From data to knowledge – in-house

Spar Nord Bank uses best-in-suite analytics for decision support

In recent years, the bank has grown dramatically – based in part on a new decentralised management philosophy and thorough IT-based monitoring. As part of the new strategic direction, Spar Nord Bank has decided not to outsource its IT support. It wants to control its own data for more confident decision making.

IT Director Carsten Henriksen says the new strategy has also changed the bank’s image. Spar Nord now describes itself as a chain of local banks. Decisions are made at the local branches – where firsthand knowledge of the customer and credit-granting competence go together. And those decisions are monitored at the management level using advanced analytics.

Some people run best-of-breed from application to application – we run best-of-suite. We don’t shop around because we’re confident we’re getting the best solution.

Carsten Henriksen
IT Director

“We have a long tradition of generating data,” says Henriksen. “Operational banking systems are outsourced to benefit from economies of scale. So it’s vital that IT support of management decisions is done in-house.”

A large part of the IT-based management is run on the bank’s extensive SAS® platform, including:

  • Data warehousing.
  • Business intelligence
  • Financial management.
  • Data management.
  • Analysis.
  • Risk management.

“Some people run best-of-breed from application to application – we run best-of-suite,” he says. “We don’t shop around because we’re confident that we’re getting the best solution.”

Near-real time

They run in near-real time, so they need an advanced, reliable platform – IT can now update information in the data warehouse, and it automatically provides the data to all the branches. “Decisions and their quality are so important that we’re moving away from a batch-based data warehouse. Management information is produced ever closer to real time,” says Henriksen.

The SAS environment is used for both classic business intelligence and vertical banking analytical applications. Raw data typically comes from SDC (Scandinavia Data Center), which runs the bank’s operational IT systems. Then it’s processed by bank staff using a wide range of SAS solutions.

Both Spar Nord and its IT director think long-term about the support infrastructure for decision making. IT is a production apparatus for the bank. They use SAS analytics for many processes across the bank, including:

  • Customer scoring.
  • Risk management.
  • Budgeting and reporting.

Concentrated competence

Extensive collaboration with SAS means that Spar Nord can concentrate its competence – e.g., Spar Nord established a banking presence in Ukraine – something that wouldn’t have been possible if they were depending on a limited range of tools.

“IT vendors should be part of a long-term partnership with the business. That requires trust,” says Henriksen.

Spar Nord has eight SAS specialists within the head office’s IT function, eight in Ukraine and 16 analysts within non-IT-related banking. “We use SAS consultants for specific tasks within risk management, Basel II and other special areas. And we also have our own resources here and in Ukraine. They are very clever people who can solve problems without waiting for orders,” says Henriksen.

Henriksen sees a future with an open, service-oriented architecture. The BI suite already communicates efficiently with the bank’s office suite. The data warehouse concept will be more differentiated in the future and move closer to transaction systems because the need for value-added data and usable knowledge will grow. Analytical insight will become a service that can fit into a business process in a wide range of roles.



Ensure strategic, long-term management information for decision making.



  • Strategic support of the bank’s business and growth strategy
  • New customer acquisition and improved efficiency
  • Campaigns and triggers that collect signals from customers who are considering additional products and services.

About Spar Nord Bank

Spar Nord was founded in 1824 as a regional bank. Since then, the bank has grown to 74 local branches, 30 of which were opened after 2001. And the bank continues to grow.

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