Making timely, informed decisions is critical for every area of a bank. Data—and these days mountains of it—sits at the heart of the financial services industry. With so much data to sift through, traditional business intelligence (BI) tools don’t cut it. These tools were designed for tabular reporting, require advanced technical knowledge, and handle relatively small volumes of homogeneous data. Today’s tools can process and analyze huge volumes of data with real-time speed and unseen elegance. Bank executives are finally seeing the benefits of applying new tools, technologies, and visualizing for every day operations and boardroom reporting. If applying advanced data analytics is king, then data visualization is the new Excalibur.
Whether it is for modeling risk, managing business operations, meeting regulatory/compliance requirements, or understanding customer behaviors; we are seeing data visualization evolve from being a nice-to-have to a must-have within banks. More than anything, visualization tools transform data into something visual, tangible and relatable, a key to gaining stronger buy-in for key Bank’s data-driven decisions. Simply put: visualization can tell a story a spreadsheet sometimes cannot. We’ve spotted some key trends that have been surfacing with this new wave of interest, below are a few observations that have helped our clients get started on their visualization journey.
1. Consider mapping it
Visualization platforms have become more and more integrated and interactive, and grown into geo-analytic powered real-time dashboards. This does not just mean a nice map imagery. But rather the tool allows users to select a number of geographic attributes, such as country, region, city, zip code, etc., and then see the cascading analytic effects across all metrics within in any specific report or dashboard. It’s dynamic and adds a new simplicity when seeing big data sets. Interactive maps have become a standard medium to view customer, product, financial data across geographic locations. Leading platforms from Tableau Software, Inc., Qlik Technologies Inc., and Microsoft Corporation’s Power BI®, all include this feature.
2. The mobile-friendly “MUST”
At the intersection of widespread adoption of data visualization and steadily increasing mobile usage, we see another exciting trend. Just as mobile users, in general, have come to expect that web content and apps be optimized for their mobile devices, consumers of business intelligence (BI) have come to expect the same of their data visualizations. As a result, industry leaders have incorporated mobile-friendly layouts into their applications. Apple Inc.’s iPad® dashboards are becoming a standard channel for dashboard delivery. In a digital and hyper connected world, visualization needs to be mobile friendly and dynamic to benefit today’s traveling executives. This probably led Apple to acquire Mapsense in 2015, a startup in the mobile data viz space, for $30 million.1 Whatever visualization tools banks implement, they should be mobile friendly from the get-go.
3. Kick in some intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are buzzwords we’ve all been hearing across industries for a while now, but they’re beginning to make an impact in the data visualization space. For example, AI and ML are being employed to help users detect patterns in their large and complex datasets. Salesforce.com, inc., recently released a tool called Salesforce Einstein to apply advanced AI/ML algorithms to discover insights about customer behavior housed in a bank’s customer relationship management (CRM). Charts and graphs no longer need to be just informational, but they can visually show predictions and insights into bank customers and buying behaviors using CRM data.
4. A picture that can write 1,000 words
Another buzzword that is breaking into the visualization world is natural language generation (NLG). A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but imagine having a tool that visualizes data and then actually writes the words in a fully analysis too. Both Qlik Sense® and Tableau® have available NLG extensions, which can create a narrative for any given visualization. We have helped a number of banks implement NLG tools to make their reporting do the typing.
5. Solve the data scientist dilemma
Analysts typically spend about 80% of their time on data load and preparation, and only 20% on producing analytics. This is a problem. That means much more time is spent on cleaning, re-forming, and associating messy, disparate data, than on visualizing and analyzing the results.
More and more tools are available to make data preparation easier. This efficiently manages the tedious steps to get messy data ready for the visualization layer. Newer companies like Alteryx, Inc., are focusing on solving this problem, while existing visualization platforms like Qlik Sense® now include a built-in data load editor and Tableau® introduced its Tableau® Prep, a brand new data preparation product.
Accenture’s Data and Analytics team have helped several large financial institutions transform existing traditional reporting platforms into new exciting and extraordinary visualization engines. For more details on how we can help or if you have questions, please contact me.
- “Apple acquires mapping visualisation startup Mapsense,” ZDNet, September 17, 2015. Access at: https://www.zdnet.com/article/apple-acquires-mapping-visualisation-startup-mapsense/