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By Microsoft Customer Stories on January 28, 2016

Filed under Financial Services - Banking & Capital Markets

Tangerine knows that staying innovative is key to standing out in the crowded world of online banking. By giving its business leaders easier access to customer feedback, the bank has a better sense of exactly the kinds of services customers are looking for. Using this approach, Tangerine can lead in a competitive industry.

Tangerine cafe

When ING DIRECT was required to change its name in 2013, it wanted something bold and unique to reflect the bank’s drive for innovation. The name it chose—Tangerine—certainly did the trick.

But the bank didn’t choose a colorful name for fun. It chose it to stand out in the increasingly competitive world of online banking. “Things are changing very quickly in online banking, and competition is intense,” says Billy Lo, Head of Enterprise Architecture for Tangerine. “We need to be at the forefront all the time, constantly innovating and coming up with new ideas.”

Listening and Learning

Tangerine realized that it would take more than just new banking services to attract new online customers while keeping existing ones—it would take an entirely new business approach. For Tangerine, that meant creating services based entirely on what its customers demanded. “We have very aggressive growth plans as we become more of a full-service, innovative digital bank,” says Lo. “To execute on that vision, we need to react quickly to what our customers are telling us they want.”

A perfect example of that strategy is the bank’s new responsive website, which features an interface that easily adapts to the specific type of device the customer is using to access the site. “That was based on listening to our customers, who were increasingly using mobile technologies to do their banking with us,” says Lo.

But that was just the beginning. Lo says, “The only way we can keep innovating is to quickly experiment with new ideas and assess how those ideas are resonating with customers. If they like a new idea or campaign, we need to expand that idea right away, but if they don’t like something, we might need to decommission it quickly.”

The Data Access Problem

The company realized it had to start with its data. “We have customer financial data, of course, but we also keep track of customer feedback and complaints,” says Lo. “That includes every face-to-face and phone interaction with a customer, in addition to social media sentiment.” But there were limitations with the bank’s existing data warehouse and business intelligence (BI) solution. “Our data warehouse gave us the raw information we needed, but it lacked scalability,” he says. “We expect 50 percent growth in data in the next five years and we need to be able to support that.”

The BI solution was also too technical for business leaders, who needed fast data insights in order to tweak campaigns in midstream, depending on customer reactions. “The process took too long,” says Lo. “It would take a full day from the time business had an analysis request to the time the BI group finally delivered a report.”

A Turnkey Data Analytics Solution

Tangerine didn’t have to look far to find new technology. “We are a long-time Microsoft partner, and we’ve deployed numerous innovations internally with them, including Microsoft Office 365, Lync, and SQL Server,” says Lo. “So when we needed to build a more responsive, scalable data warehouse solution, we thought Microsoft could once again deliver.”

Tangerine decided to deploy the Microsoft Analytics Platform System (APS), a turnkey big data analytics appliance. It combines the Microsoft SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse—a massively parallel processing (MPP) data warehouse technology—and the Apache Hadoop open-source big data platform into a single solution that seamlessly integrates the bank’s data.

The solution also includes Microsoft Azure HDInsight, the Microsoft cloud Hadoop-as-a-service. . “The appliance integrated with the cloud model appealed to us right away,” says Lo. “We’re not in the business of building servers or integrating components; we offer intelligence. So having a portion of the work done for us is important. With pre-built integration using PolyBase to query both the relational data warehouse and Hadoop in the cloud, the solution will allow us to reap the benefits of both relational and non-relational data regardless of where it lives.”

Tangerine began by transitioning 45 BI end users to a Microsoft BI environment including Microsoft Excel, SQL Server Analysis Services, Power BI, and SharePoint. These employees work in finance, IT, product performance, and marketing. Next, the bank started transitioning from its previous data warehouse to APS.

Immediate Insights

For Tangerine’s leaders, transforming customer data into insight is now much easier—and faster. “In IT, we need to empower our business users by getting data into their hands at the right time,” says Lo. “With the Microsoft solution, we have a central aggregation point for both internal customer feedback and external banking data, such as current financing rates. We are now able to combine those data sources so business users don’t have to waste time finding that information.”

As a result, employees can instantly access usable BI analysis. “The entire BI process is instantaneous now, because of the performance of the Analytics Platform System and the ease of the Microsoft BI tools we’re using,” says Lo.

Using Feedback to Adjust on the Fly

Tangerine will also be able to easily adjust new product rollouts or advertising campaigns based on real-time customer reactions. “Without having deep access into all this data via the Microsoft solution, we wouldn’t be able to see the impact of the changes we’re rolling out, like our upcoming credit card,” says Lo. “Now we can easily evaluate effectiveness and clearly see what we need to adjust. The APS solution will help us be an innovator and a leader in the online banking industry.”

Delivering the Services Customers Want

With a better ability to learn what its customers are looking for, Tangerine can offer the incentives and new services it needs to be able to retain—and grow—its customer base. “I can see us borrowing a page from consumer technologies that our customers are telling us they use every day,” Lo says. “For example, creating predictive, context-aware financial services applications that give information based on the time and where the customer is.”

Tangerine will also be able to create new services and campaigns based on social media data. “We want to use the new data warehouse as a central point for all sentiment data, from customer emails to blog posts,” says Lo. “By looking at this information, we’ll be able to derive better product features and initiatives because our users will be able to do their own drill-down BI into a centralized, historical view of all this data.”

Predicting Customer Behavior

The bank also hopes to experiment with Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, a predictive analysis solution, to gain valuable insights into customer behavior. “We think we’ll be able to use Azure Machine Learning to predict how likely customers are to go to other financial institutions,” Lo says. “We’d like to run some experiments to identify those at-risk clients and reach out to them before they move to another bank.”

New Knowledge from Familiar Tools

Tangerine is empowering its business leaders to use the productivity tools they rely on every day to gain new insight. “By using Office 365, SharePoint, and other tools we already have, we don’t have to have a conversation with our executives about investing in new technology tools,” says Lo. “Instead we can have deeper conversations about the data we can now mine.”

With its new solution, Tangerine has the right foundation for continued innovation. “A lot of what we do now and in the future relies on the same Microsoft foundation we’ve put in place,” says Lo.

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