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Webster Bank CIO Colin Eccles Pursues Technology to Create Efficiency

The Waterbury, Conn.-based bank is also pursuing self-service initiatives to optimize the customer experience.

As he enters his second year as CIO of Webster Bank, Colin Eccles continues to help steer the bank on its roadmap of using technology to drive efficiency and improve the customer experience.

Eccles says not only is using technology to create efficiency a focus at the Waterbury, Conn.-based bank, but also driving down the cost of technology as well. He says Webster is pursuing self-service initiatives, such as taking transactions out of the branch and moving them to the ATM channel, with products like image-enabled ATMs. Webster is also looking to streamline its data management; just prior to his joining, the bank entered into a co-location agreement for its data centers.

Also part of its drive for efficiency, Eccles says the bank is ramping up its electronic content management capabilities. "We still have a lot of paper-based processes," he adds. "We are continuing to look at all of our processes and where we can pursue electronic. We're in the process of imaging all our loan files, and looking at things like e-signatures."

Eccles joined Webster Bank in January 2013; he also previously served as CIO of Oregon-based Umpqua Bank from 2009-12 as well. Eccles assumed responsibility for the combined technology and bank operations functions at Webster. "It was a great attraction for me to run right into this role," he adds.

He says another big goal for Webster Bank is driving down he cost of technology ownership. To that end, Eccles says the bank has outsourced all its infrastructure support to FIS, while expanding the total relationship with the vendor. FIS manages all of the bank's technology infrastructure that sits in the colocation data structures.

Eccles says that pursuing efficiency and electronic content management aren't just money-saving initiatives, but help improve the overall customer experience as well.

"The more electronic you are and the more efficient process you have the better the customer experience," he says. "Being here at Webster it is very important to us to focus on the customer experience and drive more self service, such as with image enabled ATMs and mobile RDC. When we can take the basic transactions out of our branches, that sets up branch employees focused on growing the customer relationship and selling products and services."

Regarding mobile banking, Eccles says Webster Bank has signed a contract with Monitise to enhance its mobile experience, and has a multi-year roadmap to enhance its mobile experience. "[Mobile} is a big priority for us," he adds.

Another big project for Eccles and his team is migrating the bank out of Windows XP and onto Windows 7, as well as migrating to a virtual desktop environment "wherever we can."

Eccles says overall it is an exciting time at Webster Bank with the various projects going on, and helping the bank realize its multi-year roadmap.

"It's been an incredible year. A lot has been accomplished and a lot more will be accomplished in the years ahead," Eccles says.

[See Also: Life Without Channels: How to Provide a Seamless Customer Experience]

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio

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Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
2/21/2014 | 1:57:47 PM
re: Webster Bank CIO Colin Eccles Pursues Technology to Create Efficiency
True, I think it will definitly be an ongoing theme among small-mid size banks
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
2/21/2014 | 3:41:45 AM
re: Webster Bank CIO Colin Eccles Pursues Technology to Create Efficiency
The infrastructure strategy they've undertaken might be getting more common among smaller financial services companies. Defraying the cost of infrastructure allows smaller players to keep up with customer service innovations like Eccles talks about here.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
2/15/2014 | 5:49:13 PM
re: Webster Bank CIO Colin Eccles Pursues Technology to Create Efficiency
Thanks for adding your insight Greg, it does seem Webster is doing interesting things in self service and customer experience. As Kathy said, we'd definitely like to follow up again later in the year.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
2/14/2014 | 4:05:51 PM
re: Webster Bank CIO Colin Eccles Pursues Technology to Create Efficiency
This seems like the right strategy to have, considering today's customers. I see more people choosing ATMs over branches for simpler transactions, but most will still travel to a branch for something more complicated. It seems like the branch will become more of an advisory/sales center for people who need complex products or need financial guidance.
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Strategist
2/14/2014 | 2:29:44 PM
re: Webster Bank CIO Colin Eccles Pursues Technology to Create Efficiency
Thanks for your insights Greg -- really interesting and encouraging to learn more about what Webster Bank is doing in this regard. It sounds like one reason it's working for Webster is you are taking a long view -- this is a journey, an ongoing effort that involves not just real estate and technology but training and an overall mindset/culture shift. Too often we just see the pendulum swing back and forth -- "Build more branches!" "Scale back on branches!" I'm glad you see this as a "fun time", not a crisis. Would love to learn more about it as the journey progresses.
gjacobi01
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gjacobi01,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/13/2014 | 9:42:15 PM
re: Webster Bank CIO Colin Eccles Pursues Technology to Create Efficiency
Kathy,

You are right to read into our strategy that we believe the branch (we call them Banking Centers) is equally important. And, we agree with the notion the role of the Banking Center is changing. The numbers are undeniable. In our recent earnings call we highlighted that we've seen Banking Center transactions decline almost 11% YOY. We also highlighted the continued growth in adoption of self-service channels. There is a fundamental shift taking place in how people interact with their bank that has been simmering for quite some time.

The trends we have all been predicting for so long are really starting to take hold (at least from our vantage point). That being said, I'm not sure I translate what is happening into the idea that Banking Centers evolve into one-dimensional selling centers.

This fundamental shift allows to spend more advisory and service time with customers, just as it offers teams to focus on their selling efforts. A Banking Center is a great home base for all of those activities. We've recognized these changes for a while now and it's why all of our Bankers are trained as Universal Bankers and why any work we have done recently with our physical spaces are resulting in smaller footprints with a more open layout (most of the banking centers we have opened recently do not even have teller lines.)

Great topic. It is a fun time to be figuring all of this out.

Thanks,
Greg Jacobi
Distribution & Customer Experience
Webster Bank
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Strategist
2/13/2014 | 6:03:31 PM
re: Webster Bank CIO Colin Eccles Pursues Technology to Create Efficiency
What Colin has to say about self-service and branch strategy is very interesting: "When we can take the basic transactions out of our branches, that sets up branch employees focused on growing the customer relationship and selling products and services." This suggests a strategy where branches will be equally/more important than they have been in the past, but in a significantly different role. Can banks such as Webster actually transform their branches (and branch personnel and infrastructure) into sales centers? It hasn't happened during 20+ years of talking about it (not Webster specifically, the industry in general), but maybe we're at a real tipping point now.
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