Behind the scenes
Some of the improvements we make don't directly face the customer. These tend to be infrastructure improvements that let us better share, secure and report data. These changes may be transparent to customers, who nonetheless benefit.
For instance, we recently completed a comprehensive PeopleSoft ERP implementation. Our new financial/regulatory reporting platform consists of core modules, such as accounts payable, capital projects, fixed assets, general ledger and SEC reporting. In the long run, we expect the deployment to help us boost productivity and reduce costs. But we also know it will aid in data sharing among employees, improve customer access to information and boost our overall quality of customer service.
Moreover, we're constantly undertaking projects to make our IT environment more secure. For example, we recently began a patch-management initiative that regulates our approach to security updates. This system lets us process and deploy the continual stream of security patches from our major software vendors, ensuring that our infrastructure is always available and free from such devastating threats as hackers, malicious code, spoofing, viruses and worms.
Again, customers know only that their accounts have been credited or debited. On the other hand, they certainly would know if they couldn't access their accounts or if their data were incorrect.
A few years ago, there was much talk about how bank and financial-services customers soon would want to conduct business only through the Internet. In response, Internet-only banks, brokerages and lenders proliferated. Customers do want to use the Internet for banking and other financial transactions, but it turns out they also want to do business at brick-and-mortar branches, ATMs and nontraditional locations, such as retail stores. As a result, many of the Internet-only institutions weren't very successful.
The lesson is that service companies like PNC Financial must not get locked into just one way of serving customers. Instead, we have to continually assess what customers want, and act accordingly. To do so, we need an adaptable IT infrastructure that lets us quickly add services and respond to a rapidly changing business environment -- even if the change is short-lived.
Ultimately, our infrastructure proves its worth every day in the responsiveness of the company, the efficiency of our personnel, the reliability of the network and our customers' ability to transact business in the way they want. In the end, that's what keeps them coming back and our business strong.
Timothy Shack is CIO of The PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and chairman, president and CEO of PNC's PFPC Worldwide Inc.
At A Glance Company: PNC Financial Services Group
IT employees: 2,100
Line of business: Diversified financial-services firm
2003 vs. 2002 sales: $5.3 billion vs. $5.4 billion
2003 vs. 2002 net income: $1 billion* vs. $1.18 billion
2003 consolidated assets under management: $354 billion
NOTE: A change in accounting negatively impacted earnings by $28 million.
DATA: PNC, public documents