Tech Hot Spots Fire Up the Financial Industry

By Bob Violino  |  Posted 2013-01-07 Email Print this article Print

Three key areas govern information technology spending in the financial sector: regulation, customer intimacy/experience/loyalty and cost reduction.

Business managers at the bank anticipate significant benefits from the technology initiatives. "We expect this [CRM] software to allow us to uniformly recognize opportunities for future sales and growth, while also providing us with powerful tools to solidify and strengthen our current relationships," says Nadia Summo, project manager for 360 View. "There are many features of this software that we expect to contribute to increased ROI, improved market share and a strong improvement in our already noteworthy customer service levels."

These include customer interaction monitoring, which allows the bank to record each time it touches a customer in any way, whether it's through marketing or service; referral tracking; and profitability data to help the bank make better decisions on rates, terms, etc.

The system also provides the ability to report customer incidents to fellow employees and assign incidents to the appropriate employee or department for resolution. In addition, it enables the bank to group customers for marketing purposes and allows it to track cross-selling activities.

HomeTown Bank is also evaluating the benefits of migrating email and Microsoft Office applications into the cloud within the next 12 to 18 months, Wright says. In addition, the bank is equipping its lending and executive management teams with mobile device management products to provide increased access to CRM data.

Accelerating Server Virtualization

IT is also a key part of the business strategy at financial services company Wells Fargo & Company in San Francisco.

"All the products and services we use to serve customers are based on technology—from the system in the teller line to our online or mobile applications," says Martin Davis, executive vice president and head of Enterprise Technology Services within the Technology and Operations Group. "Literally billions of transactions run on Wells Fargo systems each year and technology is essential for Wells Fargo to perform at its best."

One of the biggest IT efforts at the company has been server virtualization. For every virtual server installed in 2011, 2.8 physical servers were decommissioned, resulting in reduced data center space and power requirements. In 2011, the company virtualized 60 percent of newly deployed servers and standardized 80 percent. In 2012, nearly 100 percent of new servers are virtualized.

Wells Fargo also accelerated server provisioning—from months to 10 days—and consolidated its networks from 17 LAN environments to just two.

Last year, the company completed what Davis called the industry's largest merger, between Wells Fargo and Wachovia. "The amount of complexity involved in combining those organizations was mind-bending, but I think the merger was an inflection point to drive technology to the next level and accelerate many of our pre-existing efficiency initiatives like virtualization and standardization," he says.

By making overall efficiency a focus, Davis says, "we were able to stop planning for a future data center and achieved $1 billion in savings, with a significant portion from infrastructure efforts."

Wells Fargo has developments under way on the mobile device front "that draw on the unique functionality available through those devices," Davis says. This year, the company announced Wells Fargo Mobile Deposit, which allows customers to deposit checks via Apple and Android devices.

"There's no question that mobility has become part of consumers' everyday lifestyle," Davis says. "We need to constantly think about how to offer or evolve our products or services."

There's a lot of opportunity for IT to meet business needs and put more focus on building innovative applications and services, rather than just provisioning and management, Davis says, adding, "We firmly believe everything we do has to be connected to customer value."

Bob Violino is a freelance writer and Editorial Director at Victory Business Communications. Bob has covered business and technology for more than 20 years. Specific areas include information security, networking, enterprise applications, RFID, storage, virtualization, mobile wireless technology, open source and communications. Bob’s clients include leading business and technology publications, research and analysis firms and technology vendors. His work often appears at

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