Sunday, May 26, 2024

A Digital Banking Transformation, Powered by the Fashionable Knowledge Stack – Atlan


Austin Capital Financial institution Modernizes its Knowledge Stack in simply 16 Months to Assist First-in-market Merchandise and Providers
  • Austin Capital Financial institution, a fast-growing neighborhood financial institution, sought to modernize their knowledge stack to assist their evolution right into a product centric and digital first financial institution
  • In simply 16 months, the financial institution has adopted Snowflake, dbt, Fivetran, and Thoughtspot, and Atlan as its Energetic Metadata Administration answer of selection
  • The financial institution is now capable of launch new merchandise at unprecedented pace and effectiveness, with Atlan supporting buyer knowledge querying for a brand new product with mere hours of implementation effort

A member of the Inc. 5000 checklist of fastest-growing non-public firms for seven consecutive years, Austin Capital Financial institution is a pacesetter in neighborhood banking, utilizing expertise and knowledge to gasoline its nationwide progress.

“We began off a number of years in the past with targets identical to some other neighborhood financial institution, serving the Austin neighborhood,” shared Ian Bass, Head of Knowledge & Analytics for Austin Capital Financial institution. “After a couple of years of being the sponsor financial institution for a FinTech providing, our founders determined we may construct this type of factor ourselves. So we began constructing our personal digital banking merchandise division, which is the place Credit score Robust was born.”

Credit score Robust represented a brand new frontier for Austin Capital Financial institution, a completely digital providing of loans and contours of credit score, supplied to customers with no credit score historical past or poor credit score to assist them enhance their scores with out the frequent threat of predatory lending or bank cards with astronomical rates of interest.

Reworking from a neighborhood financial institution, providing conventional merchandise like checking and financial savings accounts with a brick-and-mortar location and on-line portals, right into a digital-first financial institution with a nationwide buyer footprint, was no trivial process. Not solely wouldn’t it demand groundbreaking merchandise and trendy consumer experiences, but in addition the most effective and brightest minds in Knowledge & Analytics, with the expertise to assist them launch and iterate at unprecedented pace.

“My position was to construct a contemporary knowledge stack for the financial institution and for Credit score Robust. And after I got here on board, the information and analytics stack was non-existent,” Ian defined.

Austin Capital Financial institution’s transactional knowledge resided in AWS and PostgresSQL databases, and weren’t well-connected, making one thing so simple as querying throughout databases troublesome to unattainable. To satisfy the numerous calls for of a brand new digital merchandise mannequin, Ian and his workforce had been tasked with a real ground-up construct of a contemporary knowledge stack.

“What I actually wished to construct was a NextGen platform that I may use to democratize entry to knowledge and analytics,” Ian shared. “So step one was to virtualize this into an atmosphere the place none of these boundaries would exist. That was Snowflake.”

Transferring from implementing Snowflake, Ian’s workforce sought an answer to ingest knowledge with out the necessity for important knowledge engineering sources, selecting Fivetran and launching in only one month as they started to combine into their core expertise and construct fashions. Already present on the financial institution had been Tableau and PowerBI, serving as a brief visualization and evaluation layer.

Simply 16 months later, Austin Capital Financial institution and Credit score Robust would sit atop a completely trendy knowledge stack, constructed to assist digital monetary merchandise that required much more flexibility than conventional banking techniques, and architected to run lean.

Once I got here in, none of this existed. And at the moment now we have about six completely different SaaS merchandise that comprise our knowledge stack. We’ve ThoughtSpot, we use Snowflake, we use Reverse ETL instruments. We’ve quite a lot of issues in place that we are able to virtualize and deal with with a two or three particular person workforce, versus needing a giant engineering workforce. We’re paying for these instruments, however it’s offsetting prices in that we don’t want to rent groups to do that. We will run actually lean, and we are able to pivot in a short time.

Ian Bass, Head of Knowledge & Analytics

However whereas device after device was efficiently applied, Ian and his workforce had been spending important effort responding to requests for knowledge, and had but to discover a strategy to supply this knowledge in a self-service method whereas remaining compliant. Energetic Metadata Administration would show to be the lacking piece.

Inherent to Monetary Providers choices is a considerable amount of delicate buyer knowledge, together with addresses, names, delivery dates, social safety numbers, and account numbers, all invaluable to unhealthy actors, and requiring cautious stewardship and strict entry controls.

“We wished to ensure that we’re being good stewards of our buyer’s knowledge. A part of that includes ensuring that solely the proper individuals inside our group have entry to it and that now we have the correct controls round it, multi-factor authentication, issues like that,” Ian shared.

Their first step was creating masking insurance policies, guaranteeing that solely approved workers of Austin Capital Financial institution could be permitted to entry delicate knowledge. Ian’s unique plan was to implement masking insurance policies in knowledge entry by way of Snowflake, however discovered that whereas his workforce may implement these insurance policies utilizing the device, they might be troublesome to take care of, and to be learn at-a-glance by colleagues with decrease technical aptitude.

As we considered knowledge governance increasingly, it turned clear I wished a device to deal with that. You actually need an interface constructed on high of Snowflake as a way to simply see who has entry to what. And that’s the place Atlan got here into the image. I used to be actually taken with the entire idea of DataOps and what that meant, and what we’re driving towards is each workforce being a knowledge workforce.

Ian Bass, Head of Knowledge & Analytics

With the proper Energetic Metadata Administration platform, Austin Capital Financial institution may lastly supply self-service to its knowledge customers with out sacrificing robust entry and masking insurance policies.

“Atlan turned a necessity. That’s how we management entry in an simply repeatable style,” Ian defined. “After which the truth that now we have knowledge lineage on high of it, and the power to prepare all of our info and classifications, and add glossary phrases linked to that knowledge? That’s all icing on the cake for us.”

The place knowledge customers as soon as needed to strategy Ian and his workforce for knowledge requests, his workforce now makes use of Atlan to construct queries that allow their colleagues in groups like Operations to run studies on demand. Furthermore, with masking insurance policies in place, this knowledge will not be solely out there through self-service, however is ruled in a fashion the place solely approved customers can entry it.

“That was a very highly effective piece of what Atlan supplied for us, and I’ve been very proud of how that’s progressed,” Ian shared.

Among the many earliest alternatives to place their new knowledge stack into apply was a promising new product named FreeKick. “We consider it’s a first-to-market product, in that it’s designed to assist construct credit score for minors and younger adults,” Ian shared.

FreeKick permits mother and father to soundly and reliably set up, construct, and defend their youngsters’s credit score. Constructed on high of a digital financial savings account, FreeKick routinely builds credit score for kids aged 14 to 25 as soon as activated. Dad and mom merely make a deposit into their FreeKick account and activate credit score constructing. A mother or father can select to resume the service yearly, or shut the account and obtain 100% of their deposit again. Establishing a robust credit score profile for his or her youngsters can save their youngsters greater than $200,000 over their lifetime.

“We predict that is going to be a differentiator within the market,” Ian defined. “There could also be different merchandise or choices on the market, like co-signing on a automobile be aware, however there’s probably not some other method to do that that avoids threat. For those who are available at the moment and deposit $2,500 with our financial institution, it’s an FDIC-insured deposit and also you’re getting a credit score constructing product on your youngsters, totally free. It doesn’t really price you any cash.”

In FreeKick, a promising enterprise mannequin was rising for Austin Capital Financial institution. However essential to success could be a well timed launch earlier than commencement season. And provided that FreeKick was a departure from their regular merchandise, the expertise Austin Capital Financial institution would use to service new accounts couldn’t be tailored in time for launch. 

“Our inside CRM was not going to be prepared as a result of there was new infrastructure and transactional databases to grasp. They hadn’t pieced it collectively but,” Ian shared.

Whereas it was doable to launch FreeKick with out full technical assist from their CRM, every time the consumer service workforce would wish knowledge about account holders, Ian’s workforce must assist it.

“My workforce, and myself, personally, would have needed to be on name for the consumer service workforce, and able to run the question on the drop of a hat as quickly as they had been on the telephone with anyone who was asking questions on their account,” Ian defined.

Ian and his workforce additionally thought of a self-service mannequin whereas the CRM was enhanced to assist requests for consumer knowledge, however discovered it infeasible. This strategy would demand that the consumer service workforce be given entry to Snowflake, with the correct roles and insurance policies, then skilled to write down SQL queries towards their knowledge warehouse.

In Atlan, Ian’s workforce discovered an answer. Insights, a metadata-based question builder, would allow their consumer service workforce to run queries about buyer knowledge in a self-service method, with out the necessity to study SQL.

We used Insights to assist our consumer service workforce, and Atlan made it a lot simpler and saved a bunch of time for me and my workforce. It was a simple and efficient workaround, till our CRM was able to deal with the brand new product. So it actually gave us peace of thoughts. It was one thing that took my workforce solely a few hours to place collectively. We couldn’t have achieved that with out Atlan.

Ian Bass, Head of Knowledge & Analytics

Whereas solely a workaround whereas their CRM caught as much as assist the brand new service mannequin that FreeKick demanded, Atlan Insights ensured that Ian’s workforce spent simply two hours delivering an answer. The choice would have been painful: Turning their knowledge workforce into an on-demand service heart for primary consumer knowledge requests, and taking their eye off constructing a shiny, data-driven future for the financial institution.

With the proper knowledge expertise, activated and accessible utilizing Atlan, Austin Capital Financial institution is in a stronger place to launch new services and products, and evolve its enterprise mannequin.

“We’re within the section of determining if we wish to incorporate these new product launches into our present mannequin structure, or if we wish to break it out individually,” Ian shared. “In some circumstances, that would make issues lots easier for us. Having this virtualized and utilizing dbt and Snowflake makes it easy for us to say ‘Right here’s the connections we have to make, right here’s all the information and fashions now we have, and the way does that match into the ecosystem?’ After which we all know what modifications we have to make, and what fashions we have to create.”

Downstream, Austin Capital Financial institution’s latest adoption of ThoughtSpot is one other level of optimism for Ian and his workforce, affording the pliability they should question and visualize on the pace their enterprise is altering. 

“We’re operating stay queries on high of ThoughtSpot day in and day trip, and life is a complete lot easier and simpler,” Ian defined. “It’s simply simple to write down up new queries, spin up new stay boards, and pivot shortly. If somebody needs to drill down on a solution, it’s quite simple.”

Moreover, Ian and his workforce are wanting ahead to cataloging Thoughtspot property in Atlan to higher perceive the influence of modifications to their fashions of their visualization and evaluation layer, and finishing a complete, single view of their knowledge property.

To assist their advertising campaigns for brand new merchandise, and to gather the mandatory knowledge to evolve these merchandise and campaigns shortly, Ian’s workforce has shortly added Reverse ETL to their rising set of capabilities. “We may have employed an engineering workforce to arrange all these API connections, however we determined to simply pay a small sum of money per yr and do it by way of a device that I may arrange myself in a matter of 30 to 60 minutes,” Ian shared.

The street forward for Austin Capital Financial institution stays bold, with a challenge to construct a 360-degree view of their prospects, inclusive of net exercise. Additionally essential to assist a rising variety of deposit-based merchandise shall be new metrics and KPIs, supported by Ian’s workforce and accessible by way of Atlan.

Maybe essentially the most thrilling to Austin Capital Financial institution is the introduction of information science and machine studying, bettering the best way they market and function. “We wish to get into optimization for advertising spend. We wish to put fraud detection fashions in place. We wish to ensure that we’re good stewards of our prospects’ knowledge,” Ian defined.

Finally, Austin Capital Financial institution sees Atlan as its window to the world, higher understanding their fast-evolving expertise and processes, and the impacts that modifications to them will make.

“I would like all of it to be built-in, in order that we’re capable of assess influence,” Ian shared. If now we have a change to a area in a desk that’s upstream of some mannequin, I’d wish to perceive the place else that will get used. And I’d know if it’s in a downstream mannequin that mixes 10 tables which are mixed in a view that aggregates knowledge, or if it’s additionally utilized by an algorithm to optimize advertising spend.”

If all of our infrastructure is tied into the identical place, we are able to make modifications, and earlier than we make these modifications, perceive the place the influence could be in order that nothing breaks. All of that can must be built-in into Atlan.”

Ian Bass, Head of Knowledge & Analytics

The best way Austin Capital Financial institution’s knowledge workforce operates, thanks partly to its funding in expertise and executing the proper technique, is unrecognizable from the beginning of their modernization journey simply 16 months in the past.

“With the instruments now we have in place now, we’re capable of measure the influence of product modifications straight away,” Ian shared. “We will additionally perceive how modifications in our advertising technique influence our enterprise. For instance, we did a deep dive on key phrase searches that we had been spending on and made a considerable change. And we’re not simply measuring the effectiveness of that, however we had been additionally capable of predict what would occur. We’re following fairly intently in-line with what that prediction was.”

However past the apparent advantages their expertise, knowledge workforce, and course of supply, the tradition of Austin Capital Financial institution, from client-facing workers to executives, is quickly altering towards being data-driven.

I’ve these instruments, however the President of Credit score Robust and the CEO of Austin Capital Financial institution even have entry to those instruments. They’ll see the effectiveness of modifications inside hours or days of implementing. It’s one thing we didn’t have in place earlier than. We don’t must make these new constructs and connections, they’re in place already and we are able to pivot in a short time.”

Ian Bass, Head of Knowledge & Analytics

Photograph by Etienne Martin on Unsplash

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