CIO Wall

Ahmad Tabshir Choudhury

Consultant to Banks - Head of IT at different banks in Bangladesh for about three decades

CIO Perspectives

The Unified Communication Infrastructure to Increase Productivity

Communication is the key to building relationships. Whether it is with family, business, or loved ones, we have a whole range of modern day tools that allows us to constantly stay in contact. Each medium or channel of communication can influence our relationships in different ways. Due to advancement of technologies and availability of various means of communication the world has become a global village and you have all information in your grip. Transformation from traditional postal and telephonic means of communications to a single interface on your PC, smart phone, or tablet computer gives you a multidimensional ways to remain connected constantly. It’s no matter wherever you are: that could be at the heart of a mega city or at a remote corner of an under developed country, you are always connected with rest of the world round the clock. Easy availability of smart phones and data communication system brought the whole mankind closer to each other. This reminds me a slogan of a Mobile Phone service provider of Bangladesh which says, “Remain connected, wherever you are”.

Today, to imagine a business house without communication links like Email, Chat-applet, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), Fax, Blog, Facebook, Tweeter, eGroup, smart mobile phone (not only for texting and calling, but also for social networking), website etc. is to imagine a life without blood and oxygen. These modern tools have become part and parcel of business setup. The open international economic system has made it essential for all business houses, big or small, to remain connected, round the clock, with the world. And without these tools no business house can afford to win customers or even sustain.

The Unified Communication System:

Unified Communication System means the integration of all business communications under one, cohesive system. This includes instant messaging systems, email, telephone, audio and video conferencing and cloud sharing.

While most business organizations including banks have made customer-centricity one of their highest priorities, they still seek new competitive advantages in response to changes in customer trust, demographics, and demands as well as profit margins reduced by higher capital requirements, compliance costs, and lower fee income. As customers demand real-time, multichannel, and mobile transactions, it has become clear that customer-centricity requires changes in business and operating models to rebuild margins and maintain customer loyalty. To attract everyday customers, business organizations need real-time processes that are accessible via all channels (including mobile and tablet devices) to deliver relevant up-to-the minute analysis whenever they are needed.

Unified Communication Platform to Increase Productivity:

Connecting to the right people at the right time can have a significant impact on productivity, customer relationships, and especially an organization’s bottom line. As business communications grow more complex— with employees using diverse communication devices, applications, and modalities—making the right connections can become increasingly challenging.

The failure to establish right connections leads to communication latency, increasing the amount of time required to make and execute critical business decisions.

Business Process inefficiency is often heightened by the geographically dispersed nature of Client’s business units. Face-to-face meetings can be prohibitively expensive and time consuming. Yet, collaboration is essential to complete work projects. Traditional standalone data, telephony, and video solutions may not be effective in enabling the fast response and coordination necessary to reduce communication latency. Most of these solutions lack interoperability and add to system administration burdens.

To address these issues, organizations are turning to Unified Communication (UC) model, which brings together today’s disparate methods of communications into a set of multimodal capabilities that are highly aware of one another. By adopting UC, it will be easier to reach people and to let others know how to reach organization. UC uses voice, email, instant messaging (IM), audio conferencing, and video conferencing, in combination with presence awareness to immediately locate and contact individuals. UC can also be integrated with social media to broaden the context of and enrich enterprise communications.

To achieve breakthrough results, it’s important to think about communications in a new way. The tools are important, but the tools themselves are not ‘unified communications.” The key is to organize these tools to support communications requirements within a business enterprise’s operations – the workflows and processes that create revenues and profits or otherwise help accomplish an organization’s goals.

By providing a unique interface that can process both voice and digital data, unified communications solution improves efficiency for users and businesses and this is where the holistic unified experiential approach is drawn.

Unified Communications for Banking Industry:

Since I have come from banking industry, I would like to present the matter from banking points of view.

There has been a critical shift of minds in banking industry CEOs from 2014, where the concentration was on cost take-out to 2015, where the concentration is on customer experiences. Gartner 2015 data survey does indicate financial services CEOs are searching for ways in which their firms can be more innovative, agile and scalable (for example, in terms of product, service delivery and organizational structure).

Key proposition towards positive customer experiences emphasizes upon some tactical actions for new digital banking initiatives. Here are some eye-opening ways banks can use Unified Communication (UC) tools to advance their business and gain a competitive edge.

1. Customer delight. Like all businesses, banks want to increase sales. They also want to do more with less. Unified Communication platform can help them do both. Imagine this scenario: A customer walks into a small bank branch and asks to speak with the mortgage expert. The branch manager responds that the mortgage broker is working at a different branch today and will back after three days. So the customer gets disappointed and walks out, never to return. Such scenario is never expected which creates a negative impact and ultimately effects bank’s business.

But what if the manager invites that same customer into a video conference room and tells him/her the mortgage broker will be available in five minutes? The customer is interested. After a few minutes, the manager launches a video or web conference between the customer and the mortgage expert, who’s currently at the other branch. It’s a secure connection, so the broker can share documents with the customer and start an application. This is a relatively easy way for banks to provide customers a joyful experience and drive additional revenue.

2. Compliance done right. Financial institutions are heavily regulated and must comply with a variety of laws and requirements to remain insured. For instance, banks have to record every one of their transactions. Every single one. If they don’t, they could get hit with significant fines or even the loss of their license.

That’s why banks and financial services companies spend millions of dollars on technology such as call recording systems for compliance. This technology enables banks to record and safely store appropriate calls. But questions often linger: “Did I make the right recording? Did I record all the various participants in the call? Is the recording clearly audible?” That’s where call recording assurance comes into play, to ensure compliance and mitigate risk.

UC technology can help. If a questionable recording surfaces, you’ll want an immediate alert. The UC system can automatically email or instant message key people to flag the problem so they can take action. And UC can go step further. The system can automatically create a shared workspace and send out invites to an on-demand web conferencing session. The result is that all critical decision makers can gather instantly and work to resolve the issue.

3. Millennial appeal. In present days customers are less loyal and finicky and don’t stick around in one bank unless it can satisfy their needs. A Study conducted by a research firm named Ipsos in November 2016 says that 77 percent of millennials prefer to have all their financial products and credit cards at the same bank. And want to remain faithful to banks. Millennials want their banks to be more digitally social. They don’t want to pick up the phone and call a banker. They want to IM their mortgage broker. They want their banking site to feel like a social forum where they can chat with other customers about a particular service; where they can watch an on-demand video to learn about a new product; where they access a subject-matter expert in real time via web video. Banks that don’t leverage UC cut off communication channels with their current and future customers.

4. Speed that’s ideal. The banking environment is ever changing. Banks constantly introduce new products and deal with new regulatory requirements. Keeping their teams up to speed requires a lot of training and education. In the past, banks would deploy a small team of trainers who travelled from branch to branch. But this approach is back-dated, expensive and time-consuming.

In contrast, imagine gathering employees in a video conference room to conduct a remote training session will not only save time, money, but will also give a new dimension. By recording the session the management can assess the quality and standards of the training and the staff members can also review it on demand. This will also cut training cycle time and quickly get people up to speed on new products and services. As a result, the bank gets to market faster—and gets a jump on the competition.

5. API Based Banking Economy: The application programming interface (API) economy is based around four building blocks: social, mobile, analytics and cloud. For example, buyers and sellers could be connected via an exchange, where all parts of the value chain come from separate parties and are linked via APIs to facilitate an end-to-end transaction.

6. Hybrid Model of UC Implementations: The hybrid solution allows the enterprise to maximize those features that are mandatory for the entire organization, while using cloud based features only for those in the organization who need them. The enterprise can always move functions from the cloud to a premises-based system as the cloud costs exceed the cost of on-site implementation.

7. Putting it all together: The reality is that banking has moved away from the branch. People deposit their checks via their mobile phones, often in less time than if they stood at the front of the teller line. They transfer money over the internet. Banks slow to adopt new communications technologies risk getting left behind. With so much revenue and transaction volume moving online and to mobile, banks need to create a more social, collaborative and customer-friendly environment to retain their client base. That’s why UC could just as well stand for Unequalled Course.

Conclusion: I would like to conclude my short write-up by stating following points which proves the usefulness of Unified Communication System:

  • People that rely on mobility in connection can remain connected with their soft phones or wireless IP handsets even when they are outside the office or home.
  • Enterprises can considerably reduce costs incurred for accommodating workers, with all the implications, by allowing them to work from home or sitting remotely. Moreover, the foreign human resource can be tapped from at no increased cost and without the normal delays due to geographical distance.
  • Web and video conferencing calls will allow for better interactivity and subsequently better productivity, thereby saving time and reducing the cost of travel and telecoms.
  • Whether as an individual, or a business, will have registrations and fewer bills to worry about, as they will be having all services from one single provider, and be reached through one single number.
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