By: Venkatesh Vaidyanathan, VP, Product Management & Analytics, Infosys Finacle
A global market intelligence and advisory firm predicts big data and business analytics revenues to expand from US$ 122 bn in 2015 to US$ 187 bn by 2019. Not surprisingly, the banking industry offers a revenue opportunity of US$ 22.1 bn, second only to manufacturing.
This is hard evidence of the faith that banks are placing in big data. And we believe big data will return the favor by delivering bigger and better benefits to the financial services industry, driven by the following trends:
Smart devices and the data explosion: Just a few years ago, banks’ big data reserves mainly consisted of structured customer and transaction information, with some data from ATMs and social media thrown in. But with the proliferation of smart devices (mobiles, wearables, IoT sensors, and now smart machines, such as chat bots), big data has gone into overdrive both qualitatively and quantitatively. This is giving banks unprecedented insights into customers – their location, consumption pattern, preferences, attitudes and behavior, and so on. A 2016 study by a consulting firm specializing in big data concluded that variety – way more than volume or velocity – was driving big data investments as enterprises integrated more and more data sources to plug into big data’s long tail. Going forward, banks will use all this data to serve customers in a proactive and highly personalized manner.
Cashless economies give rise to payments data: The transition to a cashless economy in many parts of the world is producing rich payments data even in small financial institutions. Banks can leverage insights from payments data to do a variety of things, from offering personalized, innovative products and services to customers to advising them on how to manage their finances better. They can also monetize this information by sharing it with ecosystem partners or third party service providers for a fee.
Technology comes out in support: Mere data availability means nothing without processing capability. The good news is that technology is proving equal to the task of helping banks turn big data’s potential into real world results. Open Source technologies, such as Hadoop, continue to improve and scale, in line with the industry’s needs. At the same time, the cost of hardware, storage, and processing continue to drop, enabling banks to do in-memory processing and use real-time analytics to serve customers as well as mitigate fraud and other malpractices. These developments couldn’t have come at a better time, given the exponential increase in payments data.
AI expands the big data horizon: The next evolution in big data will be ushered in by Artificial Intelligence. As the intelligence of robots and other smart devices increases, so will their capacity to understand and adapt to user needs. The next stop is conversational AI in conjunction with digital assistants – Siri, Alexa, Cortana etc. – which are evolving so rapidly that very soon they will be able to control almost any device with a voice command. Imagine how banks can innovate by combining the data and knowledge at their disposal with the power of AI, advance machine learning techniques and automation.
Times are tough for banks, which are sandwiched between strained profitability, exacting customers, disruptive competition and stringent regulation. As they strive for profit and revenue, market share, and competitive advantage, banks are finding a welcome ally in big data. Although big data analytics has been around for a while, a number of developments are converging together to give it new momentum. For banks that ride the wave, big data is sure to bring big benefits.