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Tuesday, 30 August 2016 12:10

You can bank on it, data is big business for the ANZ

By Staff Writers
Darren Abbruzzese, ANZ Bank Darren Abbruzzese, ANZ Bank

Data storage and the strategic use of data for giving businesses a competitive advantage is a significant factor in businesses today, and no more so than in the banking industry.

For banks like the ANZ, the amount of data produced at the bank, like many businesses, is “exploding” and increasingly becoming a core, strategic asset of the organisation, and must be “curated, managed, protected and leveraged just like any other strategic asset”.

iTWire sat down, ahead of Corinum Intelligence’s Chief Data and Analytics Officer Forum (CDAO) in Melbourne from 5 to 7 September, to discuss the ANZ Bank’s use of data with Darren Abbruzzese, general manager, Technology Data at ANZ, who is a keynote speaker at the upcoming event.

Here’s what Darren Abbruzzese had to say:

iTWire: You will be speaking on “data at the heart of everything we do” – how have ANZ’s data needs changed in the last 18 months?

Darren Abbruzzese: Providing customers with a fantastic experience is absolutely critical in developing and maintaining deep and engaging relationships. The minimum expectation around what is a "great customer experience" is being continually lifted by interactions our customers have every day with companies like Uber, Facebook, Google and the like. These companies are really raising the bar on what a great digital experience is all about. Customers then come to their bank and expect a similar level of experience. We are embracing that challenge and working to deliver a standout customer experience, both digital and through our branches. We can only achieve that if we make the best use of our data. A great customer experience, one that is tailored to the individual and their specific needs, can only be successful if we use the data we share between us and the customer to its full extent.  This helps us create a unique and engaging experience for our customers, and it will lead to a more engaging relationship than they’ve had in the past.

What are your top technology investments in the coming year?

Big data and fast data are major priorities. The amount of data we produce as a bank is exploding and we need to ensure we’ve got the tools to harness and make use of that data, which is where our big data capability comes in. But having a scaled infrastructure and Hadoop capability is not in itself enough. As a customer, I want real-time information and I want it relevant for my specific interaction. This is where fast data comes in. Moving away from earlier batch-based patterns and towards real-time capture and exposure of data into our internal and customer-facing channels is a key pillar to our strategy of developing a digital bank.

How will ANZ’s group data transformation programme cater to the diverse enterprise needs?

As a large organisation, servicing millions of customers across a multitude of countries and segments we certainly have a diverse set of needs when it comes to data. Trying to deliver to the needs of the organisation via individual solutions won’t get us very far. Instead, our approach is to shape our delivery around solving common bank-wide problems, and being lean in our approach so we can learn, react and move at pace. Some of those common problems are things like data sourcing and collecting millions of data points from hundreds of platforms on a daily basis and consolidating that into joined up, usable models. If we solve that common problem we will make consumption of data via reporting easier and faster. Having a view about a medium-term architecture is also critical. While the technology in the data landscape is moving fast, the capability we need to help deliver our strategy is clear. Building common assets in line with that architecture will help us move at pace and solve for individual business or project needs.

What are the leadership challenges educating and synchronising a global data team?

It really comes down to being clear on our purpose and ensuring our staff understands what we are trying to achieve and why. If everyone is clear on what will make us successful, and how as a team we will add value to the organisation, then day-to- day decision making will be faster and more aligned to strategy. That’s easier said than done though and requires a lot of work.  Putting our purpose in a PowerPoint pack and emailing it around isn’t going to cut it.  We need to continually reinforce our purpose through concrete measures such as our org structure, operating model, architecture, delivery processes and KPIs. We can talk about purpose, but if we embed it in the way we work then it will become part of the culture.

What’s your opinion on the view that the CDO role is just a flash in the pan job title that will eventually become merged or lost amongst the web of new C-suite titles?

Banks traditionally have seen their deposits and loans as strategic assets, and also their customers, staff and technology.  In each of these cases, there’s been solid management structures established in recognition of the importance of these assets to the future of the organisation. So we have a bunch of C-suite roles to lead these functions. Data has emerged as a core, strategic asset of any organisation that needs to be curated, managed, protected and leveraged just like any other strategic asset. Data needs a clear organisational strategy – what will we use data for and how will it help make us successful? It needs to be managed and protected. Whether it needs a chief data officer really depends on each organisation and how they operate. That might be a role absolutely critical in raising the profile and importance of data, or it might be something the chief executive themselves will define and drive. In other cases, generally where data is already more maturely managed, it has already been well-embedded into the organisation on many levels.

What do you consider to be the key building blocks to establishing an effective data governance framework?

Two key pillars: the first is the age-old problem of “garbage in / garbage out”. Start with what are the key data elements for your organisation and put in place processes to govern the collection, checking and cleaning of data right from the source and throughout its lifecycle. Someone needs to be accountable for this process or it won’t happen, or it will happen for a few months and then fall away. The second pillar is ensuring you have really strong information security and user access management in place. Nothing will destroy the credibility of your data programme more, and perhaps even your organisation itself, if you were to suffer a data breach via internal or external means.  It’s an important asset so protect it.

What do you believe to be the most common form of ‘bad data’ and what effect can that have an organisation?

Poor data quality management can have a really detrimental impact. If poor data capture and management processes allow inaccurate, or wrong, or misleading data to pollute your key information assets then all the investments you’ve made into building a data capability will be for nothing. Your reporting won’t be trusted and you’ll spend countless hours trying to explain it. Your analytical efforts will return misleading signals potentially leading to sub-optimal or downright disastrous decisions. Your data program will lose credibility — as will you as you’ll be left to explain the bad outcomes, even though you may not have controlled the input. So clearly, data quality right from the start is really important. Again, it comes down to data being a core asset of high value and needs to be treated as such.

The financial services industry understands the value and power of data, why do you think that is? How do you see that developing in the next 3-5 years, with particular reference to the use of analytics?

Banks have appreciated the value of data and what that means for their businesses for a long time. It’s only been in the last few years as the tools and capability have started to mature that banks have begun to make better use of their data and do it at scale. I believe we are only at the start of this journey. Banks have been pretty good at developing digital channels for their customers, and these are the predominate ways that customers now interact with their bank for simple transactions, but looking forward it is by blending data into all of our channels that will drive the next great leap forward. Using analytics to really understand the needs of the individual customer, recognising what they need and are likely to need in the future, and building that into their mobile and desktop interface in an engaging way is where banks will go next and it’s pretty exciting.

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