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Tomorrow's Great Customer Experience Is Built on Today's Efficiency

To fuel technology innovation and improve the bank customer experience, members of Bank Systems & Technology's Reader Advisory Board say they'll continue to focus on driving down operational costs in the year ahead.

A Focus on the Customer Experience

With its major infrastructure projects wrapping up, though, Umpqua Bank will be able to focus more on customer-facing channels and technologies in the coming year, the bank's Eccles notes. "We will have a lot going on in that area," he says. "We want to do more around integrating channels so that customers don't get a different experience in each channel."

According to BB&T's Johnson, increased customer expectations, especially surrounding the mobile channel, will drive the industry focus on customer-facing technologies. "There's a shift toward making things much more about the customer and the customer experience," he comments. "There's more of a focus on personalization and user experience than ever before."

With an increased focus on the customer experience and customer relationship management also will come a need to understand more about customers and the market, which will push business intelligence initiatives, notes North Shore's Cook. "Gaining deeper insight into our business drivers and client segmentation is critical for our competitive market and corporate profitability," he stresses.

Of course, channel integration, business intelligence and a great customer experience are built on sound data management, notes Umpqua's Eccles. "If you're going to start building out your channels to give an integrated experience then you have to do a lot more around putting data management in place so that the same data is available to all of your channels," he asserts, pointing out that Umpqua Bank will start in 2012 a data management project that includes building an enterprise data warehouse.

Data and information lifecycle management are on BB&T's radar for a couple of reasons, according to the bank's Johnson. "One would be the explosion of data that's going to come primarily through more of the mobile usage that we'll all have to accommodate in one way or another," he says. "And of course," he adds, "there is the associated security around that."

Avoiding the Regulatory Crush

Meanwhile, keeping up with regulations will continue to be a main challenge for banks in 2012, the BS&T Reader Advisory Board members all agree. "The regulatory climate is going to be at least as intensive as it is now, if not even more so going into next year," says Johnson, who concedes that this is a top driver of BB&T's focus on expense management.

Umpqua's Eccles exhibits a no-nonsense approach to dealing with regulations. "It's just part of the work we need to do. There's more of it, and if there wasn't as much of that, we could do more on the project side. But it is what it is," he says.

"Every technology department and organization just needs to focus and prioritize," Eccles continues. "There's always greater demand than you're able to handle, and it's not because you don't have the expense to do more; but you can only manage and execute so much. Drive prioritization and focus on what is critical at the enterprise level -- and do it well."


An area that many organizations -- in the banking industry and beyond -- will need to spend more time thinking about is the accelerating bring-your-own-device trend, according to Umpqua Bank CIO Colin Eccles. "As more employees start to carry smartphones and are involved in social media outside of work, they'll say, 'Can't I get my work email and calendar and work contents on this same device?" Eccles notes.

As banks look into letting employees use their own devices for work-related activities, they first must consider the information security risks associated with connecting non-bank-owned devices to their networks, Eccles warns. "Organizations are going to spend more time thinking about how they can to some extent provide a bring-your-own-device capability but still keep the network and data secure," he says.

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