The human side of data in the era of ultra-personalization

For Christian Nelissen, data-driven innovation offers a chance for financial institutions to get back to their roots – even while they transform themselves in the digital age.

Across industries, organizations are combining their ability to collect vast amounts of digital information about their customers with sophisticated artificial intelligence and data analytics tools to create new kinds of customer experiences.

Financial institutions are no exception. Given the sheer volume of customer information banks have access to, it becomes easy to see how some of that data could be combined with artificial intelligence to make a difference in the lives and financial security of customers.

With proper consent, banks could use data to detect early signs of financial distress for the customer based on their spending patterns, or to notify a customer when they aren't making use of features they are paying for on an account. 

Indeed, these new hyper-personalized experiences powered by modern technology offer a chance to re-focus on the customer in a different way – in a way that captures the mood of a very different era, according to TD's Senior Vice President of Enterprise Data and Analytics who recently spoke on the topic, "Data and the era of ultra-personalization" at the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

Nelissen pointed out that technology offers us the chance to recapture the kind of feeling that people had when they visited their local bank branch in the 1970's, when customers spent more time in their local branches – when everyone had more time, and we all got to know each other better.

"We knew that if we did that really well over a long period of time, you'd have a really good relationship with us. And then when it came time to buy a house for example, where else would you go except to the people who knew you really well?"

On the panel – which also featured representatives from FleishmanHillard HighRoad, Uber Canada, and Wealthsimple – Nelissen drew a distinction between TD's focus on using customer data for the purposes of curating more personalized experiences, not simply creating a better way to target people with promotions.

"The power of personalization really comes to life when you think about it from the perspective of what's important to the customer, and when you use the data and the insights that you can get from new technologies to inform the conversations we have with customers – that's where the magic happens."

With so much customer data available and consumers willing to offer up more personal information in the hopes of a more curated experience, organizations are under increasing scrutiny about how customer data is used.

"We need to operate as if we need our customers' consent for everything we do. Even if current laws or regulations don't demand it, we need to operate at a higher standard," Nelissen said.

A group of people sitting on a stage during a panel discussion.