ING Australia has always brought an innovative approach to banking, launching the country’s first high interest, online savings account 22 years ago.
Today, ING has more than 2.5 million customers and employs over 1,700 people. ING is Australia’s most recommended bank and more than 6% of Australians consider the bank their main financial institution.
ING in Australia provides savings, home loan, consumer lending, credit cards, insurances, superannuation and wholesale banking services.
ING in Australia is fully owned by global bank ING Group based in Amsterdam.
Managing a growing customer base
ING Australia utilises HCL’s Unica marketing automation software for its one-to-one personalised marketing and real-time decisioning. The version of Unica originally implemented six years ago was, at the time, at the cutting-edge of marketing software, but over the years increased demand for integrated digital communications meant more powerful capabilities of newer Unica releases were needed. Purple Square were engaged to support the delivery and enablement of this new and updated capability to the ING Australia data and customer teams.
From the company’s Australian headquarters in Sydney, Eric Nguyen, Chapter Lead – Data Analytics, outlines the importance of having an up-to-date version of Unica as a customer-facing platform driving all the company’s marketing initiatives, “ING has grown exponentially in recent years. This brings both rewards and challenges, as the team must now scale our communication library to accommodate the needs of a larger customer group, reflecting their needs, interactions and preferences regarding multiple communication channels.”
The drive to align with customers’ preferences and exceed their expectations influences its chosen technology. With several major marketing initiatives in the pipeline to improve interaction with customers, including a new website and a revamp of the ING mobile offering, clearly the time was ripe to upgrade to a new version of Unica: “We realised we had to revamp our MarTech solution with a newer, fresher version to keep our communications personalised and relevant to customers.”
Adam Korczynski, IT Area lead – Customer Interactions, picks up the story: “We took the decision to invest in a major upgrade that would see us skipping several versions of Unica. In fact, ‘upgrade’ doesn’t do justice to the scope and scale of the project. It was really a complete environmental refresh, involving new architecture, servers and infrastructure.”
“Customers rightly expect more from their bank in terms of digital interactions and ease of managing their finances, this trend will continue to define the bank of the future.”
Checks and balances
Purple Square implemented the end-to-end Unica solution, which has just gone live. The architectural design and methodology developed by Purple Square and the order in which the work was undertaken ensured smooth implementation.
Introducing separate environments for development, pre-production and production, Purple Square put the Unica functionality through its paces at each step of the upgrade; any issues, such as with the migration of marketing assets, were remediated as they arose. As the project gathered momentum, fewer and fewer issues emerged, auguring well for the production install.
Adam comments, “The methodology applied by Purple Square meant, in effect, a series of dry runs conducted multiple times in different environments to avoid data loss or critical incidents when the system went live. This gave us every confidence that all would go as planned, with no surprises. We kept to schedule, too, so taking this rigorous approach in no way impacted delivery.” Having a pre-production and production environment will help govern activities and reduce operational risk as the team of marketing analysts grows.
Hitting the ground running
At each stage of the project, different ING teams had access to the system, with Purple Square on hand to guide them and explain the new features and functionality now available in the latest version of Unica.
Opening the system up, rather than keeping it within the preserve of Purple Square consultants, meant users became familiar with what their new software would do for them, equipping them to make a fast, effective start once the system went live. Further training is scheduled to ensure all the ING user community is fully enabled.
Eric highlights the advantage of having this expert knowledge transfer, “It helped with onboarding and upskilling our tech teams. Over time, in-house knowledge of Unica and its stack have been lost due to people movement, so it’s great to see the knowledge now back within the team, who feel confident about being able to support the business in the future.”
Data now streams into Unica Interact, the real-time decision engine that takes the guesswork out of marketing by using data and insights to understand customer needs.
From an operational perspective, greater visibility of the solution utilising the new Director module within the platform will be a key benefit for ING’s IT team going forward, bringing significant improvements in monitoring. Adam says, “We will be able to quickly identify any emerging issues – for example, an excessive load on the database from running a major campaign or extracting a heavyweight report – rather than needing to have a lengthy conversation about it, as we do at present.”
Maintaining the system is also set to become more structured. Operating system, app and webserver patching can be performed easily and quickly across each environment. Disaster recovery, always a focus with the regulators, will be streamlined and automated. Meanwhile the new version of the software is intrinsically more secure. Load balancing will support high availability.
Eric notes, “It means that we can factor new functionality of the Unica suite, such as Unica Director and Unica Journey, into our planning, to further boost our efficiency and offer more to our customers.”
He underscores the vital role the new software will play in ING’s expansion, “As the bank grows, we need to stay relevant with our customers, with highly personalised customer interactions that align with their needs and add value to their banking experience. This is where having real-time data and decisioning will play a vital role. I’m really happy and excited with the real-time attributes streaming feature of Unica Interact. This will enable us to respond to customer needs in real-time and will definitely deliver a big uplift in our customer experience.”
"As the bank grows, we need to stay relevant with our customers, with highly personalised customer interactions that align with their needs and add value to their banking experience. This is where having real-time data and decisioning will play a vital role.”