National Funding turned to a familiar name in their goal of maximizing the use of analytics to provide loans to small and medium businesses.
In hiring Torrie Inouye as Director of Business Intelligence and Analysis, they have someone who not only knows advanced analytics but also someone who knows National Funding.
Ms. Inouye worked with National Funding when both she and the company were starting out. She focused on marketing during that initial stint, and created metrics for use in analyzing growth opportunities for the company.
She was most recently with Intuit, heading a group which helped define Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for the Turbo Tax division. They also used analytics to gain insights into customer behavior while seeking to maximize the user experience.
National Funding CEO Dave Gilbert is happy to have Ms. Inouye back in the fold.
“We are thrilled to bring Torrie back to National Funding. She brings the superior ability of developing an analytical and reporting process to the company that is consistent with the growth we are experiencing. Metrics are more important now than ever before, particularly in driving business, understanding what our customers need and want, and how to approach them. Torrie’s experience and role will be critical as we continue to grow the business and our offerings.”
Ms. Inouye will oversee all business intelligence, work with the company’s executive team to further leverage analytics in their decision-making process, upgrade and streamline the data collection and analysis, and identify opportunities driven by insights from the data. She believes the time is right to enhance data management and analytics at National Funding.
“I have been keeping in touch and watching the company for the last few years,” Ms. Inouye said. “The timing was right all around – for the company and me personally.”
While people have always used data to determine the most desirable course for companies, the use of advanced analytics has started to flourish only in the last few years.
“Businesses are hungry for data and they want to leverage analytics to help growth,” Ms. Inouye said.
Analytics help them do that in different ways.
“There are plenty of opportunities for statistical modelling in the financial industry,” Ms. Inouye explained, citing market acquisitions and credit applications as two examples.
“Analytics help you gain visibility into the data,” she added. “By that I mean you can take a detailed look at which metrics you are trying to impact by looking back at past performance and monitoring.”
Taking a closer look at data can help a company planning acquisitions. It also plays a key role in the development of marketing plans, Ms. Inouye said.
“We can specifically target customers. Our sales team can get current response rates for marketing campaigns. They can also interact with the software.”
That ability to interact removes uncertainty by allowing sales teams to test different parameters in the safety of the office instead of in front of a prospective client.
“It makes the data more actionable, makes the way people work more data driven and analytical” Ms. Inouye said. “We are not starting from scratch. We can determine what inputs are going into driving KPI’s, what factors influence moving the needle up or down.”
A key benefit of data analytics in the efficiency it brings to companies. In years past a manager wanting a certain data set would have to locate those in charge, request the information and then interpret it. With self-serve analytics, the ability to access different data sets becomes more of an on demand service.
“It empowers managers to see what is happening real-time in their sector,” Ms. Inouye explained. “They can go to the dashboard and see what is happening without asking everyone. They can look into aggregate data and dig deeper into individual deals.”
In the highly competitive financial services industry, analytics can provide the company who best utilizes the data with a key edge on the competition.
“The goal is to reach the customer at the right time with the right product,” Ms. Inouye said. “We can predict when a customer will need financing, get it to them soon with a good product so we can have a competitive advantage. Because you quickly understand and learn what is happening, you can be more targeted with your marketing.”
In an environment where small businesses continue to struggle to obtain working capital, can data analytics play a role in identifying low-risk opportunities?
“By using more analytics around credit portfolios and better understanding risk, you can get into portfolios others won’t touch because you understand the risk appropriately. Identify those pockets of opportunity, find the companies and market to them at the right time.”
Self-serve analytics are obviously not a flick the switch and let them go proposition. Staff unfamiliar with their use need to be shepherded through the process so they can make the appropriate decisions.
“It’s not just a matter of printing reports and you’re done,” Ms. Inouye offered. “These are partnerships. You have to work together. If the data is being misused the decisions probably will not be right.”
They also allow for a more constant collaboration with managers and the sales force.
“We need to collect the data, and make sure it is clean so you can get insights and understand the customer better. We then get the right data into the hands of the managers so they can make decisions quickly while also being a strategic thought partner. We’re constantly in touch with them. We just don’t leave it in their hands.”
While the use of data analytics has grown exponentially over the past few years, “we are just scratching the surface of the power of data and what it can bring,” Ms. Inouye said.