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March 20, 2014

RBS data ‘can predict GDP before Bank of England’

UK's largest B2B bank making good use of analytics.

By Claire Vanner

As the largest business to business bank in the UK, RBS has been making good use of its available data.

As roughly half of UK businesses bank with RBS, they effectively have data on every business transaction in the country as even those companies that do not bank with RBS will be sharing their information with the companies who do.

Alan Grogan, chief analytics officer at RBS says this means that he knows where the economy is going before it has happened.

"We’re working on forecasting intraday GDP. I believe I can do that because if I can understand intraday analytics, I understand where the UK economy risk is," he told CBR.

"I said to my team, let’s build analytics to be customer facing and open up the bank’s years of data on UK economy. I believe in what we have been working on for over 18 months now: that we can predict GDP before the Bank of England knows.

"They release [GDP figures] 30 to 40 days after the close of quarter. I believe we can get it intraday, or certainly at the end of the week or month," he said.

Further to predicting the outcome of the UK economy, Grogan also says that these intraday analytics run using a Microsoft Parallel Data warehouse can be used to help individual businesses seek out issues in their supply chain to avoid pitfalls.

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"If I’m a small business and I’m interested in exporting, it would be great if my bank had access to real time information on the health of exporting to know where the demands and issues are," he said.

For example, a jeweller would benefit from knowing about the price of gold and any gaps in it supply chain that would affect production.

"I personally believe analytics can help provide the capabilities for the bank to move away from relationship management towards a partnership with all our customers. RBS being the biggest B2B bank, we have the biggest competitive advantage here," Grogan said.

"Using customer analytics and market analytics can move banking onto banking 2.0 where our customers are getting intraday and daily feeds of their environments."

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