Wells Fargo moves from financial to data services with Tableau | #data14

wells faragoWells Fargo Bank, with the help of Tableau Software, Inc., is moving beyond financial services and provides data services to its clients. After collecting and making sense of data, the company found several opportunities in sharing that data with the clients that generated it to begin with, helping them better understand their organizations and improve their business. Christine Birtel, Sr. Vice President of Wholesale Internet Solutions, Customer Insights & Analytics at Wells Fargo, explained this new line of business in a live interview with theCUBE co-hosts John Furrier and Jeff Kelly at the Tableau Conference 2014.

The data Wells Fargo collects, says Birtel, is mainly online click stream data on corporate banking customers. It covers 23 industries, amasses up to 50 billion weblog records of just the click stream data, to which call center and qualitative data is added. “Bringing all this data requires a great infrastructure.” Wells Fargo combines Tableau, Teradata Corp.’s Aster products, among other services to obtain that powerful infrastructure.

“We started using Tableau about a little over four years ago. We were about to embark on a redesign of our portal,” Birtel explained, saying the project had no real team, no data visualization, no budget. A team they collaborated with gave them a few Tableau licenses, and that was the start.

“We have a dashboard for everybody. We have a dashboard for product managers, for sales, for technology, for risk, marketing,” Birtel said, explaining that it’s easier to make partners of people when you meet their needs.

The customers’ main request is that the data Wells Fargo collects from them would be shared back with them. This data helps with audits, security and business intelligence.

The road to becoming a data services company


Commenting on becoming a data services company, Birtel said that as “data scientists, we often create dashboards for our internal partners, but forget about our customers” and the fact that they need it. “The dashboard that we are now sharing with customers, I think it makes us look really smart, it shows customers that we really do care about what they are doing, we understand what they’re doing,” she continued.

“We’re really working with best-in-class vendors”, getting best in class software solutions, Birtel explained. “We’re bringing real time data. It’s really important to make sure that our customer’s data is safe and protected. We want to keep customers safe, but that means really having really great controls in place,” she furthered, noting they can be a little difficult. To further improve security, Wells Fargo is investing in research into biometrics and other advancements in the field.

  • The Big Data culture shift

Commenting on the culture around Big Data and analytics in the financial services world, Birtel said, “I think the biggest issue is security. The security of our customers’ data and making sure that if we have customer-facing applications, those systems never go down.” With analytics teams, if you approach your partners, make your arguments, bring them into your business, and show them how they can save money, win more customers, “you will win the argument in the end,” she explained.

Asked about the talents and skills a data scientist requires, Birtel said “I deliberately search for people who do not have financial services background. It makes teams stronger, you have new ideas and infusion of energy. “

“We are always chasing the data, and the data is always changing,” Birtel said, commenting on what she sees as the next thing to come in the industry. Every new technology, upgrade to of data infrastructure, every new device changes the data. “We have to look at the data, make sense of it,” merge it and analyze it.

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