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Driving a Common Customer Experience

Peter deSilva, President and COO, UMB Financial Corp., and Chairman and CEO, UMB Bank

While some may cringe at the prospect of having 20 different jobs in 17 years, Peter deSilva credits his former employer, Fidelity Investments (Boston), with giving him a broad range of experiences that he is able to bring to his roles as president and COO of UMB Financial Corp. and chairman and CEO of UMB Bank (Kansas City, Mo; $7.6 billion in assets). Since joining the company in 2004, deSilva has been applying that experience to help UMB fulfill its vision of providing a common customer experience.

BS&T: What technology challenges does UMB face?

DeSilva: Our technology and operating platforms are driven by our corporate vision statement: to be recognized for the unparalleled customer experience. We have a legacy environment with a number of disparate operating platforms, and integrating those systems effectively and efficiently to create that unique customer experience is a challenge every day. It's hard work, it takes a lot of time and it's costly.

We also have an abundance of data, and figuring out which data is relevant to delivering that unparalleled customer experience is a challenge. Data management drives complexity and also costs. How long do you keep data and how do you best manipulate it? Which data do you keep for instant retrieval and which do you put off for longer-term retrieval?

BS&T: Are you considering any wide-scale replacements of your legacy systems?

DeSilva: In certain areas, yes. But generally, no. For us, the legacy environment has become a data storage area. Any flexibility and client-level manipulation now occurs on the front end. For example, we just spent $6 million to replace our treasury management platform with a Web-based platform [which leverages Portsmouth, N.H.-based Bottomline Technologies WebSeries enterprise payments platform] that provides better reporting, information security and data manipulation capabilities for our business customers.

BS&T: How does your IT organizational structure support a common platform?

DeSilva: We put a single individual, CIO David Kling, in charge of both operations and technology. David is responsible for 200 people in technology and about 1,000 people in operations. The logic is to have one person looking universally at our technology and operational platforms to drive maximum efficiency out of both. We think we're a bit progressive in this area.

BS&T: How does this structure work?

DeSilva: Our loan and deposit platforms are made up of individual legacy systems. Previously, operations was structured so that you had people who worried about loans or deposits in a vertical fashion. With our new structure, we've been able to integrate our platforms and back-office functions to drive a common customer experience.

BS&T: What sort of technology are you using to achieve this integration?

DeSilva: We're doing a lot of the data mapping and data manipulation to get these systems to speak with each other ourselves. We just implemented a CRM system from Siebel Systems [now owned by Oracle; Redwood Shores, Calif.]. While a lot of companies have done that, we've created a comprehensive system that pulls data from 11 disparate systems that heretofore didn't speak to each other to provide both our front- and back-office associates with a consistent view of the customer and our customers with a consistent view of the company.

BS&T: You've implemented electronic management scorecards. What were the business drivers behind this initiative?

DeSilva: We embarked on the balanced scorecard initiative because we needed to better distinguish between which business metrics really drive our business and which are interesting but somewhat irrelevant to the success of the company. We needed to be able to really assess the performance of individual units, individual products and individual leaders.

We adopted the Kaplan-Norton Balanced Scorecard approach [based on a book titled "The Balance Scorecard," by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton]. We look at key dimensions such as financial performance, operations and productivity performance, and how we are performing in doing the right things for our customers and associates. My compensation and the compensation of the top 20 people in the company is tied to the success or failure of those dimensions.

Using technology from Hyperion Solutions Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.), every manager in the company can view their scorecards and see, for example, their progress on their deposit or loan goals. The scorecards are updated at least daily.

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