Atos: enter Now Banking, with a big data strategy – Remco Neuteboom
The growing importance of digital channels has several effects on how banks must deliver their services, but the most significant is that customers are now firmly in charge. In an age when many people are more likely to do their banking via a smartphone app than a visit to the local branch, the onus is now on banks to develop their multichannel offerings.
And as digital banking services continue to extend into the payments space, many customers want much more, including tools to manage their saving and spending goals. Pushing the right services to customers means knowing them as individuals and learning from their behaviour in order to understand the challenges they face.
However, when it comes to positioning new products and services, there is a fine line between aggravating customers with intrusive sales pitches and recommending appropriate products to help them through the significant events in their lives. On the right side of that line lie opportunities for banks to engage with their customers and thereby generate greater loyalty.
Financial services: a personal touch required
So far, the financial services industry has made slower progress in capitalising on this than was initially expected. Remco Neuteboom, global director financial services in the multichannel and mobile solutions division of Atos, gave one example of a client becoming a parent, saying that it was unlikely that banks or insurance companies would get in touch with congratulations or, more importantly, offer products or services that would help with the impact of this huge life event.
"Could they know about this event? Yes, of course, through social media or the changes in the person's patterns of spending," he says. "Banks could get that information, although there are ethical and legal boundaries to respect. Banks need to operate with customer permission at all times. They can drive value by knowing their customers better and helping them with the important moments in their lives.
"The questions are how to get a 360° view, and why are we seeing the practice more? The multichannel environment of a bank is complex, built over years of consumer and technology changes, and the legacy systems are inconsistent across the different channels, which can be confusing for customers as they see their bank in a single view.
"On the flip side, banks need a single customer view across all channels to generate revenue and increase loyalty, but there are still large steps to anticipate and realise changes in their customers lives. That analysis needs to be done and they need to join everything up."
Atos: client focus
Atos is an international information technology services company with 74,000 employees in 48 countries. It serves a global client base with high-tech transactional, consulting and technology services, systems integration and managed services. One of its key markets is financial services, helping banks to adapt quickly to a changing marketplace, and achieve growth by understanding customers' needs and delivering cost-efficient services tailored to individual customers.
The firm has focused intently on customer-facing activity, particularly fostering the ability of banks to take advantage of smart media and social networks, as well as driving continuous improvement in performance and cost efficiency through IT projects.
"Banks need to look at how different channels tie up and how to integrate them operationally and in real time," says Neuteboom. "Customers might start a transaction on one channel and then finish it on another. Therefore, they need a smooth experience across all channels. It's the same technology - just accessed through different devices.
"Banks also need to keep up with a rapidly changing world. It is not just about a seamless experience; it is also about time. People can access what they want, when they want in a 24/7 economy, so they should be able to contact their banks at any time; there is no 9-5 mentality any more."
Typically, banks have silos of structured data held internally that could yield far greater value if they were joined together. Adding in unstructured data from outside the banks, such as that found in social media, magnifies that value even further. Using structured and unstructured data to get a holistic view of customers enables a bank to be far more predictive in its service offering.
"It is about knowing your customer inside out to make a step change in customer services," explains Neuteboom. "Put the customer first - in the driving seat - and he will be happy. Customers want simplicity, transparency and flexibility. They want self-service and personalisation across all channels. Combining this with a bank's rich portfolio will bring great opportunities to banks and build loyalty for long-term relationships."
Now Banking, engaged banking
Atos has developed a solution called Now Banking, which comprises modules for mobile, customer analytics, CRM on demand, eServices, social CRM, loyalty services, contact centre BPO, payments solutions and much more. Part of its power is the ability to aggregate sites outside the bank, such as peer communities, which may have financial implications. Now Banking is all about enabling rapid change to ensure that technology serves business goals and drives competitive advantage.
"It is about engaged banking; knowing who a customer is and what he or she is doing," says Neuteboom. "All channels, including things like live chat, must all be linked up. We bring unstructured data into the big box of data that banks already have. That data can be queried to help banks become predictive in the delivery of their services.
"And it needs to happen in real time - that is the game-changer; for example, if I'm in an airport waiting for a flight, then I want offers that are relevant to that situation, such as those with retailers in the airport. When I'm buying a car, I want offers that help me to buy a car. It's about banks engaging in the customer's value chain. Banks are not perceived as sexy, but they can be involved with decisions about things that are sexy, like saving customers money on things they need to buy or help them buy things they aspire to own."
Atos has services across a variety of different solutions to suit all banks at all levels of maturity. Leveraging its expertise in technology and systems integrations, as well as its hands-on experience with data management, it is helping banks to take big steps towards integrating digital channels into their wider service offering; taking the value of the data a bank already has and coupling that with external unstructured data to create smooth journeys for customers and move from a push to a pull by delivering relevant services in real time.
"New entrants to the financial services industry are starting with this philosophy," says Neuteboom. "They focus on customer channels organisation only, driven by a 'big data' strategy, often using third-party banking products.
"Such organisations will pop up and be hard for traditional banks to compete with. These services can be run in full BPO mode or each building block can be advised on, from integration to systems consultancy. It is all about building a rich cross-channel experience."