The success of an ‘impossible project’
Very few people within ING believed it would be possible to bring together the data of ING customers from across 14 European countries in a single database – but Willem Struijs rose to the challenge. He and his small team set to work in 2017, and their project received an extra boost from the introduction of the PSD2 directive.
OnePAM (in which ‘PAM’ stands for ‘Party and Agreement Management’) is the result – a single database that contains all the necessary data to verify that customers are indeed who they claim to be, as well as information about which products each customer has and what they are authorised to do with them. The database is crucial for ING. The mobile banking app ‘talks’ to OnePAM whenever customers open it, for example.
Extremely protective of customer data
The concept for OnePAM had been around for a while when Willem took on the challenging task of realising and operationalising the concept. OnePAM is one component of the Touchpoint Platform, which forms the foundation for OneBank: ING’s ambition to unite all its banks in the 40-plus countries where it is active. Willem: “Until recently, each country stored its customer data in a different place. Obviously, all countries are extremely protective of their customer data. Although everyone understood the vision behind having a single, central database and also the necessity of it, we still had to convince them of the benefits of ‘our’ solution.”
In the meantime, Willem and his team made a start on OnePAM. “Our colleagues became increasingly enthusiastic – both about our work and about the Touchpoint Platform as a whole. As time went on, so many teams and countries were asking to be added that we struggled to cope with the workload. We’ve grown tremendously since the start. We started out as a team of three, but we’ve now got around 100 people working on our ING customer and product administration across 13 squads.”
The announcement that the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) would be launched in Europe in September gave the project an extra boost. Willem: “That was a pivotal development that was really well timed for us. PSD2 affected 14 of ‘our’ countries in Europe, and OnePAM played an important part in enabling us to get everything arranged in time. The pressure was on – we were like air traffic controllers operating according to a rigid flight plan. Each country was given a time slot for uploading its data. We had an ultra-short deadline, but we did it – the customer data of all 14 countries landed safely in OnePAM.”
In fact, the company has even grander ambitions for OnePAM. “The next step will be to make OnePAM into the global database for Know Your Customer (KYC), so we’re now gradually adding the KYC data. The data volumes are huge and much more complex than the PSD2 data.”
Fit and balanced
Willem has since handed over the baton to a new Product Area Lead, although he remains involved with OnePAM as a Chapter Lead. “The launch to tie in with PSD2 seemed like a good time for me to move on, and for us to organise things differently. We set up a new Global Customer Data Management Tribe and I became its Chapter Lead. My role is to help professionals to further develop their craftsmanship, and I love it! The past few years have been really hectic, but I’ve always made an effort to stay mentally and physically fit. I’ve been a keen runner for years and I’ve always had enough self-discipline to not let it slip, even when things were really busy – and even if that sometimes means getting up at 6 a.m. to go for a run before going into work. But then at least I feel energised and ready to face whatever the day might bring. I’ve trained every Thursday evening for years and I very rarely miss a session. Spending time with my family is another thing that helps to keep me balanced.”
IBM User Forum
Along with technical architect Ian Macmillan, Willem will be speaking about OnePAM at the IBM European User Forum in London on 20 November 2019. They will be sharing details of their experiences during the OnePAM project and talking about the drivers and the hurdles.
Willem is married and has a daughter. His passion for running has since evolved into a love for triathlons. He enjoys travelling with his family and is the proud owner of a classic Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.