Yorkshire Building Society delivers business intelligence as a service


Yorkshire Building Society delivers business intelligence as a service

Yorkshire Building Society is using an in-house centre of excellence for business intelligence, to deliver reporting, with a single version of the truth to business departments.

With financial services organisations now experiencing an extraordinary rate of business change, the ability to respond quickly and effectively to business requests for new information and performance monitoring on new products is essential.

Yorkshire Building Society has been using SAP Business Objects since 2005. Initially an IT project, business intelligence (BI) at Yorkshire Building Society has been transformed, and is now driven by business requirements, said Tony Poolan, head of BI at Yorkshire Building Society.

But Business Objects is not the only BI tool used at the building society. Analyst Gartner recommends that a centre of excellence should set standards so that the data and reports produced by the business do not end up in silos. The mantra is to think global but act local, which, in Yorkshire Building Society, means Poolan recommends and supports Business Objects for corporate reporting, but provides a single source of data that departments can take if they wish to use alternative products such as SAS. "We're trying to be a services provider rather than a solution provider."

Poolan said that around a third of the organisation, representing 1,200 users, runs business intelligence tools, which is transforming how people do their jobs. "Sales and marketing used to use spreadsheets. Now they are able to get more business insight with Business Objects." For instance, regional managers can analyse trends such as why people are taking out their savings or a drop in the number of mortgages.

Senior management have been given Apple iPads, but since the device does not support Adobe Flash, Poolan is working on a way to provide an iPad-friendly BI dashboard.

The building society also sees an opportunity to attract a younger generation of customers through customer engagement using social media. While the BI tools are not there yet, Poolan sees a huge opportunity for Yorkshire Building Society to analyse unstructured data in social media, based on leading and lagging indicators. "This is the Holy Grail for BI," he said. "If we can spot a trend, we can identify an area of the market to focus on."

The merger with Chelsea Building Society in 2010 slowed adoption, but BI has been used to consolidate data from the two banks, as well as Barnsley Building Society, which Yorkshire took over following the collapse of the Icelandic banks in 2008. "Chelsea and Barnsley data is now on the system, and we are talking to SAP about moving to a single customer view," he said.

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This was first published in October 2011


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