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Big data: The four horsemen of the apocalypse Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are on their way

by: Eric Crabtree, global head of financial Services, Unisys
  • 10/07/2017
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Big data: The four horsemen of the apocalypse Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are on their way
Every bank and non-bank financial institution knows by now that the forthcoming data protection regulations will blow apart the competitive landscape as we know it, writes Eric Crabtree of Unisys.

The duo, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Revised Payment Service Directive (PSD2), which come into force next year, will mean every organisation will need to think about how they set up their business for a better relationship and interaction with the customer. When product loyalty becomes a thing of the past – as open banking makes the whole of the market available to every customer – the key to keeping customers will be all about data.


The new way to know your customer

At the heart of the customer experience will be the bank’s ability to know the customer, their habits and history, wants and needs. With the technology to store customer data, keep it safe, mine it and analyse it intelligently, this will be possible.

Today’s banking client requires from us in the tech industry a complete ecosystem that supports cross-selling of products, allows fraud prevention, confirms the identity of the user, analyses their habits and current status, and totally personalises their banking experience.


“These four horsemen have the power to disrupt this industry any time they like”


In this brave new world perhaps the biggest threat, both to traditional banks and challengers and fintechs, comes from those who are already the masters of big data, and are already transacting more billions than many of the banks put together: Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook.

These “four horsemen” have the power to disrupt this industry any time they like. The question is when, and who will they partner with.

But the picture is not entirely bleak. It is possible to compete with them at their own game, learn from what they do so well, and maintain a position in the market.


“the new battleground: do you know your customer better than the competition do?”


Our clients are increasingly looking to us to provide the tools and ability to take data of any size, interrogate and produce intelligence from it – to give them insight from that data that they didn’t have before. This will be the new battleground: do you know your customer better than the competition do?



When using customer data to build a better relationship with them, the first consideration is their permission. They need to opt in, otherwise they may feel that the amount of knowledge you have on them crosses the boundary into being intrusive. Look at how retailers have done this successfully for decades with their card-based loyalty schemes.

Technology now allows us to personalise and target to an impressive degree. For example, geolocation in mobile devices will allow affiliate marketing such as push notifications that tie in with retail and hospitality brands wherever the customer is at that moment – which challenger banks and their millennial customers will love. But we must not forget the cultural and generational barriers that more traditional institutions and customers bring.

Even the most conservative customers, too, will benefit from data analysis that allows you to calculate cost of funds to a fraction of a percentage, or predict propensity to default, so you can offer them the best deal first.

In the new world of open banking, in which every bank’s website and app has to offer competitor products as well as their own, customers’ loyalty will therefore depend on the app, not the products. When they land there, you will need to know what they do, what they look at, what they are saving for and spending on, when accounts are up for renewal, why they are buying certain things – the more you can build a profile of each customer, the more you can make their experience personal.


Retail banking needs to play catch-up


Some areas of personal finance are streets ahead of others. For example, car companies are already expert at targeting the right brands and right messages, to the right customers at the right time. Before a finance deal ends the new car is already sold. Retail banking needs to play catch-up.

In short, behind the technology we see, the technology we don’t see needs to do a lot. The power lies in data analytics.

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