Combining the growing volume of digital information with powerful analytic tools improves the effectiveness of consumer marketing, political campaigns, fraud detection and crime prevention, according to panelists at the Business ForUM panel session on “Big Data.”
Khrystyna Bochkay, an assistant professor of accounting at the School, moderated the discussion about how to use the information from public records, private databases, smartphones and sensors together in a way that advances business goals while meeting confidentiality requirements and protecting consumer privacy.
“Big data was invaluable in helping President Obama develop his messages in 2008 and 2012,” said Andrew Marcus, president and CEO of M1 Data & Analytics, Inc. “Today, big data plays a growing role in insurance, finance and healthcare, as well as consumer marketing.”
Scott Norton, executive vice president and chief auditor at BankUnited, said the Florida-based bank uses big data tools for monitoring customer accounts to detect anomalies that indicate potential fraud. Pointing to the importance of security, Norton said, “Hackers have gotten more creative, breaking into small business’ digital files and monitoring email traffic of the CEO or CFO. Then, they try to emulate that email to request a wire transfer payment to ‘vendor’ with a new address. Our analytic tools can flag those kinds of wire transfers so the owner can be contacted before the funds are released.”
Those tools are also crucial in anti-money laundering programs and banking “stress tests,” said Jeffrey Sopshin, a partner with Business Risk Advisory at EY LLP. “Sophisticated models that draw from various data warehouses can screen for potentially suspicious transactions,” he said. “We can also leverage big data tools to model how well a bank’s loans and investments would perform in different credit markets. Of course, big data can only go so far. You still need to look at the model and your assumptions to see if the results appear to be reliable.”
Regulated businesses that turn to the cloud to house their data in a distributed server environment, they need to be sure they comply with state and federal requirements, added Sopshin. “While the cloud provides a huge opportunity for performance improvement, it may not be an option if U.S. or European Union (EU) laws require the data to stay within that jurisdiction,” he said.