Scotiabank's New File Clerk

Just as Scotiabank (Toronto) finished a data warehousing project to gain a holistic view of each customer, it faced a new technical challenge: managing the bank's 300,000 lines of complex

April 28, 2004

3 Min Read
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Seven years ago, Scotiabank (Toronto) started a data warehousing project to gain a holistic view of each customer. Scotiabank, with $281.5 billion (CAN) in total assets, achieved its objective. But, in 2001, the bank faced a new technical challenge: managing the bank's 300,000 lines of complex CoBOL code.

Though the CoBOL code got data from Point A to Point B, it came from 20 different source systems. "These source systems were constantly changing," says Kyle McNamara, vice president of data warehousing and decision support at Scotiabank. "The volume of information and the volume of dependencies made it difficult to maintain and keep the code up to date."

To respond to rapidly changing business requirements and customer needs, the bank needed a more agile system. In the fall of 2001, Scotiabank evaluated vendors' proposals and selected Redwood City, Calif.-based Informatica's PowerCenter, the data backbone that now powers Scotiabank's data warehousing and data mining solution. Built on a services-oriented architecture, PowerCenter accommodates changes in underlying operating systems or databases, while infrastructure additions can be adopted within the PowerCenter data integration. The solution runs on the bank's current IBM servers.Scotiabank's pilot program ran from January 2002 to May 2002, utilizing PowerCenter as part of the bank's "Significant Deposit" marketing campaign, which allowed Scotiabank to identify and respond to changes in their customers' financial lives. Based on the success of the pilot, Scotiabank has developed statistical models to analyze transaction histories and determine individual behavioral patterns. The automated system segments customers based on contact history and marketing preferences, and it releases a file of customized sales leads within hours.

Mad About Metadata One of the features of PowerCenter that McNamara likes best is Informatica's metadata - data about data - which is the DNA of PowerCenter. "Metadata helps us catalog and track our data and treats the data as an asset," McNamara says. Furthermore, PowerCenter's architecture fully utilizes metadata to deliver scalable performance, high re-use and up-to-date documentation of the integration process.

The bank has already seen productivity improve, asserts McNamara. Scotiabank's business staff can better identify which data to use for analysis. The technical team can more quickly assess the impact of a potential change on the environment. And population of the data warehouse is accelerated by PowerCenter's speed.

Scotiabank is still completing the implementation, which began in December 2001 and is projected to take two more years to complete. "We just did a conversion of a component of the code recently. Previously, conversion took 48 hours, now it takes 24 hours," he says. "We foresee a maintenance cost savings of between 30 and 40 percent."

According to McNamara, Informatica's PowerCenter has enabled Scotiabank to gain a unified view of its organization and respond rapidly to new business requirements and infrastructure changes. In the future, he says, Scotiabank plans to leverage the reporting capabilities in the metadata browser to clarify the source of the data and the time at which the bank received it.For example, if the bank were to examine a mortgage balance, it would want to know if the balance was calculated at the end of the month; if it represented the average balance for the month; or if it included accrued interest. "We want to know everything about that field," McNamara says. "Without the proper metadata, we could make a mistake when summing up all the balances."

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