From the Digital Analytics Desk at Citibank

October 6, 2011
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No question, now is a golden time in New York for data guys and gals. There are some amazing companies doing some amazing things out here. Sometimes, you even think you are in the Valley of Sili… well, until you almost get hit by a cab as you cross the street to buy a tiny bag of no-name potato chips for $4.

Anyway.

Wanted to update you all on why I’ve been so quiet since the summer.

No question, now is a golden time in New York for data guys and gals. There are some amazing companies doing some amazing things out here. Sometimes, you even think you are in the Valley of Sili… well, until you almost get hit by a cab as you cross the street to buy a tiny bag of no-name potato chips for $4.

Anyway.

Wanted to update you all on why I’ve been so quiet since the summer.

I was lucky enough to be called by two friends, each of whom wound up at Citibank, and they are the kind of people who make things happen. Citi is undergoing a huge revival: they’ve repaid their TARP money, dumped all their risky debt into a holding company, and focused on becoming a “Digital Bank”. Now, that’s easy to say, but Citi is actually putting their money where their mouth is (but in a bank-safe way, of course). This includes everything from changing the web site to rolling up tablet and smartphone apps to integrating social and working to supply a financial-services aspect to many of the ways we work online.

Oh, and they are doing this across 80 or so countries.

So, I’ve joined as a Director of Digital Analytics for North America. This is in the Global Consumer Marketing and Internet group (GCMIO), in the “Decision Management” arm (basically, Analytics), and involves optimizing our digital touchpoints (sites, apps, marketing, mobile, even ATMs) as well as showing how digital can integrate with other marketing (including some great Media Mix Modeling work). (BTW, titles don’t work the way you expect in a bank: lots of Vice Presidents, fewer Directors… more like the way agencies tend to title.)

Look, I’m as surprised as you that I’m now a banker (formally, an “Officer of the Bank”). But there were some great things to consider:

  • I’ve done the agency, media side, client side, e-commerce side. They were all interesting, but I wanted to try something new
  • Citi has an amazing set of talent and technologies for transaction processing around financial stuff… but they haven’t yet transitioned all of that firepower to digital data. Wouldn’t you like to be the one to play with that?
  • The bank is really ramping it up: well over 1/3 of the people I’m working with come from online, not financial services. Sure, there are culture clashes, but we’re showing the bank a new way to think, and act… and the bank folks are showing us a level of rigor that we digital folks tend to… gloss over.
  • Some of the new talent, btw, are some impressive folks. Besides Michelle Peluso as head of the whole thing, she’s pulled in great people like Frank Eliason. So, you can tell that they are serious when they are willing to hire (and relo) top talent. And when you get right down to it, the work can be great, but if the people aren’t, you will become miserable. Having cool stuff to do with good folks is the right mix.

 

We are located in Long Island City (aka, LIC) just across the river from Manhattan. It’s not really on Long Island, but is instead the first subway stop in Queens on the E line. We get a great view of the city… which we stare at longingly wondering why there are no restaurants, Starbucks, or Duane Reades outside our 50 story building.

Why not a startup? Truthfully, the final decision came down to some rapidly growing startups vs. some big brands. But one thing I find I really enjoy is teaching folks about how to use digital data, how to think about targeting, testing, and the fun that can happen as you move into Agile approaches… and for all it’s knowledge about international currency approaches and risk assessment and credit usage, Citi still needed some pushes into new ways to think about using digital data. To be able to work with the guys who manage zillions of dollars worth of transactions and see how we can turn that power onto digital data… well, that seemed cool. I’m sure I’ll wind up with a startup in the next go round, but for now, I’m having fun.

And why so quiet? Well, to be fair, Citi is still a bank, and has some “banky” type restrictions. One of them is lack of access to some communication sites and experiences from work, including the major webmail sites. You can see why they’d be concerned if folks were using Hotmail to send out customer financial info. So, that does make it more difficult to be everpresent online… but I’ve been finding ways to get back into collaborating with others online during the day (thanks, iPhone and iPad!).

So, look for changes in Citi.com, in how you might interact with your Citi credit card or bank account in multiple ways online, and think about how you’d want to work with your bank and your money online… and if your current bank or credit card isn’t doing what you want, why not let me know, and give Citi a try?

Oh, and if you are an analytics person, either stats/modeling or web-digital analytics, and you are looking to try a new challenge… no matter when you read this, we have openings. We have offices in every major country. And we’ll give you a chance to start fixing all those things you don’t like about banking online. What more could you ask? Here are some links to try:
Citi GCMIO jobs and Citi Omniture jobs

Here’s one open RIGHT NOW: Lead our online testing and optimization work, including landing page and site page optimization. Testing is going to be part of everything we do, but it has to be done right in the early stages to show real impact. It can range from marketing testing all the way through to site functionality, and everything in between. You can be the one to make it happen. Click HERE for the DM Director Digital Testing and Optimization job.