BYOD in banks can only mean one thing

A recent research report from Ovum shows device choice is spreading across the global financial services sector. The fact that UC adoption is rising at the same time is no accident

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There is no such thing as ‘banker’s hours’ anymore.

Sure, financial institutions may lock the doors of their physical locations around 5:00 pm. everyday, but the availability of account information and the ability to conduct transactions by phone or, increasingly, via a Web site means 24/7 banking is now the norm. Consumers expect that banks will be able to provide them data and services at almost any time. It won’t be long before they expect the same of a bank’s employee expertise.

Earlier this month the U.K. research firm Ovum released a study called ‘The Future of Unified Communications and Collaboration in Financial Services,’ which includes responses from more than 140 institutions around the world. It underscores how, many years after struggling with IP-PBXes, banks and other entities in this sector are taking a more holistic approach to their enterprise collaboration strategy:

Financial services institutions (FSI) represent a very mature vertical market for UCC, especially when viewed as part of a global, cross-industry picture. FSIs reported IPT penetration levels of 87% against a cross-industry average of 75%.

When asked about BYOD, 57% of FSIs indicated support for employee-owned smartphones and tablets, with one-third indicating support for those that have arrived in the organisation without official vetting.

This is encouraging, for one important reason. I suspect that this report is part of an earlier study on UC from Ovum I came across a few months ago that looked at many different industries. In that more broad-based sample, Ovum said, “Almost 60% of organizations with a UCC investment budget consult their end users, but don’t allow them to influence their UCC plans. In fact, only 7% of decision-makers say users have a high degree of influence.”

It’s hard to imagine collaboration being effective if user needs aren’t a major part of the requirements definitions phase of a project. If financial services firms are showing a more open and positive attitude towards BYOD, that suggests to me that they, as a sector, are demonstrating the kind of inclusiveness necessary to encourage adoption of next-generation unified communications technologies.

Banks, obviously, have had to learn to accept their customers’ demands for increased choice of transaction channel — they no longer expect (or would want) them all to walk into a branch. Perhaps BYOD policies are a way for banks to recognize the value of choice for their employees, as well as investing in collaboration technologies that will help them connect with customers in every possible way.

I don’t see many banks advertising or promoting their BYOD programs to the outside world, but maybe that’s a next step. By showing they treat their employees as individuals — who have specific preferences in how they use technology — it will reinforce the fact they’re willing to meet and collaborate with customers on their own terms as well. The whole point of “banker’s hours” was to reinforce a message that financial institutions could do as they pleased. BYOD and UC sends a radically different message that it’s employees — and more importantly, customers — who are now in charge.

Find out how to make unified communications happen by watching the on-demand Webinar about Allstream’s Hosted Collaboration Solution, and download the Executive Brief on BYOD

Image courtesy of Greenleaf Designs at

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