sales, service and those types of things has been around since the mid-90s. Back then there were direct marketing firms and banks that did a fantastic job with analytics, statistical modelling, real-time response feedback and things like that.

When I look today I see some of the same business cases being presented for modern analytical tools. Cynically, it makes me ask if we've really made any progress in the last 25 years because frankly it is the same conversation with the same use cases.

I think the tools and the capabilities we need to take the next step with data are available. The processes are available. I just wonder if companies, especially in financial services, are really taking advantage of it.

You should have tangible results. We hear more stories about companies that are but I haven't seen the hard numbers. I haven't seen the dollars coming in. It's absolutely critical and it's absolutely something you can rationalise and put your hands on.

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Pic: Daniel Haynes

CS: You're right. We've been talking about this for a while at industry level. Part of the current benefit of data is banks are more mobile, more real time and customers are interacting with banks in more ways than ever before.

As a result, customers expect banks to know what they are doing with this data and to reuse their information to make it easier for them to do business with us.

So the reality is banks use people, processes and technology to bring our experiences to life. If we put data in the middle of that and use it widely than we can help our customers do more with us.

SC: We can see where it is having an effect at ANZ. The A-Z Reviews we're doing in branches, they're a real-time collection of data that leads to an immediate ability to provide customers with more of what they need.

CS: The good thing about that product is a few years ago it was all done on paper. So the only person who could use that was the one with that piece of paper in their drawer.

Today with the technology we can take information, start a discussion in one place and finish it elsewhere. Then other teams can take those insights and give the customer the next best offer somewhere else.

So we are doing it but to be honest, we have more aspirations in terms of where we could do more.

SC: The one everyone always talks about is Amazon. They started with "customers who bought this, also bought these other things".

It's still their model – and they do a lot of advanced analytics, a lot of data collection, but they also do a lot of manual tagging in that process to make relevancies more of an objective vs subjective play. But there's still a lot of human interaction in that process people don't realise.

CS: Getting the culture around data right is very important. Part of the way we are dealing with it is having our top teams saying “this is what we need to be focussing on". Then following that up with an enterprise data team.

It's important too to be realistic with staff about the way we will use data. Will data end up replacing people that make decisions? The reality is no.

What it will do is help us make smarter decisions by having enough information to make an informed call and get on with it. It's not all about the technology it's actually about how you use the data and build awareness.

SC: The data privacy and restriction piece is going to continue to grow. It's the number one thing that keeps most of us up at night. Not that we have them, I think we do a very nice job. The fact is we're under constant threat.

Governments are adapting to this. We're seeing that today from a data security perspective and also from an onshore perspective. Countries are taking a very sovereign position saying “I want my data stored onshore" so they have access to it, whether it's from a privacy or regulatory perspective.

CS: Look, some of our regulators are no different to our customers. They want our data to be timely, accurate and relevant. Our big challenge now is we have all this data – how do we use it?

It always comes back to not starting with the data – start with what customer outcome you want and that will guide what you do with the data.

SC: That's right. And I know what I said earlier might make me seem sceptical, but I'm not.

Data is going to help us transform from the company we are today, into the one that's going to be really competitive and on the forefront tomorrow.

Scott Collary is CIO and Craig Sims is COO, Enterprise services at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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