MDM Solution Transforms National Bank of Canada

Pam Roman

Prolifics Helps Transform National Bank of Canada with Master Client Profile

About National Bank of Canada

With $322 billion in assets as of July 31, 2020, National Bank of Canada, together with its subsidiaries, forms one of Canada’s leading integrated financial groups. It has more than 26,000 employees in knowledge-intensive positions and has been recognized numerous times as a top employer and for its commitment to diversity. Its securities are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: NA). Follow the Bank’s activities at

Challenge – “We couldn’t modernize the bank.”

It was 2015 and National Bank of Canada (NBC) realized that it had an overall data issue – there were more than 25 terabytes of data in 1,600 systems within the bank. The bank wasn’t sure of the data quality, or even how it was flowing within the organization.

With old, legacy systems, it was impossible for NBC to automate or optimize processes for the most basic transactions. For example, if a new client walked into the bank and opened an account, the bank couldn’t do onboarding to the digital platform for an hour as it waited for a batch process to go through.

Every initiative to modernize the bank did not deliver its promised value, because, for a bank (and really most organizations) data is at the heart of delivering value, and you can’t deliver that value with data that’s not properly organized.

NBC leadership agreed: “We need to fix this. We will not be able to compete in the world unless we fix it.” And instead of going down the same, slower approach and trying to fix it piece by piece (which hadn’t worked previously), the bank came up with something that it believed would be a differentiating factor and unique competitive advantage: Become the best digital bank in the industry through a transactional Master Data Management (MDM) platform for client data.

Action – “An ongoing journey”

The bank foresaw a four- to five-year journey to modernize and create a Master Client Profile (MCP) as its MDM platform – a full transactional customer master hub. NBC made the choice to go with IBM’s MDM Advanced Edition suite and needed developers to help with the development framework – a rare expertise in the industry. IBM highly recommended Prolifics.

For NBC and Prolifics the most complicated part and biggest challenge was to build the “new world” while maintaining the old world intact; and making sure that the two worlds co-existed. The companies knew from the beginning that the MDM transition would not be a “big bang,” but done iteratively, starting small and growing. The key was to build a transition roadmap, stay on track, sustain existing customers while enabling future customers, all while adding value and transforming the bank.

The first area was commercial banking, which saw an immediate benefit of improving client uniqueness from 23 percent to 95 percent. Then the NBC/Prolifics team transitioned various customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, including SAP. (Many people outside the NBC/Prolifics team thought that having SAP under IBM’s MDM was impossible.) More transitions followed and are ongoing.

“To connect all those systems, it’s basically like going to the moon. So, it’s a huge undertaking, it’s a war because you got to go through a long period of time. People change, people move, and you got to keep the light on, in other words, you’ve got to keep people still supporting it, that’s the promise. The journey is not something you can do in a year. So that’s why a lot of MDM projects, they go a year, they go two years and they stop and they never get to that real transactional MDM hub ever, because the process is transformational, it takes everyone involved, and it takes a lot of money, and some people leave and the drivers of the project are no longer there. So, the National Bank of Canada has gone closer to the moon than most people do with MDM projects.”

Steve Livingstone, Sales Director, Prolifics Canada

Results – “A foundation for a digital bank, you can’t do without”

There are specific examples of how the bank is utilizing the MDM foundation created with Prolifics help (see below). However, in the bigger picture, the MDM will be “the gift that keeps on giving.” With robust customer data in one place, there’s an endless amount of flexibility and possibility, which the different lines of business will take advantage of as the MDM becomes more and more connected. So, the biggest benefit is that NBC personnel will now have the same information of all the platforms that have been connected to the MDM. In terms of process efficiency and trusting the data, this is a huge advantage. Specific examples include:

  • In NBC’s private banking service, they previously had to create the profile of a prospective client in one system through the onboarding, then go to another system to create company data and do compliance. Now, the profile is created in one place and it’s already present for the other uses and needs. NBC personnel don’t have to re-key the information or create duplicates.
  •  Over time, NBC generated up to 7,000 duplicates for companies. That’s been resolved through connection with the new MDM platform.
  •  NBC has managed to eliminate almost 100 percent of free text within the data model. With concentrated, structured data and centralized rules, building algorithms and using artificial intelligence (AI) will provide valuable insights.

“In an MDM project, no matter how fast it goes or how well it’s done, value isn’t leveraged until the data is used by the ‘consumers’ – the sales force, the fraud team, the compliance team, the legal and regulatory teams. NBC wants to enable the entire organization to turn data into value. For NBC, the challenge is no longer to build an MDM. The new challenge is to integrate the MDM with the rest of the workflows.”

Marc-Antoine Auger, Senior Manager – Master Data Management, National Bank of Canada

“I don’t think it’s something that you can say, ‘Hey, the bank made $25 billion because we did MDM.’ Which is, unfortunately, what too many people look for in case studies and success stories. They lose the concept of the pivot that the organization can actually do. It’s not a number per se, but it’s an ability. It’s transformational.”

Steve Livingstone, Sales Director, Prolifics Canada

Technology – IBM MDM Advanced Edition

IBM Master Data Management provides a single, trusted view of critical business data to users and applications, helping to reduce costs, minimize risk and improve decision-making speed and precision. IBM MDM achieves the single view through highly accurate and comprehensive matching that helps overcome differences and errors that often occur in the data sources. The MDM server manages your master data entities centrally, reducing reliance on incomplete or duplicate data while consolidating information from across the enterprise.

With IBM MDM, Advanced Edition (AE) you can enforce information governance at an organizational level, enabling business and IT teams to collaborate on such topics as data quality and policy management. To shield business applications from the churn of big data and other disruptive forces, MDM AE builds a golden profile of assets and delivers this profile when and where it’s needed, in context and on demand.

IBM MDM Advanced Edition enables multiple MDM styles and domains to work together to provide a comprehensive set of capabilities to meet the most demanding MDM requirements. Built-in tools help streamline the planning and addition of physical capabilities:

  • Features highly accurate probabilistic matching and search
  • Supports multiple implementation styles
  • Includes comprehensive pre-built and extensible data models and business services
  • Supports large transaction loads and high-availability environments
  • Helps improve data quality by implementing policies and processes to coordinate multi-step and multi-role workflow for data governance
  • Features a comprehensive security model to help you manage access and actions

About Prolifics

Prolifics is a global digital transformation leader with expertise in cloud, data and analytics, DevOps, digital business, and quality assurance across multiple industries. We provide consulting, engineering and managed services for all our practice areas at any point you need them – giving you fast, complete solution delivery experiences that you will find nowhere else. Whether it’s initial advising and strategy; design and implementation; or ongoing analysis and guidance, Prolifics will help you take charge of your digital future. Visit