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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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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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