by Hamish Barwick

Credit Union Australia uses BI to boost customer service

Sep 03, 20114 mins
Business IntelligenceIT ManagementProject Management

Sydney-based financial services provider, Credit Union Australia, (CUA) has gained a clearer picture of its operations and improved customer interactions since implementing business intelligence (BI).

CUA, which has about $6.6 billion of assets under management, provides financial services to 400,000 members across the country through its 75 state offices. The institution needed a better picture of customer service requirements but had neither the IT infrastructure nor in-house capabilities to manage a BI offering.

With no BI system in place, staff were using paper spreadsheet reports from a variety of sources. Without a single source of truth, the result was a unclear picture of the services customers wanted, along with delays in services such as processing loan applications.

In 2010, CUA decided to work with SAS to implement a BI strategy. The institution has worked with the vendor since 2007. Strategy and marketing group general manager, Andrew Hadley, admits CUA is a relatively late adopter of BI.

“We’re in a very fortunate position now of having all our data in the one place, which makes things a lot easier to manage,” Hadley says.

Since its internal IT capabilities were limited, CUA worked with Sydney-based IT consulting firm, BearingPoint, which outlined a game plan for implementation. The credit union has two mainframe banking platforms that run its core systems.

“SAS’s BI integrated easily with the system and provided data mining tools and an efficient metadata management tool, which was one of our main requirements,” Hadley says.

CUA implemented SAS9 BI, along with the vendor’s enterprise BI server and data integration. Part of the rationale was to provide the ability to segment the union’s customer base to understand which products and services were going to appeal to different customers. As Hadley puts it, the CUA is now “singing from the same hymnbook”.

“I wouldn’t underestimate having that single point of origin so when people start talking about data, there is a shared consistency in the application of different terminology,” he says.

“It is invaluable.”

Hadley and other management staff, for example, can now determine which stage a loan process is at and keep an eye on staff performance so they meet sales targets.

“We’ve managed to standardise those reports and now we’re starting to get involved in the analytics side and the predictive modelling.”

CUA managers can log on to the internal SAS portal for reports, reducing the delays involved with paper spreadsheets.

“We can now say that a report will be available the next day and that’s a huge leap forward,” Hadley says.

“Previously, next week was optimistic and next month was the norm.”

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The institution is now growing at double the industry rate.

“It’s not all attributable to SAS but it is a big component of what we’re doing. Certainly, on the direct marketing front we’re seeing some significant uplift in our campaigns now they are segmented and targeted to the right customers.”

As any CIOs knows, such programs cannot maintain momentum without significant investment to drive the project. For CUA, that came in the form of six people within the overall IT headcount to embed BI into the organisation’s daily processes.

Core system update

Since the BI implementation, the union has begun a core system replacement, which also began in 2010.

“We’ve been through a fairly extensive process and narrowed it down to five different parties who were issued the request for procurement, looked at all the research and, in May, we selected TCS [Tata Consultancy Services] as our core platform,” Hadley says.

TCS BaNCS will underpin the core banking services and the union is also looking at the rollout of a new internet banking platform in 2012, although Hadley remains tight-lipped as to which company will develop the system.

“At the moment we are with Sandstone for our internet banking and we haven’t announced who the new provider will be,” he says.

In the meantime, CUA is looking to introduce additional functions to the website in order to offer different user experiences to customers depending on their relationship with the institution.

“It will have quite a different feel to the current site,” says Hadley.

“Existing customers will come in and be able to access areas of the website they frequent fairly regularly. For those customers who want to find out a little bit about CUA and our customer-owned model, they will be able to research that.”

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