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Banking in the InterCloud: Delivering Additional Computing and Storage

July 28, 2014 at 1:02 pm PST

Financial Services firms are being challenged and forced to change the way that their applications, information, content, compute, storage, and network resources are deployed and consumed. It is a multi-dimensional issue that is forcing financial services firms to change of how IT is delivered. They are beginning to look for ways to stretch their data centers, as they often need more compute and storage capacity than their own facilities provide, especially during those peak high-demand times. The move is toward the service delivery of IT through cloud computing, a dynamic and service-oriented delivery paradigm that organizes and allocates IT-enabled services to meet business demand as needed.

Challenges With Financial Services IT Delivery

Data centers are costly to build and operate, but there are times when you need more resources. Cisco’s InterCloud solution lets banks create a hybrid cloud to extend their data center and cloud capacity when needed. Through InterCloud, banks can store more data and have more computing power, operating just as if it were in an on-premises data center. InterCloud could also be used to augment current big data and risk/analytics environments that banks have deployed in recent years. In many cases, additional compute capacity is needed only for a short time in order to run certain risk models or to provide additional reporting for regulatory requirements. Read More »

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Three Steps for IT to Deliver Better Business Results

The situation that many IT people find themselves in today is dripping with irony. They’ve deployed so many innovations over the years to address so many business challenges, that now most of their time is dedicated to simply keeping their systems running. Without incremental resources during these lean budget times, their new innovation cycles decline in direct proportion to their past innovations.

Given the current budget realities, how can IT break out of this innovation trap?

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Video Killed The Radio Star, But Can It Save The Insurance Agent?

On August 1, 1981, the world was introduced to Music Television as the first MTV music video, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” by The Buggles debuted. Today, music videos have grown from a pioneering use of video content to help convey the message of a song, to an automatic accompaniment to newly released music. Oftentimes, the song is now the background to the greater story told via video. The combined use of “music” and “video” to convey the artist message is a consumer expectation enhancing their customer experience.

So what does this have to do with insurance?

Today, many customers are increasingly turning to the internet and mobile devices to shop for insurance and interact with insurance providers. Direct writers and technology savvy providers like Progressive, Geico and Esurance are experiencing rapid customer growth. This growth has been supported by offering customers cutting-edge mobile technology services, while traditional insurance companies, supported by agents, are now challenged to keep up or risk losing market share. In fact, Geico recently surpassed Allstate for the number two position in auto insurance market share; outpaced only by long time industry leader State Farm.

There is hope for the insurance agency distribution model, however. The use of agents to purchase and handle insurance transactions is not likely going away. There are still many products and services that consumers prefer to interact with an agent for. The expectation of that interaction, however, is quickly changing. Today’s consumers live in an anytime, anywhere, any device world. This trend has become a main contributor for how we receive our news and information. It’s also how we make many retail purchases, access our entertainment and increasingly, how we choose to interact with insurance and financial services providers. Retail banks and wealth management firms have already begun offering real-time, virtual interactions with their customers via live “agents” or “advisors”. While we’ve been predicting the movement of this trend toward the insurance industry, Esurance’s recent release of the “Video Claims Appraisal” has provided a wake-up call and “shot across the bow” for insurers.

You don’t have to own a proprietary Amazon Kindle to get “Mayday”-like assistance at the touch of a button on your tablet. Today, technical capabilities that allow customers to escalate conversations and engage in real-time are being deployed throughout the market place. Insurance consumers will also have the ability to click to “connect now” from a company website or mobile application for on the spot virtual interaction with an insurance agent or representative. Consumers that need help with a quote, require assistance after an accident or loss, or who would like help with insurance or retirement planning can click to “connect now” anytime, anywhere, from any device they choose.

According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, video interaction is projected to overtake video content in volume by 2018. We use video today to stay in touch with loved ones, friends, colleagues and business partners. Now, we can use video to interact with our insurance agent when, where and how we need them. Savvy agents and carriers will recognize this trend and follow it, in order to help further differentiate the services they provide to their customers.  Those who do not acknowledge the video trend in insurance and begin utilizing it will be bogged down in their old ways of having to travel to the insurance agency when help is needed, work their way through a call center, make their way online, or worse, send an e-mail or written correspondence.

Today’s consumers can and will choose to interact with their insurance agents and providers via video. However, those companies that are providing multiple, convenient avenues for customers to interact with their agents will likely lead the industry. Cisco is changing the way we live, work, play, and now with video, the way you interact with your insurance agent! Learn more about Cisco’s solutions for insurance here.

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A Major IT Shift – Delivering Business Outcomes

During geek-fests like CiscoLive, it’s easy to become hypnotized by all the amazing technology. So many smart people are innovating in so many amazing ways. When the party’s over, though, we all need to get back to business. Not just CIO’s and CTO’s -- everyone in IT needs to focus on business outcomes -- now more than ever. Here’s why.

IT is under increasing pressure to innovate and help deliver business results, as evidenced by several new data points in our industry. Understanding these trends and next steps can help IT, business, and operations teams all work better together to deliver more value from technology.

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Interaction Technology: Neutralizing the Barriers of Time, Location, and Staffing Levels

In my last blog, I continued the discussion about the 24-hour bank and how banks must transition from the physical business model to the digital business model. As part of my series on the 24-hour bank, this post builds on the question of how banks could begin to develop the capabilities, enabled by technology, to address the operational and logistical challenges inherent in operating in a customer-driven 24-hour world.

First are the factors that shape our existing banking distribution model: the traditional route to market and how clients connect and interact with their bank. Starting with branches, the traditional distribution model has evolved with the development of technologies such as the telephone, ATM’s, and the Internet. While these technologies provided increased options for clients to interact and transact, they were still affected by constraints of the existing operating model– the availability of bank staff with the requisite skills.

How so? Contact centers, telephone, and online banking required a shift in staffing models to enable customers to interact and transact outside of the normal work day. ATM’s began to allow customer self-service for certain basic transactions at any time of day. Collectively, these technologies extended operating hours for clients, but services were limited due the fact that the expertise required for more complex services were still unavailable outside the traditional workday. Read More »

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