Bank of Montreal

Bank of Montreal develops "MIND" for enhanced business

While it had a wealth of data about its customers, their accounts, investments and service needs, the Bank of Montreal did not have an easy way of providing this information to its management team. What was needed was a decision support system that would supply information tailored to all of its decision-makers, ranging from top executives to line-of-business (LOB) managers to branch managers.


Project: Management Information — New Direction (MIND)

Purpose: To give Web-based access to business performance information such as customer information, product profitability and revenue reports.

Benefits: Data can be mined from the bank's customer database, analyzed and presented to diverse groups of users in customizable reports delivered over the Web.

Platform: IBM RS/6000 SP servers

To meet this need, Jan Mrazek, senior manager, business intelligence solutions, and a team of IT professionals developed Management Information — New Direction (MIND), a Web-based information super mart running on top of the bank's Customer Knowledge DataBase. CKDB is a 2T enterprise-wide data warehouse that consolidates highly detailed information on all of the bank's customers. This includes the month- ly profitability of more than 18 million accounts, individual customer profiles, product categories and their performance, and profitability of different market segments and regions.

The enterprise-wide customer information data warehouse runs on an IBM RS/6000 with the DB2 Universal Database Enterprise-Extended Edition for AIX. MIND utilizes the MicroStrategy Intelligence Server, Web and Agent for its database query and reporting tools.

The MIND project was developed to run on top of the CKDB — mining, analyzing and presenting data to users in customizable formats. Users are now able to get much more detailed and extensive information on product profitability and customers than ever before. Information can also be customized to give the most value to each user. Users include financial service managers, LOB managers, senior executives and human resources. Each group has a different front-end interface to accommodate presentation style and user preferences. There are currently 500 users using MIND, with a total of 2,000 expected by the end of 2000.


IBM DB2 Universal Database Enterprise-Extended Edition for AIX; MicroStrategy Intelligence Server, Web and Agent; Platinum ERwin; Platinum ModelMart; AB Initio

Kathy Lisson, executive vice president and chief internal sponsor of the MIND project, convinced all of the division vice presidents of the importance of taking an enterprise view of management information systems rather than splitting them up along individual lines of business. Reporting to both the CTO and CFO, she understood the value of having quantitative data and analysis for business decision-making.

The success of the CKDB data warehousing project, delivered in July 1998, went a long way in convincing top management that the MIND project was feasible. The CKDB offers its own data mining and analytical reporting capabilities, which enabled the bank to achieve a 100% ROI on the project in just six months.

The MIND project began in October 1998 with a three-month pilot in which Mrazek and his team had to prove the feasibility of their plan before additional funding would be granted.


Patricia DaFre
Vanitha Devarajan
Jan Mrazek
Ted Mendes
Doug Welch
Linda Lee
Stella Chan
Sanjiv Shah
Ken Ma
Roy Cheng
Eric Chan
Victor Halfkenny
Andre Tardif
Nelio Lucas
Steve Hoskin

One of the challenges the team had to deal with was the project's large data volume and user base. Several models were built to see how users would access the system and how MIND would perform under presumed loads. "We refined the models as more information was acquired during the development process," Mrazek said.

To safeguard the bank's data, MIND has six levels of security. Users' rights to information are set when they log on with their personal ID. The system shows users only the information they have rights to.

Users can analyze demographics to view product success by market segment or region. They can also look at customer demographics, or see a total picture of a single customer's association with the bank.

This enterprise-wide picture of the bank's customers has created opportunities for cross selling and specialized marketing. In addition, looking at product performance at an enterprise level has led to product revisions and enhancements.

Although customers do not have access to MIND, it provides the bank with a significant CRM tool by giving bank executives and managers better information. For example, Mrazek said, an investment manager using MIND might notice that a customer has $500,000 in an account that is earning very little interest; the manager can use the available data to contact the investor and help place the money in a safe but better performing account.

Another significant CRM benefit of MIND is the ability to identify customer problems early on. For example, the system might notice a customer moving some of their many accounts to another bank. A manager could contact the customer to see what could be done to retain the accounts. Human resources can also be better allocated based on trending done with the system. Busy customer times can be spotted and extra tellers added to those shifts.

The first phase of MIND was delivered in June 1999. Debugging and system stabilization continued until September 1999. In phase two, Bank of Montreal hopes to pay more attention to feasibility studies and to provide additional contingency time between major project tasks to allow for unforeseen circumstances.
— Rich Seeley


Each of the entries in the Data Warehousing category demonstrated innovation in aspects of the project; however, the Bank of Montreal demonstrated a level of creativity that was unmatched by the others.

Two factors that contributed to the success of the pro- ject were ensuring end-user involvement, and an internal sponsor that was involved and committed. But where Bank of Montreal's creativity gleamed was in the actual development of the project. Examples of innovative use of resources include:

  • Leveraging RAD techniques and Web-based information delivery mechanisms to overcome the challenge of geographically dispersed end users.
  • Developing their own software development methodology based on best practices and consulting engagements.
  • Testing performance and scalability by modeling the final system based on anticipated usage.
  • Leveraging AB Initio to enhance data transformation.

The development accomplished all of this while managing an effort that encompassed 40-person-years of effort. All of the judges remarked that this project, and the techniques used, clearly demonstrated innovation and discipline in achieving a goal.

Team Leader:
Nat Bongiovanni, senior principal consultant with Keane' e-Solutions Architecture Practice

Team Members:
Luise Kroeger, senior data warehouse architect with the e-Solutions Architecture Practice; Nageswaran Puliyadi, senior principal consultant with Keane' e-Solutions Architecture Practice; and Subhash Rastogi, senior principal consultant with Keane' e-Solutions Architecture Practice