U.K.-based Barclays Bank has deployed content management software from Vignette, Austin, Texas, as the foundation of a personalized online service for its 2.8 million Internet banking customers.
"At Barclays, we are focused on humanizing the online banking experience for our users," according to Ian Richardson, e-director at British Sterling 357 million Barclays Bank.
But humanizing Internet banking poses a thorny challenge. "Once you take your business significantly online, you depersonalize it," said Andrew Pearson, director of business development at Vignette. "Unless you give customers some form of personalized service, you're actually taking away from the relationship."
With bank personnel able to update online content, technical staff once required to maintain numerous Web sites can be redeployed elsewhere. "There's a significant amount of return on investment by not having each department and division have their own Web staff," said Pearson.
The first stage in the deployment is to replicate prior Web site functionality on the Vignette platform. The process involves sorting all of the existing content according to "category taxonomies," and then attaching metadata tags on top of existing information to describe its contents.
Once categorized, information about Barclays' products and services can be forwarded to those customers with a propensity to buy. The Vignette system will build user profiles based on data from the bank's legacy systems, as well as by tracking individual browsing behavior on the bank's Web sites. Just as Amazon suggests products based on past purchases and searches, Barclays hopes to offer financial services in line with their customers' known characteristics and observed behavior.
Active campaign management will mark the second phase of the implementation. Marketing managers at Barclays will be able to craft messages for specific subsets of its online customer base and measure the success of those campaigns at a granular level.
At some point, personalized content will also include information about multiple accounts customers may have with the bank. "Bringing all of this together at the enterprise level is ultimately going to give Barclays the opportunity to treat customers from a customer perspective rather than from a corporate perspective," said Pearson. However, Barclays has not announced any plans to offer account aggregation services that gather financial data from other financial institutions on behalf of its customers.
Although Barclays will be using the same core technology as other Vignette customers like Amazon, the bank has unique security and reliability requirements. Barclays has committed to 99 percent uptime, creating enough spare capacity to safely support expected usage even during peak periods.
"Barclays is the kind of organization which makes news headlines if its systems go down," said Pearson. "Deployment took a little longer because of that."