ATB Financial boosts its branch efficiency

ATB Financial is banking that a new front-end for its tellers will pay off in terms of improving overall customer service.

ATB is a $13.7 billion, full-service financial institution based in Edmonton. Mark Ripplinger, senior vice-president and CIO for ATB, said the financial institution needed a solution that would improve the way it interacts with customers at its physical branches. The front-end application will be deployed in all of its branches across the province.

The objective was to increase efficiency at its 145 branches by automating transactions and processes and reducing paper-based operations. Increasing the level of automation enables tellers to spend less time on transaction processing and more on upselling additional financial services to customers, Ripplinger said.

In order to achieve this, ATB sought to update its technology infrastructure. The previous IT architecture, consisting of disparate legacy applications on an IBM Corp. 4700 system, had reached the end of its life. While the old system was still functional and provided a solid foundation for service delivery, it lacked the extensible options and functionality to improve the speed and quality of customer transactions, Ripplinger said.

ATB is using technology from Siebel Systems Inc. and partnered with IBM Global Services, which will provide hardware and systems integration services. ATB decided on Siebel not only because it felt the technology was a more complete solution, but because it had already been “Canadianized” with currency and tax information and also had already been deployed by another major Canadian financial institution, Ripplinger said.

The Siebel Branch Teller offering integrates client transaction information and features business intelligence (BI) to allow ATB’s tellers to offer more personalized service.

“It’s a full suite from the transaction-enablement through to referrals, printing of statements and online transactions that are fulfilled at a branch level,” Ripplinger said.

The initiative officially launched in April of last year. Deployment started in June, Ripplinger said, and the technology was rolled out in pilot to a half dozen branches last summer. The province-wide rollout is contingent on the pilot project and this should be completed within the next six to 10 months, Ripplinger said. In terms of user education, ATB brought its associates into a central location for training to “hit the ground running,” Ripplinger said.

ATB is also working on tying together the new front-end with the overall IT infrastructure improvements, keeping the IT environment current via desktop PC upgrades and some network bandwidth upgrades to provide high-speed access for all the branches.

He added that to date, ATB has had minor pain points to contend with, primarily around logistics, wiring and cabling, particularly at its rural branches. Ripplinger said ATB is working with partner IBM to get this solved.

The role of IT is evolving to become more integrated with the business processes, Ripplinger noted. The project is part of the ATB’s entire technological outlook, which contrasts with the firm’s former way of doing things. Historically, there was a tendency to deploy point solutions that were ultimately difficult to integrate. Now, ATB intends to implement integrated solutions to create a foundation for future integration, Ripplinger said.

The measure of success is in the ability to better serve the customers, Ripplinger said. By streamlining processes, the physical branches can be more efficient — the new system allows for quick transaction turnaround and offers greater accuracy, he added.

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