Big data is a nebulous topic. There has been much hype about the subject over the past several years. While it is a difficult task for financial institutions to tackle, there are ways to find success. Not boiling the ocean is a good place to start. Little data holds great promise with the right focus and the right people to manage it.
Implementing a useful data program means understanding what you want to gain from it, having access to the data, and bringing together the talent to make it work. I heard a stat at a recent industry event that data scientists spend about 70 percent of their time wrangling data. It is therefore important to manage expectations and allow them time to find its meaning and usefulness. The return is going to be worth the wait.
Analytic tools like Hadoop and Cassandra are just one element of the big data picture. On the people side, the talent needs to be inquisitive, challenging, and disrupting but they also need to be ingrained in the business so they understand what the needs are. Only then can they find the gold nuggets in their mining efforts. It is also critical for an institution to be willing to step out of their comfort zone. Risk management is important, but being bold with data is necessary to see success.
You have the data, the people, and a willingness to be bold. Now what? You need to choose a goal and deliver your message to the market. Charlotte Metro Federal Credit Union implemented a life stage marketing campaign using “little data” about their customer base and crafted a plan that reached a wide audience with varying product needs.
They began by identifying signals of a life-change—jewelry, bridal and baby store purchases, surname changes, new individuals in the household, and significant age changes (16, 18, 62, 65, etc). This data was used to create a friendly message showing their customers they are there for them through all the changes in their lives. They didn’t segment it to a specific population or product, the same message was sent to everyone who triggered an identified event. This removed the creepiness factor, not to mention avoiding the horror caused by the Target ads that revealed a teen pregnancy to her father.
The campaign has been successful with an average profit of $5,132 per product sold—proof that little data is powerful and profitable.
Your customers want you to know them, take care of them, and reward them. Using data is not just about bringing value to the bank—instead focus on how it can benefit your customers and their businesses. Data can identify customer pain points, detect regulatory risks, and drive meaningful action. You don’t need to boil the ocean; the data will lead you where you can start making small fixes that will yield big returns.