Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wells Fargo hires 'big data' chief

Wells Fargo said Tuesday it has hired its first ever chief data officer, a move designed to help the bank make better use of "big data."

The chief, A. Charles Thomas, will be based in San Francisco, where Wells Fargo is headquartered. He will oversee the bank's data strategy and determine ways data can be used to improve risk management and customer experience, Wells Fargo said. He starts the new job in March.

Thomas and his staff will analyze how customers interact with the bank at its branches and automated teller machines and through online and mobile banking platforms, the bank said. Spokesman Josh Dunn said in an email that such research will help the bank identify ways to improve its services, help customers find products and identify potentially fraudulent behavior.

Banks, like other companies, are becoming more interested in capitalizing on the emerging field of big data, a term that can apply to large sets of information businesses have about their customers. A bank might be able to use data on a customer's branch habits to, say, improve their ATM experience.

"This is an important move for us in the tech space and a role that is maturing across industries," Dunn said.

Bank of America has used big data collected on some of its call-center employees to improve productivity. Through analyzing data captured through sensors the bank asked the employees to wear, the bank learned that the most productive workers spoke frequently to colleagues. That led the bank to schedule group breaks instead of solo ones.