Financial Institutions Get Down With Data

It’s hard to run any business without good customer data, and financial institutions are no exception. Todd Doherty, Senior Director of Global Products at TSYS, gives insight into new methods that are helping FIs succeed by having access to the data that sharpens their customer intuition.


What do financial institutions want? Data. When do they want it? Now. What’s the best way to access, optimize, and apply it? That’s a more complicated question.

But it’s one that Todd Doherty, Senior Director of Global Product at TSYS, addressed head-on with MPD CEO Karen Webster. In a recent conversation, they discussed the needs of FIs in relation to data and new technologies that can help them apply it to maximum effect in their day-to-day operations.


KW:  Given all the work that TSYS — and you in particular — does with FIs, how are they using data to better manage their business?

TD:  The FIs that we work with are primarily looking for  the customer data — the transactional data, the historical data — in order to make projections about what they think those cardholders will do moving forward. We package that and distribute it for them in many different ways, including providing proprietary scores that enable FIs to gain that predictive viewpoint.


KW:  How is it possible for you to organize all of that data and make it available to FIs in real time?

TD:  The nice thing is that because we are the processor for those FIs — the TSYS clients for whom we’re producing historical views of data — we’re actually getting the data in real time.

There’s a part of the process where you have to look at the data, cleanse it and make it readily available. We can do that fairly quickly — in a day or less, and we’re moving to an even shorter time frame — because we have the data at the source, and we strip out any unnecessary information and move the essential information along.


KW:  There are a lot of reasons that FIs would want to use data and have it available to them. Are there common use cases around which you’ve built your suite of data analytics and business intelligence?

TD:  We recently launched the Intellisuite product line, which specifically looks at the data related to the product or the cardholder life cycle from origination to charge-off. We’ve built data and visualizations and strategies that can be acted on, based on that data and that life cycle, and packaged it for clients.


KW:  What kinds of actions are your FI clients taking as a result of having that data?

TD:  We actually just launched with a major client three weeks ago. Prior to that, we had gone in and had lots of interviews and meetings with clients around their use of data. We know how the hundreds of clients that we have currently are using the data, but we really wanted to make sure we understood the different personas, users, and use cases. So we built a few of those.

Naturally, some of them dealt with re-issue. It’s a big time topic right now, because of EMV, for re-issuing from mag stripe to chip and signature cards in the U.S., and to chip and PIN everywhere else. One of the big use cases is FIs communicating with their cardholders throughout that life cycle, from pre-issuance, to mailing the card, to activation, and then ultimately usage. We have the data that allows the FI to see those things happening along the way, as well as the ability to use Intellisuite and its Targeted Messaging communication tool to effectively engage the cardholders — whether it’s through email, a letter, a statement message online, or something of that nature.

We’re also finding, the more and more we talk with and work with clients, that there are use cases that range from things very specific and targeted, like EMV, to non-monetary instances like natural disaster communication, all the way to balance-transfer campaigns and other campaigns for driving revenue.


KW:  Consumers are so mobile and digital today that often the traditional ways of getting in touch — like snail mail — don’t work anymore. As part of your dashboard, do you also provide advice or insights that can help FIs make decisions about what channels to use?

TD:  Absolutely. Direct mail was the go-to strategy of years past, and there remains some debate about its usefulness today. But there’s no denying the move to electronic communication, whether it’s email, or SMS text messaging.

Part of building the campaigns and strategies within Intellisuite, and specifically with Targeted Messaging, is helping FIs take advantage of their communications strategy. If a client re-issues someone, for example, they obviously want to communicate that to them. From our perspective, the go-to option is email because it’s the least expensive; after that, we provide choices of a statement message or a postcard. The last communication resort, if you will, is to send a letter.

FIs should determine the effectiveness of their communication channel both in terms of the cardholder’s preference as well as the cost.


KW:  You’ve obviously learned a lot from your pilot program. Is there a particular insight that you’ve applied to the launch of Intellisuite and other products?

TD:  One thing we’ve come to realize — more fully than we already did — is that people regard data almost like water and electricity. They assume that data is going to be there, and it will be accurate and usable. But that’s not always true for all solutions.

Another insight we’ve gleaned is that the more we talk to clients, the more creative and interesting the uses for the Intellisuite visualizations and Target Messaging become. We’re learning from clients some very creative ways to cut costs, build faster communication, and be more effective from a cardholder engagement perspective.


KW:  Is it as easy to use as it sounds?

TD:  It is. Despite my experience in the space, I would not say that I’m the most technology-savvy person in the world; I’m a geek at heart, but not a coder. That said, I find it very effective. I can login via web portal, and I can view my information as I want to see it — we’ve packaged the visualization so that you start with your preferred perspective, be it fraud, product, finance, rewards and liability, et al.

From there it’s really intuitive, allowing you to point-and-click to dig into the data. You don’t have to know SaaS code, or SQL, or be able to write code at all. You can easily manipulate what you want to see; if you make a mistake, you can simply back out and start again. All of the information you’ve combed through gets populated into Targeted Messaging — which itself is easy to use.

If I can do it with such ease, so can most people.


KW:  It sounds like this suite of business intelligence solutions has evolved since you initially conceived the idea. Based on what you’ve observed from the pilot and now the launch, what’s next on your road map?
TD:  We have our own in-house user experience team that continues to do assessments on usability, which is something that TSYS is really focused on. We want to make sure that the experience I just described is as effective and easy as it can possibly be.

When you hand someone an iPad or an iPhone, its usability is immediately intuitive, and most people can figure it out very quickly. That’s what we want to achieve with Intellisuite. It’s already pretty easy to use, but we want to make it even more so.

We’ll be building out more visualizations. We actually have programmers in-house — as well as working with some partners — focused on building many more proprietary scores and models, so that the data is packaged and easily consumed in a way that it is telling you something. There’s a big difference between sending out data, and presenting it in a way that is understandable. We’re also moving towards predictive and prescriptive data analyses.

Another area of focus for us is data sources. I don’t recommend piling on as much data as you possibly can because that creates the troublesome situation of obese data. However, we are having conversations with our FIs about the need for additional sources — whether it’s weather, or Twitter, or demographic data, or so on. We’re going to package that into our Intellisuite group of products, so that the FIs can pick and choose what they’d like. That will enrich the capability and power of the data modeling.

Lastly, we’re going to continually build out more of those role-specific and payment-life-cycle-specific use cases and visualizations that I mentioned, allowing users to start from the perspective of their particular area of interest.

We are very excited about the product, and we’re looking forward to having further discussions with you about its progress.

To learn more about TSYS Analytics Intellisuite, click here.

Todd Doherty 2014

Todd Doherty
Senior Director of Analytics, TSYS

Todd Doherty is Senior Director of Analytics as part of TSYS’s Global Product Group. As the leader of the TSYS Analytics business, he is responsible for client support, product management and data design.

Prior to joining TSYS, Doherty served as VP, Operations Group Manager for RBS Citizens Bank. During his tenure at RBS Citizens, Doherty managed teams in operations, vendor management, product support and product delivery. He is a distinguished Chairman Award winner from 2012 and graduate of the Executive Leadership Development Program at Babson University. Before joining RBS Citizens, Doherty held positions with GE Consumer Finance, MCI/WorldCom and several startup organizations in areas including client relations, marketing, product management, vendor management and strategy.

Doherty holds a Bachelor of Science in Management from the University of Central Connecticut.

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