Q&A: How Huntington Bank Democratized Data Accessibility

Feb 10, 2022
IT Leadership

Today’s organizations have more data than ever before, but that data is useless if it’s not accessible. Huntington Bank leveraged data lineage to make its data more actionable.

Credit: Rocket Software

By Milan Shetti, CEO Rocket Software

Huntington Bank is a full-service banking provider operating in Ohio, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and West Virginia. The bank’s “Welcome” philosophy focuses on deep relationship-building capabilities that help customers get the personalized service they need to make the best financial choices possible. To make this a reality, its essential that all bank staff have self-service access to data – and that the data makes sense to them, no matter their role.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Shaun Rankin, Huntington Bank’s Senior Vice President of Information Governance, to discuss the steps he took to make data understandable for users across the organization. Read on to learn more.

Q: Why is data governance so critical to Huntington Bank’s goals?

A: As a large bank, we have massive amounts of data flowing through our organization. But our systems and processes for managing that data were no longer meeting our needs. In fact, they were slowing down our ability to understand where data was coming from, where it was going and who was using it. This made it impossible for us to leverage that data to drive the business forward.

A key part of our enterprise data strategy has been to expand data access across all bank staff. To meet this goal, we needed to make it easy for staff to access – and understand – information on their own.

Q: What steps did you take to meet this goal?

A: With more nearly 12,000 employees across the American Midwest, we focused on centralizing knowledge and decentralizing understanding. Our goal was to make data assets available in intuitive vernacular that could be easily understood.

A key part of this strategy was the use of metadata components. We started by using Rocket and ASG’s Data Intelligence (ASG DI) to analyze our use of metadata. My team focuses on customer accounts, transactions, and interactions, with data feeding into our ecosystem from over 40 sources. We started with customer data and worked to understand how it flows into our data warehouse, whether it can be located on a data mart, and where it is being used.

With so much data in our warehouse, the task was daunting, but ASG DI helped us to visualize the lineage, identifying where there were gaps that needed to be plugged and adding SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) to plug them. We’re currently in the process of scanning the data that process has uncovered and expect to get the full lineage of our ecosystem once that is complete.

Q: Let’s revisit the concept of centralizing knowledge and decentralizing understanding. How did you bring that to life?

A: We set out to expand appropriate access to data for bank staff, with the ultimate goal of creating self-service access and enabling staff to understand where they go to get information. We wanted to present data assets in a vernacular that people of all levels of data familiarity could easily understand. We determined that metadata asset tagging was the best course of action. Training everyone on all the technical ins and outs of metadata curation didn’t make sense for our business, so we took an outside-in approach. Instead of starting with the system’s knowledge, we looked at our staff’s existing processes.

By analyzing and understanding what staff searched for, we were able to develop a process that was similar to what they were already doing but unlocked better results. This helped us focus on action – rather than spending weeks or months trying to define the perfect vernacular, we were able to develop principles that let us dive into the meat of the project – organizing the data. By looking at the empirical evidence within the metadata, we were able to make decisions about what made sense for our specific business. This organization is by no means static – our first attempts at organization look nothing like what we’ve ended up with today, and reviews still happen on a bi-weekly and monthly basis.

The final step of this project will be to take the organization one step further, adding business segments on top of the data domains, making it even easier for staff to access and understand data.

To learn more about how Rocket can help your organization gain control of its data, visit Rocket Software.