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Analytics give banks an edge

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Differentiation and creating a competitive edge are critical to the success in today’s fast-paced, highly consumerised environment. However, achieving this can be a challenging task for any business, and the banking and financial services sector is no different, writes SHAILENDRA SINGH of Wipro.

Faced with the challenge of increasingly commoditised products and services, banks need to stand out from the crowd if they are to get ahead, gain market share and improve profits. Traditional methods of business are often no longer relevant, and their continued use can hinder innovation and prevent banks from delivering appropriate customer solutions and interactions. Incorporating analytics into every stage of the customer lifecycle is the solution, and financial services institutions need to gear themselves to take advantage of the benefits delivered by this powerful tool.

In the financial services sector, particularly banking, the products and services offered by competing brands are all incredibly similar. From current accounts and savings products to investments, loans and credit cards, there are few differentiating factors between the offerings of each different bank. Competing on product is therefore all but impossible. However, often sales staff are put under immense pressure to meet sales targets despite this. Ensuring they are able to effectively market products to consumers requires that they are given the information they need to do their jobs, as well as direction that leads the way to sustainable business. Analytics is the solution to providing sales staff with the information they need to take products to market with confidence.

Enhancing the sales cycle

The sales cycle within financial institutions consists of a number of steps, beginning with knowing the target audience and ascertaining whether or not they meet eligibility and profiling criteria. From there, sales calls and follow-ups are conducted, and then deals are (hopefully) closed. Sales targets are then tracked and monitored. The cycle itself is fairly simple, but can be greatly enhanced in the first stages to improve effectiveness throughout. Providing sales staff with appropriate and timely information utilising analytics can improve efficiency down the line. Besides the basic information of probable customers, their preferences and a list of products they do not yet own, customer information can be greatly augmented using analytical capability. For example, solutions like Next Best Offer use predictive analytics to identify the products or services that customers are most likely to be interested in for their next purchase.

Improved decision making

Monitoring credit risk requires an understanding of the types of customers the bank has, as well as the ability to monitor collections, predict and reduce delinquencies and reduce non-performing assets. In order to achieve this, analytics is an essential tool. Analytics is also vital across various functions of the business, from marketing and sales to Human Resources and finance. Not only does analytics assist users to draw insight from data, it can be used to improve the decision-making process, moving from gut decisions to intelligent, fact-based decisions, which ultimately enhance business success. Analytics also helps users to develop ‘what if’ scenarios that can predict future behaviour, essential for improving planning and product offerings.

Building analytics capabilities

While analytics offers numerous advantages, many financial institutions have yet to acknowledge its importance from a strategic point of view. This is an essential first step in building the required analytical capabilities to deliver improved competitive edge. It is also essential to obtain buy-in at a senior level, as the success of analytics initiatives requires it to be driven from the top down. Analytics should become a cross-departmental function, working across different verticals, lines of business and departments within the bank. In addition, the analytics team should not consist solely of statisticians and IT professionals, but also thought leaders and leaders from within the different lines of business.

It is also important to firstly identify a high-level business problem and a potential solution, which analytics could help to solve. For example, reducing customer churn may be the problem statement, and from there the next step is to arrive at a solution and identify how analytics can be used to overcome the problem. This requires that the right tools are implemented and the right service provider is partnered with. In addition, it requires that the business problem be clearly articulated, so that the solution provider can translate this into processes and a technology solution. Analytics is a step-by-step journey, not a destination, and requires continuous improvement to yield the desired benefits.

The benefits of analytics

Successfully implemented, analytics can deliver numerous benefits across the sales cycle. Customer identification and acquisition can be improved, through acquisition analytics and intelligent campaign design. Customer relationship management can be enhanced via improved portfolio management and meeting transactional needs. Customer cross selling can be enhanced using needs analysis, family demographics, credit history analysis, and the ability to select more products for cross selling. Customer retention can be improved using churn prediction and lifetime value modelling. Customer value can be enhanced, and wallet share increased, using behavioural segmentation, product affinity modelling and differentiated pricing. Analytics can provide the senior management with valuable inputs at each stage in the customer lifecycle. This translates to a better customer experience and enhanced profitability for the bank, giving the all-important competitive edge and enabling them to differentiate on service rather than attempting to differentiate on product.

In conclusion

Analytics offers numerous benefits to banks and financial services organisations. From improving marketing efforts through enhanced targeting to ensuring optimal performance across functional areas such as risk, compliance and fraud, analytics helps to improve decision-making ability and timeframes. Using analytics, banks can not only differentiate themselves today, but will be able to continue to remain competitive in the future.

* Shailendra Singh, Vice President Banking, Africa and Europe for Wipro

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Meet the ambassador to the future

Tilly Lockey, 14, lost her hands as a toddler, but sees it as a massive opportunity to embrace technology. She chatted with ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK about the human of tomorrow.

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Picture by Arthur Goldstuck

It is a description that defines 14-year-old Tilly Lockey: She lost her hands at the age of 15 months, and now uses bionic hands to show the world how to overcome disability.

That could easily read as an advertisement for a prosthetics company, but Tilly refuses to be defined by marketing messages. She has not only embraced what is supposed to be a disability, but wants to become nothing less than an ambassador to the future.

Picture by Arthur Goldstuck

That is in effect what she is achieving by pushing the boundaries of what is possible with artificial hands. It means that, eventually, she will have more capabilities built into her body than most able-bodied humans can imagine. She collaborates closely with Open Bionics, a start-up that is using 3D printing to create low-cost prosthetics with high-tech capabilities.

“I have very high hopes for the future,” she said during a chat on the sidelines of the SingularityU Summit at Kyalami north of Johannesburg. From Newcastle-on-Tyne in the United Kingdom, she was at the Summit as a guest speaker, chaperoned by her father Adam and sister Tia. 

“When I started working with Open Bionics, I wanted it to include lighting, music, Bluetooth, a projector in my palm, all over-optimistic things. But then I feel that is not too far away, and then a disability would turn into and enhancement of normal human hands. I’m really excited about it.

“I know there’s a couple of things they are working on right now, like trying to get the built-in battery thinner, because it’s hard to get overcoats and jackets over it, so they are trying to get the hands slimmer. They’re working on haptic feedback, to give a sense of touch of vibration, which tells me of I have a good grip on something. It could be coming soon. These hands I’m using now were made in the past five years. In another five years, I think we’ll have all of it.”

The hands in question are called Hero Arms, which its creators, Open Bionics, say is “the world’s first clinically approved 3D-printed bionic arm, with multi-grip functionality and empowering aesthetics”.

Click here to read more about the development of Open Bionics’s Hero Arms.

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How Tilly Lockey became a Hero

Part 2 of ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK’s interview with Tilly Lockey explores her amazing career.

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Picture courtesy SingularityU South Africa 2019 Summit

This is the second part of this series of articles. To start from the beginning, click here.

Tilly Lockey was diagnosed with Meningococcal Septicaemia Strain B when she was 15 months old.

Her mother spotted the tell-tale signs one day in 2007: a fast-spreading skin rash that looks like pinpricks, along with symptoms like lethargy and bruising. She was rushed to hospital, but the bacterial poisoning spread so aggressively, doctors gave Tilley no chance of survival. They had to make a quick decision to amputate her hands to save her life.

Twelve years later, her future truly came into focus: “I was surprised with really cool Alita: Battle Angel bionic Hero Arms and went on the blue carpet at the world premiere of the movie with Rosa Salazar and director James Cameron.”

That pivotal moment in her life would not have been possible without the intensive efforts of her mother, Sara, to raise funds to buy something better than the metal prosthetics issued by the National Health Service in the UK. She increased Tilley’s profile with a campaign to “Give Tilley a Hand”, and today works as a fundraiser and events organiser for the Meningitis Now support group. Her involvement in an event meant she was unable to join Tilley on her trip to South Africa last week, when she spoke at the SingularityU Summit. After coming off stage, Tilley told us that Sara was her biggest inspiration in her life, and the closest to a role model.

“I’m usually a speaker at her events. I tell everyone my story and what I’m doing now and give these kids inspiration, because they often feel they can’t do anything because of what Meningitis did to them.

“I am home schooled now, which is pretty cool, because I’m able to have a career and get educated at the same time. I feel I can do a lot of things that friends can’t do. I can take a whole class on an aeroplane. I have a great time traveling and meeting so many inspiring people who are making a difference in the world.”

The form of Mengingitis that attacked her leaves hidden scars and issues that only become apparent years later. She is almost absurdly cheerful about the challenges that have faced her.

“I personally figured out that my left leg had stopped growing. I’m still finding out things it has caused, but you survive. At least I’m here and I’m alive.”

It does help that she’s comfortable in the spotlight, happy to give interviews, and eager to show what she can do with her bionic hands.

“I want to go into public speaking a lot more, and it could be an option as career. I want it to continue because it’s a lot of fun, and I feel I’ve got a story to share. If I can inspire people to change the world, I will. “

Her travels this year will still take her to Barcelona, Jakarta and New York. In the Big Apple, she will accept a humanitarian award, and intends “to give a funky speech”.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, she will take part in a fashion catwalk and do a makeup tutorial live. She learned to do makeup with one of her bionic hands when she fractured her right elbow in a fall at school

“I got makeup for Christmas and wanted to play with it, and got the idea of doing it with an open hand. It took a lot of perseverance and patience, but after studying how to do it, I was able to recreate a full makeup routine using one hand. It wasn’t a great situation at the time, but now I’m happy it happened because it got me into doing what I do now.”

What she is doing with makeup is remarkable in its own right. She gives tutorials on YouTube, where she says she is “kinda new”, as she has “only around 16,000 followers”. That may well soon expand into cooking videos.

In other words, everything is an opportunity: “I could be sad, just sit on my bed and cry, or I can live my life and realise what I’ve got: these amazing bionic Hero Arms.

“All I want to do is help give people confidence in themselves, accept who they are, accept their scars and everything about them. That they don’t have to impress everybody and just be themselves.”

Read more in the third article of the series about how family remains at the centre of Tilly’s life.

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