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Keeping Up With Mobile Innovation

Deloitte's recent Technology Trends report suggests that in order to succeed in the growing mobile arena, bank CIOs must take a design-led, problem-solving approach with a focus on user experience and strengthening customer relationships.

New York-based consulting firm Deloitte recently released its Technology Trends report, an annual examination of the practical role technology plays in business. The 2012 report, themed "Elevate IT for Digital Business," focused on 10 trends grouped into two categories: disruptors and enablers. The firm defines disruptors as technologies that can create sustainable positive disruption in IT capabilities and business operations, and enablers as technologies in which many CIOs have already invested time and effort, but are evolving with new developments. Bank Systems & Technology spoke with two Deloitte analysts about enterprise mobility, a trend on its disruptors list, and the applications and impacts it can have on the banking industry.

"Almost every CIO is being pushed into mobile," says Bill Briggs, co-author of the report and director at Deloitte Consulting. Aside from delivering, managing and supporting innovative mobile products on an enterprise scale, he says that bank CIOs, just like IT leaders across industries, are challenged with dealing with pressure to get behind the "next big thing." The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend would fall into that category, according to the report.

One of the main challenges in implementing a BYOD policy at a financial institution is addressing regulatory and compliance issues, says Eric Piscini, a senior manager for Deliotte's banking technology team. "It's not for everybody," he notes, "but some divisions in some banks are allowing it." He says that he is seeing bank BYOD implementations mainly in "mixed mode," with only certain people in certain departments participating with a small number of approved devices.

Beyond compliance issues, CIOs have to consider whether or not BYOD makes sense as a business case, adds Briggs. "There's a hope that there's a cost reduction," he says. "That might be the case but it's not always the case."

[For more on this topic, see Preparing Your Bank for BYOD.]

Consumerization and Disintermediation

The report also addresses the challenges business CIOs face to deliver apps that meet or exceed expectations set by consumer technology. In order to meet this goal and optimize user experience, the report says, CIOs must focus on design-led thinking that looks at usability from the mobile perspective. Mobile solutions should also be well-defined, complex solutions that address explicit problems instead of just broad collections of functionality. That means financial institutions should look at the current mobile revolution as an opportunity to provide new, innovative solutions to problems, explains Piscini. "They shouldn't just look at mobile as a new channel -- it's more than that," he stresses.

"Mobile is a gateway into other, more advanced capabilities," agrees Briggs. "The mobile conversation has quickly turned to include to social media, analytics and the cloud. It's a very exciting time." He says that all of these technologies are beginning to interact simultaneously, and the industry is moving toward adopting mobile technology for a variety of hybrid capabilities.

In the mix of mobile innovations in the financial industry are third-party applications that could threaten to remove banks from the ecosystem. "Nobody knows who is poised to win. It's all going to change so much," says Piscini says of the competing mobile solutions. "We're all still figuring out which business models work."

Whether financial institutions or third-party vendors will emerge as the leading providers of mobile solutions in the industry will most likely be connected to who has the strongest customer relationship in the space, says Piscini. "This is very important for banks to consider," he says. "They need to increase the strength of their customer relationships and own these areas more," noting that they may also want to consider partnering with successful third-party vendors.

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