Enabling customer engagement
“Behind the scenes, these kinds of institutions are still old-fashioned and have silo’ed information, old databases and information being stored in lots of different places, so it’s a huge challenge to meet the technical challenge behind the scenes. Making legacy data sit comfortably with the kind of customer-focused engagement systems in use now isn’t easy. And it can also be the case that not everyone is willing to change.”
According to Burns, the pressure on the owners of different information types to keep it safe is extreme.
“They have to be very careful in terms of data protection about how much information they have about customers but it’s nice to see in Ireland that quite a few of our bigger enterprise customers are pushing the boundaries. It is naturally a two-steps-forward, one-step-back process and it has a massive knock-on effect in terms of the way the whole company has to move,” he said.
“You can’t just have a data analytics team working in isolation, developing new ways of interacting with customers only for everybody else in the company to then say ‘well I’m not providing this information’.”
Even in the case of the financial services sector, routinely found to be amongst the most conservative and least experimental in terms of technological advancement, Burns said that IBM is seeing a huge amount of change. It seems to be a case that those finance companies that are late to the party are playing catch up at an astonishing rate.
“Even in the case of the banks that to a large extent haven’t changed over the years, there has been a big change and you can see it even when you walk into their offices. They are now ‘all about the customer’ and everything that’s happened in the last couple of years has only worked to increase the importance of that idea. There has been a huge PR effort but behind that is something of real substance.”
“These organisations are custodians of huge amounts of data but pulling it all together and keeping within the legal boundaries of, for example, the data protection office is a difficult path. The nice thing is that this pressure to work smartly is coming from the top down. The data analytic teams are in the business side of the house and their direction is very much coming from the C-level down with people realising that they need to be cleverer about the way they interact with customers, learn more about them and give them what they want.”