St George takes path to information democracy

Business intelligience (BI) has traditionally been the domain of senior business and IT executives but at St George Bank it has been extended to all employees.

The bank's general manager of IT relationships and data warehousing, Gary Carter, said the bank's BI vision is the result of a CEO mantra to make the organization the best services company in Australia.

"That means every person in the business - right down to the people at the coalface who [deal] our customers," Carter said. "To get there and deliver excellent service means we have to deliver value to the tiny pieces of the process that are involved when you apply for a credit card or a home loan. We don't want to leave [customers] hanging and in two weeks time say, 'we can't give you a home loan'.

Carter said St George needs to manage all those "pieces in the puzzle" to provide service delivery.

"We are currently doing that with Business Objects in terms of setting targets for all our sales force [by] servicing customers and selling to customers and we report on those targets every day," he said. "Now we see that expanding right across the organization with every service metric - call centres, branches, our mobile lenders - by measuring the service standards and making sure we're hitting our targets on service standards; then tightening the service standards up a little bit more and measuring again."

Delivering the keynote address at this year's Insight 2004 Business Objects user conference on Queensland's Gold Coast, the company's Australia and New Zealand managing director Brenton Smith said the vision is about making information accessible to everyone not just C-level executives.

"This is a real example of practicing information democracy," Smith said. "So how do you enable information democracy? Today, organizations have multiple business intelligence tools and reporting systems. This really is a disjointed approach to their reporting capabilities - it's not driven strategically, nor is it supported centrally. An enterprise-wide BI strategy ensures that users have access to information in a way that suits them."

Smith said it is encouraging to see more organizations adopt enterprise-wide BI strategies and forming business intelligence competency centres to make it more pervasive.

"This is one way to overcome the challenge of lack of timely information," he said. "We've spent a lot of time with our customers to understand the business benefit they are getting out of business intelligence projects, strategies, and the ROI that is being passed back to the business as a result. This turns businesses into high-performance organizations."

By practicing information democracy, Smith said BI isn't restricted to the privileged few.

Rodney Gedda traveled to Insight 2004 as a guest of Business Objects

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