6 Steps for Loan Officer Success in 2015

Posted on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

pattrue_50x50 Author: Pat True, 

If you ask financial institutions from across the country how loan demand is going, the answers will vary greatly based on the location and the industries that support the region.  Some institutions have seen significant growth in both real estate and commercial lending, while others are still struggling to expand their portfolios.  While average portfolio balances have grown across the country this year, your financial institution reflects the local market rather than the national market.  In order for your institution to be successful, your lenders must retain existing relationships and win new ones, regardless of local conditions.  There is a great quote from the British historian, Edward Gibbon, which expresses this well.

“The wind and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator.”

The question for you is – how can your lending officers become the ablest navigators?  How can they succeed in spite of local market circumstances?  How can they protect relationships and grow portfolios even when others struggle?  Here are six action steps your lending officers can take today to engineer success in the coming year.

  1. Protect your turf.  Reach out to all business clients in the portfolio during the next 60 days, even if it is just to say hello and see how things are going.  If your lenders are not calling on current customers on a regular basis, you can rest assured that someone else is.  You might be surprised to see how many cross selling opportunities come from these goodwill visits.
  2. Develop a Center of Influence (COI) network.  This would include networking with local market CPA’s, attorneys, business consultants, CFO’s for hire, SCORE representatives, and many more.  A strong, sales oriented lending officer sees the COI market as the feeder pipeline for new relationships.
  3. Ask for referrals at EVERY VISIT.  Numbers 1 and 2 above are critical, but during all of the conversations that take place during those calls, your lenders absolutely must ask for referrals.  If someone is not willing to give a referral it means that either, a: they do not know anyone (which is highly unlikely) or, b: they are unhappy with the service they have received.  If it is b, your lender needs to get to the root of that issue.  Don’t be afraid to ask for more business.
  4. Become a student of the game.  Your lending officers should know which industries are dominant, and which areas you would like to grow your portfolio.  Help them create an environment where they can look like experts in those areas.  Sources such as First Research provide excellent sales call questions and industry insight.  Find an information source you like and arm your lenders with this tool for success.
  5. Know the rules of engagement.  In order to be successful, your lending officers must have a clear line of communication to management.  More importantly, they must have a clear vision of corporate goals and objectives.  Take the current rate environment as an example.  Your lenders need to know the institutions strategy for winning rate sensitive deals.  If they do not, then they will be at a disadvantage.  You would not send a soldier into the field without proper ammunition and guidance – so don’t send your lenders.  Make sure they know they are critical members of your team, and arm them with all necessary information.
  6. Consider a joint calling strategy between two product lines in your institution or between your lenders and third party vendor relationships.  Very often, lending officers who are reluctant to make cold calls can do much better when sharing the effort with another sales professional.  Some product vendors, such as the ProfitStars Lending Solutions team, make joint calls with their clients to build new relationships.  Within larger financial institution, this is also a great way to network two or more sales teams through in-house referrals.Shaking_hands

Not every lending officer is a great salesperson – but if managed and trained properly, they can become proficient at growing your portfolio.  With guidance from your management team, your lenders can work to become the “able navigators” they need to be in order to succeed in 2015.

Tags: lending opportunities, loan growth

Keeping the Holiday Bright and Online Banking Fraud Free

Posted on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 @ 08:35 AM

Author: Allen Eaves, Jr., 

The holidays are here and with all the cheer and bustle of the season’s festivities comes an ugly annual uptick in fraud instances. Often the scurry to find the best gifts at the best deals creates the perfect environment for the cyber equivalent of the Grinch to do his worst.

Online Banking FraudOnline shopping continues to trend upward as Santa is looking for the very best gifts for each boy and girl on the nice list. This abundance of searching and price hunting often results in exploited vulnerabilities in systems not patched with the latest releases as shoppers unknowingly visit infected sites. They then logon to their community bank to check balances and pay bills, frequently doing so from compromised workstations.  The malware running on these systems provides many tools for the thieves to wreak havoc on the festive spirit.

Nearly every online banking fraud event involves a malware infection at some step the heist. Blogs and articles regularly warn of the new ways malware is being used to infiltrate victim’s accounts.  Several recent surveys reveal that the problem may be compounded as the barrage of attack and malware news has desensitized many people to the evolving risks.

With malware’s increasingly sophisticated ability to conceal the identity of a fraudster, we must continue to monitor activity throughout the online banking session. Some attacks today do still utilize key loggers to capture the credentials of an online banking user, and then use them to access the account from a different machine. Detection of these types of attacks can take place very early in the sequence of events, from the malware infection to the malicious collection of the user name and password, to suspicious details of the authentication attempts - such as connections from proxy sites. 

Unfortunately, the very best authentication mechanisms and monitoring options of the logon will not provide adequate protection against many of the advanced attacks that occur when the victim’s machine is fully compromised. In these instances, the fraudster is able to connect to online banking through the same system and session as the valid user and makes them appear exactly like the legitimate user. Watching the behavior of the activity within the session is key, since at some point ultimately fraud scenarios involve money going to an unauthorized destination, which is the abnormal action we can focus on.

Despite the constant flow of new realities and retold stories of familiar attacks, we must remain in tune with the latest threats and remain diligent in upholding security best practices and procedures. It can be easy to be distracted by the season and difficult to stay on top of best practices when many offices are thin with staff, as team members are on vacation to be with family and friends. Along with the critical functions at banks and credit unions, the compliance and risk management functions must remain vigilant to keep the holiday bright and fraud free.  Happy holidays!


Tags: malware, online banking, fraud prevention

6 Tips for Shipping Data Securely

Posted on Wed, Dec 03, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

BrianSneed Author: Brian Sneed,

I saw a news story the other day about the amount of money we spend during the holiday season. Everyone is out buying presents for loved ones. The story reminded me how important it is to protect yourself against fraud while holiday shopping.  But it also made me think - what about data security at your work place? It is easy to let your guard down because in most cases the data is not actually your personal information. It is important to ask yourself, “How would I protect this data if it were my own money?”

One story recently came up about a widely used encryption software called TrueCrypt. Many companies and individuals used this software to encrypt data. Some of the reasons why it was so widely used are because it was free, easy to use, and encrypted data well. However, in May 2014 the software company announced that it was no longer supporting TrueCrypt and users should find another avenue to encrypt their data as there could be issues with using it securely. If you were using the software, the news really sent chills down your spine. You can read the full story here. TrueCrypt was used by many to not only encrypt data on a laptop, but when shipping data as well.

If you haveSecurity a large amount of data, often the fastest way to get it from one end to the other is through a shipping service. This will save time and effort compared to copying over the Internet. What are some guidelines to protecting your data when it is “out in the open”?

  • Use reliable encryption software. BitLocker® is a great option for Windows users. It is becoming more of a standard part of Windows with each new release. File Vault® 2 is a great solution if you are using a Macintosh operating system.
  • Send your password separately from the data. This sounds easy enough to remember but it is critical that if someone intercepts your data, they can’t unlock it!
  • Once you are done with your data, make sure to completely format the drive. There is a quick option for formatting drives that is not recommended because all it does is make it look like you have deleted your data. Make sure to perform a complete format of your drive. It will take longer, but you can be more confident that the data is completely erased.
  • Send your data via overnight shipping. The quicker it gets to its destination, the shorter it will be sitting on a dock somewhere.
  • Use an extra layer of protection by putting the drive in a Pelican case or other secure enclosure that locks using a pad lock.
  • Don’t ship the data in the external drive’s original manufacturer packaging. It is a dead giveaway there could be important data within.

There is no way to fully protect ourselves from an attack, but we should all be mindful of protecting data when we need to ship it. In the future, I hope this assists you in taking proper precautions while encrypting and shipping your data.

Tags: Information Security & Risk Management

The Future of Patient Payments in Healthcare

Posted on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

MMessick Author: Mark Messick,

While on vacation recently, I had a moment to reflect on my benefit elections for the upcoming year.  For the last several years, we’ve chosen to elect a high deductible plan and put money into an HSA each pay period.  It has helped us control costs, but we’ve also been lucky.  Lucky that we’ve had no major medical issues or expenses that would have depleted the HSA and left us with a big bill.  It got me wondering what I would do if the bill was bigger than what I could immediately pay.  I’d probably ask the healthcare provider or the billing/collections company if I could make payments.  And if I could have this problem – so could others, and what about all the people who don’t have an FSA or HSA to turn to?  And even if they did, what’s the likelihood the bill is larger than what they have saved in one of those accounts?  What about all the people who actually want to pay their bill, but need a flexible way to do it?

HealthcareHaving worked in this sector for a while, I have access to more information than most.  I know, for example, that this growing problem of a patient’s ability to pay their bills is the number one obstacle for most healthcare providers.  I’ve heard them say it out loud.  There are entire conferences and tradeshows dedicated to the issue and finding ways to solve it.  I attended one this summer and was shocked to hear large, national healthcare systems distressed about how to deal with it.  Like most people, I thought it was a problem for the smaller providers who want to provide care but couldn’t financially bear the weight of extended payment terms.  I also know that when patients don’t understand what they owe, they don’t pay.  And when the bill is too large and a payment plan doesn’t exist, they don’t pay. 

The accelerating cost of health care and the growth of higher deductible plans have made this very issue worse.  In fact, in the last ten years, the patient responsibility portion has grown more than 150%1.  As a result, the industry has seen a proliferation of technology solutions designed around helping providers collect more money faster.  These platforms enable providers to more efficiently offer payment methods to take care of the bill.  Electronic statements and portals for electronic payments have been emerging while other solutions have created easy-to-understand paper statements.  Many are already helping to make a significant impact on the bottom line.  Unfortunately, that only solves part of the problem.  Because what happens to the provider’s cash flow when the patient chooses “payment plan” as the payment option, or needs extended terms.  They wait for months and years for the actual bill to be paid in full. 

This is where financial institutions can and should step in.  Healthcare providers are tired of being the “bank” for their patients.  In the past, most financing has come in the form of guaranteed issue.  That means that an individual must be underwritten for both income and credit score.  Unfortunately in today’s economic climate, very few applicants actually get approved in that model.  But now there is a new model that enables the FI to leverage the payment stream and have the provider guarantee the payment.  The platform works in conjunction with other services already offered so that the provider gets access to cash flow, the patient gets terms they can live with, and the provider gets a reduced workload. 

1Health cost increases in 2013 were lowest in decade: Aon Hewitt. October 17, 2013. Insurance Journal. At

Tags: healthcare financing, healthcare market

5 Tips to Increase Your Mobile Banking Adoption

Posted on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

Lauren_Gleim_Headshot_50x50 Author: Lauren Gleim, 

With Thanksgiving one week away, it’s that time of year we share our appreciation for those around us. Your friends and family will gather together to share in holiday traditions, maybe watch some football and feast on delicious food. Since I am such a sentimental gal, I’d like to share my appreciation by helping you with a little mobile marketing.

Here are 5 tips to help you increase your institution’s mobile banking adoption:

  1. Provide a mobile banking app rich with features that will simplify life for your customers. Of course I like an app that I am able to check my account balances. However, if I can pay my bills, transfer money, send P2P payments, and make check deposits with that same app, even better! I just came back from a 5 day trip to Mexico, and while I was in the Charlotte airport I realized I needed to pay our Verizon bill. Luckily, I was able to access my account and pay my bill directly from my mobile banking app in about a minute. One less thing to worry about while on vacation.
  2. Get your employees engaged with your app. Your first line of communication with your customers is your staff. Use this opportunity and engage your employees with your mobile banking app. Train them and encourage them to use it. Your employees can promote the benefits and ease of use when they call or visit your branch. For your customers who prefer a little more hand-holding, your employees can be your best advocate to raise awareness of your mobile banking app, to walk them through how to use the app, and to reassure them of any security concerns.

  3. Cross-promote your services. Your institution has internet banking. Use this to your advantage. Encourage usage by displaying a banner ad within internet banking about how easy it is to use your mobile banking app. Add a demo on how to add a payee or pay a person. If you send a monthly newsletter to your customers, add a section about how secure it is to use your mobile banking app.

  4. Use social media to your advantage and reach a wider audience.  Whether you are trying to gain younger customers or retain your older ones, many customers use social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.  Share a demo or a FAQ page about your mobile banking app. Let your customers know they can check their account on Black Friday right from their phone.

  5. Utilize push notifications. Have you ever downloaded an app, but then never used it because you weren’t sure about all of the features? This is where push notifications can be useful. Highlight your P2P functionality. With winter approaching, you can send a little message about snow delays or when your branch is closed. Remember there are numerous avenues to reach your customers. Make use of them.

Happy customers, leads to customer retention. Remind them why they bank with you and increase your mobile banking adoption while you’re at it.

Need ideas for marketing your mobile banking app? Our iPay Resource Center offers FREE mobile banking marketing materials. Share your app and show how your customers can use it.

Tags: Mobile Banking, mobile marketing

End of Support - Don’t Take an Unnecessary Risk

Posted on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 @ 08:54 AM

chrissutherland_50x50 Author: Chris Sutherland,

Halloween is over but some financial institution (FI) and IT departments are making a choice to push a scary situation to the limit.  A little over a year ago, we talked in a blog about “How long is too long?” for holding onto that legacy Windows Server 2003R2. Support for this server expires in roughly 200 days.  In September, ProfitStars’ Gladiator Security team produced a report from our server monitoring system showing that 309 of our clients still have at least one Windows Server 2003 Operating System.    

So what are the ramifications of still depending upon 2003 on your systems? It means that on July 14, 2015 there will be no more support for this operating system, no automatic fixes, no security updates and no online or phone technical support.  You will no longer receive patching or security updates that help protect your systems from harmful viruses, spyware or other malware that can lead to liability and potential stealing of personal and corporate information.

So what is your plan?  Are you an FI / IT department still holding onto the past?  While there are many things to consider in updating to the latest operating systems, such as application compatibility and migration of data, now is the right time to properly position yourself with today’s technology. Time and Windows Server 2003R2 wait for no man or woman.

Tags: Network Systems

Faster Payments Brought to You by the Me Generation

Posted on Wed, Nov 05, 2014 @ 08:27 AM

Tammy_Wilson Author: Tammy Wilson,

Pull up any payments related trade publication and try to wrap your head around all that is going on in the industry today, and it will quickly overwhelm.  While it is an exciting time to be in the payments arena, it is a challenge every day to identify initiatives with staying power from those that quickly become passé.  Those of us that have been around a while know that money movement has not historically been a terribly exciting or innovative place.  It was a necessary function with an emphasis on reliability and security.

Then something changed. 

It’s possible that the payments industry was just stagnant for so long that it was due for a period of crazy innovation.  Maybe, but I think it is far more likely that the maturing Millennials who think so very differently than prior generations about everything, including banking and payments, are dragging us Gen Xers and Boomers along into a new future where we are torn between cliché statements like, “What was wrong with the simple, easy to understand, old way?” and the admission that all this new stuff is pretty cool.

When you look around the world, payments everywhere are changing.  Several other countries have already migrated to a “faster payments” model.  There is much the U.S. should learn from the trials and successes of others. As a follower, we can mimic what worked and learn from what didn’t.  Right now, the Federal Reserve Banks are working on an extensive study regarding ways to improve the domestic payment system, and that study includes a review of these global initiatives.  It is an interesting project because the traditional U.S. banking system is perceived as terribly slow to adopt innovation. 

Undeniably, our financial system playground is much different than other countries, so there are justifications for our lag.  However, the Millennials are creating disruption with their demand for better, faster, cooler options.  As a result, we are beginning to see new plays in the payments space that seem designed to satisfy the desire for solutions that better fit their life.  As elusive as significant improvements in traditional channels have been to this point, the Me Generation with their smartphones and disdain for the status quo, will likely win the battle to have it their way.

The U.S. payment system’s attempts to evolve seem a bit like Sisyphus pushing his boulder up the mountain, and just when it seems like we are gaining ground, breaches or new regulatory guidelines send us crashing back to the bottom of the hill. Still, it feels like change is inevitable.  We know it can happen.  Consider Check 21.  While image exchanges floated around for a while on a limited scale, a single point of disruption on 9/11, and the resulting standstill of check settlement around the country, made us look at things differently.    While it was painful, it proved that we CAN make meaningful, effective improvements to our payments systems.

So maybe the thing to do now is to identify the right next steps.  Do we take those familiar but aged check and ACH rails and polish ‘em up so we can stop moving like a steam engine and step up to a high speed solution?    Or, are those old rails better left in the dust in favor of promising, but untried revolutionary paths?  There are several groups entertaining solutions. With the help of outside consultants, the Reserve Banks’ Faster Payments study is considering the options. They have outlined five desired outcomes1:

  • Ubiquitous, Faster Electronic Solution
  • Enhanced Payments Safety and Security
  • Improvements in Cross-Border Payments
  • Improved Efficiency
  • Strategic Industry Engagement

Relying heavily on industry engagement, the central banks are trying to determine which route seems the most viable and establish their strategic road map forward.  From evolving the ACH network for expedited funds movement, considering expanded use of the debit card network, to building a completely new infrastructure, the alternatives are on the table.  Additionally, both The Clearing House and NACHA are working on multi-year initiatives to provide faster payment alternatives.  The Clearing House is talking about plans for a real-time solution, while NACHA revisits the Expedited Processing and Settlement topic for Same Day ACH.

It is a challenging task because the ROI is questionable, and the other global initiatives for faster payments have admittedly been strategic decisions not financial ones.  But consider the risk if we sit here and watch outside industry innovate their way right past us.  And innovate they will in order to satisfy the immense demands of the Me Generation.  We should be thankful that the latest Apple Pay solution does not disintermediate the traditional payment channels, but instead innovates on top of them.  The next time, we may not be so lucky. 



Tags: payments processing

¿Dónde está Waldo?

Posted on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 08:20 AM

Jason Schwabline Author: Jason Schwabline,

Like looking for Waldo in a crowded scene, everyone in the financial industry is searching for the ultimate branch of the future.

But are we looking too close to ourselves?  Hoping that it miraculously appears right in front of us?  Well I am not a psychic, but I have seen the branch of the future. It is live. In action. In regular daily use. With branches that welcome community members to lounge out for the day.  To interact with either technology or humans, whichever meets their comfort level. Where can you see this perfect branch of the future?  This special place is none other than Chile. 

Branches in Chile have embraced self-service for years.  Kiosks start processes that are finished in other areas.  Retail experiences cross demographic lines and economic boundaries.  People from all walks of life pay bills and handle a multitude of other financial matters in assisted self-service models.  New branches are built as full on experiences—long curving counters, bright colors in some, others with a more Zen-like peaceful experience.  Walls are low and inviting, but pockets of privacy are still provided.  The best thing about all of this? These are not prototypes. These are not experiments. These are the branches of the future and they are established, alive, and well.

Branch Concept

Chilean bankers long ago embraced the concept of community and providing “customer’s choice” service to all demographics. In doing so, every product and service decision was based on fitting into that concept. What works best: Tellers or universal associates?  Self-service or full-service?  Person or machine? Utility or destination? These are questions now posed daily within our industry.  We are embarking on an exciting time in the transformation of a branch.  In the domestic U.S. there are ongoing proof of concepts for solutions seeking that special mix, a harmony so to speak…of a full-service and self-service environment.  The drivers are many: for some FI’s it comes down to cost reduction while for others it’s to stay relevant and attract the much sought after millennials. The model is truly at play as in the financial services space we recognize that a branch has tremendous, on-going value.  It is a place of safety.  Not safety in the sense of protecting oneself, but instead a place solidifying the presence and legitimacy of the financial institution. Branches provide, in a sense, the foundational roots for a relationship of services between a consumer and their financial partner. Creating a destination isn’t just about the machines or people it contains, but a retail experience—with a bar that has been raised globally by technology companies such as in the Apple Store. 

Perhaps it is time to recognize that “Waldo” is right in front of us—to catch up to our Chilean friends and embrace the branch concept of community and service offerings based on the customer’s choice. What is your opinion?


Tags: branch banking, branch experience

The Financial Institution Website: Where Community Meets Cyber Crime?

Posted on Wed, Oct 22, 2014 @ 08:06 AM

Jenny Roland-Vlach Author: Jenny Roland-Vlach,

I have developed a bit of a habit over the years in my role as a Compliance Analyst: I like to regularly check out my FI client’s website.  I have found that it gives me a great visual representation of what that institution is all about. This helps me understand the FI’s products/services, business culture, and face to the community. I also like to check for staff pictures on the chance that I can put a face with a name for the particular employee that I am working with on IT regulatory compliance and risk management efforts.

During my reviews of financial institution websites, I have noticed a certain propensity that does give me reason for concern, though. With the increase in spear phishing attacks and concern in accessing systems and data, I have often observed biographical information that could potentially be used to stage spear phishing attacks to access systems and data for harm against the institution. Information that I believe is being shared in an effort to better establish connections with the FI’s customer base. Detailed biographical information is a veritable gold mine for cyber criminals. By visiting a financial institution’s website they can begin to glean the information they need to build a phishing attack, perhaps as an email from the President’s college alumni association or the favorite charity of the Chief Technology Officer. The more detailed information that an institution provides about their staff, the more ammunition cyber criminals have to use against the FI. Often times FI management educates employees about sharing too much on social media sites, such as Facebook, but forgets about the FI’s website as a source of personal information.

Now may be a good time to step back and re-evaluate the level of detail provided. Be cognizant of how the detail could be utilized in a spear phishing attack. For example, an FI President has a Master’s degree in Finance, but do not list the college; or, the Chief Technology Officer is active in numerous community charities, but do not include specific names. Another idea is to introduce common spear phishing scenarios in your employee information security training. Providing specific examples of how a cyber attacker may use biographical information in an email will help employees identify potential red flags in a spear phishing email, and to understand the need to qualify all emails before opening and clicking on links. Hosting a formal Social Engineering Assessment may also provide a good indication of your employees’ awareness of these types of schemes.

Metadata from MS Word and PDF documents and forms are another source of information on your website that could provide details that are ideal for launching a social engineering attack. Metadata is the supporting detail for these types of documents. Financial institutions often post rate sheets or forms to their website in either a Word or PDF format that reveals the user who created it and what version of the program it was created in. If this information is not removed (scrubbed) from the document prior to being posted on the website, it has the potential to be used against the financial institution. While visiting the website of a community FI, a cyber criminal that discovers a document that has not been scrubbed of metadata will now have at least two critical pieces of information to assist in their schemes. Just by knowing the version of the program the document was created in, a criminal can then determine the vulnerabilities known for that particular program. The criminal can then create an attack based on those vulnerabilities and target this attack toward the employee who created the document. One simple step to scrub metadata from these types of documents will go a long way in preventing this scenario.

Websites continue to be a vital part of every community FI’s online presence. We only need to look to the news reports of the past couple of years to see the multitude of spear phishing and DDoS attacks targeting FIs to realize that cyber criminals understand this criticality all too well. In your efforts to prepare for potential attacks against your website and against your online banking systems, be sure not to overlook the type of information illustrated above. Detail gleaned from biographies and metadata from documents may provide cyber criminals with enough information to help them create an attack that could have impact on your institution. Use this as an opportunity to further address your risk and compliance efforts for online services. A review of your website today could save your FI a lot trouble down the road.


Tags: website content, cybersecurity, phishing campaigns

Building Collaborative Software

Posted on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 @ 08:08 AM

Eric Wilson Headshot 50x50 Author: Eric Wilson,

All the recent attention and emphasis on data has reinforced the saying, “Knowledge is power.” Thanks to major breakthroughs in advanced data tools and cloud computing, many organizations are compiling, storing and interpreting huge amounts of information. That’s a trend that is certain to keep going. 

Now that data foundations are starting to form, financial institutions have a golden opportunity to find innovative uses for all this information.  But to leverage data effectively, they will need systems ready to collaborate in ways that will let them capitalize on it. 

“It is not the quantity of data that is revolutionary. The big data revolution is that now we can do something with the data.”

No matter how much information our systems collect, data only becomes valuable if we can turn it into action. However, defining who the “we” in that sentence is raising some interesting questions. It also sheds some light on where the next big opportunities for innovation are.   

Automated tools use sophisticated algorithms to identify important data trends or anomalies, but they often leave it to people—an FI’s customers or staff—to interpret the results and apply their insights in the form of manual action. Asking humans to evaluate and be the “doers” every time there are actionable opportunities may be short sighted. 

If banks and credit unions really want to take advantage of the data revolution, they must look for tools that collaborate with data sources, other systems and end users so that systems can turn insights directly into action. Computers love doing repeatable, routine processes.  People don’t.  And people will gladly allow (and pay for) systems that automatically do things to make their lives simpler and easier.   

In short, financial institutions need to begin looking for collaborative systems.

Next generation products should collaborate with data sources

Innovative solutions like Hadoop that work directly with unstructured data, or the new SQL version that provides in-memory performance improvements to increase the speed at which data can be retrieved are opening up a door for people and systems to leverage data in unimaginable ways. 

And then there’s cloud computing.  A major strength of bringing data to the cloud is that it can be easily shared across platforms.  Most products and systems have their own set of databases.  Putting that data in the cloud allows for information to be mutually accessible at an enterprise or product suite level. 

Many organizations are implementing business intelligence programs that are beginning to realize data’s huge potential. With accessible data, good business intelligence, and the ability to retrieve information quickly, systems (as well as people) will be well positioned to effectively collaborate with a wider variety of information.     

Next generation products should collaborate with other systems

In some scenarios, it’s natural for people to be the entity that interprets the results of data analysis and takes action in response to it. If, for instance, the goal of data analysis is to help a shopper decide which item to pull off the shelf and put in their shopping cart, it makes perfect sense for a person to interpret the data and grab the merchandise.

In other scenarios, however, it may be more logical for systems to collaborate with one another in order to act on their own.  If a data analysis engine determines that the risk factors for a particular client became substantially higher, wouldn’t it be simpler if the analysis engine simply triggered appropriate actions to occur and worked collaboratively with the other systems involved to make the changes automatically? 

Three important words financial institutions should become more familiar with is Service Oriented Architecture.

If we want products to collaborate to accomplish tasks (an area from which the next wave of innovation will come), systems will need to become services (i.e. collaboration gateways) to make requests to each other and inform them of completed functions.  Ask software architects, and they will tell you how powerful this can be. Banks and credit unions could benefit by moving toward service based infrastructure so their systems are capable of collaborating with each other.

Next generation products should collaborate with users

People want to be equipped with information, but they also want information to be presented in ways that are useful and intuitive.  Systems should be supported by user interfaces that present information effectively and assist the users with taking action at the right time, in the most optimal way. 

Here are some attributes modern users expect:

Accessibility - Users demand products they can access from their device (whatever that may be) in ways that are usable in the context of that device’s capabilities.  HTML5 and native application technology have provided the tools for this expectation to become a reality. 

A desire to stay informed – Good data is a start.  Interpreting that data and providing systematic alerts, notifications, and recommendations for action are becoming essential parts of an engaging experience users will want to return to. 

Usability - Users crave applications with a rich, clean interface to get information and take action.  It sounds like common sense--and it is--but users will adopt only the products that meet their needs, so systems must continuously strive to modernize how they interact with those who use them.  

Systems that have these traits are much more likely to foster strong user involvement and participation.

It’s all about collaboration! 

For the most part, today’s systems are silos with their own databases that interact very little with the outside world. In the next few years, that model will give way to one where individual software products more fully leverage the world’s ubiquitous connectivity to work together with external data sources and systems.

Creating a collaborative world between systems will provide unique opportunities to move beyond computing and begin literally doing more.  And we, the people, will be the prime beneficiaries of this collaboration.


Tags: Big data, Cloud computing

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