Absa hooks up with big data analysts Hello Soda
Absa Bank, a subsidiary of Barclays Africa, has announced a partnership with Hello Soda, the multilingual text analytics and big data firm, as the bank looks to better target millennial clients.
Asba said it wants to make better sense of unstructured social data to better understand its consumer base and a partnership with Hello Soda, which provides new ways for individuals to verify their identity and gain access to credit, has successfully tapped into the needs of millennial customers.
Asba believes that the growing millennial demographic is expanding more quickly than any other, with specific, currently uncatered-for needs. For example, millennials might not be able to provide paper bank statements or bills when applying for loans or mortgages.
Pieter Vorster, chief data officer at Barclays Africa Group, said: “Hello Soda’s aim to empower consumers by boosting financial inclusion is aligned with our strategy. We aim to create more opportunities for society to grow by providing relevant products and increasing access to services in currently unbanked communities.
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“In a world that is increasingly mobile, social and connected, co-creating a solution that uses alternative data sources to support customers’ needs is a logical step forward. Working with Hello Soda allows us to offer greater support to our customers,” said Vorster.
James Blake, CEO at Hello Soda, added that its products “provide the means for individuals that may not be covered by traditional credit data… We look forward to working together with Barclays Africa to continue to improve access to financial services.”
Founded in 2013, Hello Soda is headquartered in Manchester (UK) with offices in Austin, Texas and Bangkok. Its software solution Profile uses analytics techniques including psycholinguistics and artificial intelligence (AI) to offer consumer insights. The company says Profile is now being used by over 70 clients in five continents for ID verification, fraud, financial inclusion and personalisation.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”