By Danny Molhoek, general manager at Lexmark for the UK and Ireland

Danny Molhoek
Danny Molhoek

Although the economy is showing signs of life, retail banks are still under incredible pressure. As well as mounting market pressures, ever-increasing regulations and the entry of nontraditional entities, there is still lingering mistrust from ever more discerning customers and a host of new payment methods and channels to cope with. All of this is deeply impacting the bottom lines of retail banks.

Add in new regulations – ranging from the UK’s seven-day account switching through to Basel III, Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the Single Economic Payments Area (SEPA) – and it’s clear that there’s never been a greater need to streamline banking workflows to drive financial performance and exceed customer expectations – from the branches to the back office.

But the financial sector has always been an industry dominated by data. Faced with the daily flood of unstructured print and digital information in multiple formats, banks are struggling to manage all of it. Add in the fact that most of this data is siloed (across departments and due to mergers and acquisitions) and we start to see a very fractured landscape. There is also a technology disconnect suffered by many banks, who are dealing with legacy systems but looking to disruptive new technologies such as cloud and mobile to streamline processes.

Modern banks are striving to develop a 360-degree view of their customers. In this instance, they have one-click access to all relevant services and accounts, without having to repeat details or go through due diligence processes multiple times. Furthermore, harnessing big data, and developing lean and straight-through processes is the Holy Grail for most banks. Data has to be complete, accurate and traceable, but achieving this can be very complex, time consuming, disruptive and expensive.

But despite the ongoing digital revolution, banking remains heavily paper-driven. Even the most modern banks still need printed documents for loan applications, new account openings, mortgages and many of the other services customers want. But this leads to branch associates spending a lot of time searching for paperwork or struggling with printer issues and supplies. Just by reducing the amount of paper printed and processed and using on-demand forms and other centrally stored material, a bank can cut its use of supplies and device maintenance.

More importantly, existing processes lead to a lot of manual data input, which is a further time sink and leads to reams of unstructured data. Today, it is estimated that as much as 80 to 90 per cent of the data banks hold is unstructured content such as scans, pdfs, presentations, emails, saved web pages, videos, audio, images and instant messages. To give a sense of the scale of this issue, analyst firm IDC predicts that data will grow to 40 zettabytes by 2020, resulting in a 50-fold growth from the beginning of 2010. Dealing with this much unstructured information can quickly lead to mistakes being made. This can lead to poor customer service and the inability to meet industry regulations.

Ultimately, when output is unreliable and unmanaged, and when paper-based processes aren’t optimised, it wastes money and time that could be spent working with customers and running the rest of the branch office.

Implementing a holistic and comprehensive intelligent capture and document management solution can be the key to automating and optimising these processes. It enables a bank to quickly and effectively connect its structured and unstructured business documents, processes and people. This is a journey that begins with a thorough understanding of the business and evolves to improve device management, streamline document workflows and improve business processes.

A single capture platform is the first step, combining comprehensive document capture and centralised workflow automation technology with smart multifunction products (MFPs) in the branches. The MFPs act as digital collection points for paper and electronic documents, immediately identify missing documents and signatures while the customer is still in the bank. The system then classifies, verifies, indexes and automatically routes the content to the banking software platform, eliminating manual, error-prone data entry in the back office. This type of solution can easily scale to include an unlimited number of branches as well as multiple locations and languages.

To achieve this branch workers should be able to scan documents at their point of origin, index and link them to a specific customer. These high-quality images are then transmitted through the bank’s secure network for immediate verification and storage in a central electronic document management system.

This needs to be combined with comprehensive security, authentication and tracking features to ensure that sensitive information remains confidential and regulatory requirements are met.

This end-to-end approach is designed to better connect the people, processes and applications throughout the bank so the right information ends up in the right hands, at the right time and in the right format. By giving people on-demand access to the right documents when they need them, and then the ability to automatically and seamlessly enter these into an automated, digital processing platform, customers and co-workers can effectively collaborate across departments and long distances.

By following this approach to strategic document management, a bank can save as much as 40 per cent of its printing and document management costs, through greater operational efficiency, as well as improving transaction speeds and bolstering customer satisfaction and trust.

By taking a comprehensive approach to document and data management, a bank can evolve and optimise its infrastructure, deliver proactive management and streamline its business. This is precisely how Lexmark’s end-to-end workflow solutions help banks automate time-consuming, paper-intensive processes, transforming costly, error-prone practices into highly accurate, revenue-generating and value-added operations. Lexmark has been providing products and services to the financial services industry for more than 20 years, boasting nine of the top ten global banks as customers.

In short, its solutions can deliver a powerful platform that exceeds customer expectations, drives financial performance and promotes future flexibility.

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