"All of the information in our organization is mapped to a records retention polity, which maps data types to people, applications and a records treatment policy," Cohen says. "Once you see all of that in one place, that gives you the ability to say this particular piece of information is no longer needed."
Better Than an On-site Visit
Other financial institutions are finding advanced data accumulation and storage can come in handy when older marketing techniques become less effective.
"A lot of employers don't like you to be onsite to do marketing. And it's expensive to have someone onsite to market or sell the credit union's products," says Mona Leung, CFO of Alliant Credit Union, an $8 billion-asset Chicago-based credit union whose members include staff from more two dozen sponsor organizations and 19 communities near O'Hare Airport.
Alliant is accommodating these challenges by delivering marketing and other consumer-direct messages on LinkedIn, professional blogs and other social networking venues typically used by employees of the credit union's target organizations.
Leung says the credit union is able to track data on users and preferences almost immediately - and that information informs further marketing and sales campaigns. Like BNY Mellon, Leung's not inventing the wheel when it comes to gathering information; most of this data is already being generated. "This unstructured data, such as notes or email or correspondence, has always been there, but now you can get the benefits."
When prospective members sign into LinkedIn, they receive a banner touting the credit union and its menu of financial services, along with a link to Alliant's landing page. "We are able to track where the users came from, either LinkedIn or another site such as Facebook, and we can get a sense of their activity on social networks, and that gives you an advantage when going after new members or customers," Leung says.
David Wallace, global financial services marketing manager for SAS, which provides the business intelligence software that underpins Alliant's growing data analysis efforts, says the expansion of data sourcing puts more of the interaction between consumer and the financial institution in play as a potential data-driven sales opportunity.
SAS recently developed a product called DataFlux Marketplace, a software-as-a-service (Saas) offering that integrates email addresses into business applications, processes and websites. This technology is designed to ease linkage between email and other parts of the enterprise in an effort to roll email information into broader analysis.
"You want to be able to capitalize on every interaction...those digital trails mean something," Wallace says.
There are also risks connected to "big data," namely that it makes information governance more difficult since there's additional data being generated, retrieved and stored-and by more people. IDC says that 1.8 trillion gigabytes of data were generated in 2011, more than the previous five years combined, and a vast majority of that was unstructured data, which is hard for banks to track because it's generated by social networks, email and other sources that reside outside of traditional transaction information.
"Everybody has software to create data now...it's hard to keep track of who owns what data. If you have a big company with sensitive information, you have to know how to allocate access to all of these tons of data," says Eric Kamander, identity service engineer for CIBC.
Varonis, an unstructured data governance software firm, in September surveyed 200 IT executives and found that two thirds were not confident that sensitive data was protected during the data migrations that typically follow a merger or large IT project.
While Varonis, which operates in a data ownership governance tech space that also includes firms such as Imperva and GovernanceMetrics, has an interest in the market, it's still worth noting that 65 percent said they were not confident that sensitive data was only accessible to the right people during a migration.
A client of Varonis, CIBC uses tech that tracks data that's manufactured and stored in locations such as file systems and Exchange email servers to audit data access and track "ownership"of the data, or what staff member generated or collected the information, and may be storing the data on his or her email server.
"Establishing ownership is the lynchpin to governance. You need to know who to turn to for each piece of data to authorize access, review access and remove unauthorized access," Kamander says.
He says there have been thousands of access revocations, many of them voluntary by staffers who were unaware of the risk of data storage, since CIBC deployed the governance tech last year, a move that's also allowed the institution to remove data that was redundant or being stored unnecessarily.
Kamander didn't give specific storage savings for CIBC, but says "The real savings is on the reputational side. You can't place a dollar value on reputational risk."
Another challenge in adopting Big Data is the technology expertise needed to manage the open source development and data analytics techniques.
BNY Mellon's Kumar spoke of the change in IT culture required by new data technology, particularly the need to become more comfortable working with open architecture and other shared technology.
But there's also the issue of finding technologists with the proper training, which will become a challenge as more firms in and out of finance look to leverage the benefits of big data.
Brian McCarthy, executive partner, Accenture Finance and Performance Management, adds there is a shortage of IT talent with big data skills in North America and Western Europe. He says the combination of computer science skills and data modeling is still early stage in education.
"Universities are working on new programs, but there won't be enough of the skills to satisfy the demand, so there will be an imbalance. There will be an early mover advantage to take advantage of this talent," he says.