• June 1, 2006
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Dialing Up Financial Services

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Amdocs continues its quiet penetration of the financial services market by leveraging the lessons it learned in dominating the telecom industry. In March the company announced general availability of three new solutions for banks, all of which are built around the same customer-facing strategies the company used with its telecom customers. The three solutions will complement Amdocs' Dynamic Banking model, and are designed to improve a bank's revenue by offering personalized service and product packaging to customers. Inspired by the telecom industry's grand slam package, which includes telephone, television, broadband Internet, and wireless services, Amdocs has tailored the new banking solutions around the idea of product packaging. It makes sense, as banks are attempting to woo customers into having their savings accounts, checking accounts, mortgage, et cetera, all with the same bank. "A lot of the processes are parallel to each other," says Martin Schneider, enterprise software analyst at The 451 Group. "It's a natural extension for Amdocs." The first product, Dynamic Pricing and Product Bundling Solution, will integrate customer information, product offerings, and pricing into a single software component that can operate throughout the entire banking enterprise. An example would be an enterprisewide catalog encompassing all products and services as a customer service rep (CSR) reference tool. "A customer could walk into a branch or be on the phone with a CSR for one issue and receive additional offers, such as a discounted percent on their credit card," says Mike Blum, division president of Amdocs financial services. The Customer Communications Solution enables banks to aggregate customer account information and personalize customer services, such as regulating statement design, production, and fulfillment through print and electronic formats. Finally, the Mobile and Micro-payments Solution is designed to address another trend Amdocs has spotted within the telecom industry. "We believe the cell phone will become a payment vehicle," Blum says. "Working with telecom companies, we wanted to provide the applications to use cell phones to pay bills. Now we're extending that to financial services." Mobile and Micro-payments Solution will provide banks with the same capabilities via a secure infrastructure to link a mobile phone network with a banking network. Amdocs is also developing a future solution designed to provide many of the same functions that Dynamic Banking provides, but tailored for a bank's "high net worth customers," Blum says. "The top 20 percent of a bank's customers account for nearly 60 percent of its revenue." These solutions provide a perfect complement to the transactional and customer analytics applications a bank might find with a typical financial services CRM suite, Blum says. He sees Amdocs' Dynamic Banking model working in conjunction with, as opposed to competing directly with, either Siebel or SAP in the enterprise CRM space. "Financial services has always been the biggest vertical for CRM," he says. "This product and pricing functionality isn't available on the other CRM suites. They provide one half of the equation. Amdocs' Dynamic model is the other half." But that's going to change. According to Blum, Amdocs will be coming out with a full financial services CRM suite that will compete directly with other enterprise CRM players in this vertical. In addition, he says Amdocs will be launching products that will "compete more directly in the back office area as well." Depending on release dates, these products could lay the seeds for future competition within the enterprise CRM space, especially once Oracle begins pushing customers to switch to Fusion. "Will all current Siebel customers upgrade to Fusion? Maybe or maybe not," Schneider says. "If not, what does Amdocs have to lose? If they begin now and get some early financial wins with solid ROI numbers, that only improves their situation once the real PeopleSoft/Fusion fallout comes. But this is way off. We're talking at least four years out."
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