When Superpowers Team Up, Banks Are the Beneficiaries

Cisco and IBM announced today a joint front-office solution for retail banks designed to enhance customer service by unifying customer touch points across delivery channels, including branches, contact centers, and self-service kiosks.

According to a press release, IBM and Cisco Front Office Solutions for Retail Banks uses IBMs hardware, software, and services as well as Cisco’s core and advanced networking technologies. The solution offers an integrated contact center, which consolidates branch and contact center infrastructures and allows branch employees to connect customers with licensed experts either via voice or video call. Also included is unified communications, which combines voice, video, Web conferencing, mobile IP softphones, and voicemail to access information globally.

That advent of ubiquitous computing, wherein users harness multiple computing devices for everyday activities, has made the consolidation of information particularly important for enterprises seeking to improve customer service. While the idea to unite various customer touch points isn’t new, according to Datamonitor analyst Daniel Hong, there have been few practical applications thus far.  

"Being able to have more consistency across customer touch points has been something that’s been talked about for quite some time but in actuality, it hasn’t (happened)," Hong says. "So if you’re able to leverage technology platforms and middleware in order to create a consistent field across customer touch points, then you have something. That’s something Cisco is trying to take advantage of—IBM’s large mindshare and market share and consulting share, especially in the financial services space." 

While smaller companies that implement similar solutions might have the initial advantage, since they are nimbler and able to implement quicker and cheaper, Hong believes that "once you put more into the product side and standards, this is when the big guys come in, the Ciscos and IBMs, and have a clear advantage."   

Thus, the collaboration between companies as large as Cisco and IBM can be seen as a large vote of confidence for the technology. That being said, Hong believes it’s crucial for a vendor to keep a close eye on other channels. "Cisco should be able to look at channels other than IBM," Hong says. "They shouldn’t hold themselves to just one consulting firm.  It just keeps their options open.  I think Cisco has a lot to offer on the technology side."

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