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How Banks Can Capture New Customers by Adopting a Digital Strategy for Mortgage Lending

Banks are experiencing market disruptors attacking from many angles. They’re facing competition not only within the financial services industry, but also from non-traditional banking institutions that are delivering new mortgage lending models and innovative digital services that provide the convenience and personalization consumers want. Unless banks adopt these new models as well, they risk losing customers and revenue to competitors and emerging market disruptors. In this blog, I’ll focus on how banks can implement a digital branch strategy for mortgage lending that enables them to deliver greater value to their customers, improve productivity among their advisors and even increase profitability.

In mortgage lending today, there are common “gaps” where consumers are most likely to abandon the process or go to a competitor. From the consumer’s perspective, acquiring a mortgage is likely the biggest purchase they will ever make. They spend time researching it, getting their finances in order and gathering the necessary documentation. If the consumer visits a bank branch wanting to apply for a mortgage, only to be told that the mortgage specialist is not available right now or to make an appointment for next week, they are likely to walk across the street to a competitor and not come back. Banks are seeing “leakage” in the mortgage lending process as high as 70% in these scenarios. Once a customer has left, only 30% are likely to return. Read More »

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IT Is from Venus, OT Is from Mars

Bringing Alien Worlds Together in the Internet of Things

In the 1990s, I, like millions of others, read the book Women Are from Venus, Men Are from Mars. This best-seller suggested that the frequent misunderstandings between genders make it seem as though men and women are from different, alien worlds. But it’s not just men and women who appear to be from different planets. Today, every organization that has begun an Internet of Things (IoT) deployment is bumping up against a fundamental disconnect between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). In many cases, these two groups are alien to one another—with separate technology stacks, network architectures, protocols, standards, governance models, and organizations.

In the first wave of the Internet, data and technology systems fell solidly in the realm of IT. IT systems focused on the flow of data across an organization, and with a few exceptions, did not get involved in production and logistics environments.

However, in many companies, a parallel organization—commonly called operational technology —has grown up to monitor and control devices and processes that act in real time on physical operational systems, such as assembly lines, electricity distribution networks, oil production facilities, and a host of others. Read More »

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Modernizing the Grid: Utilities and Data Analytics

The electric utilities sector is facing some challenging times as it struggles with a regulatory model designed for an earlier era. As increased renewable integrations into the grid intensify, electric utilities will need to take steps to accommodate the variable output of distributed generation and develop new insights and technologies that will shape the future of the grid. In fact, my colleague Rick Geiger recently authored a blog with his thoughts on what the future of the grid looks like.

The electric utilities business model is being disrupted and the days of the regulated monopoly appears ripe for change. So, how exactly can electric utilities work to modernize the grid? The answer is by addressing current customer requirement trends taking place in the industry through the collection and analysis of pertinent data. These utility industry megatrends include:

  • Changing customer expectations resulting from the digitization of services allowing anytime, anywhere personalized services.
  • Rise of social networks and the ability to quickly form communities of interest and communicate instantaneously with a billion people globally via text, video and/or voice.
  • Pervasive connectivity and computing that is unlocking a sea of change in productivity gains for businesses, disrupting existing businesses and creating new opportunities for agile firms.
  • Expansion of energy markets for distributed energy resources are enabling greater adoption and increased transactions.
  • Financial innovation that is enabling a wide range of customers to amortize initial capital costs of DER to align with benefit cash flows and make a stronger value proposition.
  • Energy technology advancements for power system and distributed energy technologies are accelerating at exponential rates while also leveraging breakthroughs on business models and system performance.

These trends are disrupting utilities’ ability to effectively manage the grid as customers become more involved in the way energy consumption evolves. As we look at the integration of renewable services or renewable generation from wind, solar, biogas and others, the grid is now becoming a two-way system.  Take solar panel installations on rooftops. You now have customers generating electricity and sending it back into the grid – it’s not just coming from the generating plant anymore. In order to stabilize the grid, we need to collect data and be able to make decisions that impact the outcomes seen.

In order for utilities to successfully meet these customer requirements, they must create an intelligent energy network platform that is:

  • Observable – enabling full determination of grid state – deep situational awareness.
  • Intelligent – enabling ability to gain situational intelligence to support operational decisions.
  • Automated – ability to rapidly adapt to changing conditions with minimal human involvement.
  • Transactive – dynamically balancing diverse resources and distributed market participation.

If you consider blackouts that have happened in the past, having an automated grid with the ability to collect and react to data may have helped with those cascading power outages. That is the problem modern-day utilities are solving. Electric utilities are changing their mindset about using data analytics to meet customer requirements and in my opinion, data analytics will be one of the best ways of effectively managing the grid. Harvesting reams of data opens up new, great opportunities for both utilities and ratepayers, which in the end reduces the cost of managing the grid and gives utilities real-time capabilities to deal with issues that may impact grid performance. One of the market entrants in the utilities sector taking this approach is Bit Stew. Read More »

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The Internet of Everything is Personal for This Cisco Employee

Karen Miller Morris and her son, ChaseWhen you work at Cisco, the Internet of Everything (IoE) becomes more personal to each of us. However, for one Cisco employee, the Internet of Everything takes personal to a whole new level.

Just a few months ago, Karen Miller Morris had her “mom-ness” put to the test when she found out her 8-year-old son, Chase, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Since Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disorder, there wasn’t anything that Karen could change about Chase’s eating habits or exercise to help him. It meant monitoring and maintaining blood sugar levels through administering insulin for the rest of his life.

Her Cisco family was there to support her – she was able to take a month’s leave to make the changes needed –but as it turns out, the company was helping her in a way that’s uniquely Cisco.

“I thank Cisco engineers all the time for the contributions they make to the Internet of Everything,” Karen says. “If it wasn’t for the IoE mhealth (mobile health) solution I recently purchased, things would be a lot more dangerous for my son, and stressful for the people that love him.”

The cloud, the network, and the Internet of Everything (the networked connection of people, process, data, and things) make it possible for Karen to sleep at night.

Shortly after her son was diagnosed, a company called Dexcom came out with an IOE solution. She uses their continuous blood glucose monitor, which uses a sensor inserted into his arm that wirelessly communicates with a digital monitoring device (Continuous Glucose Monitor-CGM). That device shows what his blood glucose (BG) level is every 6 seconds. This data is then sent across networks into the cloud, which means she can see Chase’s BG level anytime, anywhere on her phone.

Karen, and “Team Chase” (a whole team of family members, nurses, teachers and friends) watch his numbers to ensure he’s in an optimal BG range. Plus, this IoE solution empowers Chase, and ensures all that he’s safe.

Karen’s sister also has Type 1 Diabetes, and she and their family didn’t have the technology advantage that Chase does. Parents of the past had to send their children to sleep with higher-than-optimal blood sugar numbers, so they wouldn’t get too low at night and end up in a coma – or worse. The trouble is, higher sugar numbers are also very dangerous over the longer term.

“I think about people who had to deal with this 40 years ago. They were living in the dark, making decisions without the data that we have today. This IOE solution helps us to ensure Chase lives a life where he can realize his dreams.”

That’s one of the many reasons Karen enjoys working at Cisco.

“I love working here, because it‘s like working for the U.N.,” Karen laughs. “We’re here for the good of all; to make sure that we’re helping researchers and companies that are doing these amazing things solve complex problems and provide ground-breaking solutions.”

Plus, she has a job that she says “if I was a millionaire, I would do it for free.” Her goal is to raise awareness about the technology careers of tomorrow. Not just encouraging college and high-school students; but, students as early as elementary school to get excited about tech, and the difference they can make (which is especially important for young girls when it comes to being intrigued by technology.)

Take, for example, her son Chase.

“He’s proud of his medical device and shows it to everyone,” Karen says. “It’s gotten him interested in becoming a young user experience designer. He thinks that instead of a negative alarm when his blood sugar drops, it should play a song like, ‘you’re going low.’ If he can make it cooler, maybe gamify it, he could make it better for the next kid that is faced with this challenge..”

Understanding the Internet of Everything, and getting kids excited about technology, starts with an inspiring story. Karen’s got hers, what’s yours? Share with us in comments!

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Solving Customer Problems with Flexible Solutions

I recently flew from Heathrow to San Diego to attend Cisco Live. About an hour in and the cabin crew started serving dinner. It was a full flight and, unfortunately for me, I was seated right in the middle of the economy section. As the cabin crew converged on my row it became clear they didn’t have enough food.

“Not a problem”, I thought to myself, “maybe they’ll get me some of the nicer food from the front of the plane!”

Nearly 45 minutes later, as my fellow passengers finished their meals and settled into a movie, there was still no food. But perhaps more frustrating – no one from the crew had talked to me about what was happening. If this had been a restaurant, I’d have got up and left. But at 35,000 feet I had nowhere to go.*

Fast forward about 72 hours…

I’m in a session at Cisco Live about how Cisco Midsize Business Solutions can power growing businesses. Seth Corriveau from SickKids Foundation was talking about how critical communication is to his organization. The SickKids Foundation is a midsized organization doing great work raising funds for SickKids hospital in Toronto.  They had been having real problems with poor-quality audio and dropped telephone calls. This was an issue for donors who call in to donate their own hard-earned cash to support the treatment of very ill children. Complaints were escalated to senior VPs at the Foundation weekly. Read More »

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