Business intelligence initiatives typically use a small amount of structured data and ignore the vast amount of unstructured data on the web. But data that's publicly available on the web can be carefully synthesized into business insights that reveal competitive impacts, customer plans, updates to compliance legislation and even new business opportunities. Here are five ways publicy available information can improve business intelligence.
1. Monitoring competitors. Financial institutions can easily view public records such as Securities and Exchange Commission filings or the product and service rates of their competitors to ensure that their offerings either exceed their value or are within a viable range. The perspective a business intelligence solution can provide on yourcompany's key performance indicators will be enriched by adding correlations with your competitors' data.
2. Gaining insight into customers' businesses. Existing customers are the best source for additional business. From executive change tracking, to an uptick in job postings that may indicate expansion, to press releases outlining new plans and even media coverage, the web is a rich source of potential insights. A systemic plan to include web data on your company's most fertile customers along with your company's internal data can boost sales to your most profitable segment: existing customers.
3. Keeping tabs on rules and regulators. The financial meltdown has led to ever-increasing modifications to the regulations to which financial institutions are held. Companies can monitor the websites of prominent legislative bodies such as the SEC, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Federal Reserve System ("the Fed"), Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and National Credit Union Administration to ensure that they are up-to-date on all the latest compliance measures and regulatory statuses.
4. Customer sentiment analysis/new market research. News outlets, Facebook and Twitter all are critical competitive public relations battlegrounds where brands are trashed and evangelized. Financial companies need to be able to track and influence customer sentiment, when appropriate, to protect their brands and counteract negative opinions should they arise. Conversely, it's also important to keep track of industry leaders such as Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America to understand where they are guiding the market and what customers think of this direction.
5. New revenue streams through unique data sets. The web data explosion has created a market demand for companies that can aggregate and transform unstructured data into new insights. Companies can generate better sales leads by extracting and combining data from disparate sources. For instance, your current BI solution may indicate that prospects with three key characteristics are high potential customers. By leveraging web data in a systematic way, your BI program could also produce a list of such prospects by aggregating data from associations/member/interest sites correlated to news or even social media sites.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what banks can do with web data. The business uses for public online information are limited only by companies' imagination. The key is to implement business processes and tools that help cut through the mass amounts of dynamic data on the web and locate information that delivers insights that impact companies' competitiveness.
Matthew Jacobson has more than twenty years of high tech industry experience. He started his career at AT&T Bell Laboratories and his experience includes leading software product businesses, consulting businesses, R&D organizations, customer support and instituting project management best practices.