Microsoft talks up 'experience banking' initiative

Source: Microsoft

Small and midmarket community banks and credit unions are benefiting in a big way from Microsoft Corp.'s (NASDAQ:MSFT) experience Banking initiative, launched a year ago today.

In a commoditizing market in which global banks are offering sophisticated suites of products and services, community banks and credit unions are differentiating themselves by building their technology infrastructures with
Microsoft technology solutions, Microsoft today announced at the Bank Administration Institute (BAI) Retail Delivery Conference & Expo.

Momentum for experience Banking is fueled by continued adoption of Microsoft technologies by customers including Arizona State Savings & Credit Union (AZSTCU), CommunityAmerica Credit Union, Farm Credit Services of America, Mid-State Bank & Trust, and Woodforest National Bank.

"The great thing about Microsoft's experience Banking is that it works for all sizes of banking institutions, and we are thrilled to see that community banks and credit unions are experiencing the same success as the larger banks," said Bill Hartnett, general manager of strategy and solutions for the Financial Services Group at Microsoft. "Through experience Banking, Microsoft and our partners are helping banks use technology to deliver personalized, branded experiences - the kind of service and satisfaction consumers have come to expect in other experience-based service settings."

Key Areas of Experience Banking

Microsoft's experience Banking helps banks address three key areas of their businesses that will help them differentiate their brands, which in turn can help them increase market share and profitability: the customer experience, the employee experience and the operations experience.

Customer experience. Banking solutions based on the Microsoft platform can integrate information from many sources, creating a seamless experience across all channels. Meeting customers' increased expectations helps banks create a positive customer experience and can give them a significant advantage in the marketplace.

Employee experience. Microsoft-based solutions help bank employees conveniently access data and gain important insight into customer data. Giving bank employees a 360-degree view of the customer helps lead to better decision-making, improved cross-selling opportunities, and increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Operations experience. Microsoft is committed to helping provide financial institutions with a platform that is reliable, scalable and security enhanced to help keep their systems available 24x7. Partner solutions based on Microsoft technology are designed to integrate with banks' existing systems and provide the flexibility and agility banks need to quickly and cost-effectively implement critical banking applications.

Continued Community Bank and Credit Union Success With Experience Banking

Community banks and credit unions are continuing to adopt Microsoft technologies with an eye toward experiencing benefits that other community banks and credit unions have achieved such as low cost of ownership, positive return on investment, fast time to market, streamlined operations and enhanced customer service. Examples include these:

Arizona State Savings & Credit Union wanted to enhance the security of its online transactions and create additional protections for its internal network before implementing its online banking system. AZSTCU chose to deploy a solution using Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration Server (ISA Server). As a result, AZSTCU has been able to minimize the chance of attacks, reduce business costs and expand its market reach with little incremental cost.

CommunityAmerica Credit Union, a large and growing organization with 126,000 active members, wanted to operate more efficiently, with the goal of increasing profitability and improving customer service. One of the biggest tasks facing the IT department was to select a middleware solution that could help integrate disparate and, in some cases, aging legacy systems. After reviewing middleware alternatives, the credit union became an early adopter of Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004. The solution has helped improve communication between systems while dramatically reducing the time required for IT staff to perform system integration tasks.

Farm Credit Services of America serves the agricultural credit and financial needs of farmers and ranchers in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. To address a variety of disparate customer-related systems that made it extremely difficult to gain a single view of customers, the company, with the help of Quilogy Inc., replaced its point-to-point connections with Pinwheel. Pinwheel is a customer integration solution based on the Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004 Enterprise Edition. Information is now processed through Pinwheel, stored in a central "customer truth center," and published back to the customer-related systems. Significant benefits of Pinwheel for Farm Credit Services of America include increased loan volume, a 70 percent boost in productivity and a 75 percent reduction in system integration time.

Mid-State Bank & Trust, a financial services provider with 41 branches on the California coast, with the help of INS installed Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Active Directory, and upgraded to Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and installed Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) for added security. The upgrade has helped the bank boost its system security, reduce downtime, increase productivity and resolve technical problems much more quickly.

Woodforest National Bank, one of the top-earning banks in the U.S., developed a multilingual telephone banking system using Microsoft Speech Server 2004. Call times are now expected to be reduced by 50 percent. Live operator support has been reduced by up to 70 percent.

The company also announced today that on the one-year anniversary of it's (NASDAQ:MSFT) experience Banking initiative, banks and financial services firms across the globe are getting on board.

Microsoft's experience Banking is fueling successes across several fronts:

Continued adoption of Microsoft technologies by leading banks and financial services firms around the globe, including Banco Azteca, Banco Nossa Caixa, Barclays Bank, BMO Financial Group, CheckFree Corp., Farm Credit Services of America, GMAC Commercial Mortgage, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Standard Chartered Bank, Wachovia Corp. and Woodforest National Bank

Recent product launches, including Microsoft SQL Server 2005, Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and upcoming Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006 - which introduce a host of new enterprise-ready features for banks' and other financial services firms' back offices - as well as upcoming service solutions such as Microsoft "Motion" and the Branch Office Infrastructure Solution (BOIS)

Additional support from leading banking industry partners, including Accenture, Advanced Financial Solutions Inc. - a Metavante. company, Baker Hill, Getronics, Harland and Intervoice, and continued support of existing bank industry partners

"On the one-year anniversary of launching Microsoft's experience Banking initiative, we are thrilled with the benefits banks and other financial services firms are realizing today through Microsoft-based technology and our partner solutions," said Bill Harnett, general manager of strategy and solutions for the Financial Services Group at Microsoft. "Experience Banking is real, and it provides proven solutions, tools and expertise to help transform the banking experience, as demonstrated by the customer success throughout the year."

Continued Bank Support for Microsoft Technologies

Leading banks and financial services firms across the globe continue to adopt Microsoft technologies and are experiencing significant benefits that include lower total cost of ownership, increased productivity, faster time to market, more streamlined operations and enhanced customer service.

"Wachovia recently chose the Microsoft platform for our online banking upgrade," said Lawrence Baxter, head of Wachovia's eCommerce division. "The new platform will further enhance the excellence that Wachovia customers have come to expect through our online channel and will help differentiate our services in a highly competitive market."

Examples of customers that are transforming their customer, employee and operations experiences by using Microsoft technologies include the following:

Banco Azteca, the newest and fastest-growing bank in Mexico, serves approximately 5 million customers through more than 1,000 branches across the country. It needed to manage large numbers of small accounts while keeping transaction costs low through efficiencies in its core systems. To do this, a critical component of banking services was migrated to a 64-bit Microsoft Windows Server 2003 platform. The benefits include a performance time of up to 70 times faster, better customer service and a scalable solution for a growing business.

Banco Nossa Caixa, one of the top 10 banks in Brazil, wanted to make the most of technology to support its daily operations and improve productivity and the quality of decision-making. Working with Microsoft Consulting Services, Banco Nossa Caixa used Microsoft SQL Server 2000 to consolidate mainframe data and Microsoft Office Professional Enterprise Edition 2003 to provide a familiar interface for employees to perform data analysis. The resulting benefits are increased data access from only a few executives to 2,000 employees, improved quality of information by 20 percent to 30 percent, and improved organizational efficiency.

Barclays Bank, the world's ninth-largest bank, promised its shareholders IT cost reductions of 1 billion pounds Sterling (U.S. $1.8 billion). The company sought a technology solution that streamlined business processes and improved communication without compromising large quantities of highly sensitive information. Barclays Bank chose to standardize its desktops with the help of EDS and HP, using Microsoft software and by adopting the Microsoft Office System. The resulting benefit is seamless integration with back-end enterprise servers so employees can quickly respond to customer requests. Improved collaboration on data and documents will also help speed up business decisions.

BMO Financial Group, one of the largest financial services companies in North America, needed a better way to organize and share information with its 33,000 employees. BMO deployed a new employee portal with Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003. Customized information is now targeted to frontline staff according to job role. Employees see a simpler interface with easy navigation and single-click access to key Web-based information and applications they need from the portal's home page. Employee productivity is up by 23 percent.

CheckFree, based in Atlanta, is a leader in financial electronic commerce, including electronic billing and payment, financial services software, and outsourced investment services. CheckFree selected the Microsoft platform for CheckFree Investment Services' next-generation enhanced portfolio lifecycle platform to potentially decrease costs while meeting its high-volume needs and stringent quality demands. From benchmark testing, significant benefits of using the Microsoft platform included a 24 percent lower total cost of ownership, 14 percent faster transaction rates and faster potential time to market.

Farm Credit Services of America serves the agricultural credit and financial needs of farmers and ranchers in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. To address a variety of disparate customer-related systems that made it impossible to gain a single view of customers, the company, with the help of Quilogy, replaced its point-to-point connections with Pinwheel. Pinwheel is a customer integration solution based on the Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004 Enterprise Edition. Information is now processed through Pinwheel, stored in a central "customer truth center" and published back to the customer-related systems. Significant benefits of Pinwheel include an increased loan volume, a 70 percent boost in productivity and a 75 percent reduction in system integration time.

GMAC Commercial Mortgage is a leading financial services provider for the global commercial real estate industry. It needed to track more than a thousand business controls and manage several times as many documents for Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance. GMACCM built its solution using the Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 development system, which runs on the Microsoft .NET Framework. GMACCM saved 70 percent by developing its own solution. The rich functionality helped the company to reduce the cost of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance by 50 percent.

Monti Di Paschi di Sienna, founded in 1472, is the oldest bank in the world. With more than 2,000 branches and 4 million customers, the bank has become one of the most important banking groups in Italy. The group's IT department, Consorzio Operative Gruppo MPS, chose an intranet solution based on Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and other core parts of Microsoft Windows Server System. Benefits include a new intranet portal that handles 1 million requests each day with up to 40 users per second accessing the system, and easier groupwide collaboration due to information and ideas being exchanged in real time.

Standard Chartered Bank has more than 30,000 employees in more than 500 locations in more than 50 countries through the Asia Pacific region, South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the United Kingdom and the Americas. Standard Chartered Bank wanted an instant messaging solution to enable real-time communication and collaboration. It adopted the Parlano MindAlign enterprise messaging application running on Microsoft Windows Server System. The company is now experiencing revenue boosts of 5 percent, increases in productivity up to 500 percent, total-cost-of-ownership reductions and greater agility to respond to market opportunities.

Wachovia is one of the largest providers of financial services to retail, brokerage and corporate customers, with banking operations from Connecticut to Florida to Texas, and retail brokerage operations nationwide. Wachovia chose the Microsoft platform for a major overhaul of its online banking platform. The new platform will bring customers an improved level of convenience, usability and safety, while providing simpler and swifter navigation and seamless integration of various money management functions.

Momentum from the banking partner community continues to drive Microsoft Corp.'s (NASDAQ:MSFT) experience Banking initiative forward, as more than a dozen leading technology companies now support the industry framework, Microsoft today announced at the Bank Administration Institute (BAI) Retail Delivery Conference & Expo.

Additional partner support for experience Banking includes Accenture, Advanced Financial Solutions Inc. (AFS) - a Metavante company, Baker Hill, Getronics, Harland Financial Solutions, Intel Corporation and Intervoice.

The solutions provided by this group of partners address critical areas and services across banking and are focused on helping to transform the customer, employee and operations experience. Aligned with Microsoft's experience Banking vision for the banking industry, these solutions are built on proven Microsoft technologies, including the Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft SQL Server.

"Our partners are integral to the success that our bank and other financial services firms' customers are realizing with experience Banking," said Bill Hartnett, general manager of strategy and solutions for the Financial Services Group at Microsoft. "By building on Microsoft technologies, partner solutions provide an innovative way for banks and financial services firms to fundamentally transform their customer, employee and operations experiences."

These leading bank industry partners have announced their support for experience Banking and their commitment to delivering solutions and services that use Microsoft technologies:

Accenture. Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company that collaborates with financial institutions to help customers achieve high performance through innovative application of leading-edge technologies.

Advanced Financial Solutions Inc. (AFS). AFS, a Metavante company, delivers image-based and conventional check processing solutions to the financial services industry. AFS, which has built its entire check processing system on Microsoft technology, was one of the first companies to offer image and item processing technology based on the Microsoft Windows operating system. AFS has customers across the globe.

ARGO Data Systems. ARGO Data Systems provides consumer lending, sales and service, contact center, and teller solutions to the top banks in the U.S., including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, National City and U.S. Bancorp.

Baker Hill. More than 1,200 financial institutions have drawn on Baker Hill's business banking expertise to help improve critical processes, including relationship management, credit origination and portfolio risk management. In September 2005, Baker Hill implemented its Origination Suite in 11 financial institutions. More than 200 institutions to date have adopted the Origination Suite, including Regions Bank, RBC Centura and FirstMerit Bank.

Corillian. Corillian is a market leader of online banking and anti-fraud solutions, powering more than 25 percent of the online banking population with its Microsoft-based solutions. In 2005, New Jersey-based Commerce Bank chose the Corillian Consumer Banking application to launch multilingual online banking capabilities, and the University of Wisconsin Credit Union (UWCU) selected Corillian's Intelligent Authentication solution to better protect the online financial accounts of its more than 100,000 members.

Diebold. Diebold is a leading provider of self-service solutions, security and service. Many of the world's leading financial institutions have chosen Diebold's Opteva family of ATMs, which runs on the Microsoft Windows XP platform, as their next-generation self-service solutions. Opteva ATMs are powered by Diebold's Microsoft Windows-based Agilis software. Financial institutions around the world rely on Diebold's self-service solutions, including Ohio-based Liberty Savings Bank; Florida-based Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union, the nation's seventh-largest credit union and the first financial institution to launch Diebold's full deposit automation solution; and Bangkok Bank, the largest commercial bank in Thailand and one of the largest regional banks in Southeast Asia, which recently purchased 650 of Diebold's Opteva ATMs, powered by Agilis.

Fincentric Corp. Fincentric provides core retail banking and customer value management solutions to financial institutions in more than 25 countries, including South Africa's Standard Chartered Bank, Canada's Envision Financial and First Calgary Savings, Mexico's Banco Inbursa, California-based Stanford Federal Credit Union, and Texas-based First Command Bank. Fincentric's Wealthview family of integrated products provides a single view of the customer and helps enable financial institutions to utilize customer knowledge to deliver personalized service and develop profitable customer relationships. Fincentric is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.

Getronics. Getronics provides .NET-based branch and teller solutions on the Microsoft platform. In 2005, Citizens Bank, the eighth-largest commercial bank in the U.S., chose Getronics' Globalfs application for its more than 1,500 branches.

Harland Financial Solutions. Harland Financial Solutions has many Microsoft-based applications in its portfolio of products and services for financial institutions. Its .NET-based Phoenix Core System is used by institutions in the U.S. and abroad, and its Encore! Branch Automation Solution is popular with institutions of all sizes in the U.S.

HP. HP's Open Bank strategy helps retail banks improve the total customer experience by providing them with accurate, comprehensive, consistent information about a bank's customer interactions. The HP Open Bank.NET framework is a services-oriented architecture (SOA) for multichannel delivery and transformation that demonstrates HP's commitment to working with leading partners such as Microsoft to provide retail banks with the industry's most comprehensive business and technology solutions.

Intel. Solutions based on Intel technology help financial services companies around the world grow their revenues through enhanced service delivery and increased customer satisfaction. For example, the U.K.-based Skipton Building Society needed a scalable multichannel environment to better serve its customers. The society chose a solution based on the latest Unisys Corp., Microsoft and Intel technology, resulting in a savings of 3 million pounds per year.

Intervoice. For more than 20 years, Microsoft partner Intervoice has provided voice solutions for banking institutions. Intervoice solutions drive the customer service initiatives for nine of the 10 largest banks in the United States. Utilizing this experience, the Microsoft Speech Server-based Intervoice Speech Banking solution gives customers ready access to speech-driven, hands-free banking.

Jack Henry & Associates. Jack Henry & Associates supports community and midtier banks with industry-leading core and complementary processing platforms built primarily on the .NET framework. Jack Henry also supports diverse financial institutions regardless of charter, asset size and core processing solution with highly specialized complementary products ranging from business intelligence solutions, payments solutions and fraud detection to security solutions. Strategically, Jack Henry has adopted the .NET Framework as the technology of choice for future product development and has utilized this technology in more than 75 percent of the complementary products it markets today.

NetEconomy. Through its ERASE Financial Crime Suite, built on the Microsoft platform, NetEconomy provides financial institutions with solutions for monitoring transactions to help prevent, detect and manage financial crime, such as money laundering, fraud and market abuse. Retail, private and wholesale banks, and securities firms rely on NetEconomy's award-winning products, including leading global brokerage firm Calyon Financial, Citizens Bank, Abbey and ING.

SAP AG. More than 600 customers in 60 countries worldwide have implemented SAP for Banking. Using SAP's Banking modules running on the HP + Windows Platform, organizations are addressing banking business challenges including deposits, loans, analytics, ERP, and regulatory and compliance requirements.

Unisys. The Unisys Enterprise Payments solution is designed for payments enterprises at major financial institutions, financial services software providers, and payments processing outsourcers. Unisys is a recognized leader in the payments business for more than 40 years, serving 22 of the top 25 global banks and processing half the world's checks. Coupled with the unique 3D Visual Enterprise blueprinting methodology, Unisys delivers an Enterprise Payments solution that maps operations, business and technology processes across the enterprise, identifying patterns to help avoid costly redundancies, improve customer satisfaction and mitigate risk. It provides a strategic platform that allows for rapid new product deployment regardless of channel while at the same time enhancing organizational agility and operational efficiency and enabling global straight-through processing. Most recently, Unisys has utilized these capabilities to and Citigroup in their adoption of Check 21 legislation initiatives.

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