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Making the Branch Core to Omnichannel, and a Hub for Financial Expertise

I recently returned from a Financial Services Summit event in China, where I discussed trends in an omnichannel delivery strategy with an audience from 30 banks. A central part of my discussion was the notion that things are not changing, they’ve already changed. Consumers across the globe have a heavy appetite for digital services.

Digital consumers across all age groups are adopting new digital behaviors at a faster pace. For example, it took one European bank 10 years to have 20 million hits per month on their website, but when they introduced their new mobile banking app, it only took 1.5 years to reach 20 million hits per month.

In a recent Internet of Everything (IoE) in Financial Services consumer study conducted by Cisco across 12 countries, we saw that in China, there is a high interest for alternative banking solutions. However, this same group of respondents (72 percent) put the branch as their first preference for opening up an account. We saw similarly high scores across Brazil, India, Russia and Mexico. The U.S. consumers came in at 60 percent.

So, what does this tell us? For one, it tells us that we need to not only evolve our mobile strategy but also see the branch as a valuable asset that is complementary to mobile and still core to any omnichannel banking delivery model.

Yes, the branch still matters. From opening up an account, to applying for a car loan or even a mortgage, there is an educational and personal interaction component to that journey. Consumers often feel that they are not fully equipped to make decisions about financial products and services alone and often seek advice and guidance from a trusted banking specialist. Read More »

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Cisco and Unidesk: How to Simplify and Scale VDI with Citrix, Microsoft, or VMware

Posted on behalf of  Ramesh Chitor, Cisco Systems and Tom Rose, Unidesk

It’s no secret that desktop virtualization has taken longer than everyone expected. As most enterprises will attest and as Gartner research confirms, the two main culprits are cost and complexity.

Top Issues That Limit VDI Deployments

Top Issues Limit VDI Deployments

Source: Is the Hosted Virtual Desktop Market Struggling to Grow?
(Gartner, April 2014, Research ID G00259186)

Yet there are so many good reasons to move forward with VDI – security, compliance, mobility, and the potential for simpler management, to name a few. The demand now is greater than ever for a simple, scalable VDI solution.

Fortunately, innovative new technologies are solving the VDI cost and complexity issues at scale. Also, more importantly, new and exciting partnerships are forming to bring these innovative technologies together into joint solutions. That’s why Cisco and Unidesk are joining forces – to help customers like the ones profiled at the end of this blog achieve desktop virtualization success.

Cisco UCS: The Optimal Infrastructure Foundation for Citrix XenDesktop, VMware Horizon, and Microsoft RDS

According to a recent report by IDC, Cisco has achieved the ranking of No. 1 provider of x86 blade servers in the Americas, measured by revenue market share. How did Cisco demonstrate the highest industry growth in the total worldwide server market when other vendors in the top five posted flat or declining results?

The Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) with a proven and innovative technology delivers breakthrough levels of operational efficiency for cloud service providers and enterprise customers who increasingly rely on scale-out architectures for workloads like VDI. The recent introduction of Cisco UCS Mini brings these same compute scale and performance innovations to remote sites, branch offices, and small IT environments. More on UCS Mini here!

Whether you’re implementing VDI with Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft RDS, or VMware Horizon, Cisco UCS can reduce infrastructure cost and complexity.

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Unidesk: The Single Pane of Glass Management Foundation for Citrix XenDesktop, VMware Horizon, and Microsoft RDS

With a game-changing invention called “layering,” Unidesk has transformed the management of Windows desktops in private clouds. Unidesk virtualizes everything above the hypervisor – Windows OS, Applications, and Personalization – as modular, reusable building blocks, or “layers.” OS and App layers are created once and stored as read-only virtual disks that can be attached to and shared by many VMs. The Personalization layer is a writable virtual disk that is unique to each VM.

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IT administrators use Unidesk to assign layers in any combination to create desktops. Unidesk file system and registry virtualization technology merges the assigned layers into a composite C: drive for each VM. Once Unidesk has provisioned the layered desktops on VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V and added them to Citrix XenDesktop catalogs, Microsoft RDS collections, or VMware Horizon View pools, end users can access the desktops through any device supported by the brokers.

Layering makes desktop provisioningapplication delivery, image patchingpersonalizationdisk space reduction, and desktop repair remarkably simple and efficient. All capabilities are delivered through Unidesk’s single pane of glass management console that can be easily mastered by Tier 1 IT administrators.

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Unidesk’s single pane of glass console makes everyone on your IT staff application delivery and desktop management experts

Whether you’re implementing VDI with Citrix XenDesktopMicrosoft RDS, or VMware Horizon, Unidesk can reduce the cost and complexity of desktop deployment and management.

Customer Proof Points!

When it comes to VDI, reference architectures and white papers are everywhere. Cisco and Unidesk believe that the best proof points are our joint customer successes:

  • Mercer University is one of Americaʼs oldest and most distinctive institutions of higher learning. Cisco UCS, Unidesk, and VMware View are the foundation for the university’s successful “Borderless Classroom” VDI initiative. With more than 1,000 virtual desktops in production, Mercer is realizing its goal of providing a better client computing experience for students, faculty, and staff.Read the case study and watch the customer video.
  • Belfast Health and Social Care Trust is one of the largest trusts in the UK. The healthcare organization has deployed over 1,700 virtual desktops with Citrix XenDesktop, Cisco UCS, and Unidesk for 3,000+ workers. The project has been so successful they are now doubling their VDI environment. Read the customer blog.
  • Bernstein Shur is one of New England’s largest law firms. Now 100% virtualized with Cisco UCS, Cisco Invicta flash storage, Unidesk, and VMware, the firm’s attorneys are enjoying a more consistent and stable desktop experience as they move between offices, courts, client appointments, and home. Read the case study and watch the customer’s deployment webinar.
  • County of Tulare, California is geographically dispersed across 4,863 square miles. When a PC problem arose, IT technicians faced the daunting prospect of spending hours on the road. Due to the wide range of departments and job functions, every desktop configuration is different, making updates and break/fix even more of a challenge. Cisco UCS and Unidesk have VDI on track to solve these problems.Read the case study and watch their deployment webinar.
  • USF Health clinicians needed faster, more secure access to Allscripts EMR and other key apps. IT needed to reduce the effort and expense of keeping Windows and apps up to date. With 800 virtual desktops created and managed by Unidesk on Cisco UCS, everyone is getting what they need. WatchUSF Health’s deployment webinar.

How to Get Started

Desktop virtualization shouldn’t be costly or complex.; It shouldn’t require Tier 2 and 3 administrators for day-to-day management. It shouldn’t compromise the end user experience or limit use cases. With Cisco and Unidesk, it won’t.

Get started now. Check out the great resources at www.cisco.com/go/vdi. Download your free trial copy of Unidesk for vSphere at get.unidesk.com/trial. Or, be one of the first to try the new Unidesk for Hyper-V at www.unidesk.com/hyper-v. And see how easy it can be to scale your VDI deployment.

FREE EBOOK – Top 10 Reasons VDI Projects Fail

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How U.S. Banks Can Transform Customer Interactions to Increase Profitability

You order a movie online and additional suggestions pop up, based on a deep knowledge of your likes and dislikes. You plan a vacation and similar suggestions appear, reflecting your financial state, the climate in which you live (and may hope to escape for a time), and past travel history. These convenient, personalized interactions are common today — and even expected.

Yet according to a Cisco survey of 7,200 retail banking consumers in 12 countries, customer expectations for financial services are not being met. Many of the most valued customers — and not just tech-savvy Gen Y ones — feel disconnected from their financial services institutions. They state that their banks do not know them personally, and are providing advice only on the bank’s terms — in the branch, during banking hours, when staff is available,  — if at all. Read More »

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Straight From NRF: Want Your Share of $100 Billion? Build Customer Trust

As I’m sure most of you know, Jon Stine presented this morning at NRF on the results of his fourth “Catch ‘Em and Keep ‘Em” survey, which is a highly respected study done each year to identify how shoppers are responding to retail technologies. As a followup to his NRF Big Ideas session, I’d like to reproduce here Jon’s blog on his findings and thoughts. Thank you, Jon!

Want Your Share of $100 Billion? Build Customer Trust
By Jon Stine

jostineTrust. It’s a powerful human emotion that often drives our behavior. The level of trust, or lack thereof, between a retailer and its customers can literally make or break the business. Given the importance of trust, many retailers are asking: How much do customers trust retailers? What are the benefits of increasing trust? How do retailers gather the information needed to provide the  personalized experiences many customers want, while maintaining and even building trusted relationships?

These questions are especially important given the critical juncture at which we find ourselves—the convergence of people, process, data, and things called the Internet of Everything (IoE).

To help retailers build customer trust in an increasingly digitally connected world, Cisco Consulting Services surveyed 1,174 consumers in its fourth annual Digital Shopping Behavior survey.* From a behavior perspective, shoppers are becoming more digital. In fact, eighty percent of respondents are what we call Digital Mass shoppers—people who research, browse, and purchase digitally. Within this group, Über Digitals, who almost always use a smartphone to shop, increased from 11 percent last year to 18 percent this year. Clearly, your customers are digital.

Before we discuss “how,” it is important to understand “why.” Our research showed $100 billion of IoE value was available for retailers in the United States to capture in 2013 by offering more personalized shopping experiences. If you missed your share, don’t worry. This number is expected to increase slightly in 2014. Realizing this value, however, isn’t easy.

When it comes to trust, retailers are starting from a low base. When asked, “How much would you trust these companies/institutions to protect your personal data and use it to provide something you value?” respondents ranked retailers second to last, at 31 percent—behind government agencies (37 percent), and ahead of Internet companies (18 percent).

Even so, shoppers want personalized experiences. When asked, “Which personalized experiences do you prefer?” respondents ranked promotions via touch-screen or smartphone first (Digital Mass: 46 percent; Über Digitals: 53 percent). This was followed by personalized products, personalized shopping lists, and personalized service.

So, how do we solve this dilemma between a lack of trust and the desire for personalized shopping experiences, which require the collection of personal information? For answers, let’s look at a few of the research findings.

  • Shoppers want personalized offers that are easy to use – Most people want to receive personalized offers via email at home. This suggests that shoppers — even Über Digitals — start the shopping process while they are in their home environment. The vision of in-store offers may simply not be in sync with the reality of shopper decision making and in-store behavior.
  • Shoppers are willing to share information – Both Digital Mass and Über Digital shoppers are willing to share past purchase history and basic personal information (name, age, etc.) with retailers to receive a more personalized shopping experience. Topping the list of acceptable information for retailers to use are time spent in the store, location in the store, and products you try but don’t buy.
  • Shoppers want something in return – To give personal information, however, shoppers must get something in return. By far, the top two factors that would lead shoppers to share more personal information are guaranteed percentage savings on their next purchase and specific dollar savings on their next purchase. Interestingly, a world-class privacy policy ranked third, 21 percent below the second choice for the Digital Mass, and 14 percent below the second response for Über Digitals.

Based on our experience working with many of the world’s leading retailers, there are three key takeaways and actions when it comes to building trust:

  1. Shopper trust must be earned. Retailers can do this by delivering a clear data policy and making the benefits of providing personal information transparent and easy to understand.
  2. IoE is already here. To capture your share of the $100 billion value at stake, develop a strategic plan that takes into account the information above.
  3. Über Digitals are too important to ignore. Selling to these shoppers requires an architecture and infrastructure that can support their increasing expectations for connected, digital shopping experiences.

To gain even more insights into developing trust in an IoE world, take a look at:

*  This year’s Cisco Consulting Digital Shopping Behavior survey includes responses from 1,174 consumers who are representative of the United States broadband population by age, income, and region. It is the fourth in a series of popular “Catch ‘Em and Keep ‘Em” studies by Cisco Consulting Services.

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Realizing the Benefits of the Internet of Everything for Customer Experience, Part 2 ‘Design Thinking’ the Customer Experience of the Future

The early days of the Internet were a heady time of reimagining, rethinking, and, in effect, “e-enabling” a staggering range of business processes. Today, we stand on the cusp of an equally momentous paradigm shift driven by an explosion in connectivity—not just among devices, but also encompassing people, Rachael McBrearty Blog 2 Graphic_Finalv3process, data, and “things.” This next-generation digital revolution will upend entrenched mind-sets and disrupt existing business strategies on a nearly unprecedented scale, transforming, yet again, the customer experience.

As I shared in Part 1 of my blog, the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group projects that the Internet of Everything (IoE) economy will generate $14.4 trillion in Value at Stake for private-sector companies globally over the next decade. Nearly 26 percent of this total — $3.7 trillion — will be tied to IoE-driven customer experience advances.

But how do companies begin to tap the vast potential of the next-wave Internet? Since the Internet of Everything remains a work in progress, its uncharted waters and multidimensional scope will demand wholly new ways of thinking as organizations connect to a larger — much larger — universe. In order to meet IoE’s challenges effectively, your business will need a multidimensional toolkit — one that bridges marketing, design, engineering, economics, finance, or any other discipline required inside or outside your company.

The methodology that can enable these capabilities is design thinking. Drawing on methods used by design professionals, it combines empathy for the human context of the problem; creativity in the generation of insights and solutions; and rationality and feedback to analyze the solution within the customer context.

Design thinking is ideal for problem solving within highly complex situations. Which brings us to IoE. Its high level of complexity will demand that you rethink what you do for your customers, while redefining how issues can be addressed.

Knowing the customer is an age-old path to success. And at the heart of design thinking is a deeper understanding of the customer, citizen, or patient, pinpointing the human needs that fall between business objectives and the technology solutions. Employing user-centered qualitative research methods of observation, ideation, and prototyping, design thinking cuts to the essence of the human pain point and is centered on understanding the role you play in the lives of those whom you are serving. Defining and shaping the problem — in effect, determining the right question to ask — is key. Problem framing comes before problem solving and will be the foundation the creative insight in IoE innovation.

Unlike analytical thinking, which is based on a breakdown of ideas, design thinking concentrates on building up ideas with a broad focus, especially in the early stages of the problem-solving process. Once those early ideas are encouraged to develop, without judgment, they can spur creative thinking.

Here is an example of design thinking at work:

A retail client asked, “How do we increase sales conversions?” The client had the best merchandise selections, financing options, and competitive prices. Customers sang their praises in focus groups. Yet,  they were converting only about 25 percent of shoppers. With a design-thinking approach, we were able to reframe the problem. Customers were attracted by the assortment, we realized, but they were overwhelmed by the choices. They were looking for guidance on the right solution. By reframing the problem (“How do we help customers make a personalized choice?”), we came up with great ideas that led to new services offerings. In the end, conversion increased significantly.

Design thinking is not a new tool—Procter & Gamble and GE are but two companies employing its concepts, and Stanford and Harvard both teach it. It isn’t a magical cure, either. But it could provide critical solutions within the complex scope of the IoE economy.

As in previous Internet eras, organizations that adapt and redesign the customer experience — essentially by knowing their consumers through empathy and innovative solutions — will thrive. IoE will reach its true potential only if it is seamlessly integrated into customers’ lives. And design thinking — with its emphasis on simplicity and empathy—could cut through the complexity of the coming IoE economy, while driving the creation of products and services that resonate with the way your customers live, work, and play.

After all, isn’t that the reason for creating those products and services in the first place?

 

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