February 24, 2004
These days, it's good to have growing pains. In order to cope with the growth in its high-profile savings accounts, ING DIRECT (Wilmington, Del., approx. $20 billion in assets) needed to gain and organize summary knowledge on its performance metrics. The bank selected Cognos' (Burlington, Mass.) enterprise business intelligence (EBI) executive dashboard series.
Previously, ING DIRECT had used Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to create annual reports summarizing the bank's performance. Now, ING DIRECT bankers can view compiled data through a simple visual presentation. The bank uses these metrics to recognize success as well as the need for improvement in a growing and changing market, according to David Lewis, executive vice president of ING DIRECT. "What we really needed was measurement and tracking so that we could determine how successful we were and make modifications to our plans on a real time basis," says Lewis. "In the broadest sense, it's really taking a pile of data and turning it into useful information." Before the Cognos implementation, data entry or calculation mistakes would occasionally distort the metrics, and so streamlining the process ultimately saved the bank money, says Tim Handley, head of management information systems, (MIS) for ING DIRECT. "It was very labor-intensive, and you ended up with inconsistencies because every person comes up with a different answer on a different spreadsheet," says Handley. "One challenge is getting factual information that is correct and reducing the cost of getting that information. Using a tool like Cognos makes it very cost-effective and very timely." Handley and Lewis, along with Arline Loh, vice president of MIS for the bank, all have worked for financial institutions prior to their current positions at ING DIRECT and chose Cognos because of their familiarity of the program, which eliminated the need for a request for proposal. Crystal Ball Theory To fully implement the software, the bank had to install an Oracle centralized data warehouse, where Cognos' EBI series could extract information from all the productions systems, in order to create consistent metrics. By centralizing the data, analytics can be processed quicker, giving employees answers to their questions in real time, according to Lewis. "The philosophy we approached was to give the business user a tool that is so simple that they can ask and answer their own questions," says Lewis. "They do it so quickly, through their own processes, they answer multiple business questions that they haven't even thought of." Handley says this helps employees making important decisions concerning the bank see as though they were looking into a "crystal ball" to guide them and make the right decisions. "There is so much data available that the challenge is to put a simple and easy to use application in front of the decision makers to have the ability to look at the 'crystal ball'," says Handley. "They need to have the ability to actually look at the crystal ball, ask questions and get answers to those questions as quickly as possible. Cognos is our vehicle to do that." The results of the implementation have not only affected employees at ING DIRECT, says Lewis. "Customers have been positively impacted because of all the decisions that we are making," says Lewis. "The types of marketing we are going to be doing, types of credit and risk policies we are going to be doing." Handley says the implementation of Cognos' business-intelligence tools has provided ING DIRECT with tangible business benefits and better decision-making ability. "We have been getting more efficient with customer acquisition and with lowering our costs for acquiring new customers," says Handley. SNAPSHOT INSTITUTION: ING DIRECT ASSETS: $20 billion BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Need to organize data to create metrics in real time. SOLUTION: Cognos' data-extracting executive dashboard EBI series.
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