With Tableau, digital transformation at KeyBank integrates people, processes, and data

Modernized data infrastructure to meet consumer demands for online capabilities

Leveraged Tableau as data analytics and reporting foundation across the organization

Prioritized people skills and building a data-savvy culture when scaling data analytics expertise

KeyBank is one of the 20 largest banks in the United States, with more than 900 branches and nearly 1,300 ATMs across the U.S. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, the bank employs about 18,000 people. Parent company KeyCorp has a banking legacy dating back to 1825 spanning investment management, retail and commercial banking, commercial leasing, consumer finance, investment banking products, and other financial products and services. 

Like many traditional banks, KeyBank focused on deepening commercial and branch-based customer relationships face-to-face. However, digitally savvy younger consumers drove demand for online banking transactions. This demand expanded significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic for home-bound customers of all ages.

“We lived through a time where we needed to automate a lot of the decisions that you used to rely on people to make one-on-one,” said Ben Sabloff, KeyBank's Executive Vice President of Enterprise Analytics. “Pushing those decisions to the digital interface required a different approach to the use of data and the deployment of data and insights across the company.”


Success in a digital world is dependent on our ability to deliver our products through digital interfaces, in automated ways.

The executive team began its digital transformation initiative to modernize, which meant investing significantly in a digital, technological, and data-driven future. “KeyBank is one of the largest players in this space,” Sabloff said. “Deploying analytic solutions, capabilities, and technology competitively across our customer base can help secure our place in the long-term future of banking.”

The first requirement was to redeploy on-premises data infrastructure to the deployment. Analysts needed access to thousands of data sources across the company for various use cases. It was also critical that all employees using the data—from technical analysts to business users—were equipped with the tools they needed to drill down and understand multiple layers of information.

Sabloff said, “Our mission was to advance the analytic capabilities of the bank, and integrate analytics and business decision making, not as a separate department, but a competency across all of KeyBank and something that we deploy everywhere, every day.”

The company needed a robust data infrastructure and the right tools and to support that vision.


KeyBank's transformation with Tableau

KeyBank had diverse data analysis requirements across the company and many employees who interacted with data on a regular basis. “We have data-oriented users that are building reports, pulling data from our databases, and preparing data for use and analytics,” said Sabloff. “But we have a lot of our team that use data as dashboards and reports, and updates of performance across our entire branch infrastructure.”

KeyBank selected Tableau as its data analytics solution. Sabloff added that it met the need for immediacy, accuracy across the business, and ability to connect hundreds of different product performance databases and insights into simplified reporting. “Tableau really shined and allowed us to deliver a solution that was so important and big across our infrastructure, and was seamless for non-data users to access this information.”

It was the largest deployment at KeyBank: nearly 10,000 employees accessed information delivered through Tableau dashboards as a critical component in their day-to-day operations, as well as daily and weekly performance reports.

For example, thousands of branch employees who met with customers daily needed frequent access to data in order to help clients and offer personalized interactions, as well as to help cross-sell and upsell financial products. To support this work, the new system used Tableau dashboards to deliver and distribute incentive compensation infrastructure reports to those branches.

Tableau allowed us to deliver a solution across our infrastructure that was so important and big across our infrastructure, and was seamless for non-data users and was seamless for them to access.

Along with ease of data visualization, an intuitive user interface enabled non-technical users throughout KeyBank to drill down multiple data levels into the tool. Sabloff said, “This capability is very powerful for us to push the data and understanding deeper than a basic report.” He also pointed out that decision makers have a richer level of data at their fingertips in seconds, when it used to take days or weeks working with analysts before Tableau.

Empowering people across the organization

As part of the KeyBank transformation, Sabloff and others made it a priority to bring everyone on board, including technical and non-technical users from all areas of the bank, to help cultivate and elevate a new kind of data-focused culture. As Sabloff explains it, “It's important to put data tools in the hands of the actual people who are making decisions and running the business. This is what our analytics vision at KeyBank comes down to—supporting the needs of people who run the business day-to-day, wherever they might be in terms of technical skills or where they sit within the organization.”

Tableau has allowed us to integrate our data across the organization and enabled all users to understand their data in a deeper way.

In all of this focus on people, the human component of understanding enabled by data visualizations in Tableau play a significant role. “Tableau has been really a powerful resource for us to integrate our data across the organization,” said Sabloff. “But specifically as a visualization tool it's extremely powerful. And so by implementing Tableau dashboards and visualizations, we're bringing it together.”

As Sabloff describes it, the visualization power for KeyBank employees is often about the ability for non-technical people to get access to deep levels of data across the organization. In a typical use case, a user sees a monitoring report in Tableau, and then simply points and clicks to drill down multiple levels. Said Sabloff, “That's really powerful for us to push data and understanding levels deeper than a basic report across the organization.”

Scaling a culture of growth through data

With data enabled and deployed across the organization, along with information security, reliability, and systems running smoothly, the next initiative is to use those rich data sets for analytical purposes. “We need analysts and business leaders to access and drive data to make decisions and to model performance,” said Sabloff. “Ultimately, we'll need to take that data and redeploy it in real time across the rest of the organization.”

The bank also plans to build up new capabilities for the “consumer layer” of the digital experience—and Tableau is at the center of this experience, acting as the data source connector and access enabler. Sabloff pointed out that banking consumers want a unified interface for all of their financial transactions, from their bank accounts and mortgage to their auto loans and credit cards, including accounts that might live at different companies. “If you're not able to consolidate that information and make it easy, you risk losing that customer,” he said. “We want to meet as many of our client needs as we can.”

Another critical evolution will be developing talent and capabilities to operate in this new environment. Sabloff said that the management and leadership team will plan and assess the management structure and transform their organization to meet the moment. “I think it's really important for people to understand the energy behind this transformation, the digital transformation at Key, and how this is not just your average regional bank,” he said. “This is a bank that is committed and understands how much it needs to change, and is committed to investing in the talent and the culture and the infrastructure that's needed to do that.”

Deploying analytic solutions and technology in a competitive way across our customer base assures that we'll have a place in the long-term future of banking. We've been here for 200 years and we'd like to be here for 200 more. I think this is the crux of our ability to do that.

Not only will KeyBank reconfigure internally, but they'll also make it a priority to attract the right analytical talent. In the current environment, there is a race to find savvy employees who can analyze, model, and deploy those data-driven insights effectively across the banking business.

“I think a lot of the talent game really has to do with your culture,” said Sabloff. “Are you creating a culture of growth and development? Are you really focusing on the people that are there and making sure they're having the great experience that they need to want to continue to be there?”

For KeyBank, integrating this culture of growth with a culture of data is the ultimate goal of their transformation with Tableau. “Our bank is on a transformational journey to deploy data in more powerful ways, using modeling and statistical tools to help us make better decisions, products, and experiences for our customers,” said Sabloff. “Deploying analytic solutions and technology in a competitive way across our customer base assures that we have a place in the long-term future of banking. We've been here for 200 years, we'd like to be here for 200 more—and I think this is the crux of our ability to do that.”