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Advice for CIOs: Information is the new oil

Saul van Beurden , ING, speaking at The Premier Business Leadership Series in Amsterdam.

How can a CIO best help his or her organization be more successful?  According to Saul van Beurden, CIO Retail Banking & International, ING, CIOs must put aside their technology-focused view, and instead look at interactions from the customers’ point of view.

“The world of banks is changing with fascinating speed,” Saul told a full house at The Premier Business Leadership Series in Amsterdam. “Customer-control and trust are reshaping the financial industry — every bank has a choice: excel or be phased out.”

“Banks should be seen as making some of life’s better moments possible: From buying your first car to paying for a much-deserved and enjoyed holiday,” said Saul, “but customers rarely learn much from their banks, other than what’s on their statement.”

Today’s customers are asking businesses to do three things:

  1. Make their lives easier.
  2. Remember things for them.
  3. Don’t bother them with averages (or treat them like one).

If you don’t meet these three needs, your business is in danger of becoming irrelevant, said Saul.

Getting into the information business
Companies are increasingly centering their business models around data and information. Nike, Amazon, KLM are just a few of the many organizations getting into the information business. “They deliver data back to customers as a personalized service, while still getting value from the aggregate big data because they understand that information is the ‘new oil,’ “ said Saul.

As a result, many of these information businesses are encroaching on traditional banking’s territory. They are where the customer is, not where the bank is (i.e. customer-centric, not process-centric). This is in turn is driving a seismic shift from ‘transactional’ to ‘customer-facing’ relationships.

“If banks are to remain the preferred channel they have to stay relevant by focusing on being where the customer is and making the core processes invisible,” he said.

A next-generation bank
What does this mean for the future of ING? “We are on a transformational journey,” said Saul, “combining transactional parts of the business with customer-facing capabilities.” The company is focusing on three main areas:

  1. Sensing the customer.
  2. Selling and servicing the customer.
  3. Securing the customer’s money.

This three-prong strategy requires the ability to analyze sentiment across all channels. ING must also provide next-generation apps to improve customer access to services. The bank is also exploring real-time interventions – like using advanced intelligence to protect its customers’ money from fraud, such as phishing or skimming.

The challenge, in Saul’s view, is not ‘Big Data’; it is ‘being relevant with ‘Big Data’.

“Ultimately, the result is that the Chief Information Officer transforms into a true Chief Technology Officer, or the Chief Marketing Officer,” said Saul. “The leadership role distinctions become blurred when you they all bring their disciplines to a customer-centric, not process-centric culture.”

For more from Saul van Beurden, follow him on Twitter @saulvanbeurden , and for more on ING, find out how they’re using SAS.

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  1. [...] his keynote presentation, Saul van Beurden (CIO Retail Banking & International, ING) talked about how his bank had [...]

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