Putting faith in technology

When Dubai Bank made the decision to move from being a commercial institution towards become the world’s premiere Islamic bank, it recognised that IT would be crucial to achieving that goal.

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Putting faith in technology ELEDATH: Because of the confidence the bank has in us, we always secure a budget.
By  Ben Furfie Published  October 17, 2010

The IT department’s success in achieving these goals on time has had a major impact on its role within the business, and a key part of that is Eledath’s desire to act as a bridge between the technical knowhow, and the board’s vision for where it wants to take the company. “The IT department is always trying to live up to the company’s vision, in that I spend a lot of time trying to understand what the business wants to do. This is what I’m doing at the moment; trying to understand what it needs to do over the next five years, and then come up with an IT strategy.”

He adds that most of the new technologies have been introduced not for the sake of using the IT, but because it fulfils a need of the company. “Clearly, the business is a driver for IT, so we put a new disaster recovery centre in, with real-time duplication happening, we have a very high emphasis on the architecture, using Microsoft’s BizTalk as a middle tier. The value of that is that business rules are flexible. It allows us to define which processes they apply to and which they are merely guidance – it allows us to change things without there being a domino effect.

“We put in an enterprise workflow for our application utilisation and for our finance cards application as well,” he adds.

“It’s end-to-end automated with upfront usability, so customers are able to log on, and access what they want to access. It used to be that a lot of these things were separate, so they’d log on, find that they couldn’t do what they wanted to do, and then you’d have to disappoint the customer. It also extends to our call centres. Now that everything is digitised, it means that we don’t have to worry about not being able to find something because it hasn’t been digitised. In addition, all our policies are rule-based – it is not hardcoded – so that the policies are supplied uniformly, as opposed to earlier where our policy was communicated through email or Excel sheet – those days are gone. We put together a very robust CRM, so our workers at our contact centre all work using this CRM, which helps for the purposes of sales and marketing.

“What this does is that it means the customer doesn’t have to repeat what they have already told another customer service representative, whether that was in branch, or to another colleague on the phone, or even if it is a problem with an ATM, they can see all the interactions the customer has had with the bank. With the full picture, the agent is empowered to help the customer the best they can; so the context will be understood, they can say go back and see what the transaction was done at the ATM – so it’s a very powerful tool.”

One of the main benefits that the new infrastructure has brought in is a far stronger understanding of the value, risk and reward of each customer. “The system provides a 360-degree view of the customer,” explains Eledath.

“You know the full relationship of the customer, the profitability of the customer, the risk rating, what can be cross sold, the full interaction history of the customer, no matter which channel the customer has come through – regardless of where the customer has entered the business from, all staff use and see the same window. Previous to that, we had different systems. For instance, now if you ring the contact centre, they will have the full view of the customer. You have the demographic information for the customer – these are all tab based – you know how profitable the customer is as well as the risk rating, and the system will automatically tell the agent what the balance between the two are, the full relationship with the bank – so cards, loans etc – to see the history.”

The company is already experiencing the benefits of its new CRM and business intelligence systems. Though he is unable to provide exact sales figures, he reveals that the system has resulted in a large increase in sales of additional services – mainly because the company is no longer trying to sell particular services to people who are extremely unlike to purchase them.

“The business intelligence suite is linked into our data warehouse, which in turn feeds into the CRM and provides our agents access to a whole range of information, including what products can be cross sold to this particular customer. It means the targeting of products is far more efficient, and the conversion rate for our agents is a lot higher than what it would be if we were just asking them to try and sell everything to them. The whole idea is to do an intelligent sell, rather than a mass sell.”

It has the added benefit of becoming a customer service tool, rather than running the risk of annoying the customer further through a potentially inappropriate quasi-direct sales pitches. “You can see if there are any active complaints,” Eledath says. “So if you see there is an active compliant against a certain product, you know not to go and try and sell the customer that, or a related product. The benefit is that although it is a single interface, behind the scenes it goes to eight systems, and consolidates that information.

This highly evolved, linked infrastructure, Eledath explains, is the crux of why IT was so involved in the restructure from the start: because the company’s management from the beginning viewed IT as an enabler, rather than a solution. “Throughout the past three years, we’ve never had problems with getting approvals for the IT budget, and we’ve had one of the largest. It is another testimony of the confidence that the bank has in us.”

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