Creating the Data-Driven Culture

By Neetu Shaw

As we stare down the barrel of another year, we reflect on the good, bad and ugly of 2018 while making plans for the months to come. As you reflect, it’s important to consider how your institution will spend the next 12 months creating a data-driven culture — embracing the value of data, especially when it comes to customer satisfaction.

There’s no question that data has changed the way every industry, including financial services, does business. It’s increasingly clear that banks no longer operate in a data-less silo. With the emergence of disruptive fintech and banking models slated to take hold by 2020, financial institutions need a plan to create a data-driven culture. A look into the future shows fast growth of blockchain technologies, an increased focus on cyber security, customized and automated customer support, and innovative and new uses for artificial intelligence technologies.

Paving the Way

The foundation of all these developments is data, and a data-driven culture is mandatory preparation for the future. The amount of data banks should leverage is endless: contactless payments, mobility, social and digital sources all provide data points to be used. Over the next 12 to 24 months banks should be creating a strategy for a data-driven culture — a plan to foster an internal culture that leverages data whenever possible to create better efficiencies throughout the entire business. A company-wide digital transformation is necessary to empower both the business and the customer.

Data and analytics leaders at banks must take the time to train their entire organization to become data literate. Mike Rollings, research vice president at Gartner, says it best: “Although digital business thrives on data and its analysis, we still see that data and analytics only play a supportive role when it comes to business initiatives. This has to change.”

Getting Started

Taking simple, yet actionable steps to get started is the best way to go. To build the foundation for a data-driven culture, bank leaders should begin with these two steps:

  1. Build the single source of truth that “data people” have been talking about for decades. Data literacy comes only when organizations make a concerted effort to make clean, correct and trustworthy data available through easy-to-use analytical tools at all levels of the organization. Digital transformations will be failures if centralized, governed and accurate sources of data are not made available both inside and outside the organization.
  2. Democratize data to build employee collaboration and trust at all levels. Building a data culture is ultimately for the customer, but unless employees are active and keen consumers of data, leveraging it to bolster daily decision-making, the customer benefit will not be realized.

Key to Customer Experience

Today’s customers all want individualized solutions. Developing digital platforms that take advantage of customer data, while also deploying new solutions like AI chatbots and machine learning, means seamless, automated customer experiences that are both real and satisfying. The institutions able to achieve this will have the edge over their competition, and an internal culture that embraces data is the first step.

But BAI’s report “Humanizing the Digital Banking Experience,” found many organizations are not prepared to deliver even a basic level of personalization in customers’ digital experience. As traditional banking faces competition from newer financial institutions that have been built with data from the ground up, pivoting towards a data-driven culture, one that enables basics like personalization, is integral to continued success.

Here’s a bold prediction: banks that don’t prepare for a data-driven future in 2019 will see customers seeking financial services elsewhere. We know it’s easier said than done — only 32 percent of companies that aspire to a data-driven culture say they have been successful in creating one (“Big Data Executive Survey,” New Vantage Partners 2018) — but taking this step ensures your organization can be indispensable to your customers. Banks are out of options; 2019 is the year to embrace a culture change. 

Neetu Shaw is an executive partner at Clarity Insights, servicing the financial services, insurance, higher education and automotive industry verticals. For more information, visit

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