Banks can see off new challenges with a flexible but secure approach to data
Even as they cement their recovery from the financial crisis, adherents to traditional banking models are facing a new storm as they grapple with the digital demands of the Facebook generation and heightened regulatory risks surrounding data. At the same time, they must match the customer service levels offered by the “challenger” banks if they are to avoid haemorrhaging business to their nimble and digital-focused rivals.
Despite great endeavours to go digital, paper forms are still a key source of information to many of the major “legacy” banks. But fuelled by the diverging expectations of the baby-boomers and today’s Generation Z, never before has the sheer volume of disparate information sources been greater, and thus the need for secure digital management.
The challenger banks have a head-start, with many eschewing the traditional branch networks and concentrating on online banking, giving them significant advantages in terms of cost and data management. Devoid of the shackles of decades-old legacy systems and inflexible distribution models, their ability to respond quickly to new market opportunities will, undoubtedly offer a competitive advantage.
It is a scenario that has been compared to the disruption Amazon and its peers inflicted on the retail sector, an impact few would have predicted a few years ago. But given the right strategic investment in technology, legacy banks can plug the gap and offer a much broader service that appeals equally to all generations.
Such a step involves seizing full control of the information flowing in from all channels. Whether generated online, by telephone, or printed forms, these vast quantities of data must be harnessed to create a single, seamless customer journey. Organisations must develop a client-centric strategy that recognises the disparate needs of individual customers, while ensuring information is managed securely and cost-effectively.
Customers demand and expect ever-higher levels of service and value. Social channels add further to the mix, offering individuals the ability to communicate openly about their experiences, often to the exclusion of the organisation in question. It is in such environments that enterprise content management solutions come to the fore, by providing an agile middleware layer of renewed functionality and control, which helps increase user productivity through the elimination of application switching and the automation of costly manual tasks.
Efficiency, cost-savings, integration and fewer steps in a process are all potential benefits when considering the wider IT strategy. However, this value proposition could be lost when installing a new system that adds more work for every other system. The interaction of the ECM system and how the implementation environment works with existing systems will, therefore, play a key part in how legacy banks can make significant headways in this area.
A bank that aims to capture and service customers from a wide demographic may have options to apply for a mortgage in-branch using a choice of paper or electronic forms, online, or by telephone. Currently, many banks manage those applications differently, depending on how the initial contact is made, but a seamless system would see all the inputs quickly digitised and fed into an electronic information hub. All applications would be processed in the same manner, with every single point of customer contact having the relevant information accessible, at any time. A customer can start the application using one input method and finish with another, with the process always being the same, underpinned by real-time support, available through any channels.
Data can be captured simply; auto-filled and indexed across the required legacy systems; updated and linked to relevant documentation stored within the ECM, while providing management information and reporting dashboards, without the need to switch screens, re-key information or train staff on multiple systems. Just fast efficient interoperability, providing effective and secure data delivery.
In a seamlessly interoperable environment, the hub strategy allows organisations to go beyond simple data retrieval, and provide a vastly improved customer journey, with all data always available. Verified information can be clearly flagged as such and need never be re-entered, saving time for staff and frustration for the customer.
This approach also helps manage risks and improve business decision-making by delivering immediate access to supporting documents, while providing an automatic compliance audit trail.
As new technologies or social trends emerge, they can be easily and quickly integrated to the system, allowing a bank to keep up with its youngest and most technologically dynamic customers. Legacy banks that have adopted a suitable hub solution using ECM will therefore be able to evolve, and as consumer technology and trends advance, it may be the challenger banks that are left looking flat footed.