More Data, Better Results

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 2010-08-20 Print this article Print

Technology as a business tool helps the battered financial sector make better use of data in order to reduce operating costs and increase revenue.

“To go from using just two or three demographic points—and maybe five or six banking transactional ones—to [125 sources of information] is of great value to us,” says Mueller. “We now rank customers based on a score system and push that data to those on staff who can make the best use of it. It’s great to go to our product managers with this kind of predictive information, which has a lot more meat than what we were providing before.”

The State Bank of India has also signed on with IBM’s CRM packages in order to better share critical data throughout its organization—including foreign offices, associates and subsidiaries—and enable more informed business decisions. “This solution will allow our bank staff to concentrate on valuable tasks such as upselling and cross-selling, performing more sophisticated analysis and delivering a higher level of customer service,” says Krishna Kumar, deputy managing director of information technology.

Bringing Banks Together With Virtualization

Mergers and acquisitions are business-as-usual for the banking/finance industry, and Brussels-based Dexia Bank Belgium needed help to make a successful transition after buying two other significant banks. All three of the banking organizations had the basics when it came to IT infrastructure: local servers and file services and access-management solutions. There was also a mix of needed applications that couldn’t be easily migrated into the new, unified structure. When Dexia attempted to bring all the technology together, the outcome was predictable.

“The engineers would say the infrastructure was outdated,” says Thierry Abeels, a member of the executive board of Dexia’s technology services. “The users would say that accessing services was too complex. The managers would say that fixing it was too expensive. 

“All the traditional IT solutions we had were very limited in functionality, with no mobility and high costs for maintenance. To integrate these different banks into a single one, we needed a new, modern, single front-end IT solution.”
That solution would have to be put in play within less than 10 months of the mergers for more than 6,500 people located in more than 1,100 offices—with no disruption to branch activities. And it needed to be mobile, so the
mortgage and stock-exchange experts could both work from the office and take projects home. 

Dexia chose a client-virtualization solution that resulted in a centralized architecture based on 300 Hewlett-Packard BladeSystem servers in the bank’s data center and 6,000 HP thin clients in its branches. The solution also incorporates Citrix MetaFrame Presentation Server software 3.0, which provides local and remote users with secure access to virtualized client/server applications from any location, device or connection.

The new infrastructure enabled the bank to eliminate the 1,100 legacy servers in its branches. In addition, what Dexia calls its “Branch of Tomorrow” includes a mobile office component, with HP notebooks and DeskJet printers, that enables staff to conduct sales calls from any location, 24/7, within legal restrictions. Employees’ mobile computing devices are network-based thin clients with card-reading, scanning and other capacities—all fully integrated regardless of which legacy system the employee had been working with. 

“We have no servers and no PCs within the branches anymore,” Abeels says. “We’ve moved from PCs with high failure rates to thin-client solutions where that doesn’t happen. We’ve also greatly reduced global electricity costs.” 

Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.

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