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Increasing efficiencies gained through technology Back  
Many financial services companies are reaping tangible rewards from implementation of integrated technology systems, says Emer Golden.
The financial services industry is currently undergoing dramatic changes with the evolution of technology and acceleration in globalisation and convergence. All businesses are undoubtedly being impacted by technology at present and this will continue, to an even greater extent, over the next decade.

More than in any other industry the advancement of technology is redefining the very foundation of the financial services sector, from the simplest to the most complex business transaction. Emergence and acceptance of new technologies, in particular adoption of integrated telecommunications and Internet strategies, will increasingly enable new business visions, strategies, structures and processes, as well as overcome issues and difficulties associated in making disparate systems talk within an office or an organisation.

In doing so, the application of telecommunications and Internet technology for financial services processes will create an unprecedented demand within this particular market sector.

This demand stems not only from within financial institutions themselves but also from consumer and business customers whose expectations and need for information and enhanced communication has never been greater. Many financial institutions realise this, hence the shift in importance from ‘product management’ to a ‘relationship management’ focus.

Although many in the financial services sector consider the costs and energy associated with developing and implementing an integrated telecommunications and Internet strategy an unnecessary extravagance, there are those that have already begun to reap tangible rewards. In short, the pay-off in increased profitability has made the initial financial outlay worthwhile.

• Increased profitability by developing the capability to trade on-line, generating incremental sales and creating new revenue streams.
• Reduced operating costs by optimising the communications infrastructure within and between a network of offices and streamlining critical business processes and internal workflows.
• Enhanced customer relationship management by establishing direct channels of communications with customers, encouraging customer loyalty and creating ‘barriers to exit’. Making the process of dealing with a financial institution easier.
• Improved supply chain management by simplifying and streamlining the way in which an organisation interacts and conducts business with customers and suppliers, reducing overhead costs and adding value to business and consumer relationships
• Maximising asset capitalisation by web enabling existing and costly legacy systems to maximise their function within the business.
• Creating and raising awareness of the company by using the Web as a global sales and marketing medium.

Undoubtedly, the financial services industry today is being driven by increasingly complex and fast moving technologies that are becoming integral to all key business functions, from customer relationship management and system integration to inter-company communication and online transactions. Gartner recently estimated that financial institutions in the United States would spend as much as $100 billion on technology by 2004.

e-business is undoubtedly the current industry buzzword, where companies are using internet technologies to improve and transform the business processes in their organisation. A key part of the overall telecommunications and Internet strategy, Gartner estimates that by 2003, 40 percent of delivery channels supported by financial institutions will be based on a combination of Internet, intranet and extranet architecture.

So, with facts and figures supporting a marked upturn in the adoption of telecom and Internet technologies, the leading question has to be - are the associated costs for financial institutions fully justified? Yes, provided the telecommunications and Internet solutions adopted meet objectives both now and in the future.
• Company Roadmap - what exactly does the business want? A telecom and Internet strategy needs to be core to overall corporate strategy and the outcome clear.
• Find a reputable business partner, one that has a complete understanding of the business needs and strategy, therefore armed to develop an e-communications solution to fit accordingly.
• Look for a company capable of providing a future-proof and scaleable solution that will enable the creation of new business models to meet goals both now and in the future.
• Experience - from a company that has designed, integrated and managed e-communications solutions in the past and has seen them work.

While the opportunities exist to outwit and outmanoeuvre competitors and to dramatically reduce costs, financial institutions should and will continue to invest in whatever means possible to streamline and enhance their internal and external communication. If done properly, the benefits will outweigh the costs.

As an all Ireland provider of integrated telecommunications and Internet solutions, nevada tele.com works with a number of indigenous financial institutions (which cannot be named due to existing contractual agreements). Solutions provided have been tailored specifically for the financial services sector and for the particular financial institution in question - to date this has included inbound and outbound call delivery services between global call centres, managed data services and the provision of International Freephone services.

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