How CUA plans to get to a single customer view

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How CUA plans to get to a single customer view
Sue Coulter

Digital drive in full flight.

To the financial services industry, obtaining a single customer view is like finding the holy grail.

NAB last year completed the rollout of its Oracle customer master, Suncorp is almost done with its Netezza data warehouse, Westpac is just starting the journey and Teachers Mutual Bank in 2014 laid claim to being the first authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI) to implement a single customer view, just to name a few.

Where the big banks use the streams of data pouring out from transactions to personalise offers to customers based on their current financial standing, mutuals like Credit Union Australia use the information to better work out what customers want from their products.

Upgrading its core banking platform to a BaNCS solution several years ago gave CUA a leg up to reaching this goal, but the customer-owned financial institution still has a bit of work to do to get there.

At the moment, data is housed in various systems across the business, including in the main SAS data warehouse, making any sort of central view difficult.

Additionally, the warehouse is only able to collect structured data, meaning attempts to gain insight from things like social media and the CUA call centre’s Sales Tracker tool is currently out of the question.

CUA head of technology Sue Coulter is submitting a business case for a “shared service for analytics” - involving an enterprise data office as well as the underlying technology - for approval in the next month, and given the funds CUA has recently committed to tech initiatives, she's confident of success.

It’s likely to be the mutual’s first dabble with infrastructure-as-a-service, but Coulter is more interested in how the initiative can propel CUA towards the much-desired single customer view.

“At the moment it can be embarrassing if a customer walks in and we try to sell them general insurance when they’ve already got it,” Coulter told iTnews.

“This is really about understanding our customers better and not trying to sell them something they’ve already got, but also being able to see where they haven’t got a product, and where we have one that’s better for them.”

The yet-to-be-chosen platform - once the business case is approved CUA will go out to tender for technology options - will be backed up by a “small” enterprise data office of a handful of staff dedicated to analytics for the group.

But simply implementing a shiny new data warehouse alone is unlikely to get the mutual the result it desires.

Therefore, CUA’s corporate systems are also in line for a much-needed makeover.

Dynamics CRM is being tested over the next six months with the mutual's call centre staff to help manage outbound calling and leads.

The idea is to give call centre staff much better insight into potential customer leads than the spreadsheets currently in use.

A three-month pilot of Office 365 is underway as a planned replacement of Lotus Notes - yes, Coulter recognises it's a problem - and a similar pilot of SharePoint will soon begin before a September rollout for central document storage and versioning controls.

“We desperately need a SharePoint solution. At the moment everything lives in shared drives and the [Squiz] intranet. This will bring it all together,” Coulter said.

Applying for loans online

Following its 2013 core banking overhaul, the second big piece of the puzzle for CUA is the implementation of its new loan origination platform.

The Decision Intellect-based system has been available to personal lending customers since 2014. It is underpinned by a Tibco-based enterprise services bus, which exposes information from the core to CUA's channels.

In the early days of personal loan processing on the new platform, Coulter said approval times had already been cut from several months to two hours.

CUA now expects to go live with basic home loan products within the next two months, which will bring the majority of CUA’s loan originations onto the platform.

For customers, it means being able to apply for a home loan online and, for simple cases, receive a decision within 60 seconds.

The platform - which has an Avoka front-end and bolted-on Computershare for documentation - will also allow customers to track the progress of their loan application.

“We’ve tried to strip out the complexity, speed it up and give them a decision faster - if it’s a straightforward home loan and they meet certain criteria, they’ll get an answer within 60 seconds,” Coulter said.

New mobile banking

Now that the big pieces in core banking and loan origination are (almost) in place, Coulter is turning her attention to mobile banking, which she is keen to upgrade from a TCS solution first rolled out in 2012 to something more responsive and “holistic”.

“We recognised that if we truly wanted to be digital and mobile-first, our current platform isn’t going to take us there,” she said.

“We [launched the platform in 2012] to get something out to market relatively quickly, and we’ve made a few improvements to it, but our vision in terms of where we want to go with digital is we need something different.”

CUA is looking to move from a basic, transactional offering to one that provides financial management tools, account origination and cross-selling opportunities.

Once the mutual has stood up a new mobile banking platform, the plan down the track is to similarly review its TCS-based internet banking solution to bring it in line with the mobile offering.

CUA has selected a shortlist of potential providers and expects to have the chosen mobile platform live in around a year.

“We want customers to do whatever transactions they want on a mobile,” Coulter said.

“So that will mean we’ll need a platform that can grow with us.”

Tapping into the expertise of others

One challenge to CUA’s digital ideals is its size - the mutual needs to remain relevant against the big four and tier II banks while operating within budget and capability constraints.

This has led CUA to a partnering approach where it can leverage the expertise and scale of others to deliver what it needs. One example of this is the redi2pay mobile app developed in conjunction with Cuscal.

It’s this mindset that prompted CUA to recently invest in Sydney-based start-up hub Stone and Chalk as a corporate sponsor.

It not only gives CUA insight and access into financial technology innovations and the ability to fill its own capability gaps with partner providers, but also access to a source of much-needed ideas generation.

“You stand a project up, put your best people in there, but their frame of reference is banking as it is today,” Coulter said.

“This is about bringing the best out of those people and working with some other people who aren’t constrained or encumbered by the old ways of thinking.”

While only early days, Coulter expects the bank will start working with specific fintech startups in the incubator “imminently”, singling out a pilot of new technology for opening online accounts.

“Typically you’d have to bolt the front end, middleware in terms of workflow and decisioning, and the bank end documentation together. But now you’ve got younger companies providing fully integrated and fully configurable solutions,” Coulter said.

“I expect we’ll do a small pilot to test some of those things out quite soon.”

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