A decade ago Jyske Bank touched off an evolution in branch design for Danish banks that included, among other changes, open floor plans. In 2004 Jyske (US$29.8 billion in total assets) aimed to raise the bar again. The Silkeborg, Denmark-based bank decided that multimedia video technologies would drive the next branch transformation, dubbed "Jyske Differences 2.0."
For IT, the initiative required implementing high-definition (HD) datacasting network videoconferencing over IP. The infrastructure would communicate with a new in-house HDTV production studio and assist with converting 35 banking products into interactive software that could be delivered in real time and provide customers with self-service capabilities, such as financial modeling.
With HD broadcasting in its infancy at the time, senior project manager Carsten Søderstrøm knew the necessary infrastructure would be bleeding-edge. "So our first IT task was finding a competent technology partner," he says. "By February 2005 we'd chosen IBM [Armonk, N.Y.] because it had the depth of knowledge required."
Jyske's 30-person IT team worked with a 10-person team from IBM during the balance of 2005 to select broadcast technology vendors. "We toured places like Citibank and Deutsche Bank in New York City, which were using pieces of our concepts," relates Søderstrøm. But "no one had the complex implementation in production that we wanted."
Also during 2005, the bank deployed a new server farm next to the existing IBM mainframe. As broadcast technologies have unique requirements (e.g., software and file formats), the servers were purchased from a variety of vendors based on their ability to optimize broadcast applications. Additionally, a full-scale branch mock-up was built with a mirror image at IBM's San Jose facility. "Parallel to the mock-ups, we set up a production environment in our new Faaborg [Denmark] branch," notes Søderstrøm.
From January 2006 through September 2006 hardware and software components were plugged in. Primary investments included MediaPublisher's (Emeryville, Calif.) Video Control Center, Anystream's (Sterling, Va.) Agility for encoding, StrataCache's (Dayton, Ohio) OmniCast for multicast distribution and Planar's (Beaverton, Ore.) CoolSign for digital signage. The emerging MPEG-4 video format was selected, and Envivio (South San Francisco, Calif.) was chosen for multiple content creation and delivery solutions.
But transmitting bulky HD content to Jyske's 100-plus branches required a special contract with telecom provider TDC (Copenhagen). "It guarantees that our initial 40-megabit network will double in speed every second year," Søderstrøm reports.
Despite such challenges, heat was the biggest hurdle. "For each branch we selected multiple LG [Seoul] LCD and Panasonic [Osaka] plasma displays," says Søderstrøm. "Each location has 10 to 20 displays, ... and each display is powered by a 3-gigahertz PC. When our building department examined our mock-up, they discovered that most of our HVAC systems had to be upgraded."
Ultimately, the much-anticipated launch went off flawlessly and generated the desired buzz, according to Søderstrøm. "For example, from September to December we gained 4,000 new customers," he says. "That's twice as many as normal for the same time period before."
Next up is streamlining operations. "We're still automating some manual processes," says Søderstrøm. "And there are ongoing MPEG-4 issues that we've asked Envivio to resolve."
Institution: Jyske Bank (Silkeborg, Denmark).
Assets: US$29.8 billion.
Business Challenge: Implement an infrastructure that would enable internal broadcasting of interactive high- definition (HD) video content.
Solution: HD broadcasting technologies and infrastructure from various vendors with implementation support from IBM (Armonk, N.Y.).