Data Mining and Community Banks

I cannot remember exactly when we first met, but I knew him as a speaker who focused on bank technology. Though he looked like he should still be walking the halls of the local high school — the freshman or sophomore halls — he quickly proved his abilities with his deep knowledge and insights. I have since seen him often and listened as he made bold statements about the future of banking and society, always related to technology.

He is now in his early 40s and, except for a few flecks of silver in his hair, could pass as a college kid. Lee Wetherington is one of the most respected bank technology presenters on the circuit today. That is why we engaged him as a keynote speaker at the Indiana Bankers Association Mega Conference earlier this month. Lee is one of the best speakers in the community banking industry and never fails to captivate.

Five years ago, when Lee spoke at our Annual Convention, he presented on the technology that he predicted would change the world — the smartphone or, more specifically, the iPhone. With more than 100,000 apps available today, I think we can agree that the iPhone, or the smartphone of your choice, certainly has changed how we function as consumers.

At his recent Mega keynote, though, what Lee suggested may be more important to the long-term success — perhaps even the survivability — of your community bank. Lee emphasized that customer knowledge through data collection, mining, analysis and acting upon the results can give banks a huge advantage over other business.

PayPal, Google, etc., are spending billions of dollars to capture data that they can use or sell to others to enable targeted sales efforts. “Big data” is today’s catchphrase that describes those efforts. In other words, these companies are capturing and commoditizing this data, but the data they seek does not hold a candle to the trove of data held by banks. Banks must understand this, learn how to mine the data, and then use it to provide products and services to consumers that they need and want.

Banks have not historically been the best sales organizations in the business field, but now our industry has the opportunity to narrow the prospects for specific products and services. Bankers should view this as providing service to the customer, rather than sales. Because bankers do have a long and successful history of service, this should be an ideal match. If you have not already been hearing from service providers that can help you to mine, analyze and use this information, you soon will be.

If your bank does not get on board with this new data system, I fear the competition will eat you alive — hence my earlier statement about survival. Now the banking community has the chance to take back business lost to the shadow banking industry and, thus, grow. I urge you to learn more about data mining and how to use it. I assure you that your competition will.

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