Saturday, May 30, 2009

Opinion: Banks and Google wave: whats in it for a common user ?

I watched the google wave developers demo on friday since i was curious about its potential. It has already created waves on the internet and is currently being talked about as the next big thing coming from google. Google wave is a communication protocol built on the principles and architecture of operational transformation. It is a client and server based solution that google aspires to release as an open source so that organization can implement their own wave servers and clients into which their users could login and communicate. So what is a wave and whats in it for an organization like banks and users like me and you that would make our life simpler and more powerful ?

Google wave is a new way of communication that integrates real time messaging, emails and other powerful features into a convergent platform. Waves could be created and sent across multiple users just like email. The waves enable users to concurrently communicate with other users in real time where changes made by other users could is seen online character by character. Unlike traditional emails and documents which is a block of text, a wavelet document is an XML content tree on which Operational Transformation is applied. The wavelet could be edited, embedded with links, comments, rich media, etc all concurrently by multiple users. In the traditional methods a Document is managed with versions where users make changes serially. But in a wave system users dont have to wait till the other person is finished since concurrent changes are made online. The changes to a wave at different timelines can be viewed online using the playback option with a wave.

But what excites me is not the real time document editing, but the powerful feature of collaborating the users with a number of web services inside the same wave. You can drag and drop robots(web services) into a wave that lets you perform activities and workflow related to the wave content from inside the same wave interface. Example: A blog robot what google calls bloggy can be included in the wave that would automatically publish the wave content into the blog with a click of a button. whats remarkable is you can also track the blog inside the same wave where comments posted by others is reflected and you can post your replies all from a single place in real time.

Application of Waves in Banks

1. A wave can help integrate the front office, middle office and backoffice operations workflow through online colloboration of the three functions and a workflow robot. This would help reduce the lead time in transaction processing and decision making immensely affecting the SLA's and improving the customer experience in the bank.

2. Waves can be used for customer communication by making the interaction more open ended than the usual close ended communications through mails and online banking. Waves could be sent to the customers of the bank into which the customers can participate with their views and opinions. This would enhance the customer experience, by making the bank more responsive to the customer needs.

3. Online dashboards could be established with data, graphs and reporting data that could help the various operations, business users in the bank in discussions and decision making.

4. In a requirement gathering session for a new solution, online collaboration among business analysts ans stake holders can work very well through the wave. Requirements could be brainstormed, worked on simultaneously in real time and then on a click of a button the robot could log and track requirements or issues on the requirement management system all inside the same wave.

It is this integration capability that could give organization the flexibility and powerful features of communication, workflow, service intiation all inside a single place. Any one on more ideas of making use of waves through applications while i wait for the wave to be available ?
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Views: Does your bank have Customer data pollution ?

Over the last three years, any bank i met up with irrespective of the region, size, how tech savvy the bank is, or if the bank had a data warehouse or an enterprise CRM; all had a common concern 'The challenge is clean customer data'. Essentially, since most banks operate on a silo mode, the customer information gets defined in different places to varying levels of data quality, leading to a 'Polluted customer data' from an enterprise point of view.
This is a concern for all banks going in for any new enterprise solution since interfacing and data quality is an issue. The question is 'how do you identify and link up the related customers defined at various business silos'? This answer is in the quality of customer data and the available parameters. In some countries regulations have played their part in the solution by implementing KYC (countries like India now lay a lot of emphasis on KYC) norms. With KYC, linking up customers is possible using parameters like Social security number, Passport, PAN numbers, etc. However, the challenge is the KYC implementation is not complete. Larger banks capable of investing in Master Data management systems (MDM) have gone for ambitious projects creating a centralized warehouse for the customer information. Whereas mid sized and smaller banks are left grappling with the challenge. One of the possible solutions to this problem is having a mediation capability that could deliver the required customer information. Mediation from BFS perspective is an ETL tool working along with a business rules engine. Customer information from various locations could be collated, cleaned and transformed (using Meta data) based on the rules defined in the rules engine. The transformed customer information can then be delivered to the newer solutions with the mediation system acting as a data bus. Later, however if there is a change in the eco system or a new implementation of CRM, the rules could be changed so as to continue to deliver the required information.
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