The National Australia Bank (NAB), one of Australia’s ‘big four’, has launched two in-house education initiatives aimed at improving the strengths of its staff in the areas of data and analytics and the ethics involved in using such technologies.
The initiative follows the April 2018 launch of NAB Cloud Guild, a tech training programme giving more than 2,000 NAB employees the opportunity to develop skills in cloud computing, working with Amazon Web Services (AWS). The new Data Guild will focus on educating the bank's workforce on the importance of good data governance, data quality and ethics.
“As systems and processes become more digitised data becomes the lifeblood of the organisation, and it is important to ensure good guidelines and framework are established and clear,” said NAB chief data officer Glenda Crisp.
NAB has more than 150 “data stewards” across the bank, who Crisp said are becoming increasingly skilled in understanding the bank’s core data and how it is used, how it moves through the organisation, and its quality.
“They are accountable for driving resolution of data issues, and understanding the impacts of change on our data,” she added.
“The Data Guild will offer education sessions on tools and processes, a master-class series on data literacy, online learning pathways, and symposium's that help bring in external experts to help us upskill with a view to have market leading data stewards and capabilities.”
The new NAB Analytics Guild will be more focused on developing employees’ technical skills and capabilities of analytics tools available through cloud providers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google. It will offer classroom style training, mentoring, and networking programmes, which will see NAB bring in its cloud providers to deliver them.
The guild will also offer a ‘safe zone’ for employees to test and learn using new tools.
“We are also creating an ethical practice model for the use of data that goes beyond simple rules about access control and specific use cases,” said Crisp. “For example, how can artificial intelligence [AI] and data analytics be used to look for fraud? Where do we draw the line between privacy and identifying potentially illegal activity?
“As custodians of the nation's financial data, how we marry our ethical responsibilities with our handling of the challenge of meeting customer experience expectations will become critical to establishing trust with customers and broader at large. Ethics will become a core component for both guilds as we ensure we bring in the voice of the customer to how we manage data.”
Crisp adds that as Australia’s economy becomes increasingly digital, customer behaviours and technology advances are driving the bank's need to change.
“Data is the currency of the future; it's data that is at the core of digitisation, it's a key part of our technology strategy and will play a leading role in improving customer experiences, but we also know the importance of ensuring we do this in the right way,” she said.
NAB believes using data well will help it build a more complete picture of its customers and result in better customer experiences. “But we know we must also balance this desire to provide optimum customer experience with sound data governance and ethics,” said Crisp.
Fifteen months on from its launch, Crisp said the NAB Cloud Guild has trained more than 4,500 people from across the bank and has been a “huge success” in helping them understand the power of cloud technology and how it can help solve problems and be able to innovate.
The bank aims to become a financial services institution enabled by technology. This includes an ‘aggressive’ plan to send 35% of its 2,600 apps to the cloud now that it has a way of bringing technical capability in-house.
NAB is seeking 2,000 tech-focused staff and sending more than 2,000 of its existing staff through training provided by AWS to combat Australia’s looming skills shortage.
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