Tech Terms to Consider and Watch


Future Tech

By Vanessa Drucker

Technology is always changing, adapting and reinventing. With this churning of creativity, the terminology and the concepts behind them are also continually surfacing. Here are five technology terms, concepts and activities that community bankers are likely to hear more about and possibly apply in the coming months.

Omnichannel. It’s an annoying buzzword, but it’s also a useful concept describing the direction toward greater integration bank technology systems and channels are heading. Omnichannel involves providing streamlined, synchronized interactions across multiple customer touch points. Such systems would attempt to provide a more seamless customer experience and more efficient backroom technology infrastructures. They would supposedly advance from today’s “multi-channel” experience, which typically has provided services and touch points for customers by bolting together various separate channels and platforms.

Those touch points include branches, online banking, call centers, ATMs, mobile banking, email and instant messaging, and now social media platforms.

In theory, which is harder than practice, omnichannel banking would fully and efficiently integrate and leverage transaction and touch point data to eliminate the information silos and disjointed service experiences for customers. The concept also incorporates real-time transaction clearing and balances across different platforms—whether at the branch or online—that the banking industry has been moving toward for years.

Identity 2.0. With cyberattacks on financial institutions and companies everywhere increasing in number, sophistication, scale and monetary losses, the need for additional layers of fraud prevention has ratcheted up. Companies everywhere are seeking security technologies that to better authenticate their customers online as well as to better detect cybercriminals and malware. The concept of Identify 2.0 is a term that represents a standard in how the next progression of technologies—including biometric systems and behavioral analytics—will work together to more reliably thwart cyberattacks and more securely protect customer information and accounts. Incorporated into the concept are security systems that can adapt rapidly to ever-changing nature and tactics of digital threats.

Technology as a Service. TaaS refers to the outsourcing and centralizing a bank’s computer hardware and software needs to a single specialty company. In theory, TaaS would allow community banks to rent all of their technology from one company for a fixed contracted fee. Banks would no longer need to replace hardware or software on a scheduled basis, relieving banks of ongoing challenges of maintaining hardware and software maintenance across multiple systems.

Bluetooth Low Energy. Bluetooth Low Energy is a more advanced version of the technology providing wireless area network transmissions for various personal devices. This new version of Bluetooth extends the range and uses and lowers the energy and cost of transmitting signals from devices, including location signals. The technology’s improvements essentially allow for more wireless communication capability in a wider range of devices.

Banks are already operating pilot projects to explore Bluetooth LE’s potential for boosting customer engagement and revenues. For example, beacon sensors detecting when a customer enters a branch could send a welcome ping and message to the customer’s device. Tailored messages and assistance could then be delivered to the customers, such as individualized marketing offers. Customer data and traffic patterns a bank receives could also to provide feedback for develop better products and service, and more effective marketing.

Local intelligence. Geographic mapping systems were formerly a niche technology, first used by geographers, government intelligence agencies and land management companies. Now, however, these systems—the power of which is available, of course, almost instantly to everyday people through smartphone apps—can employ sophisticated analysis with an array of data for businesses. The opportunity is a wide new range of potential actionable insights for businesses. Raw, random data could be filtered, structured and stored to inform banks about their customer relationships as well as help banks make operational decisions.

Coupled with potentially powerful computing analysis behind them, the mapping power of local intelligence may aid decisions involving their customers that could range from positioning or relocating branches or ATMs, evaluating the impact of competitor locations, or assisting in potential mergers and acquisitions.

Vanessa Drucker is a freelance writer in New York.