Banks should explore big data capabilities now to remain competitive

by Sohini Bagchi    May 03, 2013

big data bank

Banking has always been a data-driven industry. However, with changing times, data volumes have not only increased considerably, but consumer relationships also got fragmented across several channels. Since the data is ideally used to understand consumer behavior and preferences, its analysis can provide a clearer view of the past through which enterprises can more accurately delve into the future. Banks in India are increasingly realizing that investing in big data capabilities can help them manage huge volume as well as extract new value from the exponential data.

Research firm Gartner notes that “the difference that Big Data brings to the table is an ability to pick up streaming data from various sources, as well as the ability to create predictive models and analyses on a real-time basis.”  A Gartner report reveals that 80 per cent of the data in banking and financial organizations are unstructured. By leveraging big data functionalities, banks can analyze highly unstructured data elements like images, videos, documents and e-mails will enable banks to explore new dimensions in decision making that can not only enhance customer relationships, but also help in enhancing revenue growth.

With increased competition, banks will have to use newer IT capabilities to understand and respond to customer needs better and faster and in the most effective way. Manish Behl, distinguished analyst at Forrester mentions in his blog “Banking CIOs who embrace this change will adopt big data technologies and become true business partners. The ones who don’t will be bypassed by new entrants using big data approaches and internal data from whatever market they’re currently in to analyze the banking market. These new entrants will likely influence customer preferences, question existing assumptions, and look for ways to disrupt the market.”

He recommends that banking CIOs in India should adopt an incremental open source big data approach for cost efficiency and to respond to the frequently changing customer needs. Technologies such as Hadoop and Cassandra are increasingly becoming an attractive option for CIOs helping them in bringing innovation in product and services development.

According to Behl, banks in India can adopt a cloud-based model to get faster outcome from their big data engagement. He believes that big data as –a-service model will gain a lot of momentum in the next few years because finding big data experts is becoming a challenge for enterprises.

The other area where CIOs should explore big data capabilities is with mobile technologies. “Banks should incorporate the mobile platform as big data delivery mechanism to significantly improve customer loyalty,” says Shrawan Kumar, Manager – IT, Allahabad Bank. As mobile devices are increasingly becoming an effective medium for customer engagement, banks can influence customer behavior by delivering offerings on mobile devices based on their online behavior and preferences.

However he also points out that big data can also be beneficial for banks to handle customers who neither use online nor mobile channels. “These customers use the branch and call center to take care of their daily banking needs. Often times, banks miss out on this expensive opportunity. Big data can help them analyze those call recordings and understand their preferences to make critical business decisions,” he says.

There are several ways and areas in which banks should leverage big data capabilities. As Behl points out in his blog, CIOs and banks that start their big data journey now will be in a better position to compete with their contemporaries and offer a much richer experience to their customers.