Nordea's own time machine

Alasdair Anderson -
17-08-10 15:11 | Digital banking | The Digital Hub

Some years back, I visited the Internet Archive, an online resource which has a copy of the entire internet starting from 1996. It is based in San Francisco and has a mirror site at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (a nice nod to the ancient library of Alexandria). If you are looking for a snapshot of a specific website, on a specific date, you just use the Internet Archive’s “Way Back Machine”. For instance, I recommend you to check out Amazon’s website from 1997 to see how things can change. The Way Back Machine records everything as it happens on the internet. But that is not all. TV news transmissions and books are also scanned, tagged and indexed. This allows you to find anything ever recorded, at any given time.

Data is the world’s most valuable asset

The capability needed to build an accurate archive of the entire internet was the inspiration for Nordea’s future data platform. We need to store our customer data and handle the information correctly and responsibly in compliance with data regulations to keep our customers’ trust, but also to understand our customers’ needs better. Our new data platform stores, processes and safeguards customer data. The platform will allow us to interrogate our data and make sure, in real time, that it is protected from hacking and misuse. This ability to use all customer data in near real time is fundamental to top-performing digital organisations. Data is fast becoming one of the world’s most valuable resources and it is essential for providing our customers with more personalised services.

Data as digital DNA

This brings me back to the Internet Archive. For a digital organisation, the ability to store and use current data is valuable, but the ability to review current data in an historical context is invaluable and absolutely essential. Like the Way Back Machine, we are constantly monitoring our data to understand life events that affect behaviours so that we can tailor our products and services to our customers and support them wherever and whenever they need us. These events can be personal such as weddings, holidays and births of children, or outside your control such as the movement of interest rates, unemployment or even bad weather.

Predicting the future is always difficult (just ask any meteorologist). But as a bank it is our duty to understand the world in which we operate as best we can, and this is what our data platform allows us to do. We can use it to build scenarios and models to improve our risk management, customer service and product development. The ability to observe and extract information from large data sets, information which is then used as basis for decisions that have a big impact on the finances of millions of customers, that is what motivates me in my work here at Nordea. 

I believe that we, as a society, have only begun to tap the potential benefits that data and analytics can bring to our everyday lives. And that is incredibly exciting!

/ Alasdair Anderson, Head of Data Engineering at Nordea. 

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