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Seizing the data opportunity across organizational silos


Data silos are not new to banking, but for banks struggling to compete, the matter has become critical. As banks turn to fintechs to better leverage their data, these silos are a common barrier to success.  For many banks though, the crux of the matter is organizational silos: a disconnect between departments that need data to succeed.

These data-reliant groups, usually marketing, IT and data/analytics, share the bank’s goal of succeeding via customer information, but often share tension, too.

The world of data and marketing is dynamic: new apps, data sources and channels are proliferating, and customers can be fickle. To engage with them, bank marketers need to keep pace with this change. IT is more concerned with data security, governance, privacy, regulation and its own enterprise masters. They may want to support marketing, but don’t see the business need enough to cooperate at the speed marketing demands. Meanwhile, analytics wants to help marketing, but depends on IT to provide the right data.

So, marketing often turns to an outside agency or vendor, which used to work when customer data was undervalued.  But now, with banks data-driven and customer-focused, outsourcing creates bigger headaches. Customer experience is central to organizations valuing customer engagement and retention, and this requires good data. It’s not just a marketing problem anymore – it’s an enterprise problem.

One way for banks to solve this problem is through customer data and analytics platforms (CDPs). A CDP can frame marketing’s need for the right data while addressing IT concerns for data security, privacy, regulations and governance by managing the data infrastructure so the right parties have the data and insights they need to succeed.  Because of this visibility and customer experience focus, the CDP ultimately becomes answerable to the CIO, the CEO and the board.

A tale of two financial institutions

Victims of conflict
The CIO of a worldwide financial institution decided their data was a mess.  Acquisitions provided good behavioral data, but this data wasn’t integrated with the parent company’s customer information.  The CMO agreed that a CDP looked like a great way to stitch it all together. After bringing the CDP on, however, it became solely an IT project, so the data work wasn’t informed by business-use cases.

When it was time for testing, marketing and data science users couldn’t agree, and the parent company clashed with its acquired business over control of its own data. Different goals and different concerns divided them. Meanwhile, their email group, incentivized by their number of monthly emails, rejected the more profitable process of segmenting, personalizing and creating specialized customer content because it reduced the number of emails.

The result?  Internal conflict ground progress to a halt and the project died, as did their vision of an enhanced, more profitable customer experience.

Take it from the top
Another global financial institution, offering multiple brands from diverse locations, wanted to better handle customer experience and increase profitability.  They were wasting a lot of money on paid media through multiple channels without a single customer view. Both the CEO and CMO wanted to be more agile in the marketplace – it was taking them almost three months to execute a campaign from concept to measurement, instead of their goal of being able to do it in days or even hours.

The company had a large, sophisticated global data services organization and a strong IT architecture team that took data security and information security very seriously.  The three teams – data, IT, and marketing – worked very closely together.

As a mandate from the top, project management was involved even before selection began for a CDP to handle these challenges. All constituencies within the organization were heard, and the decision they made was unanimous. Project Management continued this democratic process, informing and aligning with flexible, fast-moving change management.

Because of this integrated, driven-from-the-top approach, the CDP project was a resounding success. The financial institution not only eliminated wasteful spending, but they also discovered new pockets of opportunity for more profitable customer relationships.  It was a business outcome worth tens of millions of dollars in revenue and millions more saved by stopping duplicate marketing across brands and audience.

Organizational silos block opportunity for banks and fintechs to capitalize on their data for profitable customer relationships. CDPs can help seize that opportunity, particularly with executive sponsorship, aligned stakeholders and a process agile enough to change course and still arrive at the right outcomes.

Naras Eechambadi, Ph.D., is founder and CEO of Quaero.

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