NAB doubles down on value of data and analytics with new in-house guilds

Following the launch of its Cloud Guild, the bank has announced another two centred on data and analytics.

The National Australia Bank (NAB) has launched two in-house education initiatives aimed at upskilling staff in the areas of data and analytics and the ethics involved in using such technologies.

Specifically, the Data Guild will focus on educating the bank's workforce on the importance of good data governance, data quality, and ethics.

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"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," NAB chief data officer Glenda Crisp told ZDNet.

NAB has over 150 "data stewards" across the bank, who Crisp said are becoming increasingly skilled in understanding what the bank's core data is, how it's 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."

Meanwhile the Analytics Guild will be more focused on upskilling employees on technical skills and capabilities of analytics tools available through cloud providers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google.

This will happen through classroom style training, mentoring, and networking programs, 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. For example, how can AI and data analytics be used to look for fraud? Where do we draw the line between privacy and identifying potentially illegal activity?," Crisp said.

"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."

See also: Big data's biggest challenges: 3 solutions (TechRepublic)

Crisp told ZDNet that as the economy is becoming ever-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 which will in turn 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," Crisp continued.

The launch of the guilds follows the bank in April last year standing up the NAB Cloud Guild, an internal program similar to the Data and Analytics ones that offers AWS skills training.

NAB Cloud Guild, NAB executive general manager for infrastructure, cloud, and workplace Steven Day told ZDNet in May that senior leadership were also undertaking training, specifically around the business side of cloud.

"We really saw there was a gap there, so this was an opportunity to bring them into the fold," he said.

"What we have been able to do is move NAB into a pretty exciting place to be if you're a cloud developer."

Crisp said the Cloud Guild has now trained more than 4,500 people from across NAB and said it has been a "huge success" with helping the bank's workforce understand the power of cloud technology and how it can help solve problems and be able to innovate. 

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