January 08, 2009

Nearly all discussions regarding the current global financial crisis quickly lead to questions of what could have been done to avoid it and what needs to be changed to ensure that it does not happen again. Banks are taking a very serious look at their business processes and are seeking ways to exercise better control and measurement of their traditional business models.

By trying to do too many things in a siloed approach without flexible IT platforms and financial systems to support and integrate their many business processes, banks end up creating unnecessary redundancies and work. They also lack visibility over the entire enterprise. When standardized enterprise information is part of a bank's IT infrastructure, it realizes better operational transparency, better control and, ultimately, better relations with its customers.

Falk Rieker, SAP AmericaWith the market still in flux, what should be important to banks right now are their customers. New technologies and mediums for communicating are changing consumer expectations. The current generation is expecting things to happen now, and they have added a new dynamic to banking by demanding individualized products and real-time services. Winning their long-term trust and loyalty requires equally aggressive, but agile, business strategies, mainly technology-driven.

What will 2009 bring to the banking industry? More regulations for improved transparency and better control are a strong probability. The wealth of data this will produce could spark new activities around business process management, workforce management and customer relationship management. The winning formula for a bank to be successful is better service at lower costs. Real-time and predictive analytics to understand costs, profitability and risks are crucial elements in servicing customers.

By streamlining their heterogeneous IT environments, banks can move to a service-oriented architecture that can drive down costs while spurring product innovation and speed to market. Banks need systems that are integrated across their enterprise to support end-to-end processes while managing their multiple product types.