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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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Legion gets a pro makeover

Lenovo’s latest Legion gaming laptop, the Y530, pulls out all the stops to deliver a sleek looking computer at a lower price point, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Gaming laptops have become synonymous with thick bodies, loud fans, and rainbow lights. Lenovo’s latest gaming laptop is here to change that.

The unit we reviewed housed an Intel Core i7-8750H, with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. It featured dual storage, one bay fitted with a Samsung 256GB NVMe SSD and the other with a 1TB HDD.

The latest addition to the Legion lineup has become far more professional-looking, compared to the previous generation Y520. This trend is becoming more prevalent in the gaming laptop market and appeals to those who want to use a single device for work and play. Instead of sporting flashy colours, Lenovo has opted for an all-black computer body and a monochromatic, white light scheme. 

The laptop features an all-metal body with sharp edges and comes in at just under 24mm thick. Lenovo opted to make the Y530’s screen lid a little shorter than the bottom half of the laptop, which allowed for more goodies to be packed in the unit while still keeping it thin. The lid of the laptop features Legion branding that’s subtly engraved in the metal and aligned to the side. It also features a white light in the O of Legion that glows when the computer is in use.

The extra bit of the laptop body facilitates better cooling. Lenovo has upgraded its Legion fan system from the previous generation. For passive cooling, a type of cooling that relies on the body’s build instead of the fans, it handles regular office use without starting up the fans. A gaming laptop with good passive cooling is rare to find and Lenovo has shown that it can be achieved with a good build.

The internal fans start when gaming, as one would expect. They are about as loud as other gaming laptops, but this won’t be a problem for gamers who use headsets.

Click here to read about the screen quality, and how it performs in-game.

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Serious about security? Time to talk ISO 20000

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By EDWARD CARBUTT, executive director at Marval Africa

The looming Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act in South Africa and the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) have brought information security to the fore for many organisations. This in addition to the ISO 27001 standard that needs to be adhered to in order to assist the protection of information has caused organisations to scramble and ensure their information security measures are in line with regulatory requirements.

However, few businesses know or realise that if they are already ISO 20000 certified and follow Information Technology Infrastructure Library’s (ITIL) best practices they are effectively positioning themselves with other regulatory standards such as ISO 27001. In doing so, organisations are able to decrease the effort and time taken to adhere to the policies of this security standard.

ISO 20000, ITSM and ITIL – Where does ISO 27001 fit in?

ISO 20000 is the international standard for IT service management (ITSM) and reflects a business’s ability to adhere to best practice guidelines contained within the ITIL frameworks. 

ISO 20000 is process-based, it tackles many of the same topics as ISO 27001, such as incident management, problem management, change control and risk management. It’s therefore clear that if security forms part of ITSM’s outcomes, it should already be taken care of… So, why aren’t more businesses looking towards ISO 20000 to assist them in becoming ISO 27001 compliant?

The link to information security compliance

Information security management is a process that runs across the ITIL service life cycle interacting with all other processes in the framework. It is one of the key aspects of the ‘warranty of the service’, managed within the Service Level Agreement (SLA). The focus is ensuring that the quality of services produces the desired business value.

So, how are these standards different?

Even though ISO 20000 and ISO 27001 have many similarities and elements in common, there are still many differences. Organisations should take cognisance that ISO 20000 considers risk as one of the building elements of ITSM, but the standard is still service-based. Conversely, ISO 27001 is completely risk management-based and has risk management at its foundation whereas ISO 20000 encompasses much more

Why ISO 20000?

Organisations should ask themselves how they will derive value from ISO 20000. In Short, the ISO 20000 certification gives ITIL ‘teeth’. ITIL is not prescriptive, it is difficult to maintain momentum without adequate governance controls, however – ISO 20000 is.  ITIL does not insist on continual service improvement – ISO 20000 does. In addition, ITIL does not insist on evidence to prove quality and progress – ISO 20000 does.  ITIL is not being demanded by business – governance controls, auditability & agility are. This certification verifies an organisation’s ability to deliver ITSM within ITIL standards.

Ensuring ISO 20000 compliance provides peace of mind and shortens the journey to achieving other certifications, such as ISO 27001 compliance.

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