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By Andrew Kurowski, Architect of Trading and Sales IT at Nordea Markets, and Chiara Pensato, Director, EMEA, Alteryx

"A bank is an IT company with a banking license."

Nordea was formed in 2000 by the merger of four banks from different Scandinavian countries. Each of those banks was the merger of a many smaller banks, and although the bank is driving technology simplification, to this day there are still cases of four systems serving the same purpose.

The bank's analysts were spending far too much of their time on finding the right data, and then finding out how to join it together, then manually running queries. Analysts became used to running queries that took hours – and whilst some users had access to graphical ETL tools, many had to cope with writing SQL queries themselves, often spending up to 90% of their time on such tasks.

The main challenge ahead of the IT team was an organisational data mart containing a wealth of financial product, market and customer information. From foreign exchange currencies, international trades and associated products like swaps and options to hedge the risk of market fluctuation, to derivatives and equities data, it contained hundreds of tables populated by particularly complicated flows, which made it hard to maintain.

The IT team created a proof of concept for the data mart together with Alteryx partner Inviso, and delivered what had been estimated as months of work in just two days. Concurrently, a team within the business ran an independent proof of concept with same tools and came to the same conclusion. Together, the business and IT teams saw a way to make their data management and analysis much easier and faster.

Alteryx was brought in to both remodel the flows used by the IT team to make them more maintainable, and to make data more accessible and easier to work with for business users. Immediately the team experienced a viral spread of interest as colleagues heard about it and wanted to get in on the game too. This occurred because of the speed at which the team began solving the data problems in front of them.

The data mart project involved huge amount of PL/SQL flows which were converted to Alteryx. Instead of being dependent on database administrators and PL/SQL experts helping the analytics team, thanks to the ease of use of Alteryx, Nordea is now in a position where it has just one team responsible for the entire end-to-end flow.

The analysts are now using location analysis in their data sets to discover more interesting details about the customer base, and using predictive analytics to unearth many great stories the business could use to tailor their services and communications.

With the self-service analytics platform, Nordea finds that not only does it allow analysts to develop solutions more efficiently; Alteryx's self-documenting graphical data flows allow new team members to get up and running quickly, gaining understanding far quicker than before.

The result has been to cut complexity in the information systems on IT side as well as to enable the business to do analysis much more quickly, discover answers quicker, and allow them to explain their data challenge more easily. Data preparation, blending, and analysis now take a small fraction of the time they used to.

Perhaps the biggest change is the way Alteryx eases collaboration across business users and IT teams in the four Nordic countries. Analysts share data flows amongst themselves; working together on problems becomes easier as they are visualised; and business users can prototype production flows, test them out with stakeholders, and hand them over to the IT team to maintain.

Andrew says that, "it's made the day-to-day much less stressful, and changed the way we work so that we can now do things with our data sets that we couldn't have even imagined before. Before this project if someone asked if that if six months' time would we have been doing location intelligence, they'd have been laughed at. Alteryx is software that people like using, and the colleagues who use it become quite passionate about it."

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