Trans Financial, Inc., is a financial services holding company headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky, operating primarily in Kentucky and Tennessee. The company serves business and consumer customers through its financial sales centers, a 24- hour call center, direct sales teams and wholly owned brokerage and mortgage affiliates. Trans Financial stock is traded on the Nasdaq National Market tier of the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol TRFI.
To many in the finance industry, data warehouses are tools for financial forecasters, statisticians, portfolio investors and marketing analysts who tirelessly sit at their PCs looking for obscure insights and patterns in the data to uncover the "next big idea." At Trans Financial, the data warehouse vision goes further, all the way to the front lines of the business.
We believe the most important use of data warehouse information occurs when our front-line sales and service associates use the information to create customer value at the point of contact.
Trans Financial, like many financial institutions, has entered the information age. In this age of deregulation and increased competition, attracting and retaining customers depend on being able to provide the right product to the right customer for the right price at the right moment, and through delivery channels that the customer finds convenient. All of this depends on information that must be consistent, high quality and can flow easily across delivery channels to provide a consistent customer experience; most banking customers use multiple delivery channels, branches, phone banking, automated teller machines (ATMs) or home banking to satisfy their needs.
Fortunately, most financial institutions already have a rich supply of information about their customers. Just think of the amount of detailed data you provided the last time you applied for a loan or a mortgage. The problem is all of that great information gets dumped into a transaction processing system, never to be seen or used again. As a result, many banks lack the ability to understand their broader relationship with the customer and are unable to anticipate customer needs. The challenge, then, is to organize the existing information and make sure it is used in a way that provides value to the customer and broadens the relationship.
In early 1996, Trans Financial began looking for a data warehouse solution that would provide a repeatable, reliable way of bringing high-quality customer information together for use in its information delivery strategy. Under this strategy, customer oriented data warehouse information is not only provided to "power-user" analysts, but also provided to the front lines of the business in direct support of customer sales and service activities.
After an extensive build-versus-buy analysis, Trans Financial selected the Fiserv InformEnt data warehouse solution. This solution includes process manager components which allow data to be retrieved from source systems on a regular schedule and transformed into standard formats and content before being mapped into the warehouse. In addition, InformEnt provides a suite of desktop tools that supports analysis, reporting and management of data in the warehouse. Perhaps the most important feature, however, is the Fiserv financial services data model which includes over 6,500 elements, providing Trans Financial with the strength of an enterprise-wide design while allowing the flexibility to focus on quickly loading data that provides the most impact to the business.
Implementation began in June 1996 with the installation of the HP server environment and the InformEnt software running on Oracle7.3. During the remainder of the year, activity focused on identifying high quality sources of customer data from various transaction systems and mapping it into the InformEnt database. By February 1997, Trans Financial was providing detailed monthly sales activity tracking down to an individual sales associate level. A short time later, this information was shifted to a daily update schedule using the InformEnt Process Manager's scheduling capabilities.
By mid-1997, Trans Financial broadened the range of customer profitability and relationship information in the warehouse which it provides to "power users" via the InformEnt desktop and to all front-line sales, service and management personnel via standard reports and on-line inquiry screens. Front-line sales personnel are able to quickly view all elements of a customer's relationship and the profitability contribution of each product and service comprising the relationship. In addition, basic "what-if" analysis capabilities are provided that allow sales associates to view the impact of pricing changes and product selection on the overall relationship profitability.
It's a Journey, Not a Destination
Developments currently underway include the integration of Essbase applications with the data warehouse to provide advanced segmentation analysis, trending, profitability modeling and portfolio risk analysis. A major focus during 1998 will be to integrate the delivery of warehouse information directly into the retail delivery systems so that key product, profitability, relationship and previous contact information will automatically be provided at the right moment during the sales discussion and fulfillment activities.
We are constantly evaluating new sources of information that can be added to the warehouse. I do not anticipate any discreet end to this effort since there are vast sources available to us and our ability to understand, analyze, and utilize the information effectively improves constantly.
Using information in this fashion, Trans Financial is rapidly shifting from a traditional bank focus of transaction processing to a new culture focused on superior sales, service and relationship management.
For other companies that are embarking on a data warehouse initiative, I would offer a few thoughts:
Vision is important; this is a journey, not a destination. Make sure that your vision of the data warehouse is consistent with your long-term vision of the business. A data warehouse will constantly evolve as your company's ability to utilize, understand and manage the information improves. It is important that you make a long-term commitment to your warehouse as a fundamental part of your long-term business strategy.
Near term added-value is also important; solve a real problem. Nobody wants to wait forever for your data warehouse investment to produce real value to the business. Give high priority to areas where information can directly benefit your customers or solve a persistent business problem. Add lower value information later in subsequent steps.
Design broadly, implement in manageable steps. Take the time to design your warehouse with an enterprise- wide view. Then pick out manageable segments of the enterprise-wide design that you want to implement first. In this fashion, you won't find yourself constantly revamping your warehouse for design ideas that you didn't think about initially.
Formalize involvement of key stakeholders. The objective is to make sure the business leaders and key users understand and support the idea that information can create value for your business. Get them involved, keep them involved.
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