Turning data into value

Better customer service and experience

Data analytics has been around for years. With the cost of data storage and processing at an all-time low, the volume of collected data has mushroomed. Big data is the new buzz word. The challenge, however, is not collecting these vast amounts of data, but turning the data into value, i.e. smart data. “Service-based banking and insurance using smart data” is one of the research themes of the new KBC Chair on Customer Insight.

In the banking and insurance industry, superior client service and experience are paramount to establish a sustainable competitive advantage. The greater your knowledge of your clients and their requirements, the better the service you can provide. You therefore need to be able to gather, filter and analyse as much useful data as possible and translate it into actionable insights.

Moving faster

Having started data analytics initiatives several years ago, the KBC Groupis no novice when it comes to big data and customer insight, as Pavel Kavánek, CEO of KBC’s Czech Republic Business Unit and member of the KBC Group's Executive Committee, explains: “But, at the time, data aggregation capacity and computing power were limiting factors. This is no longer the case. We now have the technology available to gather and analyse all sorts of data. The Googles, Facebooks and Starbucks of this world have already cracked this – so to speak – and we don’t want to run the risk of lagging behind. Teaming up with Vlerick and tapping into their expertise should help us to achieve our goal: even better client service and enhanced service experience – faster.

Volume and variety

Vlerick’s Professor of Marketing Analytics, Philippe Baecke, will focus on the data. “You can call me the number cruncher. Not only will our research look into the volume-related aspects of data, for example the huge numbers of financial transactions, we’ll also be looking into how we can improve analytical decision systems or models by increasing the variety of data included. As Pavel mentioned, we can now analyse all sorts of data. We’re no longer limited to structured data, such as characters or numbers. Nowadays the tools are available to analyse unstructured data, such as e-mails, postings on social media or web behaviour, which can provide useful information about your clients’ service experience, for example. Initially, we’ll be working on data from the Czech business unit, but the plan is to roll out the project to the Belgian business units as well.

The impact on the organisation

Of course, there’s more to it than data and models. Vlerick’s Professor of Information Systems Management, Öykü Işık, will be heading research into the organisational capabilities required to ensure that big data can actually drive value. One of the results of this research will be a comparative study, i.e. a European benchmark tailored to the KBC Group that will enhance the Group’s understanding of the impact big data can have.

Keeping the options open

While the Chair is a five-year commitment, the research agenda only covers the first two years,” says Philippe. “This is such a rapidly evolving area of multidisciplinary research that we need to keep our options open.”

The multidisciplinary character is also reflected in the close involvement of teams from different disciplines and business units at the KBC Group. Pavel is eager to get the research project going: “It’s an exciting prospect. I’m really looking forward to getting involved myself to some extent.” He chuckles, adding: “I’m definitely not part of Generation Y. So I should at least grab the chance to take a peek into that world, and to learn. I have a big appetite for it!