Here’s How Santander Is Utilising Big Data to Drive Digital Transformation and Improve the Customer Journey

Financial consumers generate huge amounts of data every single day. Every credit or debit card transaction, every withdrawal, transfer, message, website visit, interaction with a banking app – it all adds up to billions of bytes of data. And this opens up endless opportunities for the most forward-thinking financial services providers to capitalise on that data to become more efficient, more customer-centric, and more profitable.

Santander UK is on a journey to become a data-driven organisation by leveraging big data technology. That journey began back in 2014. Using Apache Hadoop to make the most of its data and generate value for customers, within just nine months Santander created a highly available real-time customer-facing application for customer analytics.

The Spendlytics app uses real-time transaction data to help customers understand their card spend across time periods (weekly, monthly, yearly), different categories (travel, food & drink, supermarkets, cash, etc.) and by brand/retailer.

Since then, Santander has continued to expand its big data operation and capabilities. The bank’s data – which consists of millions of customer records containing billions of transactions – provides the business with hugely valuable insights from which dozens of use cases have been developed, including screening new applicants for risk of default, monetising anonymous banking data in secondary markets, and detecting money laundering activities.

Now, Santander UK is undergoing a major digital transformation initiative in order to improve the customer experience and customer journeys – and big data is at the heart of it.

Find out how other big businesses are utilising data science at the Data Leaders Summit 2019, one of the best data science events for leaders in Europe, held in Berlin this October. You can download the agenda today!

Banking on Big Data

Santander’s big data platform is now used to power all the of the bank’s new digital applications – be they customer facing, or on the backend. Andy Pearson, Managing Director of Santander UK Technology, explains that there are two key elements to the bank’s technology transformation. “One is how we interact with our customers, and the changes in the way we’re building applications for mobile – we’re looking to digitise the way we interact with our customers.”

The second element, however, comes from within: “We also need the right data at the backend, and to explore that data to make sure those interactions are as meaningful and insightful for our customers as they can be,” says Pearson.

“Data is fundamental to both of these things, and as we move forward, increasing our understanding of data through AI and machine learning is key. Customers are used to using Instagram and Facebook – they’re used to instantaneous responses, so we need to be able to provide that. Our goal is to give a seamless, transparent journey to our customers.”

Pearson explains that Santander is able to improve these customer journeys by analysing the vast amounts of data its customers generate. The data enables the bank to truly understand how customers interact with Santander, and the bank designs its processes based on these insights.

In this way, the bank aims to not only show its commitment to its customers but actually improve their everyday lives. As David Hayes, Chief Data Officer and Head of Data Services at Santander UK puts it, “The human element is really key, particularly if you’re making difficult financial decisions. If you’re going to take out a mortgage which is going to shape your life and your spending for the next 25 years, you need to trust and know that you can rely on us.”

Final Thoughts

Santander’s growth and digital transformation strategy going forward is to continue to explore new solutions to its data management structure. In February 2019, the bank inked a five-year global technology agreement valued at $700 million with IBM.

The deal means Santander will be able to enrich its services and applications with IBM’s most innovative and disruptive technologies, according to an IBM press release. This includes big data, blockchain, and AI technology such as IBM Watson, which Santander will use to incorporate AI capabilities into its operations to improve customer experience, enhance branch advisors’ expertise, and increase employee productivity.

In addition to IBM, Santander works with a variety of carefully selected partners that are critical to its ongoing digital transformation. These include Cloudera, a leading platform for big data and data science, Microstrategy, a business intelligence (BI) platform, NuoDB, a cloud database for digital applications that can run on-premise, and Pivotal, a technology development company that enables organisations to develop enhanced digital experiences for customers.

For Pearson, it’s all about building a strong culture of trust – both with Santander’s customers, and the technology partners the bank works with. “Customers are trusting us with their data. We need to verify identities for a whole variety of regions – so there are opportunities for a bank as that trusted partner within the wider industry, and that’s something we need to look at going forward […]

When we work with a third party, we try to make sure we work in partnership with them. We spend a fair bit of time making sure they have the right fit for us, both culturally and architecturally. Experimentation and building that collaborative relationship is important in understanding we’re working with the right partners moving forward.”

You can hear Adam Preston, Global CDO at Santander, speak at Data Leaders Summit Europe 2019, a data science conference and event taking place this October at the Hotel Palace, Berlin.

You can download the agenda today for the event today to get more information and insights into this fantastic data science summit for leaders.

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