On-line Banking Services — A Meeting with a CIO

I had the opportunity today to sit face to face 1 on 1 for an hour with the CIO from one of Canada’s largest banks — my main purpose was to provide consumer-oriented input into the on-line banking services provided, mostly focused on some short falls I see as a regular (Internet savvy i suppose) user. I was surprised how receptive the CIO was to my feedback as I’m sure the CIO does not spend much time in direct contact with the everyday user. It was clear that no one person speaks for all the banking services and that the ability to implement holistic infrastructure is somewhat out of reach.

Like all big IT organizations, changes move on geological time scales, not ideal to remain competitive, but understandable given the process complexity they likely go through. Like a lot of the mid-size and larger banks, they also have grown through a variety of acquisitions which makes it even more difficult to implement comprehensive life cycle services — at least ones that operate seamlessly.

Some points of interest:

  • a lot of today’s banking systems were designed around the needs of Internet users from more than several years ago. A time when security and usability meant something different than it does today. This is especially true with security — a much tougher topic to nail if starting fresh today.
  • the changing demographics are also relevant to consider — the level of Internet sophistication is much higher today than even a few years ago. The percentage of banking users who have grown up in the ‘Internet Age’ is growing rapidly, so the fit with systems designed for the older population does not work any more. Covering the gamut of user types is challenging for businesses that cross all the generations, but if handled well, can make them more competitive.
  • green (paperless) initiatives are being held back by suppliers that make money on the number of units mailed. If long term supplier agreements were not in place, more banking institutions would have consolidated mailings, integrated statement programs — e.g. fewer junk mail for us all. I recounted how sometimes I get between 5 and 10 of the same advertisement each month with our various account statements — including those received for our kids youth accounts. If only everyone involved understood that the volume itself creates a reason to throw it all away — who has or wants to take the time to read so much stuff.

The CIO left me with the impression my input would be properly reviewed, organized and distributed within the bank and that I would receive some feedback in a few weeks as to how my feedback might factor into future product enhancement plans. I’ll have to update this post when I do here — on the off chance my feedback directly leads to a product change (maybe their hire $$ me to review their requirements)?

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