MAS and other central banks use buiness intelligence. Image for representation purposes only. Source: Roslan RAHMAN / AFP

MAS and other central banks use buiness intelligence. Image for representation purposes only. Source: Roslan RAHMAN / AFP

BIS study suggests that central banks love their business intelligence tools

TODAY, there’s an enormous amount of data that customers, organizations, financial institutions, as well as local, domestic, and foreign government agencies generate — all of which must be factored in by central bankers.

As a result, central bankers have come to love and rely on business intelligence software to make sense of the world around them.

According to a study conducted by the Bank of International Settlement (BIS)’s Irving Fisher Committee (IFC) on Central Bank Statistics, central bankers are increasingly relying on sophisticated business intelligence systems to make policy decisions.

Among the countries that responded to the BIS-IFC study were Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and 32 others.

While business intelligence tools have been around for a while, the report found that their importance has grown in recent years as a result of three major developments:

  • The surge in data available through digital innovation, combined with the greater demand for more granular sources of information on the financial system
  • The expansion of IT tools and computing power to manage these data, and
  • The growing recognition of data’s role in supporting (better) decisions.

Of the central banks involved in the survey, 91 percent said that they use business intelligence tools to give users easy and direct interactive access to data.

The IFC found that central banks tend to place a great degree of emphasis on adopting self-service tools that don’t require extended support from IT specialists. Most of the leading business intelligence tools, fortunately, are designed to enable self-service functions, given the massive demand from commercial entities trying to foster a data-driven culture.

Closely studying the motivations of central bankers when using business intelligence tools suggests that they’re not very different from their counterparts in commercial entities.

IFC’s survey found that nearly ninety percent of users leveraged the tool for data analysis, 80 percent made use of the tools’ data visualization capabilities, and just over two-thirds of the respondents found that business intelligence tools provided useful data integration features.

Data integration, however, is expected to gain more significance in the coming months as central banks start pooling in data from a number of sources and begin exploring comprehensive, real-time reporting capabilities.

Around 20 percent of the central bank respondents admitted to using business intelligence tools for sophisticated use cases such as data elaboration (eg transformation of raw data to yield additional insights), and big data analytics using artificial intelligence (AI).

An interesting point to note from the BIS-IFC survey is that the use case for business intelligence tools among central banks has matured significantly. It’s why a majority reported using more than one tool — in order to benefit from the various features offered by the various tools in the market.

Technically speaking, only 25 percent of the respondents use one single tool. Almost one-third use two BI tools, more than one-quarter use three to four tools, and one-sixth said they use five or more tools.

Finally, central bankers seem to be quite satisfied with the business intelligence tools that they’re working with.

According to the BIS-IFC survey, almost 50 percent picked eight on a scale of one to 10 when asked about their level of satisfaction in using business intelligence tools. Just over 10 percent picked nine. Almost 40 percent of respondents chose six or seven.

Since the study is only an assessment of the present state, it does not speculate into the needs of central bankers in the future. However, with data growing in importance and AI becoming more practical, central banks are expected to only increase their reliance on business intelligence, not reduce it.