With its innovative digital solutions and architecture, NLB has found itself among the world’s leading IT and data analytics solution providers in finance. Our Fintech architecture initiative at the heart of the traditional bank, which was developed as part of our group’s data usage and management project, was one of six finalists in the 2021 Gartner Eye on Innovation Awards.
Each year, Gartner awards financial companies for the most innovative technology and business solutions in the financial industry. The finalists are selected according to the criteria of the best in the world.
This achievement is especially significant because Gartner received a record number of orders this time around. “This year, we received nearly 300 applications from financial institutions from around the world, which is an excellent indication of the competitiveness, ingenuity and spirit of innovation in the industry,” they said.
“We are very proud of this classification and with it an affirmation of our work, efforts and achievements, as it places us among the best global innovations in the field of data management. Thanks to its innovative solutions and engineering, NLB has positioned itself side by side with the world’s financial giants,” emphasizes Goran Golubović, Managing Director Data in NLB.
Fintech engineering at the heart of a conventional bank – what does it mean?
The new NLB fintech data architecture is built on a proprietary analytics cloud (IBM Watson Studio), enabling advanced analytics solutions. These accounts, along with our Centralized Profitability Accounts and Smart Interest Calculations, allow us to set up customized offers for clients. All methodologies and accounts for our group members are based at the headquarters in Ljubljana and are available to members for their local use. So we are shifting our focus from developing services and channels to customers, particularly to four new components: data importance, immediate response, customer location, and channel preferences among customers.
Our vision is to create FinTech thinking and engineering at the heart of a traditional bank, with the help of a new data ecosystem that is a kind of interface between business services and technology. The results are already clear: the decision-making process in preparing loans has become five times faster, while using new data technology, the process of entering business rules has become thirty times faster. Golubovich explained that the percentage of customers using digital services increased by 11 percent.
This is just the beginning of NLB Group’s digital transformation into one of the best IT and data analytics companies in the Southeast European region. As Principal Data Manager Dr. Frank Brown, there are two initiatives underway at the same time – the first, which establishes the technological foundations for data management and artificial intelligence, and the second, transforming the DNA of data between employees.
“We focus heavily on talent, data literacy, data-driven decision making, data-driven activities and data monetization. We are gradually moving to advanced data-driven analytics, business rule management, and machine learning. We recognize that integrating real-time analytics into operations Business is critical to data monetization,” Brownon emphasizes.
What will change with the new data structure for NLB clients?
The Fintech architecture we’re talking about is built on a modern data management platform, with advanced analytics and machine learning at its core. Using an advanced data system, we can provide each individual customer with tailored offers, anticipate their needs, and deliver services to them in a timely manner, regardless of their location or time. So this is definitely one of the main benefits.
How can better data management provide a better user experience for NLB users?
We live in a world awash in data. Websites record our every click, smartphones are where we move, we read about smart cars, smart homes, AI-powered assistants… In all this data collected is hidden countless questions we didn’t even remember asking. A whole new science is also the perception and transmission of information in the right way. Data ethics is becoming more important, because data usage also leads to data misuse. We’ve also taken this into account, analyzed it and included it in our new data strategy.
The NLB Group recognizes that a modern data management ecosystem is both inevitable and critical in the field of digitization. Our goal is to become a ‘data-driven bank’, i.e. a bank whose services depend on knowledge and understanding of data.
The transformation of the traditional bank into a modern information-based bank is taking place in two directions, both in terms of technology and in terms of transforming the bank’s DNA, which includes data culture, business data management and data usage… This transformation requires organizational and technological change, and on the other hand, a transformation The staff, especially the changing way of thinking. Therefore, NLB invests a lot in data literacy and new knowledge of employees, and we are also developing new job profiles, which are the basis of the bank, based on data. Our vision is to create a way of thinking and engineering in the fintech field at the heart or center of a traditional bank, with the help of a new data system, which is a kind of interface between business services and technology.
The new NLB fintech data architecture is built on a proprietary analytics cloud, which enables advanced analytics solutions in the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence. These accounts, along with our Centralized Profitability Accounts and Smart Interest Calculations, allow us to set up individually tailored offers for clients – regardless of location and time, when it is convenient for them. All methodologies and accounts for our group members are based at the headquarters in Ljubljana and are available to members for their local use. So we’re shifting our focus from products, services, and channels to customers, particularly to four new components: the importance of data to the customer, the customer’s immediate response, and their location and preference for individual channels.
We understand that the so-called ‘data-driven bank’ or NLB Group is more flexible than other banks, can adjust its operations faster and thus stay competitive. In the trajectory of digital transformation, it is also becoming clear that banks can develop fintech components and services, and fintech companies cannot compete with us in specialized offerings, advice, and support for clients who value a personal relationship with a custodian. All this along with the NLB call center, available to customers 24/7, in the local language. In the competition with fintech companies, banks can undoubtedly be a winner in the medium and long term.
What solutions are you preparing for the future?
The essence of digitization is that it allows users more speed, flexibility, freedom, independence and ease of use of banking services, and thus greater satisfaction with use.
The future of banking is undoubtedly digital. NLB is designing a new multi-channel digital banking platform with a wide range of new digital products and services, which in the future will enable customers to visit the branch only on their own request, as all services will be provided by a digital bank, independent of the digital channel they will use To access it (any computer or mobile phone).
Another novelty is the offer of consumer financing in cooperation with retailers at points of sale, without the need to visit the bank. We have also added digital cards to mobile phones, which will completely replace plastic cards.
Why did you choose the IBM Watson studio as the basis for the new architecture?
IBM Watson studio has been selected as part of the new data management platform as currently the best environment for developing machine learning and AI solutions. This process, which is necessary to foster innovation through the application of artificial intelligence in our bank and in business operations, is being greatly accelerated. In addition, Watson Studio enables multidisciplinary teams to collaborate within the organization, bridging the gap between data professionals and business users and enabling them to work with data together. Currently, for example, one project includes teams of so-called sales control, which take care of offering development, IT data experts, and risk and compliance experts.
More on this topic on the website www.nlb.si.