Be brave, be simple, be proactive, together! You might be familiar with one of the most successful animated series from the ’80s: ThunderCats. Their mission was to flee their home world to find the legendary mystic Sword of Omens that holds the Eye of Thundera, the source of their power.
We believe everyone has a superpower, so we’ve been inspired by the ThunderCats to create the Tandem-Cats, a blog series dedicated to telling the story behind each of our team members, shedding light on Tandem’s talents’ expertise.
Every week we get together at Marketing Press corner to interview one of our nominated team members, where we find out about their superpower and how they work their magic on a daily basis at Tandem HQ.
Meet the Chief Data Officer: Noam Zeigerson
Marie: What led you to become Chief Data Officer at Tandem?
Noam: I’ve worked in AI for the past 18 years and this role is a consequence of my career evolution. When I started there was no such role and data had no significant place in a company’s structure. Technology really disrupted the way we drive business based on data and Artificial Intelligence acquired more recognition and visibility, that’s when I started to pick up more executive manager roles in the field which finally took me to Chief Data Officer. It’s important to highlight that the title itself doesn’t necessary define the role, some people see data as a government and compliance tool while others take it more into a business perspective. In the past 8 years AI became a reality. During this period, I was leading my own business in AI marketing when one of the largest banks in Israel appointed me as their Chief Data Officer. In this role I discovered there are many benefits you can bring to the customer journey when developing AI for a bank. After applying that framework to a universal legacy bank, I received a call from Ricky Knox saying, “Hey Noam, would you like to join Tandem Bank?” After an hour of very interesting yet cool chat, I understood that Tandem was an amazing opportunity to deliver an AI driven banking system within a start-up environment.
Marie: We know you have ambitious plans to combine data and machine learning to optimise banking projects here at Tandem, how do you see this evolving in the next 2 years?
Noam: First of all, when I came to Tandem there was already AI and machine learning in place, I didn’t come to a green field. There were very interesting use cases around spending money and underwriting which I was very impressed by. Nevertheless, I think Tandem is a fast scaling, growing start-up. As much as the business will erupt and reach millions of customers, potentially worldwide, AI needs to be more autonomous, robust and scalable to deliver the promise of a good bank to individual customers in large scales. So, I think the main aspirations Tandem and myself have now is how to scale this amazing bank into a very robust, international bank with strong AI underneath to prompt intelligent decisions for customers.
Marie: How can AI improve the customer experience in Digital Banks? Is there any particular project you’re developing at the moment moving towards that?
Noam: Tandem is all about digital, right? 99% of the user engagement and experience is digital and this is one of the greatest advantages and challenges that digital banks have. There is no banker, so how do we make the user experience feel more human? One way is using technologies like Siri and Alexa where you speak to a computer, but this still doesn’t feel like a human interaction and in most cases the answers can be fairly stupid. I think the main challenge here—and these are use cases we are literally working on right now—is how to make more intelligent recommendations, so customers feel that someone put some thought into their specific case and recommended something that fits their individual purposes and needs. We are experimenting a lot when it comes to that on our cashflows, we can individually advise customers on how to save and spend on a weekly/monthly basis based on AI.
We can’t try to solve generic problems, because individuals will feel that we didn’t solve their problem but someone else’s problem.
Marie: Tell me a bit about your work, what makes your expertise unique?
Noam: As I said before I was really lucky to be one of the early AI adopters. When I dived into the new big data technologies and decided to build my own business around AI, nobody was interested in it. I was meeting leading venture capitalists worldwide and everyone would say, “Don’t mention AI, we are not investing in it, we don’t believe in it,” (and it was only 8 years ago). I didn’t give up though, I rolled out in Europe and North America, I’ve got very good results and traction for my first AI business which was called AIMEE. I also gained a lot of exposure in E-commerce and the Ad Tech sector. By having experience in AI and marketing, plus banking and data, I’ve luckily created a unique combination and I am able to understand how enterprises and retail banks are working and running and how we can enhance those business with AI on the digital environment to bring both worlds together.
Marie: When it comes to data, what's the most crucial difference between Traditional banking and Tandem?
Noam: The way traditional banking is building from a traditional perspective requires them to focus data efforts on optimising for profitability rather than generating value to the customer, because they really need to cover their cost. What traditional banks normally do is focus data analysis effort around building new models for selling more credit to more people. Here at Tandem, our real AI machine is very focused in creating customer benefit while adding value to the company and not vice-versa. This is the significant difference. Secondly, the ability to move fast and try ideas. A small company moves fast and can take the risk of making mistakes much better than an enterprise. In a big bank, it’s hard to roll out AI innovation without explaining to many people how to mitigate risk, and even harder to roll unsuccessful decisions back. Therefore, traditional banks cannot really have a dynamic and robust AI engine, they can have small opportunities to use the technology but not on its potential scale.
Marie: Who’s your tech hero?
Noam: I would pick Andy Groove, the founder and CEO of Intel, which is a shame because it shows my age. My first job was at Intel and I was amazed by the tech company’s culture, especially when it comes to staying on the forefront of innovation and always thinking forward, so he is my youth hero. Secondly, I would mention Steve Jobs, he is also amazing. The way Apple presents innovation to the market is remarkable and fascinating, I like him very much.
Marie: What's your favourite product or service in Tandem?
Noam: I really love the Tandem app aggregation capability. Customers can enjoy different benefits from connecting their different banks and start to have control over what’s happening with their money. Thanks to open banking capabilities, our customers can manage their life within the Tandem app, even if technically they consume products from other banks that might contribute a specific benefit to them.
Marie: How would you define Tandem’s company culture?
Noam: Tandem is an amazing start-up and the culture is very young and vibrant. People are easy going, communicative and love to share what they are working on. I appreciate the culture of openness and there are a lot of collaborations and social activities here. At the end of the day we spend half of our lives working, so let’s enjoy and have fun. The thing is that if you love what you do, your work and deliverables become better too. I really like the fact that people enjoy what they are doing as it makes our product better and our customers happier.
Marie: Would you be able to tell me what the main highlight of your journey is so far?
Noam: The main highlight in Tandem is that partnerships and a sense of togetherness can really happen also working in order to create a good impact on people’s life.