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2011 Bank Technology Outlook: Major Projects, Bigger Budgets in Store for Bank CIOs

Bank CIOs will be charged with pursuing major tech projects -- including compliance, core systems and mobile banking initiatives -- in 2011, members of BS&T's Reader Advisory Board report. The good news is, they're likely to have more money to complete them.

Going Mobile

The driver behind many banks' core upgrades is the need to improve the customer experience, particularly as it relates to integrating traditional and newer channels. And no channel is likely to see greater interest in the coming year than mobile banking.

"The mobile banking space is developing incredibly rapidly," says Vince Hruska, SVP and director of product solutions and strategies at Los Angeles-based City National Bank ($21.8 billion in assets), which serves private and business clients. "We see not only lots of bank adoption of mobile banking, but clients are rapidly adopting mobile banking as well."

Indeed, a recent survey conducted by ABI Research (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) found that 53 percent of American consumers use, or intend to use, their smartphones for mobile banking. But for the private and business client segments that City National serves, mobile banking is not commonly available, Hruska notes. As City National builds a solution, "Our focus is to make sure it's for more than just basic banking services," he says. "We want to put in a platform that will allow us to expand our capabilities over the long haul, not just get an implementation out the door and have to replace it a year or two down the road."

To enhance the customer experience, City National also will redesign its client-facing technology for customers of both the wealth management and banking sides of the business, Hruska reports. "When you have that kind of client, you want to make sure you can show a total picture of their relationship with the bank and serve their needs across banking and wealth management as seamlessly as possible," he stresses. "We have online efforts centered around making that experience as robust as possible." The project, which will call on both internal and external IT resources, will involve data integration and site navigation/ease-of-use improvements, according to Hruska.

1st Mariner also is amping up its mobile play in 2011. The bank initiated a soft launch of Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and SMS-based mobile banking this year -- it put a mobile banking icon on its online banking site,, and 600 people registered in three months, with no marketing or advertising efforts, Lynch relates. Early in 2011, however, it will start a marketing campaign around the mobile services. "I think mobile adoption will be significant," Lynch says.

Keeping It All Available

With so much going on in IT, and with technology's ever-growing influence on the customer experience, it perhaps is more critical than ever that banks keep their systems up and running. To help it watch everything in its global IT infrastructure and fix any problems that might be affecting business processes, Navy Federal plans to deploy business service management solutions next year. "We're changing the way we analyze outages to be more tuned to what the business impact is," reports the credit union's Hermes, explaining that the business service management (BSM) tools will be used to monitor online and mobile banking activity as well as traditional bank activity.

"It's going to be a collaborative effort with the business side to figure out which business services are the most important ones to watch," Hermes says. For instance, "They may not think much about FTPs going from one place to the other, but IT does. Each file transfer is part of a business process."

When the project is completed, dashboards and heat maps will enable IT staff to see which IT glitches are affecting which parts of the business so they can resolve them, Hermes adds. The software also will enable the credit union to attach dollar amounts to outages.

"For us to go back to the business and say, 'If we're down X percent of the time with these applications,' doesn't mean much to them," Hermes says. "But if we say to them, 'This could mean $X amount a year in potential business impact,' it makes the call to put in a needed telecommunications upgrade for $100,000 very easy."

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