Company Spotlight

The Cure For “Obese Data” In Payments

Big data isn’t always better data. In fact, TSYS’s Sr. Director of Analytics, Todd Doherty, says that focus on big data has just led to “obese data” as technology and tools make more of it available to business users. The cure for obese data, Doherty tells MPD CEO Karen Webster, is a platform that can visualize better data and make it actionable. And, TSYS has the ROI case studies to prove it.


Big data isn’t always better data. In fact, TSYS’s Sr. Director of Analytics, Todd Doherty, says that focus on big data has just led to “obese data” as technology and tools make more of it available to business users. The cure for obese data, Doherty tells MPD CEO Karen Webster, is a platform that can visualize better data and make it actionable. And, TSYS has the ROI case studies to prove it.


KW: So let’s talk a little data analytics. Certainly, it is a buzzword and a big area of need in payments and commerce, and an area in which TSYS has had a lot of expertise for many years. But I think you’ve taken it up a few notches now with a number of the initiatives you’re taking to market. First off, why do you think organizations are looking for new ways to not only access data, but also use data across their organization?

TD: It’s really all about the bottom line. Analytics can help you manage that bottom line – that’s really what they’re supposed to do. If you’re not measuring something, you’re not managing it.

We hear a lot about big data, and pulling in all of these additional sources of data and weather, and all of these types of things. I’m actually trying to get away from the term “big data” – to me that’s obese data. That’s too much data. What organizations, in my opinion, should really start to focus on is what business decisions they’re trying to drive, and what data do they have currently that can help drive those decisions.

Using that data they have, they can then go in and find out if there are other sources of data internally or externally that they can bring in and collaborate together to make either faster or better decisions.


KW: I agree – I think big data isn’t always better data. But how do organizations find what data is actually better data for them? Are there things you are doing to help organizations figure that out – to get away from that “obese data” to something that’s very useful to them?

TD: Yes, so what we’re trying to do is take the analytics services we provide today to the next level. The beginning of that is our launch of Intellisuite. Intellisuite is all about easier access to data, and then acting on that data. For easier access to data, for example, we’ve partnered with Tableau, one of the leaders in data visualization tools that many of our clients use and are familiar with. We’re building around the data we have on behalf of clients – we host large amounts of consumer and transactional data for our clients. Instead of just providing reporting or providing access to that data, we’re taking our three decades of payments experience and putting tools, reporting and analytics around that data to provide to clients. That helps them manage their business. These are the things that our hundreds of clients are asking us for, so here it is.

Being able to actually use that data, we actually do take in all sorts of other demographic, weather and social media data as well, but realistically, as we’re working with our clients, we’re not using that in a wealth of use cases. We’re really working with clients on data that they have, and putting that into purposeful use.


KW: I think you’re right – visualization of data makes it not only more accessible, but more accessible to business executives who can then take action on that data because they don’t have to wade through report after report to get the key nuggets. How does TSYS Target Messaging help your customers do that?

TD: Absolutely. What we’re doing is taking data and making it visual, but the real important thing is that we want to help our clients take action on that data. So we have introduced Targeted Messaging so that clients can look at the data through an easy to use interface, and develop a strategy on what they want to do with that data. Targeted Messaging actually allows organizations to reach out to their cardholders in a whole host of ways like text messaging, email, letter creation, statement messaging and more.

Clients can develop a strategy around what these data visualizations are telling them, and then with one click, get into TSYS Targeted Messaging to develop their campaign. It’s a very easy to use tool – drag and drop, Visio-like services. Once the campaign is created, it becomes a cohort of all of those cardholders contacted, and it can be repeated or be automatically triggered to build a more sufficient and self-managed campaign.


KW: Do you have specifics with respect to the ROI that these campaigns can deliver? I know that’s often a question when organizations, whether they be issuers, or retailers, or anyone in any business, look at data and data analytics. What is the point of doing it unless you can actually point to an ROI?

TD: There are a number of areas where we are finding it beneficial. The easiest one for me to talk about right away is the speed to market. The typical process is companies decide to contact cardholders, go to their data warehouse to get whatever criteria is needed and dump it into a spreadsheet, then pass it around the organization to filter down to the real set that they want to contact. There’s time lost there, and then by the time it does get approved and ready to go, it’s anywhere between 4-14 weeks from the idea to getting out the door.

This Targeted Messaging solution allows all of that to happen in just a few days, but it could even be hours. The ROI on that is that there’s less people needed to build this, and those people can be focused on other more important things to drive revenue.

One of the things that’s somewhat hard to measure sometimes that’s a huge impact is, if it took 14 weeks from an idea to getting out the door, that cardholder relationship could have changed. Now, the organization is targeting someone that’s not really in the pool they wanted to target.


KW: That’s quite a significant ROI – from 14 weeks to a matter of days. So it sounds so easy. You have access to a platform of data, and it’s accessible to the right people without delay. What’s holding people back? Why aren’t more doing this?

TD: What we’ve been finding as we talk with clients is that it’s really hard to break that culture of “passing around a spreadsheet” – doing things the way they’ve always been done. We are trying to educate and help folks understand that there’s a better way. We can help free up those resources and speed up time to market, and help clients with that analysis, figuring out how long it takes them to get a campaign out the door today and then comparing it to what we can do with Targeted Messaging. People are very surprised that it’s easier to use and much faster.



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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The pressure on banks to modernize their payments capabilities to support initiatives such as ISO 20022 and instant/real time payments has been exacerbated by the emergence of COVID-19 and the compelling need to quickly scale operations due to the rapid growth of contactless payments, and subsequent increase in digitization. Given this new normal, the need for agility and optimization across the payments processing value chain is imperative.

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