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Representing business: CBD CIO

Armed with a three year business plan, CBD has ensured that key business executives understand the role and value of technology. “Most business people are IT savvy and interestingly, in a very mature working model, IT is in fact directed by the steering committee that comprises of the CEO and the three General Managers of the business – business group, systems operations and finance,” says Amir Afzal, Assistant General Manager, ITD at the Commercial Bank of Dubai.

Based on the business plan and the supporting IT roadmap, all decisions are taken collectively with the business playing a crucial role in working with Afzal and his team to cascade its benefits from top down.

“This change has been effective for the last three years and thanks to strong management support, each business group is supported by an IT strategy that understands their specific requirements,” he says.

Interestingly, need identification is not an adhoc activity. “This is a formal process that is followed and the team members collectively put together requirements and analyse the business areas that need improvement. IT then plays the critical role of actually translating that business need into technology based solutions that will enable the objectives to be realised,” he adds.

All about managing relationships

Any tight business and IT strategy alignment initiative needs to be supported by an even stronger vendor or partner strategy. At CBD, the need for an integrated business application roadmap defines the vendors the bank works with.

“When we set our IT strategy we wanted all our applications to be integrated. From there, the roadmap had to ensure that every system and application is integrated without duplication. So middleware was clearly the way forward,” says Afzal.

Integrating customer information for a unified view is a core objective at CBD. “For example, all systems that hold a customer’s information have a single customer number attached. So this means that an activity of a client can be tracked and managed across credit cards, banking and loan transactions that the person may have.

Tying it all in

While many organisations typically look at CRM implementations in phase two of their plans, at CBD, it is a critical priority project. This is also a project that has significantly integrated the business units and key business executives into the planning and delivery process. “CRM is a priority investment and currently we are integrating key business units into the overarching plan. While different units have been using different solutions, many of them built in house, we are working towards standardisation and integration,” shared Afzal.

A better view

The Investment Management business unit in particular is a case in point of how it is now being brought into the CRM fold, to serve the needs of the wealth management line of activity. To meet this requirement, the company decided to invest in Matrix, an Investment Management solution from Avanza. “We used to manage this activity and track clients using excel, but we faced a number of reporting limitations and the risk management view was also limited. So we wanted a module with wealth management and we will now be integrated with the whole CRM project,” says Faisel Quereshi, Head Equity Capital Markets, Business Development, Investment Group General Management, CBD.

“With this implementation, one report extract will offer a big picture view of the customer’s activity across the lines of activity. This ties in well with our plan to offer our wealth management clients an international and special experience. Following this integration, we will extend the benefits of the CRM to include other activities in this group including funds management, IPO management and banking insurance over the next six to eight months,” emphasises Afzal.

This project has also proved that IT truly works for the business. “Every manager of a business in the organisation is given the choice to work with IT on defining their requirements and also selecting the solution that will work for them. We work to meet their requirements as long as solutions can fit into the overall integration plan,” he adds.

Extending benefits

CBD is also focused on extending the benefits of CRM to include a variety of customer touch points. In line with this objective, the bank went in for an upgrade to Unison 2.0, the new release of Avanza’s Unison Contact Center CRM solution that it has been using for three years.

“The upgrade was a release upgrade that offered us additional features. We did have an in house standalone solution that we called Customer Profile, which provided single view of total customer relationship but CRM provided many other modules including single view of customer total relationship, lead management, sales, complaint management, e-forms etc, also integrated with Contact Centre. Therefore CRM Unison 2.0 has been enhanced to include the entire Customer Profile functionality, which is now being rolled out to all branches, says Afzal.

Next in line to be included will be the bank’s Corporate banking activity. “We have what we call a ‘satellite system’ that we currently use to manage corporate client relationship for Corporate clients. The 3rd phase will focus on bringing this into the CRM integration plan,” shares Afzal.

Knowing the customer

The big punch from CRM always comes from effective customer segmentation and this is something that CBD is keen to leverage from. “Each business unit has independent business strategies and methods to grow their customer base. But with the CRM integration roadmap, we have found a definite way to help these units to effectively re-segment customers between each unit and efficiently up-sell services to customers based on their activity history,” says Afzal.

Quite clearly, CRM is being viewed as an all encompassing strategy, offering the business a 360 degree view of the customer. CBDs other business areas including Islamic Banking, Corporate Banking and Treasury are all set to be part of this integration effort.

Enterprise automation aids growth

CBD also has sufficient areas of the business that are automated; particularly credit card processing and loans which made the recent CRM upgrade more effective. The road ahead will look at expanding the scope for process automation. “We want to ensure that close to 31 business processes are automated across applications,” he says.

This will be achieved through implementation of an integrated solution comprising of Microsoft Great Plains, Avanza Zenith and customised processes based on Microsoft SharePoint Server. The project is being undertaken in two phases; Phase I, which in progress, includes automation of 9 key business processes. These processes relate to Procurement, Asset Management, Inventory, Payments processing as well as Real Estate Management.

With a remarkably mature IT for business strategy, CBD clearly has a strong pipeline of projects that will enhance the workings of its business. “We will continue to invest strongly in technology but with a view to ensure that we actually give business users the choice,” affirms Afzal. Quite clearly, technology will continue to be a democratic way of life at the bank.

The drill down

Software vendor Avanza has enjoyed a strong partnership with Commercial Bank of Dubai with the latter having recently upgraded to a newer version of its Unison CRM product. “Avanza has enjoyed a healthy partnership with CBD and has been adding value to CBD’s expert technical team by providing efficient solutions customised to meet the ever-changing needs of a dynamic banking industry,” says Umer Rabbani, Sector Manager, Banking and Finance, Avanza Solutions.

Of particular interest is CBD’s thrust on CRM, a project that we have worked on with them in collaboration. Understanding, knowing and getting a 360 degree view of the customer has been a core objective of the project,” adds Rabbani. Here is a closer look at the technology implementation.

Investment Management Solution (Matrix)

Commercial Bank of Dubai has chosen to implement Avanza’s Investment Management Solution, Matrix. The implementation of the entire operations suite, which includes Propriety Book Investment Management, its Wealth Management, Local and Global IPO Services through their Capital Markets division will allow separate entities (bank / customers) to be maintained, whilst enabling both to interact and utilise the system effectively. Following the implementation, the bank’s propriety book can be a customer to the wealth management, and at the same time, a wealth management customer can be provided discretionary portfolio management services by the investment division of the bank.

The solution is completely integrated into the banking CRM implemented by Avanza at CBD. All Relationship Managers are able to view a complete 360 degrees of information of all their customers, and are able to cross sell by establishing proper customer segmentation.

UNISON 2.0 upgrade

CBD has been a user of Avanza’s Unison – Contact Center CRM Solution for over three years. The recent upgrade to Unison 2.0 is expected to offer better performance and scalability besides also consolidating all bank customers’ information in one place. This version of Unison provides full configuration options giving bank the flexibility to create/update workflows, define information to be captured for business requests and complaints.

The solution is used at the Call Center and is integrated with Avaya telephony. This information is presented to Call Center agents and back office users in a 360 degree view which presents all customer interactions with the bank in one place, and hence enables users to service customer with up-to the minute information.

Complete with eForms, Complaints and Sales Lead Management modules, the application facilitates logging and processing of business requests, complaints and sales leads received from customers. All of these modules are driven by Unison’s workflow engine that enables automatic routing, performance tracking and escalation.

Enterprise process automation

The Enterprise Process Automation application aims at streamlining and computerising essential business process handled by the Administration Department at CBD. This will be achieved through implementation of an integrated solution comprising of Microsoft Great Plains, Avanza Zenith and customised processes based on Microsoft SharePoint Server. The project is being undertaken in two phases; Phase I, which in progress, includes automation of 9 key business processes. These processes relate to Procurement, Asset Management, Inventory, Payments processing as well as Real Estate Management.

In addition to meeting admin department’s core requirements for implementation of ERP, the solution also offers approval workflows and maps to the department’s processes and automates all processes from beginning to end.

Similarly the Real Estate functionality of the solution completely automates all aspects of leasing inquiry leasing contracts management, payments handling through cheque and cash. The solution would achieve end to end automation of admin procedures of CBD and help in providing complete visibility of business processes.

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