Donald MacDonald, head of group customer analytics and decisioning for CRM at OCBC Bank, has been with OCBC for 11 years, and overall, he has about two decades of experience in this space. In the second part of the interview, we talk about some of the challenges around data and analytics in the industry in general.
Read the first part of the interview here: OCBC’s analytics strategy and what brands can learn from it
A lot of brands and marketers face a huge challenge in data integration, he says. They have a lot of data, but it sits in different sources so bringing it together in one place to access and analyse it is typically very costly and very time consuming.
“This puts a lot of companies off,” he says.
There are several banks in the region which still have not managed to centralise their data and create a single customised view of their customer base. This, according to MacDonald(pictured), is fundamental.
What makes this difficult is having to integrate multiple systems which is usually very costly.
The second challenge is finding the right talent – someone who can be a visionary in the company, who can explain to the seniors why investing in analytics is a must because it’s a major step.
“It’s going to cost a brand a lot of time and effort – and they need to have someone who is passionate about it and explain that. That’s a challenge.”
Brands can invest in the data and get it, but ultimately it comes down to the people using the data. Even with the best data in the world, if you don’t have the people with passion and curiosity and skills to get value out of that data, then it’s going to sit there wasted.
And those skill sets are in short supply in the market which is already very competitive. Finding them and retaining them is a challenge for many companies.
“That’s why you’ll find there are only three or four companies in Singapore the data guys tend to go to. If you’re coming into the market just now, the infrastructure may not be there, the analytics may not be there – as an analyst, you may be sceptical. I think you’re finding clusters now that are really investing in these areas and all of the talent is going to those companies.”
If finding the right talent is so tough is outsourcing a good idea then? While some banks may, according to MacDonald, for OCBC, it’s a core competency in which the bank wants to invest in.
“We have never outsourced any of our analytics work. We don’t want to put those skills out to a third party because that third party can then go out and work with somebody else and take the knowledge away. So we build it all in-house.”
However, for other industries outsourcing may make sense. It could be a better alternative for those who are first starting out, as it might be cheaper to outsource than invest in-house.
Privacy is another challenge brands face when dealing with data and analytics. Companies need to keep that data in a secure environment that has appropriate controls.
“You have to have a rigorous robust process around that and it requires effort and cost to get it done properly,” he says.