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Not All Banks Reaping Web 2.0’s Potential

While Web 2.0 tools can help banks to collaborate with customers, partners and employees in a manner that is more responsive, compelling and effective than ever before, lack of experience and fear of change may hinder some institutions from realizing all that Web 2.0 has to offer.

Q: What is Web 2.0, and in which types of applications can Web 2.0 tools deliver competitive advantage for banks?

Secil Watson, Wells Fargo:The wiki-based community is an intellectual asset for innovation. Our wikis provide research and insight from our biggest assets — our team members. Members may contribute and edit an idea or comment regarding products and services, and these ideas are subsequently passed on to product managers and/or management for consideration. The benefit of a wiki is that it is unrestricted and democratic — team members can create, add, edit or delete content without approval or supervision.

Blogs are a wonderful tool in that they allow team members to share ideas and opinions in a more casual way. Our internal blogs have allowed team members to really get inside the heads of their managers through a more intimate platform than, say, formal memos or meetings.

Matt Nelson, TowerGroup:Web 2.0 is the use of lightweight, intuitive, Web-based services that rely on user participation and user-contributed data, and generally involve some level of social interaction and networking. For financial services firms, this isn't going to mean MySpace (a social networking site) or del.icio.us (a social bookmarking site), but it might mean taking some of the philosophies that have made those sites so popular in the consumer realm and applying them to business software, client portals or the firm's Intranet.

The most obvious opportunity for Web 2.0 in financial services firms is in client-portal design. Most financial services firms still have fairly basic HTML-style client portals. Technologies like AJAX, Adobe (San Jose, Calif.) Flash and Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) allow developers to build much better sites that engage the client more effectively. The slightly less obvious application is in business software where Web 2.0 concepts might allow firms to better collaborate internally and externally [with business partners] on knowledge management and problem resolution. Also, there are some interesting possibilities for augmenting the traditional support channels (e.g., call centers) with self-service tools like wikis.

Nicole Kealey, Adobe Systems: Web 2.0 is an opportunity to deliver information to customers, partners and employees in a manner that is more responsive, compelling and effective than ever before. Web 2.0 has the potential to impact all facets of financial services — from customer self-service to process management dashboards. In a customer-facing scenario, the key advantage is to differentiate your brand and deliver engaging customer experiences online with the ultimate goal of increasing adoption of online services. In other scenarios, the primary benefit is to accelerate and improve decision-making by delivering information that is both intuitive and visually rich.

Peggy Bresnick Kendler has been a writer for 30 years. She has worked as an editor, publicist and school district technology coordinator. During the past decade, Bresnick Kendler has worked for UBM TechWeb on special financialservices technology-centered ... View Full Bio

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