Cutting-edge data mapping technology is the lifeline that will save the financial services sector from drowning in the abyss that is Big Data, according to a leading financial specialist.

Esri Australia Principal Consultant Gary Johnson said Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, which is already used widely by insurers in risk assessment, is the silver bullet for banks and other financial services institutions (FSI) that are struggling to make use of the mountains of customer and business data accumulated in recent years.

“For decades, FSI’s have systematically mined customer and business data pools to strengthen their operations and grow market share,” Mr Johnson said.

“With the explosion of the digital age however, these pools of data have grown into vast, almost unmanageable information reservoirs – and have seen the birth of the Big Data phenomenon.

“IBM estimates that more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day, while 90 per cent of data currently held has been created in the last two years alone.

“Using traditional data mining techniques to deal with Big Data is like trying to carve your way into Fort Knox with a spoon – most likely, you’ll expend a lot of time and energy and achieve no more than to just scratch the surface.

“GIS technology – with its pedigree in land management and defence operations – offers business leaders the best opportunity to leverage this information.”

Mr Johnson’s counsel comes as several giants of the Australian financial sector prepare to meet for a range of discussions at the nation’s largest geospatial conference next month.

Mr Johnson said GIS technology provides a common visual representation that transcends language, education and, most importantly, department boundaries.

“As it currently stands, the greater majority of an FSI’s company data is siloed within different business systems, is inconsistent in its format and hosted across a mix of platforms,” Mr Johnson said.

“GIS technology’s power comes from its ability to normalise and sort data in a unique way, delivering a single, all-encompassing view of a company’s information.

“It’s a view few financial institutions can afford to disregard – as it shows exactly where the big deal is in Big Data.”

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