Big Data: Big Opportunity In Banking… Or Big B.S.?

By Jim Marous

Big Data. Everyone in retail banking is talking about it, but no one really seems sure what it is. At the very least, confusion and controversy surrounds how to utilize big data in practical applications, and the magnitude of opportunity is represents. Will big data transform the future of financial marketing? Or will banks and credit unions get crushed by a crippling tidal wave of information?

For years, financial institutions have leveraged internal insight they have on their customers to manage risk and fraud, as well as to improve product development, and (of course) marketing and customer communications. Today, however, new and enhanced technologies coupled with the availability of a vast pool of structured- and unstructured external “Big Data” allows for real time multichannel decisioning that can save money and increase revenues. At least that’s the theory.

The question is: Is now the time to embark upon a Big Data strategy?

Much of the confusion around big data stems from a misunderstanding about the definition itself. Rather than any single characteristic clearly dominating the view of big data as part of a recent poll by IBM, respondents were divided in their views on whether big data is best described by today’s greater volume of data, the new types of data and analysis, or the emerging requirements for more real-time information analysis. One in 12 dismissed it as nothing more than the latest buzzword.

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