Business intelligence (BI) plays an integral part in every organization. Thinking more strategically about integrating and communicating data can help any banking organization improve its BI practices.
Most often companies modernizing their business processes and technologies rely on solution suites or data visualization tools like Tableau and Qlikview to deliver results.
Industry studies and our experience suggest that most organizations that adopt this approach end up disillusioned due to poor adoption on account of people, process, and technology issues, including:
- Business users fail to adopt due to products requiring high technical skills
- Lack of awareness and change management
- Metrics are not useful, or tracking or too many metrics are tracked
- Tool is incompatible with the latest devices
- Lack of proper data management infrastructure
The principal reason for suboptimal outcomes is the lack of a comprehensive, structured, and tailored strategy that starts with a focused assessment of key issues, gaps in data processes, and the alignment of processes with people and technology.
EXL’s client, a large African bank, wanted to avoid these BI transformation issues and achieve goals including:
- Align business processes to produce incremental value generating opportunities and provide insight and foresight into products and services, customers, and overall profitability.
- Align technology architecture and data systems
- Align people to adapt to change
The bank wanted to understand its customer profitability and improve lifecycle management through descriptive and predictive analytics. The company also wished to digitize the bank’s processes to reduce time spent on manual tasks and receive business insights in a timely manner for faster decision making, as well as automated processes providing real-time reports on key business drivers.
Prior to engaging EXL, the initial approach to achieving the bank’s objectives looked only at the technological aspect of collating, manipulating the data, and using the right BI tool to visualize it. While this produced some results, it failed to look at the problem holistically. A number of challenges cropped up, such as data not flowing as intended, the business not conforming to definitions, multiple sources for the same information, technological incompatibilities of the BI tool with the current infrastructure, and other issues.
These problems required a structured approach. In order to address these problems, a three-pillar framework was devised focusing on solutions for the people, processes, and technology aspects. Together, these pillars would support the reporting, analysis and planning needs of the organization.
Initially, EXL worked closely with the client’s leaders to identify a common book of work and which key performance indicators (KPIs) were necessary to check the health of the organization. Through this effort, the client organization arrived at the insight that too many reports were being generated that didn’t add any value to the organization, resulting in a lot of extra effort and cost.
Aligning the business process to a common book of work added a lot of value to the organization and saved costs for the company.
EXL also looked at the metrics the company was using for its reports. In this project, most metrics included in the existing reports did not add any value, but required a lot of effort involved in sourcing, computing and reporting. The BI development team identified the key metrics which were essential to run the business and could be standardized across the different countries the bank served. The team revisited all the reports being produced, collaborated with the business stakeholders, and assessed the value of reports. This extensive exercise reduced the number of reports to one fifth of the existing volume.
This project used Tableau as the data visualization tool. As the data was structured, it could not handle heavy data manipulation. The BI development team created a proof of concept for the proposed design and got a confirmation for the same from the stakeholders, ensuring minimum future rework.
The Tableau reports were published on a server and appropriate accesses were given to maintain data privacy, as the bank’s branches from different countries of the African continent can’t see each other’s data. The visuals were refreshed on a T+1 basis, which enabled faster decision making.
Additionally, the team also looked at the client’s information governance practices. Information governance plays a vital role in maintaining high quality of data, from source to the end-user, ensuring compliance with legal regulations, gauging performance and monitoring strategic initiatives.
The BI development team worked closely with the client’s information governance team to solve issues including:
- Data Quality: Some data points had missing values and incorrect information.
- Data Latency: Some data streams had a latency issue. For instance, in one case, accounts created in previous months were reflected as accounts for the current month when transferred to the data warehouse.
- Data Capture: Data from third-party vendors was not flowing directly into the data warehouse.
- Data Security: The BI development team ensured that the bank’s clients and regulators had access to only the data they were allowed to see using a machine intelligence tool.
Also, the team had to ensure that no personal information of customer, like Social Security numbers or credit card numbers, are shown in the visualization tools.
As a part of data development process, a data mart was developed using a Teradata data mart solution, moved into pre-production for testing, and finally into production after user acceptance testing and getting approval for the team responsible for governance and maintenance of the data warehouse. The data mart was configured to be refreshed on a T+1 basis for real time decision making
EXL worked with the client’s leadership to ensure that the BI strategy was communicated across the business units and everyone aligned to a common goal. By clearly communicating the changes, providing the right incentives to adapt to the new practices, and facilitating adoption through trainings, meetings, and well-designed handover documents, the client experienced a smooth transition.
The resulting changes from the BI implementation framework led to the following benefits for the client organization:
- Faster decision making: Reports were created almost on a real-time basis, enabling faster decision making. The turnaround time for many reports was reduced from T+45, or more than 45 days after an event to, T+1. The report were visually appealing and had the ability to drill down.
- Cost reduction: Reduced the number of reports produced from ~100 to ~10, simplifying the BI landscape and reducing cost.
- Quality of reports: The quality of reports improved as there was reduced manual intervention. Data flow was streamlined, and existing issues were raised and closed with the information governance team.
- Sharing: Reports were no longer sent out once a month, and were instead updated almost on a real-time basis and could be shared electronically through a web URL, enabling self-service.