It is now more than a year since Microsoft launched Windows 8. Amber Stokes explores how financial institutions are embracing the platform.
The financial services industry is undergoing unprecedented change as financial institutions develop new business models to generate revenue through customer acquisition and retention, improve loyalty by embedding products and services into the everyday lives of customers, and reduce costs while ensuring a high level of operational control.
“Customers have more information and ways to connect than ever before. Providing an easy, do-it-your-way experience that is personally and professionally relevant is essential to customer acquisition and retention. Competition is coming from non-banks and changing the financial services industry landscape, and the bottom line is more important than ever,” says Karen Cone, general manager, Microsoft financial services. “Microsoft and our industry partners are focused on building great mobile experiences to help financial services institutions harness this new technology and evolve their businesses.”
“Banks are looking to differentiate in what is a highly competitive market today, and a key way to do that is hrough mobile innovation,” adds Skand Mittal, senior product marketing manager of commercial tablet marketing for industry at Microsoft. “They are therefore deploying mobile technology solutions that are delivering a whole variety of benefits to their organisation and their customers alike.”
Many banks have invested in the Windows 8 operating system in the last 12 months to drive innovative and secure mobile strategies that align with what their customers are demanding. Windows 8 devices and apps are helping them to deliver more personalised services to customers across channels, while the security capabilities and familiar management interface means they don’t have to compromise on security or spend their limited resources on incremental management infrastructure to manage Windows 8 mobile devices.
Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 update, which became available in October, offers many new features that can deliver further benefits. “The enhanced security and management features in Windows 8.1 like biometric support for user authentication and remote business data removal are really beneficial to banks to keep their sensitive customer data secure, and at the same time help IT managers remotely manage mobile devices more efficiently,” says Mittal. “Windows 8.1 continues Microsoft’s long history of providing the security, manageability and compliance that financial institutions rely on. As the industry goes mobile, the importance of access control, data security and computing power become even more important. Financial institutions recognise the power of the Windows 8.1 platform on mobile devices as being essential to providing the solutions that their customers demand. It also enables new critical business mobility and productivity scenarios that meet the rigorous IT standards for security, manageability and support required in today’s financial services industry.”
Many Microsoft partners are investing in Windows 8.1 through the development of new business-to-business apps for the financial services industry. Their aim is to optimise business processes and allow organisations to ultimately deliver a better service to their customers.
SunGard IntelliMatch Enterprise Management Studio SunGard recently launched IntelliMatch Enterprise Management Studio – a reconciliation management solution available on Microsoft SQL Server as well as an app that organisations will be able to run on a Windows 8.1 device.
“The remit of reconciliation has changed over the years and it now covers anything that involves validation of a system, data, message or file,” explains Richard Chapman, director of IntelliMatch product management at SunGard. “It’s a highly saturated marketplace in the West, where organisations have many different reconciliation tools in place for various business areas like ATMs, cards and cheque clearing. In order to meet this challenge, many organisations have created centres of excellence.”
Chapman explains that while such organisations have created centres of excellence to provide reconciliation as a service and stay one step ahead, they are still held back by many different reconciliation tools. “It’s enormously fragmented. Some organisations still haven’t fundamentally changed the reconciliation landscape, so they’re still using ten or 15 different reconciliation tools, some of which are vendor-supplied,” he says. “Even these are likely to be on multiple versions, databases and servers in multiple regions with different processes and different standards.”
Trying to manage this as a service is very challenging and costly, but at the same time, organisations are also juggling client expectations surrounding the level of service they receive, as well as increasing pressure to cut operational costs.
While organisations use SunGard’s IntelliMatch Operational Control solution suite to manage individual reconciliations, SunGard has developed IntelliMatch Enterprise Management Studio to help organisations manage the entire landscape. IntelliMatch Enterprise Management Studio aims to help organisations ensure they do not breach service level agreements.
“IntelliMatch Enterprise Management Studio allows organisations to capture a wealth of information around the service they are providing so that they can ensure they keep to their service level agreement but also refine customer expectations,” says Chapman. “It’s a real game changer using this kind of technology on a tablet, because users can have access to real-time information wherever they are.”
Temenos Treasury Management Dashboard Temenos also announced at Sibos this year the launch of a prototype Temenos Treasury Management Dashboard app for Windows 8, which it developed with Microsoft.
Where previously treasury managers and senior bank personnel have had to source data from multiples sources or scroll through many detailed screens and reports to find out the organisation’s market position, the Temenos Treasury Management Dashboard app allows them to pull all essential data into a single point.
“People would usually have huge lists of information that would be hard to analyse quickly,” Mittal says. “But the Temenos Treasury Management app is highly visual and users can take action at the point of receiving the information, as opposed to having to move to another machine or location.”
Using the Windows 8 app on a tablet means that users will be able to see accurate, graphical, high level information on the first screen and then follow a particular thread to more detail if attention is required. This provides treasury managers with a real-time and complete view of their positions and risk from anywhere at any time.
“The Temenos Treasury Management Dashboard app provides essential business analytics in an innovative, visual way,” says Mittal. “Pie charts provide easily consumable information, so that the user can check holdings, for example, that are colour coded. The user can tell straight away the condition the holdings are in just by which colour it is. Being able to consume complex data quickly and easily allows people to take instant corrective action.”
The recently released Microsoft Surface 2 and Pro 2, and a range of its OEM tablets are a great fit for financial services organisations looking to build on their mobile strategies, while at the same time ensuring they meet stringent regulatory requirements.
The Surface Pro 2 tablet has the capability to become a complete laptop replacement through its many enhancements that could prove useful for financial services enterprises. It is powered by a fourth- generation Intel Core i5 processor which, combined with other improvements, delivers increased performance and up to 75 per cent longer battery life than Surface Pro.
Similarly, the Surface 2 also offers key new features such as increased camera resolution, which will make it easier for front line staff to communicate with customers or colleagues remotely, while also being thinner and lighter than its predecessor. A range of new accessories are also available, such as the docking station for Surface Pro, which will allow users to quickly connect a Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 to desktop PC peripherals in a single step.
Banks across the globe are already getting behind Microsoft’s Surface. Hokkoku Bank, a Japan-based financial services company, has purchased more than 2,000 units of Surface Pro across its 112 retail branches and 11 loan centres. The bank was previously using tablets alongside notebooks and desktop PCs, but the implementation of Surface Pro as a hybrid tablet has meant that the bank can use a single device as both a PC and a tablet. The improved screen resolution in the Surface Pro also means that Hokkoku Bank can present products to customers a lot more easily.
Similarly, City National Bank, based in Los Angeles has also deployed Surface Pro tablets. With 3,000 employees and serving customers in 80 branches, the bank chose Microsoft’s latest Windows 8 devices to keep up with customer demand and empower its employees. City National Bank relationship managers now use the tablets to provide a high-end, technology-enriched experience that gives them access to all of the required tools.
According to Gartner, by the end of 2015, 40 per cent of all in-person interactions between banks and their customers will be initiated or completed using a tablet. Microsoft and its partners are focused on helping banks keep up with this trend by building innovative and secure mobile experiences that help them to harness this new technology and evolve their businesses.