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(originally published by Booz & Company)


Akbank Goes Mobile

Edward Landry, coauthor of The Four Pillars of Profit-Driven Marketing: How to Maximize Creativity, Accountability, and ROI, introduces a passage on how analytics create competitive advantage from The Deciding Factor: The Power of Analytics to Make Every Decision a Winner, by Larry Rosenberger and John Nash, with Ann Graham.

As the value of corporate assets such as ubiquitous brands, an expansive footprint of outlets, and large cash reserves has diminished, the importance of organizational capabilities has grown. In today’s competitive markets, smaller and nimbler companies that understand the interplay between assets and capabilities can outperform much larger competitors that don’t. It is this combination of assets and capabilities that creates a “right to win.”

In the passage you are about to read, Larry Rosenberger and John Nash of the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) show how an established Turkish bank used a powerful combination of assets and capabilities both to find a new way to interact with consumers where they live, work, and play, and to make faster, better business decisions. Notice how the bank combined analytics, decision support tools, process, and organization to build a mobile marketing channel. These are the four key building blocks required to develop any industry-leading marketing capability. You can create value by utilizing one or two of these elements, but sustainable advantage — the type of advantage that enables companies to surpass more powerful global competitors — comes from developing and integrating all four.

Edward Landry

Excerpted from Chapter 7 of The Deciding Factor: The Power of Analytics to Make Every Decision a Winner


Akbank T.A.S. is the largest of four retail banks in Turkey vying for consumer lending and credit card services aimed at middle-income customers, many of whom are using banking services for the first time. Turkey has a total population of approximately 72 million, and as is typical of emerging economies, there is a large income disparity between the ultra-affluent and the rest of the population. Retail banks such as Akbank have historically served a small, high-net-worth customer base, but in Turkey these days, growth depends on winning over the middle-income consumer and consumers who are using banking services for the first time.

Akbank has been able to build several layers of IT infrastructure from scratch. Because of this, it isn’t burdened with the product-centric legacy of IT systems of banks in the United States and Western Europe. Robert Duque-Ruberio, a Fair Isaac vice-president based in London who has worked with Akbank since 2000, confirms this: “I watched the banking industry in Turkey do in four years what it took twenty years to do in the U.K. These countries are going to leapfrog developed markets. What’s exciting is that they see new things and are willing to try them.”

Akbank operates Turkey’s second largest consumer banking branch network. In the summer of 2003, Akbank managers approached Fair Isaac with an idea of creating an online channel to lower the bank’s cost of acquiring new customers and to increase convenience for its customers. Cell phone usage in Turkey has been rising steadily for years, and home-based Internet access is now more common. Akbank’s managers decided that making a cell phone a channel to apply for a loan would stimulate even higher volumes of applications than the Internet. Applications are carefully screened using credit risk scores. The strategy was to use technology to offer consumers speed and convenience while simultaneously managing customer profitability and losses among segments with different risk profiles.

In December 2005, the mobile phone–based loan origination program, called CepKredi (which in Turkish means “speedy cell credit”), was launched. A customer can be anywhere when he or she decides to dial in for a loan — at home watching television, walking down the street, or riding a train. The CepKredi phone number, 44400011, is heavily advertised on television, in print media, and on billboards.

When the consumer calls to apply for a credit card or a loan, an interactive voice response system asks eleven questions. Completing the application takes less than five minutes, an instant credit scoring analysis is done, and within twenty minutes the consumer receives a voicemail or an SMS text message on their cell phone stating whether the application has been accepted or rejected.

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This Reviewer

  1. Edward Landry is a partner at Booz & Company based in New York who specializes in strategy development and sales and marketing effectiveness for consumer packaged goods and health-care manufacturers. He is coauthor, with Leslie H. Moeller, of The Four Pillars of Profit-Driven Marketing: How to Maximize Creativity, Accountability, and ROI (McGraw-Hill, 2009).

This Excerpt

  1. The Deciding Factor: The Power of Analytics to Make Every Decision a Winner (Jossey-Bass, 2009) by Larry Rosenberger and John Nash, with Ann Graham
  2. Larry Rosenberger was named the Fair Isaac Corporation’s first research fellow in 2007. From 1999 to 2007, he led the company’s research unit, and from 1991 to 1999, he served as president and CEO.
  3. John Nash is the Fair Isaac Corporation’s vice president of corporate strategy. Previously, he served as vice president of product strategy for Seisint Inc. and founded the customer insight practice at Accenture.
  4. Ann Graham is the editorial director of the Conscious Capitalism Institute at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., and a cofounder of ANDVantage LLC, a strategy consulting firm that focuses on the interdependence of financial and social sustainability. She is a contributing editor and former deputy editor of strategy+business.
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