CBA deploys data modelling tech to fast-track disaster response

CBA CommBank Disaster Modelling Engine

The Commonwealth Bank has announced the rollout of a new “smart data” modelling solution that tracks, in real-time, official emergency alerts, enabling the bank to deliver same-day support to customers impacted by natural disasters.

According to CommBank, its “custom-built algorithms”, embedded within its Customer Engagement Engine (CCE), allow it to monitor data points from several “official” emergency sources and weather alert systems in real-time.

By doing so, the bank said it can offer “same-day tailored support” to customers regardless of their location, providing individual support services, such as deferment of loans or the offer of emergency overdrafts, to those impacted by natural disaster.

CBA’s chief analytics officer, Dr Andrew McMullan, said the new automated monitoring system enables the bank to respond to customers “with far better speed, accuracy and personalisation than manual reporting allows”.

The new modelling platform leverages the bank’s existing Pega-backed CCE, which combines AI, machine learning, and aggregated customer data.

McMullan, at the time of the CCE’s release in 2019, said the Engine “continuously optimise[s] and prioritise[s]… all available messages, alerts, conversations, and communications we can have with our customer at any given time, across all of our channels”.

Currently, the Engine runs around 400 machine learning models across 157 billion data points in real-time, McMullan said. This means that, since 2019, the Engine has effectively doubled the number of machine learning models currently in play, with more than 35 million decisions made by the system each day.

The Engine is a foundation stone for CBA’s customer service personalisation objectives, covering its messages and live in-app chats within the CommBank app, as well as “in-branch or over the phone” conversations.

Most recently, the bank said it was able to offer same-day personalised support to 80,000 customers impacted by the Perth bushfires earlier this year.

“Being able to anticipate our customers’ needs and contact them on the same day that a postcode is identified as being at risk from a substantial weather event is a game-changer, and something customers in Perth told us they appreciated during the recent bushfires,” McMullan said.

“Offering customers timely, relevant and personalised experiences is something we’re continuing to put a lot of focus on across the bank.”

CBA noted that it is continuing to accelerate its digital strategy, upping investments in data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, “with an ambition to provide customers with one of the best digital experiences of any company globally”.

Australia’s biggest bank, CBA currently services around 7.5 million digitally active customers, up 10 per cent since 2018. At least 70 per cent of all transactions are now conducted digitally, it says.