The next-generation approach to banking technology support

By: Domenic Ciccone


Banking technology has benefited greatly from the rise of digital communications and data-driven processes as the primary means to conduct business around the world. But these trends have evolved to the point at which they are altering the very foundations of the banking business model.

Modern mobile services and technologies like cognitive computing and predictive analytics offer new levels of customer service that alter — or even abolish — the traditional relationships between banks, branches and users. At the same time, banks are under pressure to accommodate shifting customer demographics, increasingly stringent regulatory requirements and the heightened security threats that have emerged in today’s connected universe.

Personal banking technology

For many people, mobile devices have become the primary means of accessing bank accounts and performing other basic functions. But local branches and ATMs will continue to provide the kinds of services that require a personal touch — things like opening new accounts, applying for loans and accessing safety deposit boxes. This requires banks to formulate highly efficient support models for branch and ATM infrastructure.

Already, banks at the forefront of the transformation to digital services have realized that yesterday’s support models based on rudimentary systems monitoring reactive maintenance of physical infrastructure is woefully inadequate for a business environment that stresses always-on, always-available service. Even worse, these outdated support modes often leave banks unable to cope with the fast-changing demands of a digital marketplace, resulting in missed business opportunities that come and go in the blink of an eye.

According to Shu Tao, manager of Cognitive Platforms for Support Services at IBM Research, modern support architectures for banking and other industries are on a rapid development track that will produce five key changes in the near future:

  1. Artificial intelligence and virtual agents will push chatbots to the forefront of consumer interaction, producing automated agents that leverage natural language processing, access to deep knowledge bases and context-aware problem resolution.

  2. Augmented and virtual reality will allow tech support to guide field agents through complex procedures using remote visual capabilities.
  3. Intelligent devices will provide sensor-driven data across all levels of infrastructure, alerting management systems to problems before they degrade applications and services.
  4. Digital ledgers like blockchain will improve the logistics of parts and systems development, supply chain management, billing and a host of other functions.
  5. The cloud will provide ubiquitous compute, storage and network infrastructure to enable fully scalable support for each of these functions.

For banks and financial institutions to realize this vision, they must foster an environment of change within their organizations, beginning with the implementation of key technologies throughout legacy support infrastructure. Extensive predictive analytics capabilities allow banks to leverage the big data that exists within their connected systems to drive greater agility and innovation. A properly developed analytics environment will provide real-time scoring of maintenance issues, call histories and other data sources to improve availability and shorten response times.


A managed approach

Organizations should look to foster global support capabilities that offer 24/7 service wherever systems are running. After all, in a mobile world, infrastructure does not stop at the branch or the ATM. This should be combined with flexible service options, such as managed services that support the dynamic business demands of next-generation banking. Ideally, this will come from a single service provider with a proven track record of supporting advanced banking technology. This will allow you to manage support services through one all-encompassing contract rather than multiple contracts tied to each vendor and supplier.

The bank of the future will be far leaner and more flexible than it is now. But this can only come about through substantial reductions in the cost of physical infrastructure, both capital and operational, even as overall scale and agility increase. From a support services perspective, the best way to achieve these goals is to capitalize on the same advanced cognitive systems and predictive analytics that are driving new banking services to consumers.


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About The Author

Domenic Ciccone

Global Business Line Executive, Financial Services, IBM Global Technology Services (GTS)

Most of Domenic’s career has been concentrated in the financial services industry, with a specific focus on ATM and retail banking. He joined IBM six years ago in the self-service banking unit in Canada. While there, he led bank consulting engagements in Europe on ATM operations. For two years prior to assuming his current role,... Read more