Big Data is huge right now, but many companies are struggling to harness the potential of this new phenomenon. Chief among those slow to adapt to new methods of parsing information are banking institutions, which are in danger of being left behind in this brave new world of data management.
At the Banktech Summit currently being held in Australia, a discussion of this very issue acknowledged that the historical method of information-gathering by the banking industry has been through credit card data. This system has helped banks create products that would appeal to their customers, but it isn't the only game in town anymore. For the most part, though, banks haven't changed their habits.
Financial institutions aren't the only ones that grapple with the best way to manage and utilize vast amounts of data. A new study by data management giant Oracle notes that many companies are aware of Big Data's potential but are at a loss regarding the best way to use the mass quantities of data they are now gathering.
Tech firms are all over Big Data
There are a handful of exceptions to this situation. Google
Amazon also has access to oodles of information and uses Hadoop to collect raw data on one level, more structured information on another, and, finally, consumer behavioral information. The three levels allow for quicker sorting and implementation of the data than would otherwise be possible.
Social media is another way to collect information on customers, and it is here that Facebook
In addition, Facebook's built-in data collection system, which can track companies' pages for user hits as well as the number of shared conversations about their brand, can be a great source of information. It's even possible that the type of monitoring Facebook is currently participating in to detect criminal activity could be used to collect marketing data as well.
What are banks waiting for?
Despite the myriad uses Big Data could provide for the banking industry, these institutions are somewhat sloggy in their implementation of the technology. Not only would using such information take the guesswork out of the creation of banking products for consumers, but it can also be used for risk reduction. For instance, banks such as Ally Financial have used data-mining consultants to help reduce losses on subprime auto loans.
Other banks are also beginning to explore new possibilities in this area. Citigroup
Banks have access to vast quantities of data created each time a customer completes a banking transaction or uses credit and debit cards. Since banks already have this information on site, they only need to figure out how to parse it and use it to create more revenue.
This latter is the part that stymies, but there are several companies that can do the analysis for them, including Google and Amazon. The biggest banks have the advantage, with large numbers of customer transactions to examine and model. Some companies will use Hadoop to discover changes in consumer behavior that will affect banks -- such as the trend during the last recession for homeowners to stop paying their mortgage while keeping other debt, such as car loans, current. How might banks have reacted if they had known early on that, for the first time, people were more likely to pay their credit card bill than their mortgage payment?
Data management has shown itself to be useful to banks both for risk management and for new product development. They have the data, and the money to pay data servicers to crunch the numbers for them. All they need now, it seems, is the will to get on with it.
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Fool contributor Amanda Alix owns no shares in the companies mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Oracle, Citigroup, Amazon.com, Bank of America, Facebook, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google and Amazon.com. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.