Q&A: How Banks Can Achieve Application Interoperability

LAS VEGAS, Nev., Nov. 15, 2006 — During this week’s BAI Retail Delivery Conference & Expo, Microsoft is showcasing its efforts to help banks achieve interoperability among business applications. The company will announce the Microsoft Banking Integration Factory, which brings together Microsoft and partner technologies at the services level to help banks create composite line-of-business applications.

Microsoft’s U.S. Financial Services group is a signature sponsor of the event, and also plans to distribute a white paper demonstrating the advantages for banks in moving to Microsoft Windows Vista and the Microsoft 2007 Office System by empowering employees via seamless access to information.

To learn more, PressPass interviewed Greg Haislip, banking industry solutions director for Microsoft’s U.S. Financial Services Group, for additional details behind these announcements.

Greg Haislip, Director, Banking Industry Solutions, Microsoft U.S. Financial Services Group

PressPass: Why is something like the Banking Integration Factory needed in the industry?

Haislip: Banks have always struggled with integrating multiple applications across multiple channels – phone, Web, branches, ATM and more. Couple that with all of the mergers in recent years, and banks are understandably frustrated with the complexities of their IT infrastructure. The Banking Integration Factory initiative is a program to help create “composite” applications from multiple vendors that already work well together – based on the Microsoft technology platform. We think this provides real value to banks in the long run.

PressPass: What will the Factory achieve?

Haislip: Essentially, the Factory establishes a set of guidance and tools to provide consistency in service implementations at retail banks – covering interfaces, compliance with WS-I profiles for increased interoperability and cross-cutting aspects like security, confidentiality, configuration, exceptions and logging.

Banks benefit by now having a flexible architecture that allows them to integrate their existing infrastructures with new applications using Web services. These composite applications can be deployed quickly and can help save banks enormous costs. In addition, any new or custom-developed applications can quickly be integrated into the infrastructure.

PressPass: How will this be accomplished?

Haislip: The Factory will provide architecture guidance, best practices and other information to help banks create a uniform environment for cross-channel integration. The goal is to provide better experiences for employees and customers across five key channels:

  • Branch tellers, who will service customers quickly, efficiently and accurately by being able to accept deposits and cash checks, issue non-traditional financial instruments and service customer account inquiries.

  • Branch sellers, who will sell and service customers with multiple products through immediate access to customer information, such as new account opening and forms management, loan applications, account and product servicing and product information.

  • Call centers, which will effectively interact with customers through an indirect or self-service capability by being able to process new account openings, provide assisted and self-service transactions, customer service and resolution, and build customer relationships

  • Online banking, which will enable remote self-service via the Internet by processing transactions, electronic bill presentment and payments, E-statements, money movement and account inquiries.

  • ATMs, which will enable customer self-service by giving access to account information, processing self-service transactions statement printing and extended product sales.

PressPass: How does the announcement affect Microsoft?

Haislip: This release underscores Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to the banking industry and some of its root problems, such as cross-channel consistency and integration. It also reaffirms Microsoft’s role as a leader in providing software that helps financial firms transform the customer, employee and operations experience so they can maximize profitability.

PressPass: How many partners have agreed to be a part of this program?

Haislip: We are leveraging the latest advances in the Microsoft platform, Microsoft .NET and technology solutions from ARGO Data Resource Corporation, Corillian, Getronics, Harland Financial Solutions and Jack Henry & Associates Inc. Others partners supporting the initiative include Portrait Software, Fair Isaac Corporation and AdviceAmerica.

PressPass: Why is the Windows Vista and 2007 Office System white-paper announcement important to the banking industry?

Haislip: The white paper outlines how banks of all sizes can gain tremendous business benefits by moving to Windows Vista and the 2007 Office System. Titled “Unified Communications and Collaboration for the Banking Industry,” it outlines how banks can use these new technologies to unify their business communications, empower teams through workspaces, connect people, processes and information and enable work anywhere. Microsoft’s overall vision is to empower employees from within retail banks to share information, communicate with the right people at the right time, and take full advantage of the range of mobile devices, the Internet and the 2007 Office System.

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