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Web 2.0 Opportunities & Threats
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Table of Contents < 3
Solutions & Case Studies
Trends & Strategies
22. The Comarch Concierge
firstname.lastname@example.org Web 2.0 in the world of finance WEB 2.0 is becoming a victim of its own success. This was unavoidable. All attractive technology must go through a phase where interest in it increases suddenly and intensely.
Powered by Web 2.0 Opportunities and Threats The growth and development of technology is making system users more and more demanding while, at the same time, the new demands and trends feed back to the technology and stimulate further advances. Each new movement brings the opportunity for further development, but also the danger of taking a wrong turn. How does this operate in the case of WEB 2.0.? Let’s try and find an answer to that question.
Soap Bubble 2.0 Since 2006, when the U.S. weekly ‘Time’ announced that we were all Person of the Year, we can all walk proudly down the street with our heads held high. Once again, my sincere congratulations. We were all lined up alongside characters such as John Paul II, Lech Wałęsa and, perhaps with less satisfaction, George W. Bush. The question, though, is what is it that prompted the ‘Time’ editors to make their generous award. The answer is succinct but a little contradictory – WEB 2.0.
DnB NORD Bank Polska SA This bank is a rising star among financial institutions and factoring occupies a special place among its products. The bank’s managers and Comarch specialists have combined their talents and energies to develop an IT solution that guarantees the bank first place on the trade financing market, and that simplifies and completely automates factoring.
14. Success Breeds Success
VIP Customer Care System The key 20 % of customers generate 80% of the revenue! Is it really possible? How can your company efficiently care for profitable customers?
25. New Trends in IT Solutions for the Insurance Market
27. In the Beginning There was
Comarch Factoring so far We’ve already achieved a lot but there’s even more to do. The last year could without a doubt be called the ‘year of factoring’ for the Central and East European markets that are just getting into this business, as well as for Comarch as a supplier of multi-level factoring solutions.
Position with CRM
Direct insurance means selling insurance products by telephone or via the Internet. Why have direct insurance firms been successful?.
How do you implement Business Process Management standards in financial institutions where the sheer profusion of products, procedures and interdependent systems is enough to make your head spin?
16. Building a Powerful Market 28. Dial a Policy Customer relations programs The intense rise in competition on the insurance market intensified by globalization, a more liberal legal environment and the accelerating development of modern technologies presents insurance companies with new challenges.
30. Fleet Cards Comarch offers a flexible and complex solution that is not only for the market giants – Comarch Fuel Cards.
20. Call Center, Contact Center – 32. Group work What Next? Call centers began life in the USA in the 1970s. Airlines and insurance companies were seeking to lower customer service costs and at the same time increase customer satisfaction. The key to success turned out to be telephony, and in particular the call center system.
Each company has its own identity and needs, selecting an appropriate system and adapting its functions requires an individual approach to implementation.
34. Sales and Bank Customer Service 2007
Comarch’s Annual Conference for Financial Institutions.
Editor-in-Chief: Michał Zawisza Assistant Editor: Łucja Burek Proofreading: Scott Reynolds Layout&DTP&Graphics: Maciej Urbanek, Adam Dąbrowski Publisher: Comarch SA, Al. Jana Pawła II 39a, 31-864 Kraków Tel. +48 12 64 61 000, Fax: +48 12 64 61 100, e-mail: email@example.com www.comarch.com Print: Drukarnia SKLENIARZ, ul. Lea 118, 31-033 Kraków Circulation: 1 500
Technology Review is a free publication available by subscription. The articles published here can be copied and reproduced only with the knowledge and consent of the editors. The names of products and companies mentioned are trade marks and trade names of their producers.
firstname.lastname@example.org Web 2.0 in the world of finance
WEB 2.0 is becoming a victim of its own success. This was unavoidable. All attractive technology must go through a phase where interest in it increases suddenly and intensely.
technology review [www.comarch.com]
In Focus < 5
period has been best described by Gartner’s coinage, ‘peak of inflated expectations’. Luckily, unlike another extremely popular acronym, CRM – WEB 2.0, it won’t become a product you have to buy and implement in order to survive on the market (this, at least at the height of the fever, was what people thought about CRM). Neither is WEB 2.0 a technology – at least not one, single, concrete technology.
If it’s not a product, and it’s not a technology, what is it? The easiest way to understand WEB 2.0 is to look at what it does in action. This exercise helps us to grasp its most important feature: that it changes the way the Internet is used by ordinary people – people who aren’t computer specialists. It can truly be said that WEB 2.0 democratizes the Internet. To set up your own website with extensive multimedia that is updated five or six times every day, you don’t need to know anything at all about programming. This was unimaginable only a few years ago. Then, even refined HTML editors couldn’t liberate users from the mental burden created by the need to brood over tags, scripts and publishing new files on the server. The sites looked different according to the web browser being used, but even after publishing a brilliantly designed site, with every detail in place, there still remained the key problem – how to get people to visit it. The elements of technology that make up WEB 2.0 solves these and other similar problems. To publish your own content all you need is a basic knowledge of computers and web browsers. The best way to get people to visit the site is through friends – nothing attracts new readers and lookers better than direct contact with popular blogs, and with photograph and video profiles on services like YouTube and MySpace. At the same time, the universal availability of broadband Internet, amateur digital photography and easy-to-use video-making tools is no accident. WEB 2.0 is both the technological consequence of this and the condition for its continued growth. All these phenomena are leading to fundamental changes in user-mentality. At a bank or an insurance company the WEB 2.0 users are both the clients and the employees. This is why nobody can allow themselves to completely ignore the growing popularity of WEB 2.0. Here are a few important examples that could influence changes in the way financial institutions work in the future.
Social lending Zopa.com advertises itself with the slogan, ‘Where people meet to lend and borrow money’. If we
replaced the word ‘meet’ with the verb ‘come’, this sentence could describe the function of almost all the commercial retail banks. But in this lexical difference lies the essence of the phenomenon known as ‘social lending’. There are no customers. Instead, there are users and partners. There are no institutions. Instead, there is a community that exists thanks to the World Wide Web. No one makes money on the difference between loan and deposit interest rates – at least not in theory. Social lending is advertised both as an alternative form of investing resources by people who are inclined to accept a higher risk, and as a source of cheap credit for those seeking finance. Both zopa. com and its more developed American equivalent, Prosper.com, are becoming a more and more popular alternative to traditional financial institutions. Whether adopting this idea on Polish soil is a realistic proposition was a topic for discussion at a sectoral conference organized by Comarch. Though the majority were sceptical, pointing to a long list of sociological and legal barriers, the convergence of the European financial market will undoubtedly be a factor conducive to the growth of alternative banking.
Second Life Second Life, the 3D online digital world for living out unfulfilled dreams is certainly no longer a complete novelty. On Second Life, users worn out by the daily grind of real life meet to transform themselves into the most diverse of characters, in the most diverse of ways. Second Life has proven to be a popular way to pass the day and the list of registered avatars [the name for the characters people create for themselves on Second Life] is now close to ten million, while the number of people on Second Life at any one time is now in the tens of thousands. The appearance of real companies in the virtual world was only a matter of time, and the number of things they can do there is virtually unlimited. The reasons most frequently mentioned are advertising, recruitment, and technical assistance connected with the products the companies sell. This tendency has not escaped the notice of financial institutions, which are more and more willing to open virtual branches. The leader in this respect is Wells Fargo, which took its first steps into the virtual world as long ago as 2005 – two years after Second Life was established. Officially, the main reason for this presence is to cultivate future customers – students and schoolchildren. There’s no doubt that the marketing dimension of this education is just as important, even though much less is said about it. nr 2/2008
Firure 1. Web2.0 – Popular bets % respondents1 Using or planning to use Not under consideration
Is your company investing in any of the following Web 2.0 technologies or tools?
Web services (n = 2,615) Collective intelligence (n=1,987) Peer-to-peer networking (n=2,345) Social networking (n=2,173)
Respondens whose investment plans are uncertain are not shown; respondens who answered “not familiar enough to say” or “don’t know” are excluded. 1
Really Simple Syndication
RSS2 (n=1,755) Podcasts (n=2,325) Wikis (n=1,705) Blogs (n=2,431)
Source: 2007, McKinsey Survey on Internet technologies
First Meta Bank – perhaps the first real bank in the virtual world – entered the online digital world in a different form. The bank carries interest-bearing accounts (these are held in Linden Dollars that are exchangeable via the Lindex system for real USD at a free-floating rate that oscillates around 270L$ per USD) for Second Life users and
Tomasz Marszał Comarch SA Position: Consulting Director Sector: Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets
technology review [www.comarch.com]
allows them to make credit-card purchases in virtual shops. The Linden Labs company has recently announced that it intends to opensource Second Life software. Commentators think that this should allow the construction of private virtual worlds, where, for example, employees can meet within their own companies. Something tells me, though, that the habit of meeting real people, by a real coffee machine, will not die out for a good long time yet. While we’re looking ahead to consider the WEB 2.0 development trajectories it’s worth taking note of the facebook.com phenomenon. It was established in 2004 by a twenty-year-old Harvard University student. It is now one of the most popular social-networking websites and is stealing the thunder of the hitherto leaders in this field – MySpace.com. Mark Zuckerberg’s baby is now estimated to be worth 10 million USD, and the company that runs the service now employs three-hundred people. These figures tell us that WEB 2.0 is, after all, something more than a marketing slogan. But the reason why facebook could represent a breakthrough in Internet growth lies elsewhere. The service enables all users to install their own WWW applications on the platform and to make it available to all registered users. They can use these applications to enrich and enhance their profiles – these are the dynamic sites they themselves build and fill with multimedia content so creating bonds and associations with other users of the social network. In the space of two months two-thousand of these applications have appeared, which has exceeded the expectations of even the founders
themselves. Their potential uses in the world of financial and news sites are very evident – users would certainly warmly welcome the opportunity to have a free hand in programming the appearance, feel and behavior of a system presenting financial data from a variety of markets.
Conclusions When faced with something as multifaceted as WEB 2.0 it’s difficult to find a single, correct strategy. To some extent, the image an institution wants to present determines its approach to new technology and new communication techniques. Here is one example: a modern Internet bank targeting young people, and using the latest technology as a matter of course, can only gain from the pioneering implementation of the very newest technological innovations – videochats with customers and being present in the online digital world. But most banks are conservative and want their customers to see them in that light. I would recommend those who remain unconvinced to at least keep an eye on how the technology and the uses they are applied to are developing. The best way to keep up with the various elements of WEB 2.0 is, of course, to use it! On the Internet it won’t be difficult to find any number of interesting blogs and RSS feeds edited by enthusiasts who are ready to devote all their free time to this topic. Thanks to their efforts, some of this fascination may rub off on the RSS and blog subscribers. From there, it’s just a small step to assessing and defining the need to use WEB 2.0 in your own organizations. <
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Powered by Web 2.0 Opportunities and Threats
The growth and development of technology is making system users more and more demanding while, at the same time, the new demands and trends feed back to the technology and stimulate further advances. Each new movement brings the opportunity for further development, but also the danger of taking a wrong turning. How does this operate in the case of WEB 2.0.? Let’s try and find an answer to that question.
is forcing its way into the reality of information systems and irreversibly transforming their old patterns. The changes are visible at every level. The new expectations of the Internet communities call for the systems to offer new functionality. New functionality means new technology and new infrastructure requirements. WEB 2.0 is also a true revolution in the way business is done via the Internet.
New approaches, new requirements, new technologies One fundamental change brought about by WEB 2.0 is in the approach to the Internet system user. Up to now there have been two camps: the web service owners and their audiences. Traditional Internet portals have their editorial teams. Their task is to supply reliable content at a consistent quality level. All the audience can do is read it – heaven forbid that they should have any influence on its content. The
nearest they get to this is to offer their comments about a particular article on discussion forums. But here, surveying the scene, is a moderator, who will not allow anything ‘politically incorrect’ to appear. There is a similar situation with other types of systems such as Internet banking and the Intranets of large corporations. In this case the users proceed according to a tried and trusted format imposed on them by an ‘enlightened’ business administrator. WEB 2.0 tears down these barricades and thoroughly
changes the thinking style. The ordinary user ceases to be just another faceless member of the audience and becomes an active co-creator with the power to influence form and content.
Opportunities Perpetual motion with no editor? It is clear that it is mostly the quantity of material available and the frequency with which new content is added that makes a web service attractive. In the traditional model the bottleneck was provided by the capacities, talents and abilities of the editorial team. New solutions, such as blogs, wikis and all the various ways multimedia is delivered, mean that the users themselves can add to and extend the content without the owner’s participation. This radically shifts the centre of gravity where maintaining a service’s attractiveness is concerned. It is no longer necessary to laboriously compile attractive content. Now it is enough to provide easy and convenient conditions for the internauts themselves to do so. Building loyal audiences. Until now, users have had virtually no influence on the form and content of Internet systems and services. This means that their only outlet for expressing their freedom has been to cease using them. To prevent this, owners had to resort to a variety of tricks in order to keep users when, in fact, there was, in essence, nothing really there to secure and maintain their loyalty. The service had to have the freshest information and be one step ahead of the competition. The WEB 2.0 epoch brings profound changes to this state of affairs. Thanks to having an active influence on the identity and content of the system the users themselves form a community of responsibil-
ity for content and therefore become much more attached to the system. New advertising channels. In traditional media, advertisements were based on one-way traffic. We tell the customers how wonderful we are and they take us (or not) at our word. WEB 2.0 gives us entirely new options. Instead of pushing and promoting our product by spending a fortune on preparing advertisements, we can give it to the users to try out knowing that they enjoy the trust and confidence of the fellow members of their community. Their opinions and observations will be much more credible than even the finest advertisement. Consolidation or the synergy effect. A further factor in WEB 2.0 is the strong emphasis on integration and consolidation. More than ever before there will be pressure on services to integrate and so make rapid exchange of content and services
Furthermore, a censored site is likely to be strongly opposed by users. The systems’ owners must give this issue some very serious consideration. The explosion needs processing power. Until now, system infrastructure has been easier to maintain. The clearly distinguishable status of users as either inside or outside the firewall made it easier to sustain system security. Furthermore, the nature of internaut traffic, which in fact meant simply reading information off servers, meant that capacity and efficiency (content storage, for example) could be significantly increased. In the realm of WEB 2.0 systems must be dynamic, interactive and flawless. What is more, it will be far more complicated to manage user-access authorization when the boundary between administrators and endusers is more and more blurred. All of this implies an insatiable appetite for a level of computational
power that makes the capacity of the hardware used up until now look like a drop in the ocean. When building this new type of system it is necessary to seriously take this message into account: even the best system will be useless unless it is supported by the appropriate hardware. Isn’t this all a little complicated? Exactly. WEB 2.0 is a land of amazing possibilities where we can have everything immediately and exert influence on everything. But these possibilities also mean much greater demands placed on the internaut. Perhaps we should be wondering what the actual percentage of people in society who are genuinely open to such radical change is. Might it not be the case, that for the average user, systems conforming to WEB 2.0 are simply a little too elaborate and complex to use? This is a challenge for the institutions planning to develop systems in this direction. Without analyzing the target group and producing a service that meets their needs it may turn out that their services, instead of reaching a mass audience, appeal only to a handful of enthusiasts. Is there a middle way? WEB 2.0 is a realm of remarkable possibilities that until now have seemed beyond the reach of Internet systems. It is also a domain where Internet users are displaying their originality and commitment to ideals, which is shown by the way – as they forge new communities – they freely and generously exchange information. But there is a very thin line, easily blurred, between a system that is useful and ergonomic and one overloaded with an outlandish bundle of bizarre and useless functionalities. There is no straightforward recipe for a WEB 2.0 – compatible system. Its designers must find a middle way and walk the line between novelty and conservatism, and so please those who will actually use the systems. <
Sławomir Gierek Comarch SA Posiotion: Consulting Manager Sektor: Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets
technology review [www.comarch.com]
Who’s flying this plane? This is WEB 2.0’s biggest strength and simultaneously its Achilles heel. Handing over service construction to users will accelerate their development enormously. But on the other hand it will mean relinquishing all control over the process. One can say that the essence of WEB 2.0 is that such control should be absent so that society itself assesses and verifies the content added by users. But from the viewpoint of many financial and public institutions, which must have the public’s confidence, this is unfortunately not so simple. Not everybody understands what the new publishing philosophy is all about, and it is necessary to take all customers into consideration including the conservative minded who think that what appears on a website must have been authorized by its owner. Perhaps some censorship of the material to be published would be a solution here. This would require, though, either a large number of employees or considerable delays in publication.
In Focus < 9
Soap bubble 2.0
Since 2006, when the U.S. weekly ‘Time’ announced that we were all Person of the Year, we can all walk proudly down the street with our heads held high. Once again, my sincere congratulations. We were all lined up alongside characters such as John Paul II, Lech Wałęsa and, perhaps with less satisfaction, George W. Bush. The question, though, is what is it that prompted the ‘Time’ editors to make their generous award. The answer is succinct but a little contradictory – WEB 2.0.
Person of the Year award was given to all Internet users, which is ‘Time’s’ way of honoring their contribution to the mass growth of Internet content and social networks.
As the journalist Lev Grossman said, ‘It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before’. According to him, Wikipedia is a ‘cosmic compendium’ and MySpace is an ‘on-
line metropolis’. All the web services and Internet-community attributes mentioned fit in with the WEB 2.0 trend (the name was coined by Tim O’Reilly). The majority of web services and forums
devoted to WEB 2.0 provide hundreds of indications concerning the creation of Internet communities, and predict the coming of a new Internet era which will see government and corporate control replaced by the complete decentralization of all resources made available via the Internet. From being passive consumers, users will be transformed into active members of the Internet community. There are, of course, critical voices. As early as 2005 ‘The Economist’ published an article which stated very clearly that WEB 2.0 is an attempt to return to the overheated situation of 2000 and the Dot-com bubble. The Internet commentators make their voices heard in a slightly different spirit. Jakob Nielsen, for example, the usability guru, criticizes the new trends for a lack of functional, intuitive and straightforward user interfaces – even where they are functional, they are a little too heavy to really be called useful. Unfortunately, in the midst of all this Internet turmoil, there is an absence of systematic analysis and assessment of the bundle of technologies and ideas sheltering under the WEB 2.0 umbrella. This article aims to begin a constructive discussion on the subject. As is the case with all the latest ideas, especially those connected with IT, every new concept or technology has to have a set of design patterns. No matter how we may understand the concept of design patterns in WEB 2.0, Tim O’Reilly, who had the idea, sets out eight patterns and guidelines for a web service model in his article at http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/whatis-web-20.html. Let’s have a close look at some of them to assess how visionary and innovative they are, and to what degree they may be the basis of the Internet revolution that awaits us. The first pattern that O’Reilly mentions is the ‘long tail’. This idea was introduced by Chris Anderson to describe several small web services working together and exchanging content to add new dimensions and create something altogether novel – a new service, for example. To paraphrase, we can say that the ‘long tail’ is ‘strength in numbers’. Of course, data-management algorithms constitute the added value of these services – they distinguish them from simple webpage bundling. The authors drew upon the examples of companies such as Overture and Google, who combined the publishing of information about other services with excellent data-management. P2P networks, such as BitTorrent, represent another aspect of the same idea. BitTorrent uses the same communication protocol, FastTrack, as Skype. Without going into the details, we can say that, in P2P networks, some workstations connected to the network act simultaneously as clients and servers, so that they technology review [www.comarch.com]
In Focus < 11
are, in fact, relays. For example, telephoning via Skype using an internal network (at home or at work) with a firewall and a non-routable IP address on a work station (forgive the jargon), it is necessary to use a supernode, that is, the relay we mentioned above. File exchange operates in a similar way, for example, on the BitTorrent network. This means the complete decentralization of resources and no need to buy large and expensive servers and links, which would have served the connection and made files available. This approach fits snugly with the ‘long tail’ idea – the more users a service has (for example Skype), the better is its quality. As an example, there are 20,000 supernodes for Poland’s eight million Skype users. Let’s consider the implications of this. The first realization concerns using somebody’s resources (links, a workstation) to relay information even when we are not using Skype. Of
its platform architecture, data management and archiving, and load balancing secrets more closely than it does its search algorithm secrets. This means that companies (in this case Google) will possess more and more data on users, which they can sell on to other companies for marketing purposes. The first case of this happening with Google’s participation has already come to light when public opinion discovered that it had a datatransmission agreement with the People’s Republic of China. Now, associations and movements based on Free Software are being formed under the name of Open Data. Management and control of data on users belongs to the companies that provide them with access to their web service. Notwithstanding the efforts of users and the sincere goodwill of service operators, this data will be collected and archived. What, in that case, if the new big idea is
tant document (a doctoral thesis, for example) I would try to use sources where the quality of the information given is guaranteed, and which in this respect have an unquestionable authority. The examples given above far from exhaust the themes of O’Reilly’s article, but I hope that they present the WEB 2.0 issue in a slightly different light. My own opinion is that this trend is a very important step in the growth and development of the Internet, but at his stage it can only be an element in amateur and hobbyist Internet use. In the case of commercial systems the question of data management and quality guarantees is extremely important, but this, in the case of WEB 2.0, whose users are engaged in building its services, is often impossible. An additional point for consideration is that only around 10% of virtual community users, that is, MySpace, are actively engaged in ‘build-
course, when we install the software we agree to this (have a look at Skype’s license), but we don’t take responsibility for the quality of the connection. This means that the corporation managing Skype cannot guarantee a level of service that is certain, because it cannot control us – the users. Whether a Skype client who has bought a paid connection gets the right service level or not depends on the number of users and their goodwill. The high number of claims and actions against Skype from disappointed customers presented with bills for connections that are cut off, interrupted or unsuccessful confirm that this is a serious problem. These incidents are acceptable for as long as the customer uses Skype as a free service. As soon as money enters the equation, the problem becomes real. The second point concerns security. Here it is worth mentioning that the FastTrack protocol implementation is eBay’s trade secret. This means that nobody knows what extra functions the Skype program performs. From this point of view it is difficult to imagine how confidential data can be transmitted using this service. What is more, the data you want to transmit will be sent by another, unknown computer, which could easily capture and exploit the data. As we can see, the ‘long tail’ idea has some very significant disadvantages. In the case of websites and Internet services it is necessary to have confidence in the data received from other sources, while in the case of decentralized resources it is necessary to trust the service users. The next pattern concerns data management, ‘Data is the next Intel Inside’, which indicates that the most important element in the new WEB 2.0compatible business model is the data. Data management is a company’s key competence. Again, we can use Google as an example, which guards
the mass management of data on users, will decentralized network management within the WEB 2.0 idea bundle be like? The most frequently mentioned feature of WEB 2.0 services is the ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’, that is, ‘Users Add Value’. The standard example is the comparison between Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and Britannica Online. WEB 2.0 activists are falling over themselves to proclaim the end of the business model that Britannica Online represents. They argue that no one will pay for information if they can get it for free. It is difficult, of course, to resist this line of argument. But it is necessary to consider whether it is really possible to treat the Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia in the same way. As we all know, anyone who wants to add content to Wikipedia can do so. Here, it is not important whether someone has sufficient competence in a particular field of knowledge or not. This certainly does not mean that all the information on Wikipedia is of low quality, but the merit of the entries is certainly variable. This is the result of not having a system to manage and verify the data which appear there. Are the same accusations justified in the case of the programmers who, for a long time now, have been voluntarily engaged in a similar way in creating Free Software? There are certain differences. Software, unlike an encyclopedia entry, demands a more rigorous production procedure. Each programming team has a dedicated testing team whose responsibility it is to find mistakes in the software. In a word, software design must have an appropriate quality management system running alongside it. In the case of Wikipedia and similar endeavours, no such system is in place. The final decision concerning which encyclopedia to choose remains in the gift of the customer. I use Wikipedia myself every day, but if I was working on an impor-
ing’ the service. The remaining 90% are passive consumers. Are we really, then, in the middle of a revolution? <
Rafał Mrówka Comarch SA Position: Consulting Manager Sector: Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets
12 > Solutions & Case Studies
NORDFaktor DnB NORD Bank Polska SA
DnB NORD Bank Polska SA This bank is a rising star among financial institutions and factoring occupies a special place among its products. The bank’s managers and Comarch specialists have combined their talents and energies to develop an IT solution that guarantees the bank first place on the trade financing market, and that simplifies and completely automates factoring. technology review [www.comarch.com]
Analysis DnB NORD Bank has been operating on the Polish market since 2002 as a member of the DnB NORD banking group set up by NORD/LB Norddeutshe Landesbank Girozentrale with the largest Norwegian bank DnB NOR. The bank, which provides services to corporate clients, puts great emphasis on modern organizational structures based on, among other things, the use of up-to-date IT solutions. This means that there is no need to open a network of bricks and mortar branches and servicing the client is a fully automated information system process. The DnB NORD group, which began trading in Poland as DnB NORD Bank Polska SA, defined
its target market as the large and medium firms sector. The ‘bank made for companies’ stresses professional customer service as well as the creation and development of modern financial products. Right from the start, factoring was one of the bank’s strongest financial products. To attract clients and broaden its trade financing product range, the bank decided to implement a modern information platform for factoring. Comarch’s position on the international market, and its experience across the range of IT solutions for banking, convinced DnBNord to begin long-term and extensive cooperation with Comarch to implement and develop new applications.
Solutions & Case Studies < 13
The Major Challenges This project, carried out by Comarch for DnB Nord, was the software company’s first factoring system implementation of such comprehensive scope. As such, it demanded detailed analysis and research to lay the base for designing a system which would satisfy customer expectations and set a new quality standard on the IT solutions suppliers market for both the Polish, and international, factoring markets. The greatest challenge faced by the designers of the Comarch Factoring system (The bank’s name for it is NORDFaktor) was the race against time. Factoring is becoming more and more popular on the Polish and international markets thanks to simplified procedures and the resources clients can access to carry on the day-to-day business of their companies. At the same time, factoring is one of the more advanced financial services and it requires specialist knowledge as well as confident handling of complicated business processes. To meet these challenges, Comarch designed and implemented the NORDFaktor factoring system. A further expectation that system users have is that it should be able to grow and change as the factoring business grows and changes. That factoring continues to have a very vibrant growth dynamic on the Polish market is a clear signal that a dedicated IT solution is required for this financial product. The last of the most important expectations the system must live up to is to ensure that its users – the banks – have competitive advantage on the factoring services market. Factoring clients, in choosing factoring service suppliers, place particular emphasis on the communication channels offered by the Factor. With this in mind, Comarch suggested innovative solutions in terms of integration with the factoring clients’ systems. In this way, the involvement of factoring clients and bank employees in servicing the transaction is minimized.
Implementation The implementation of the NORDFaktor system was preceded by the implementation of Comarch’s NORDnet Internet banking system. Analytical work began the 1st of March, 2006. The Comarch design team, along with a dedicated team of specialists from the bank, worked together to find a way to implement the application. NORDFaktor is Comarch’s first comprehensive factoring solution.
The analysis work and implementation took seven months and on the 1st of October, 2006 the bank’s employees began using the application. The first stage of implementation involved getting the basic factoring functionalities running and integrating this solution with the NORDnet Internet banking system, the central Midas system, the Hades central user management system and the ECOD electronic documentation centre for e invoices. The second stage involved extending the functionality of the system to include reverse factoring. The basic principle of the implementation design was to create a solution that would service factoring processes from beginning to end with maximum atomization.
By implementing the NORDFaktor system the Bank: > Cut transaction time > Grew its factoring business without needing extra employees > Grew its income from factoring > Secured competitive market advantage thanks to this innovative solution that provides a module for servicing e invoices, integration with client systems and a client web interface .
How Business Benefits The NORDfaktor system meant that the bank launched itself extensively and successfully on the Polish factoring market. Thanks to a fully automated process the client can access financial resources within one hour of the bank receiving the application to buy by electronic mail. But it is the bank that can best express the benefits it received from using the NORDFaktor system, ‘The system allows the bank to take over the monitoring and administration of receivables, to generate letters reminding debtors to pay, to make reports available to clients telling them about the level of their debt, about late payments, about their repayments and also reports on how much credit clients have used and how much they have remaining. The system delivers wide functionality going way beyond standard features and, for example, includes the option to finance receivables with monthly interest charged at the end of each financial month, or with a deferred payment at the end of the financing period and, finally, the means to extend finance to the debtor beyond the payment date of the invoice irrespective of whether a discount has been given or not. Every invoice in the system can be accessed along with information about the commission, the interest, the VAT accrued on the interest and commission, and also about every correction and all of the base dates connected with these corrections. The NORDFaktor system has been honored in the fifth edition of the Banking Gazette’s competition for the best IT design under the title, ‘Information Systems Leader among Financial Institutions’. The NORDFaktor system was awarded its distinction in the transaction systems category. <
Elżbieta Dziadowiec Comarch SA Position: Business Solution Manager Sector: Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets
14 > Solutions & Case Studies
Success Breeds Success – Comarch Factoring So Far
We’ve already achieved a lot but there’s even more to do. The last year could without a doubt be called the ‘year of factoring’ for the Central and East European markets that are just getting into this business, as well as for Comarch as a supplier of multi-level factoring solutions.
technology review [www.comarch.com]
A Long and Short History of Comarch Factoring The dynamic growth in factoring as well as the clear market signals for the future of the branch were recognised and appropriately reacted to by Comarch specialists in their factoring applications development. Our inplementation team gained its first experience while integrating the Internet banking system with the Trade Financing system at BPH Bank. Further experience was gained while implementing the loans system at Eurofaktor. This helped the team to warm up before the consulting and implementation work for the design and development of the desired factoring solution end product. The idea for developing the first comprehensive factoring solution came in 2006. Paweł Bojar, Business Consultant in the Banking Finance and Services Sector, developed the first version of the factoring solution for DnB Nord and the first analyses began there on March 1 2006. After only seven months of analytical and implementation work Comarch was able to get the NORDFaktor factoring system working in its
basic functionalities. This was a big factor in the Bank’s growth of its factoring business. The Bank decided, in line with the latest trends in banking, to grow its business using modern IT solutions to ensure multi-channel customer contact so that the Bank would not have to open a network of branches. The strongest element of the NORDFaktor implementation was the integration with all the Bank’s information solutions that Comarch achieved by implementing the Internet banking system NORDnet, the Hades central user-management system, the ECOD Electronic DocumentationCentre and the Midas banking system. The capacity to settle electronic invoices and to have direct access to them from the financial and accounting systems of factoring clients using the ECOD Connector is, without doubt, what ensured the Bank its position as the Eastern European factoring market leader . Another element making the Bank’s new products immediately popular was the use of the Single-Sign-On principle during the design of communicative interfaces between the NORDFaktor and
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the Russian, factoring markets are still a long way away from the standardization characteristic of the mature phase of product development. This fact is the basis for beginning to prepare to capture, first of all, the national market in factoring solutions suppliers and, as this process implies, selling solutions designed by Comarch to the finance sector. The intensive tendering and negotiation process, as well as the many months of discussions with customers, resulted in the almost simultaneous conclusion of two exceptionally significant contracts for the development of the factoring system. The first of these is a contract to implement full back-end solutions (accounts and settlement) as well as front-end customer solutions for Getin Bank (in the first half of this year the Bank bought accounts receivable to the combined value of PLN
For a whole year now we have been active in tenders in the Russian and Ukrainian markets and this means we have learned a lot about their specifics, which are so very different from Poland. Witalij Piastowski, a Comarch factoring consultant who is responsible for the eastern markets, has more than a year’s experience in negotiating with the biggest banks in Russia and the Ukraine. Thanks to this we know and can interpret the expectations of our eastern neighbours and this will bring noticeable effects meaning that Comarch, as the seller of Comarch Factoring, will be on the shortlists of our potential clients to the east. Soon, we will also be directing our offer to smaller factoring companies on the Application Service Provider model, which will mean that they have the highest quality at an extraordinarily attractive price. Comarch also intends to
field of debt financing. It was an extremely long, but also very fruitful, year for the development of the product. The incredibly tight schedule of meetings, analytical work, intense work in producing the sales literature and involvement in selling the system all meant that we built up a library of knowledge on factoring and factoring solutions. Comarch Factoring, as a Back-end/Front-end system, with the complexity and advanced processes demanded from it to act as a core system at the bank or factoring company, demanded long consideration of the advantages of, and the areas for development in, the present version. It also meant getting an idea of how the system could grow and convincing customers that Comarch has the competencies needed in this area. At the same time, there is the awareness that the factoring market In Central and Eastern Europe is only on the verge of the entry phase leading to intense growth, so that there are wide opportunities for us to develop and popularize our system on the market. The year’s work on the development of the factoring application has meant we have been able to outline the principles of the system as a product, and prepare an analysis of the factoring market. There were an enormous amount of meetings, presentations and workshops with banking sector clients and non-bank factoring company clients. As I met acknowledged factoring specialists from over thirty institutions I had the chance to experience a range of different approaches to the same problems and I also came across a wide range of
354.93 million – so increasing its market share by around 3%). Within the framework of this implementation Comarch will also supply the Bank with user and security management systems. The second contract is an agreement to implement a full Comarch Factoring solution (back and front end), as well as support solutions including the DRACO user management system and SOPEL (Electronic Signature Service System) for BGŻ SA Bank. The pre-selling processes, further steps in the tendering process, as well as the negotiations after the client had chosen Comarch to implement its factoring system, meant the continuous engagement of the consulting team, the production-implementation team, the trade team and specialists from the client’s side. This brought the desired results and meant that implementation work was begun and further opportunities for our solution were finalised.
promote its solutions in the form of a factoring conference planned for next year, as well as in a number of specialist publications in cooperation with one of the largest and most prestigious Polish universities. We wish our customers satisfaction and growth in their factoring business so that they outperform and exceed the already favourable market predictions. Our wish for ourselves, however, is that we take our chance and make the best use of the market opportunity. <
expectations and predictions, based on the world and European tendencies in the development of this kind of financial service. This experience has convinced me that the Polish, and even more so,
tem itself, including more scope in modulating customer contact, communication channels, business and operational risk optimization as well as development of the sales support module.
NORDnet systems. This means that Internet banking users need only log on once to the web application to access and use their factoring products. In March this year, the Comarch NORDFaktor system implemented at DnB Nord Bank received its first recognition on the IT solutions supply market when it was honoured in the transaction systems category in a competition organised by the Banking Gazette (Gazeta Bankowa) in Poland.
An Intensive Year for Factoring Exactly one year ago I began work in the Finance and Capital Markets Sector at Comarch. Right from the start I was involved in the development of factoring solutions. I thought it was a priority for the growth of factoring to make a strong entry onto the market of potential customers and Comarch partners in the
What Next? As the person responsible for developing our support solution and trade financing products in the Finance and Banking sectors the first significant effects of this year’s work do not mean that I can take a vacation from factoring. Instead, it is a strong motivation to develop and refine our system as a product. The market opportunity, as well as Comarch’s extensive experience in factoring implementations, means that there are numerous opportunities to develop core systems dedicated to servicing particular product groups in corporate banking. We expect that there will be intensive growth in the Comarch Factoring sys-
Elżbieta Dziadowiec Comarch SA Position: Business Solution Manager Sector: Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets
16 > Solutions & Case Studies
Building a Powerful Market Position with CRM Customer relations programs
The intense rise in competition on the insurance market intensified by globalization, a more liberal legal environment and the accelerating development of modern technologies presents insurance companies with new challenges.
technology review [www.comarch.com]
Solutions & Case Studies < 17
Figure 1. The 20:80:30 Rule
20% of customers generate around 80% of profits (!)
30% of customers consume around 50% of profits
Customer Base (dociles)
their competitive position is something they must continuously do, and this means looking for new areas where operational effectiveness can be improved. One of these is customer relationship management (CRM). In the 1990s the insurance market leaders in Western Europe, and especially in Great Britain, had already begun to successfully use CRM systems to manage the customer life cycle. Thanks to this, the companies succeeded in shifting their strategic centre of gravity from growing sales and market share by quantitative and extensive methods, which were not very effective, to intensive action to increase sales among existing customers and to win new, profitable customers. The fundamental reason for the companiesâ€™ new approach to CRM was market research clearly showing that an individual approach to the customer on offer preparation, adapting pricing policy and choice of distribution channel was essential. One of the business rules that has been developed with the aid of market research is an elaboration of the Pareto Principle â€“ 20:80:30. This rule states that 80% of profit is generated by 20% of
customers. But the 30% of customers that are not very profitable generate costs equal to half of the revenue generated by the most profitable customers. CRM programs make it possible to reduce the operating costs generated by the least profitable customers (shifting customer service to self-service channels, shortening the sales process) and increase profit generated by customers from the most profitable segments (cross and up-selling, more frequent and more effective marketing campaigns).
The Benefits The basic long-term benefit of CRM implementation is securing competitive advantage on the market. Two things distinguish companies using CRM programs: they have high quality offers that are carefully adapted to the specific needs of a stipulated customer segment and they use their resources more effectively than the competition. CRM programs are not only a source of long-term benefits, but also of those a company can enjoy in the short term. These come largely from optimizing business operating processes and include:
1. Improving service quality and service individualization: > real time customer service in all distribution channels, > comprehensive, one-stop service, > efficient complaint management, > offers adapted to customer needs and expectations, > accelerating customer service. 2. Increasing the profitability of new and existing customers: > effective canvassing of customers from the profitable segments, > building long-term relations with profitable customers, > effective deployment of sales-boosting methods (cross and up-selling). 3. Reducing customer-service costs: > centralizing customer service (contact centre), > shifting a significant proportion of customer service from expensive-to-maintain branches and agent networks to the Internet and call centers, > making debt-recovery more effective, > making marketing campaigns more effective, > shortening the sales cycle, > identifying high-risk customers.
18 > Solutions & Case Studies
Figure 2. Comarch CRM Solution: Modules Customer Data Management
ETL Data Management
Sales Structure Management
Sales Plans Management
Operations / Transactions
Points Collection and Settlemet
Analysis and Measurement
Sales Information Management
Measurement and Reporting
Comarch CRM Sales Management
Comarch CRM Loyalty Management
Comarch CRM Campaign Management
Comarch CRM Analysis
Front End Contact Centre Mobile Sales Force Intermediaries
Comarch Business Process Management
Comarch Credit Process Management
Comarch Scoring Engine
Comarch Document Management
Comarch Internet Banking
Comarch Content Management
Comarch CRM Insurance
Paweł Bojar Comarch SA Position: Business Solution Manager Sector: Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets
technology review [www.comarch.com]
Comarch CRM Insurance is a solution that meets the need for effective management of the customer base. Using it, insurance companies can rapidly and efficiently increase the productivity of resources allocated to the sales process. The Comarch CRM Insurance solution enables productive customer relationships management at all stages of the life cycle: acquiring profitable customers, building long-term partnership relations with customers and deploying an effective strategy to win back profitable customers. The system is based on the most modern IT technology standards and benefits from the rich and extensive experience Comarch SA has gained in its work with many institutions both abroad and in Poland. Comarch CRM Insurance has these unique solutions: > multi-level, modular functionality, > extensive system administration tools.
The basic modules cover all the functionalities of customer relationships management: > Comarch CRM Sales Management – the module responsible for operational customer service in the various distribution channels, > Comarch CRM Loyalty Management – the module responsible for serving customer retention and loyalty programs, > Comarch CRM Campaign Management – the module responsible for managing all aspects of marketing campaigns, > Comarch CRM Analytics – the module responsible for effectively processing and analyzing data. The basic benefit of these system features is that functionality can easily be matched to business needs and there is great scope for independently managing the system once it has been implemented. <
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Call Center, Contact Center – What Next? Call centers began life in the USA in the 1970s. Airlines and insurance companies were seeking to lower customer service costs and at the same time increase customer satisfaction. The key to success turned out to be telephony, and in particular the call center system.
was the call center system? At the time they were specialized telephone exchanges equipped with ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) modules. This meant that people could get calls through rapidly and, for example, reserve tickets, cancel checks or make an appointment to see an insurance agent. Thanks to the reporting module it was possible to assess agents objectively and find the best and the worst. Also, using long term analyses, it was possible to give customers high standards of care and reduce costs. The next stage in the evolution of the call center saw the appearance of IP technology which meant that agents did not have to work in the same place anymore and that technologies such as mail queuing and web collaboration, which allows customer
and agent to view Internet resources at the same time, could be introduced. When these communication channels were added it was possible for the contact center, with its trademark flexibility, to appear. Thanks to IP technology the agent can operate anywhere meaning that the call center system itself can be located anywhere. With the right security technology in place employees have full access to a company’s resources from almost all parts of the world. What is more, the agent has access to full customer information including a history of contacts and the actions taken arising from them. The agent also has access to consultants who can help solve problems, as well as access to a knowledge base which provides a more methodical and systematic approach to problem solving.
On the other hand, thanks to VoIP (Voice-over IP), the customer only needs to use one telephone number to contact the agent and so sees him as an ‘ordinary’ member of the contact center staff. The introduction of IP technology to call center systems extended the options for telephone exchanges, aided by CTI (Computer Telephone Integration) connections, to work with computer systems. These systems were distinguished first of all by their speed. Before accepting a call, the agent had information about who was phoning and so could be more effective in preparing for the conversation. It was only a short step from there to integrate the contact center system with additional systems such as CRM, a debt collection and recovery system or a transaction system.
20 > Solutions & Case Studies
Contact Centers – Why are they necessary? Dynamic market growth means that there are more and more similar products and services available. Customers try to compare these before reaching a final decision on which solution to choose. To do this, they need precise information not only about the product itself, but also, for example, about guarantees or payment methods and schedules. This swells the stream of customer contacts to the company departments that deals with them. This leads companies to expand the customer service centers, which means taking on more employees. On the one hand, customers are important, but we must also consider limiting the costs of keeping them. Such large structures are difficult to manage and organize, they generate high costs and they do not meet all of the customer’s expectations. This is because, in this type of under-organized structure, incoming calls reach agents in a random fashion. This often means that it takes more time to solve a customer’s problems or give him a satisfactory answer. The major reason for this is that it is often necessary to wait to be connected with another agent who is more knowledgeable on the subject in question. Customer service centers that work like this generate high costs and harm the company’s image in the eyes of the customer. It is important, however, not to forget the principle that one satisfied customer will bring another to you, but one that is unhappy will discourage five others. It is also necessary to remember the maxim that you can only make a first impression once and that if the customer leaves unsatisfied this might also be the final impression. If the customer does not have rapid and reliable contact with the company she will soon go to the competition. This is why all companies should build strong relationships with existing and potential customers and place emphasis on the quality and effectiveness of the communication channels.
Call Center versus Contact Center These days, we are more familiar with the term ‘contact center’ than with the term ‘call center’. What are the differences? With the call center the main contact channel is the telephone. With the contact center the channels are more varied and include voice, SMS, chat, messaging services, web collaboration (where employee and customer view the same Internet content at the same time) and Web Callback which handles requests to return contact. All these channels are integrated with each other and enable comprehensive agent reports to be prepared, agent specialist knowledge groups to
technology review [www.comarch.com]
be formed, and customer contacts to be monitored. It does not matter how the customer contacts you. What matters is that they do make contact. Overall customer contact is monitored by the CRM (Customer Relationships Management) system which tells the agent about all customer-company interactions. This includes regular items such as stating the customer’s assets and debts, but also provides information about the customer’s habits, expectations and even biography. So, it may remind the agent that the customer likes to chat before doing the business in hand or, that today is the customer’s birthday. Likewise, it may warn the agent not to be too overbearing or not to hurry the customer, so that he has the feeling that he is highly valued by the company.
One Supplier – One Implementation Until now, implementing contact center systems has been a double-track process with one supplier implementing the infrastructure and another integrating the CRM software. These implementations have suffered from a variety of problems caused by the frequent incompatibility of the two environments and their lack of awareness of each other. Seeing how unsatisfactory this is, Comarch has decided to implement the entire solution – both the hardware and the applications. These convergent solutions as proposed by Comarch enable optimum use of the hardware infrastructure and the CRM software. With knowledge of both these environments it is possible to suggest complementary solutions, which take into account all the customer’s expectations, requirements and needs. It is worth emphasizing that the Comarch Contact Center solution is one of very few of its type on the market. Because the lion’s share of the system was created by Comarch, we can adapt and fit it to the needs of the customer as is required. Since Comarch is in control of the entire implementation process the company can react swiftly to all changes and additional specifications arising over the course of the implementation and, later, when the system is up and running. The system’s modular design means that it can be easily extended and expanded. At the same time, it does not impose excessive financial burdens in the first phase of implementation. Because of this it may be optimally matched and fitted to the customer’s needs and requirements as they change over time.
System Components Comarch Contact Center’s most important features are:
> It is easy to use and the interface matches the agent’s task scope meaning that he can rapidly gain full information on the customer and manage this information efficiently. > The system supports inbound and outbound calls and also features skripter for tele-scripting. > The system provides multi-channel customer communication including telephone, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), conversations with agents, email, fax and www. > The structure’s modular design means that the applications can be selected and introduced gradually. > The system is scalable and can be flexibly expanded and extended as the company grows. > The system uses solutions from world class vendors meaning that Comarch Contact Center can ensure functional stability, high output and efficiency. The full scope of implementation for the Comarch Contact Center covers the following modules: Customer Care Pulpit – Bearing in mind the high functional and ergonomic standards demanded of this class of system, the most modern technology, which takes full advantage of the versatility of Internet browsers, is applied. Customer Contact Management – search, management, list of recent contacts, registration and monitoring. Customer Data Management – The system displays customer telephone, address and personal data and also shows the financial products a customer has. Other systems that are in place, or may be implemented at the customer’s company, such as Profile, SBE and Credit Support Systems, may provide further sources of information about the customer.
Telescripting Comarch Contact Center is equipped with a modern module to produce the scripted conversations used in customer service both for inbound and outbound calls. During the conversation the agent uses a directory tree that structures dedicated bundles of text prompts. The scripts may be ordinary text communications, questionnaires for a campaign or for gathering information, or even forms dedicated to general fulfillment issues. Thanks to the directory tree structure it is possible to be prepared for an extremely diverse range of scenarios.
Campaign Management Comarch Contact Center enables the flexible management of inbound and outbound campaigns and the import of internal and external customer lists.
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User Management The system is equipped with user management tools supporting the following categories: Agent, Team Leader and Supervisor. The detailed capacities of the system include: > adding and deleting users, > editing users, > adding and deleting user groups, > assigning users to user groups, > assigning user authorization levels, > assigning default user authorization to groups, > logging users into the system.
Reporting Reports can be divided into two basic groups – real time reports which reflect the present state of the system and retrospective reports created on the basis of aggregated data submitted during a specified time period. Using these, call center managers can make decisions about customer care procedures and which new technology to invest in, and thus organize the system to provide the highest possible levels of customer service. The reporting module enables: > data analysis leading to immediate changes in the call center’s activity, > asessments of call center operation within a specified time interval using the long term archiving option (minimum one year), > specification of real time data access and display (bar charts, pie charts, tables and charts showing productivity over a user-specified time period), > enables real time data viewing in a clear and colorful graphical form meaning that it is easy to see and understand what operations the center is carrying out, > it is easy to export archived data to other producers’ applications such as Excel, Access or Lotus 1-2-3, > automatic report generation and printing at time intervals that best suit the call center’s work mode.
PDS – Predictive Dialing System The predictive dialing system aims to make the most of agents’ work during outbound campaigns. Comarch Contact Center automates outbound campaign support using the following call initiation and management methods: > the agent is not involved and the connections are automatically generated from the target list of customers > manual outbound connections are initiated by the agent directly from the application
> calls are managed by deploying the intelligent telephone network signal-recognition module (with a recognition rate of 98%) which uses algorithms to modulate the number of connections established (either by a ‘hello’, or by other call initiation methods) in relation to the number of available agents. For outbound call centers, implementing the PDS module is a key investment. In our experience, implementing PDS increases agent productivity at least twice over. All the activities that are constantly repeated, such as selecting numbers, are automated. This reduces the time the agent waits to connect to a customer almost to zero. At the same time, up to 98% of errors connected with misdials and connections to faxes or answering machines are eliminated, which considerably reduces the system’s operating costs.
IVR – Interactive Voice Response This is a module that is used to automate customer support and relieve agents when the center is at its busiest. The IVR module is based on Web Services, which integrates the IP telephony environment with web applications. Web Services is excellent for voice applications and DTMF (Dual Tone MultiFrequency) tone selection. Our solutions are the best in their class for integration with the IP telephony environment, speech recognition and SOA architecture. The solution has been designed to work in IP technology and is equipped with speech recognition, caller verification and voice synthesis mechanisms (TTS – Text to Speech) from companies such as Nuance or IBM WebSphere Voice Server. The IVR module can easily be integrated with customer transaction, authentication or remote operations systems.
ing, agents will do more work from home or from telecenters. It is certain that CC systems will make more and more use of SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) as it becomes more unified and standardized. Then, CC systems will increasingly be able to be linked with other parts of the company in Unified Communication. Because the dialer will then know if there is anyone waiting to answer before making the call, there will be a fundamental change in the way contact center systems function.
Summary The multitude and intensity of the business requirements facing companies mean that there will be greater need for teleinformation systems functionality and that, in turn, these systems will continuously evolve. But to take advantage of the new potential that contact center systems give, it is important to find the right integrator with the experience to ensure that the solution is implemented to a high standard and with an understanding of the business needs of the customer. Comarch, without doubt, is that integrator.
Contact If you are interested in the solution discussed here or have any questions please write to: email@example.com <
Contact Center – The Next Steps What developments await the contact center? Solutions that automate customer service will certainly become more popular. Two functionalities that could already be used for this are Text to Speech and Voice Recognition, which greatly expand the possibilities for IVR and Internet transmitted multimedia. With predictive dialing the trend is toward fully automated 24/7/365 customer contact that can be conducted almost without support staff. There is also likely to be further integration with Internet Messaging Systems such as Skype, ICQ or Gadu-Gadu, which will provide immediate and high speed contact with the customer. With IT infrastructure costs falling and office space costs ris-
Marcin Pepaś Comarch SA Position: Consulting Manager Sector: Trade & Services
22 > Trends & Strategies
The Comarch Concierge Agent VIP Customer Care System
The key 20 % of customers generate 80% of the revenue! Is it really possible? How can your company efficiently care for profitable customers?
airline market: What are the trends and requirements of this market? What is the Comarch Concierge Agent? Concentrating on the Airline market, it is essential to mention that we confront one of the most demanding and volatile businesses. Airline companies operate on the global market and in everchanging conditions, yet they still have an opportechnology review [www.comarch.com]
tunity for differentiating themselves from other competing companies. An increase in competition is one of the factors in the mounting pressure resulting from escalating costs. As we have observed, these companies must compete and face each other in a strong market while fighting for the customerâ€™s basket. Nowadays customers have very sophisticated requirements. If we want
to meet their needs and increase our revenues, we must pay the majority of our attention to the most valuable customers. By this, I mean VIP passengers. If we profoundly think about the connection between the significance of VIP customers and high levels of revenue it is easy to say that by concentrating only on key customers, we would be able to receive amaz-
Trends & Strategies < 23
The business aspect of caring for key customers
ing financial savings and what is more, earn the satisfaction of the most valuable group of consumers. Honestly speaking, these and only these customers are able to ensure 80% of our profits. Is it really possible? How can we attain such success? The recipe is very simple – The Comarch Concierge Agent.
Let’s try to imagine that we are the customer who earns $150.000 annually. What are our expectations according to services and bonuses? Most likely, we are not interested in direct price benefits. So what can maximize our satisfaction? The answer is very easy. We want to be a very important customer. We want to feel that we are going to be taken seriously. We need to be VIP passengers. The most valued customers deserve special attention and respect. The only way to provide them with the highest level of satisfaction is to let them become a member of the VIP Loyalty Program. Assuming that we are Mr. Smith, the president of one of the greatest corporations in the world who is traveling from point A to point B, we can also assume that we want to be offered the highest level of service. What can we expect from an airline company? From the beginning, we want to be a recognizable customer. We are traveling first class, what can possibly go wrong for us? We think - nothing! But in reality, there are many situations that can cause us to feel displeased. We must care for the VIP customer by anticipating his needs and prevent a negative experience. In this way, we will form a strong and permanent relationship. By creating an awareness of a VIP customer’s value, we can be sure that it will result in a huge number of permanent VIP passengers as well as additional business benefits. We can also be sure that in a very short time we will become the only reliable and professional supplier of services in our marketplace. How can we achieve such success? How do we distinguish our company from the competition? The most important point is to provide VIP passengers the package of advanced services and professional business support that they need. If you want to fulfill all your customer’s sophisticated expectations and be able to manage their needs in all aspects related to traveling, you must focus on instant access to useful information. By administrating a passenger’s details such as personal data, contact information, history of agent interactions and itineraries, you can easily make decisions according to these activities which positively help customers. By assigning a VIP customer to your agent, you can be sure that the customer has the best service level agreement and customer care conditions. Integration with external data providers helps you to proactively manage flight changes and guarantees the prevention of negative customer experiences. What is more, application management by handheld devices fully assures
professional care for VIP passengers. It helps to manage and track on-concourse agent interactions, such as meeting and greeting members or assisting them with catching tight connections. It provides the possibility to plan the management of agents through the automatic notification of assigned activities and updates. Thanks to this professional agent support, VIP customers can travel safely, comfortably and frequently.
The Comarch Concierge Agent – a perfect solution for your company. The Comarch Concierge Agent is an application created to improve the satisfaction of key customers and assure a unique capability to achieve strong financial benefits. Designed to form an awareness of the value of VIP passengers, it provides tools for managing profitable customers’ inconsistent requirements. Thanks to integration with portable devices, passengers can be professionally supported in real-time. It offers a more complete passenger experience to these customers by including a dedicated reservations desk, and establishes a rigid approval process that follows specific business rules. An integrated system streamlines customer service for these high-valued passengers, improving workflow and increasing productivity.
Paulina Polok Comarch SA Position: Business Solution Manager Sector: Trade and Services
24 > Trends & Strategies
New trends in IT solutions for the insurance market Global change, technological development and the opening-up of new markets all mean that a new approach to organization and business at insurance companies is becoming a necessity.
new challenges mean rapidly satisfying market demands by designing new insurance products, adopting new business processes, exploiting new sales and customer-service channels and improving risk management.
Insurance market challenges: an overview The insurance market is an integral part of the financial sector, where it is increasingly hard to achieve success. This is accounted for by a number of factors: technology review [www.comarch.com]
> new legal and supervisory regulations including the EU-initiated Solvency II project, > the opening-up of new markets and globalization processes, > changes in the demographic structure of societies, > new threats such as terrorism and climate change, > new distribution channels including the Internet and the telephone. Insurance markets vary in their level of development among countries. Eastern European markets
are at the initial stage of development in insurance. The introduction of mandatory communication insurance and new insurance regulations, as well as pension reforms, presents challenges for insurers in Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus. Markets in Poland, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Bulgaria have already passed the first stage of life and non-life insurance development and are currently focusing on using new distribution channels and optimizing product offers. Insurance companies in developed markets have a different set of problems. Customer service is becoming
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increasingly important given the support for necessary pension reforms in Germany or France.
How can technology help? Insurance companies that wish to remain innovative and effectively implement new business models must use modern information technology. It not only enables changes but also, more and more often, stimulates it. The following material provides some examples of solutions and areas of business which, either now or in the near future, could successfully make the insurance business easier and more competitive.
Direct sales and self-service The next extremely important element in modern insurance-process IT support is to introduce mechanisms for direct sales via distribution channels (Call centers, Internet, WAP, SMS) and for allowing customers direct access to policy and claims data (Internet, IVR, SMS, WAP). The increased significance of direct channels means that the bulk of sales and service work is shifted from employees to IT systems. This means reduced costs and increased customer satisfaction. Direct sales must be supported by solutions enabling real-time quote generation.
Business Process Management
Improving customer service and claims liquidation
Business Process Management (BPM) has been a hot
Improving service quality makes it essential to
topic recently. In general terms it is associated with managing work processes and document flow. But there is a lot more to the idea than this. First of all, there is the need to integrate business processes with multiple information systems (or rather with their services), but then to integrate them with the increasingly significant field of business rules management. This entails using a Business Rules Engine (BRE), which is a software system that helps manage and automate business rules. This is especially the case in insurance company departments dealing with new products, concluding contracts and sales support, underwriting and customer service. The development of integrated systems based on managing rules and processes will be one of the most important factors in systems directed at life insurance companies.
introduce BPM, which will guarantee continuity and will not cause interruptions to the services. This is particularly relevant in claim-servicing processes – poor service here (extended waiting times and lack of information) is the most frequent reason for losing customers. In addition, automating claim decisions, classifying cases and detecting irregularities will all lead to significant cost reductions. Improving sales efficiency and introducing advanced incentive and compensation methods The necessity of introducing advanced methods for rewarding and motivating sales is mainly relevant to life insurance. IT solutions must be based not on the straightforward calculation of commission on premiums, but on ‘statistical’ commission that takes into account sales history, portfolio quality and other specifiable factors (ICM – Incentive and Compensation Management). Improved sales efficiency can be achieved by simplifying the processes connected with preparing and concluding contracts (STP – Straight Through Processing).
Defining insurance products As is the case with business processes, this is a dimension that allows new insurance products to be quickly brought to market and their profitability monitored. The following product definition categories may be identified: > the ability to design and test new products, > the ability to integrate with other components (calculators and reinsurer components), > developing products from ready-made segments, > the ability to guide pricing policy, > monitoring product profitability in a given distribution channel. The first three items in the list are well-served by current IT solutions. However, systems that can actively monitor and guide product-pricing and profitability have far greater business value. The next step is the capacity to predict customer behavior using the existing product portfolio.
> a process which considers the assessments of all the users concerned (agents, brokers, underwriters, reinsurers).
Automating system-institution integration In accordance with Solvency II guidelines and the trend for exact risk-analysis there is a growing need for data exchange between systems and institutions. The IT solutions which make this process more efficient are: > Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), > Standard for insurance data-exchange (ACORD XML). Introducing these IT solutions to life and P&C insurance companies would provide a very significant increase in competitiveness on the increasingly cramped and global insurance market.
Conclusion Insurance companies now have a profound need for IT-system support. These needs vary, of course, depending on the region or the market situation. But the general growth paths should be similar. This article has given a very short account of these paths. We hope that it will lead to better analysis and assessment of IT systems used in insurance companies in terms of the prospects they create for long-term investment. After all, insurance is not a short-term business. <
Automating underwriting processes Automating underwriting processes are relevant chiefly in life insurance. IT solutions for streamlining automatic, exception-based underwriting processes should follow these guidelines: > compiling customer data from a variety of sources (external data bases, data warehouses and the Internet), > a central corpus of regulations to ensure the consistency, generalizability and predictability of decisions, > definable, targeted and continuous underwriting processes,
Jakub Lewandowski Comarch SA Position: Insurance Consulting Director Sector: Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets
26 > Trends & Strategies
In the Beginning there was Chaos Process management! The optimisation and standardisation of processes! Improving ergonomics and efficiency! How do you implement Business Process Management standards in financial institutions where the sheer profusion of products, procedures and interdependent systems is enough to make your head spin?
and managing a company where there is strong competition on the market calls for exceptional attention to business processes and procedures, to their effectiveness and to the costs involved in servicing them. The financial services market is a self-driving machine where standards in quality, transparency and the number of services offered are constantly being raised.
technology review [www.comarch.com]
Business process management - the optimization and standardization of processes - is now becoming not a luxury or sign of innovation but a necessity for an organization to function effectively.
Chaos In Europe, according to research by FileNet, Business Process Management (BPM) is used by 41% of companies, but in Poland, according to research by archITec, only by 16% of enterprises. The use of BPM is consistent according to sector and the
percentage of companies using this technology is similar in insurance, banking, telecommunications and industry, and varies from 13-19%. There is nothing especially promising in the prognosis for BPM as only 8% of the companies polled said that they planned to buy and implement it in the next two years. BPM is most frequently used in customer services (82%), administration (75%) and accounting (73%). In the production sector only 5% of the companies polled drive their processes using BPM.
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Companies that are already using these solutions rate them as highly advanced. The benefits the polled companies mention are increased efficiency in the company’s processes (18% of those polled), cost reductions (9%) and improved document processing and access. But more than half the company representatives polled (55%) were unable to point to any benefit whatsoever from using BPM or, in the case of 12%, had nothing to say on the matter. As many as 43% of those polled were not in a position to say whether they had any concerns connected with using BPM. But 9 % said that they were concerned about the preparation and implementation of the system and also about information security (source: idg.pl).
Business Process Management – The First Step Every process at a bank, or other financial institution, is composed of many actions that need to be carried out by users. This is especially visible in the analysis of credit processes, which begin with the introduction of the product, or product range, to the client. The process then continues with receiving applications and documents, verifying the data and the applicants, preparing the agreement, making the credit resources available and, later, processing the associated settlements and calculations. Throughout this, users have to register their actions in a number of systems which are very often in no way connected to each other. This in turn means that the same action, for example getting the client’s details, is repeated many times over. Furthermore, the subsequent administration of the loans involves actions required by banking procedures including registering the credit collateral, calculating the reserve level and internal and external reporting. It is also necessary to remember that selling the same product in different branches of the same institution may involve a different process, and this casts an organization in a bad light. The absence of process standardisation achieved by process management, and the fact that elements of processes are not connected together using a workflow engine, may greatly prolong the whole process and increase the operational and credit risk. In addition, the lack of supervision of employees and too much freedom for them to interpret procedures makes the whole process vulnerable to errors in service and means that standards are less likely to be maintained. In this case it is difficult to talk about attempting to optimise the operational costs at a financial institution because, for example, increasing the amount of credit available as a
result of an intense sales campaign may mean that it is necessary to take on extra employees. Modelling processes and giving them the appropriate structure serves to represent, with the assistance of the adopted symbols (for example in Microsoft Visio), the procedures that are present in all organisations including financial institutions. The goal of BPM is the thorough analysis and documentation of processes in terms of a specified category or aim. This will then form a base for improving and refining them (optimisation and standardisation). This analysis may also be conducted diagnostically to find the reasons why mistakes are occurring (for example using so-called bottlenecks), or so that processes may be better adapted to changing organisational and market demands. Process modelling may also be used when designing a previously undocumented process – for example when adding new products to the product range.
A Step Towards Cohesion: The Integration Platform The reorganisation and standardisation of processes may not be enough in itself. Employees will still have to log on to a number of different systems and have precise knowledge of the sequence and correctness of the actions they carry out. Moreover, the organisation itself will be forced to organise extensive training with no guarantee that this will minimise operational risk. Taking this into account, implementing BPM becomes a necessity and so does, as a consequence, implementing the optimised processes in one Integrated Platform, which will connect many applications in one workflow process. The benefits of implementing an Integration Platform are: > Process standardisation and optimisation: BPM ensures a detailed analysis of previous procedures which results in their optimisation and standardisation > Process monitoring: the Integration Platform records each step of the process and all actions carried out by the user > Automisation: the Integration Platform has built-in calculators of all kinds. Integration via a Service Oriented Architecture bus ensures the exchange of necessary information between different systems with no duplication and no input or action required from the user > Enhanced work ergonomics: the platform user is guided through the entire business process. The workflow application, when implemented, indicates the sequence of tasks it is necessary to do. A further mechanism, single-sign-on, means that it is not necessary to log into many systems at once.
Anna Wierzchucka Comarch SA Position: Consulting Manager Sector: Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets
28 > Trends & Strategies
Dial a Policy
Direct insurance means selling insurance products by telephone or via the Internet. Why have direct insurance firms been successful? What challenges did they have to meet to do so? How can Comarch assist insurers in servicing this distribution channel?
Direct Insurance and the Customer The financial services market is in constant search of new ways to reach the customer. One side-effect of this is the massive amount of offers the potential customer has to deal with every day. A customer has much more interesting things to do than talk to some obscure and mysterious agent of the financial empires, for whom he must find additional time in his schedule to suit both parties. That it is much more convenient to have a chat on the phone at any time you choose about what car insurance deals are available, or look for the technology review [www.comarch.com]
same details on the insurance companyâ€™s website yourself, cannot be denied. Weâ€™re not talking here about ploughing through reams of complex information which would be enough to furrow the brow of experienced brokers. No. The new scenario for a business phone call or a well-constructed Internet portal is to bring the client to the point of a decision and, in a helpful and stress-free way of course, to prompt that decision. It is interesting to note that research into the direct insurance market conducted in 2006 showed that customers are more concerned with conve-
nience than with the price or the companyâ€™s reputation when they choose an insurer! This explains the great success achieved by companies such as Direct Line, which appeared in the UK in the mid-1980s and have since gone from strength-to-strength in increasing their share of the retail insurance market.
Direct Insurance and Insurance Companies Insurance companies operate according to the general commandments of a market economy: maxi-
Trends & Strategies < 29
Direct Insurance and the IT Department The answer to the insurance companies’ needs is advanced IT technology that will enable the highspeed calculation of offers adapted to the requirements of an individual customer, ensure access to a complete customer-company interaction history, use this to suggest a product package to interest the customer and be able to monitor customercompany contact as it occurs. It turns out that the insurers that concentrate on direct insurance as their basic customer-service channel are the most innovative, invest significant sums in IT budgets and are pro-active in their approach to applying contemporary CRM-type solutions to call-center and Internet-sales support
Direct Insurance and Comarch
mize profit and cut costs. The expenditure involved in maintaining and expanding a sales network is a very large item in the insurer’s budget. The chance to make extensive savings here thanks to direct channels has to arouse increasing interest from insurance companies. But where there is a lack of direct contact between the agent and the potential customer or, especially, between the agent and the existing customer, it becomes even more important to ensure convenient and reassuring access to services and, secondly, to stabilize the customer base and enhance the company’s brand image.
There are a whole host of assets that suggest Comarch as an IT systems supplier to insurance companies interested in selling their products via the direct insurance channel. First of all – advanced technology. Comarch is among the leading pack, and not only on the IT market, for R & D expenditure. It has dedicated departments conducting research into the newest available technology and how it can be applied to existing products to meet the evolving requirements of financial market companies. This means web technologies, SOA architecture and advanced implementations of logic scoring systems. Second – business knowledge. Comarch’s experience on the insurance market reaches back to the late 1990s. Since then it has considerably broadened its range of specialists working on products designed with this segment of financial institutions in mind. In addition to engineers, there are now insurance consultants who follow developments in this market closely, as they occur, in order to understand present and future challenges. Third – our own products. Comarch has a whole range of solutions that were created with insurers in mind and with their consultation. These have proven themselves in the baptism of fire of everyday operations in production environments with large numbers of users. The most important systems dedicated to insurance companies are Comarch Nonlife Insurance, Comarch Life Insurance, Comarch Debt Collection, Comarch Net Insurance and CRM solutions. Together, they constitute a platform on which we can build solutions addressed to companies involved in direct insurance style sales.
Fourth – system implementation experience. As the leading integrator on the market we have implemented our systems in large companies. These include UNIQA/Filar with1400 users, TUW Pocztowe with a target user number of 8,000, as well as more specialized companies such as TU Europa. We have implemented CRM-type systems handling up to four million online transactions every day (BPH SA), systems producing several quotes per second (GE Money), call-center systems for the largest financial institutions in the country (BZ WBK, BPH SA) and also direct Internet-customer-service systems (Pekao SA, Raiffeisen Bank S.A).
Direct Insurance and the Future Direct insurance is not the only way an insurance company can operate, and it certainly is not the one and final answer to the question of how best to reach the customer. It has, however, a crucial advantage that has been recognized by all the most of important companies in this area of business – it has worked. Customers want to buy insurance this way, so insurers want to sell it to them in this way. Some are already doing it while others are preparing to try it out. The task requires an understanding both of technology and insurance, as well as the correct product and system-implementation experience. Comarch can do this – now and today. <
Michał Rogacki Comarch SA Position: Product Manager Sector: Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets
30 > Trends & Strategies
Fleet Cards – Not Only for Market Giants
Fuel cards are becoming standard among services in the energy market. In addition, smaller businesses that are new to the market are also expected to support their operations with fuel cards. Consequently, Comarch offers a flexible and complex solution that is not only for the market giants – Comarch Fuel Cards.
An eternal struggle on the market – how to survive. We all know fleet cards like: Routex, Lotos Biznes, UTA or DKV. But fuel cards do not have to be always issued only by big market players. We are observing on the energy market sector that independent, non-branded stations, are behaving in an increasingly difficult and competitive environment. It is becoming harder to survive, especially with an increased price of fuel resulting in a minimum margin. As a result, it is almost impossible to be technology review [www.comarch.com]
price competitive, as well as to maintain the level of quality for services and products. The owners of independent fuel stations are behaving under the effects of limited resources and because of this, they can not be too choosy about quality. On the other hand, growing employee turnover is resulting in an inexperienced and under trained staff. Consequently, the level of services is dropping. This is why the owners of “stand-alone” stations are gathering themselves into associations which strengthen their position on the market. Because
the association maintains several sites within the network, one can think how to provide customers (also corporate customers) with added value in order to attract them to their offer. The aforementioned circumstances results in the fact that it is also beneficial for smaller petrol station networks to issue fleet cards. This builds connections with the enterprise customers and convinces them to use their products and services. The business profits resulting from fleet cards are unquestionable. Let’s imagine that we have a network of fuel sta-
Trends & Strategies < 31
tions in some region or even throughout the entire country. How do we convince our customers that when traveling from north to south or from east to west, they should purchase fuel from exactly this provider? Particularly for corporate customers, the convincing argument would be in the possibility to make cashless transactions with guaranteed security and comfort. A fleet program also brings certain “soft” benefits such as attachment to the network brand name, or a kind of emotional relationship with a customer, developing their habit of visiting these stations. The role of a fleet program for corporate customers can be compared to the role of a loyalty program towards an individual customer. Fleet customers can also realize many advantages from the use of fleet cards such as cashless transactions with a delayed payment, attractive discounts and last but not least, full control over the fleet with an opportunity to detect fraud. Nowadays, from the customer point of view, it is difficult to imagine a middle or large enterprise without an appropriate fleet of cars. Proper operation of a sales force and other commercial departments would be paralyzed without support of a fleet. For logistic companies, a fleet of cars is even more crucial for a company’s existence. To successfully issue and operate fleet cards, it is necessary to have the support of a flexible, reliable and easy to manage IT tool. Comarch Fuel Card is a product covering all processes included in the operation of fuels cards and fleet transaction processing. What is more, the offer includes an application for fleet managers on the customer side and furthermore, if required, a B2B application for independent and partner stations.
Survival kit – a solid IT tool Comarch Fuel Cards is a complex system for the management and administration of fuel cards. This flexible tool enables the provider of fleet cards full control over customers, their cards, transactions and settlements. Fleet customers, their contracts, cashless transactions and settlements are saved in the Business Administration module – the core application for a fuel card operator. In Comarch Fuel Cards, it is also possible to process settlements of external fleets (like UTA, DKV) or dealer (partner) stations. On the other hand, our customers and partners also have the ability to browse data and generate reports. The administration module is supported by a B2C web portal, available to fleet managers or other authorized employees of the customer. The B2C application will help in communication and settlements with independent partner stations.
Comarch Fuel Cards supports the processes in fuel card operations. In these processes, functionalities are divided into logical blocks and are intuitive and easy to use for the customer. The first set of functionalities would be associated with customer data management. Basically, the data is structured on three layers: fleet customer/contract/cardholder. The beginning of the process is the initiation of the contact with the customer and the definition of his “account in the system” with the entire range of information such as: name, address and tax identification number. Optionally, other selected information can also be saved in the system. These are features or characteristics, which are assigned to the customer and create the opportunity to organize customers and target certain communication or simply just to structure the data base. Examples of these attributes could be: market sector, size of the enterprise (according to turnover), type of enterprise (wholesaler, retailer), type of fleet (personal cars, trucks, etc.) or number of cars in the fleet. On the customer definition level, one can browse transaction history and attach comments or notifications about actions that should be taken. If the geographical reach of fleet is vast, it is possible to divide the overall area into regions and associate each contract to a particular region as well as an appropriate regional manager. The next step would be signing the contract with the customer and its registration in the system with its validity period, payment conditions, account number and other general conditions. At this point, the commercial terms agreed upon with customers are crucial like discounts (percentage, value) and settlement schemes (invoicing periods). Another important element would be card definition for the support of its production process. In our system, this is solved by means of a cards series with attached limits and available product groups or the driver’s name and license plate number if required. The customer can determine the scope of products and services available for each card (on the basis of product codes). The products available for the president of a company can be different than those that are available for the general population of employees. Cards may be assigned limits for daily/weekly/monthly spending or limits on the value of a single transaction. Aggregation and grouping of transactions and the creation and settlement of invoices would be the next step in the process. First of all, checking the transaction history is possible on the individual customer and contract level. Each transaction is grouped and assigned to a particular customer and settlement period and based on this informa-
tion, invoices are prepared. The administration module prepares all the data necessary for the issuance of invoices and their transmission to the invoicing module. This module can be optional – invoices may be issued in the Comarch Fuel Cards system or the invoicing data can be exported to a customer’s accounting system to be processed there. Furthermore, checking settlements along with relevant details and statuses is also possible in the CFC administration module (paid, unpaid, partially paid, etc). The generation of reports is also addressed by Comarch Fuel Cards. Definition of the format and structure of a report is possible and one is able to save a template for future use. By utilizing this valuable reporting tool an opportunity is created to summarize the overall performance of a fleet. In addition, there is also an option to define reports enabling fraud detection.
The best in class solution Comarch Fuel Cards has already been successfully implemented and has proved to be a best– in–class solution for smaller players on the energy products market as well. In a demanding market, everyone must concentrate on their core activity. However, to achieve this goal, strong support in the form of comprehensive and quality IT tools is absolutely necessary, ensuring that transactions are processed optimally and customer data is safe and properly updated. <
Zuzanna Kwiecień Comarch SA Position: Business Solution Manager Sector: Trade & Services
32 > Trends & Strategies
Group work As globalization has progressed it has led to greater diversity in a companyâ€™s locations and, concurrently, to the access of knowledge, information flow and employee monitoring and supervision issues. The answer is to employ a group work solution
Group work The growth of IT has increased the computational power of infrastructure many times over and has also made individual employees more effective. However, doing the same with organizational groups has turned out to be more difficult and requires the use of group work systems. The implementation of solutions in companies demands experience, vast knowledge and a thorough analysis of requirements. Because each company has its own identity and needs, selecting an appropriate system and adapting its functions requires an technology review [www.comarch.com]
individual approach to implementation. The solution must fit this unique character and do the job required in such a way as to produce a real improvement in the work systems and a measurable gain in efficiency for employee work groups. Group work is not easy to define. There is no single existing definition for this software and nor is there a single program or program package that would cover all the functions the term is meant to signify. It is generally acknowledged that the idea was first given form by Lotus Notes, which is recognized as the first group work environment. Over
the years however, the idea of group work itself has expanded greatly, as have the categories of available software. Group work is a solution that makes it easier to communicate and exchange information with members of a group. It means that employees, whether in the same or in different locations or, indeed, in any part of the world, can exchange documents information and data. It further enables teams to work together on projects and new solutions by making the issue or document available to everyone simultaneously and by enabling real
Trends & Strategies < 33
time data transmission. However, it does this without sacrificing control of information authorization and access.
Group work systems As there is no final or absolute definition of group work and the term’s meaning remains open-ended, there is a tendency for all applications used for cooperation and data exchange between two or more people to be shunted together under the group work definition. Group work systems fall into two basic categories: asynchronous and synchronous (real time). This is connected with the nature of the information exchange between the users. If the user receives information after it has been posted by the author and receives it when he wishes to, or receives it within a previously stipulated time period, then we are dealing with an asynchronous application. However, if the users exchange information in real time and the information is passed along without any significant delay, we are then dealing with a synchronous application. Asynchronous group work systems: > Email is the most popular group work application allowing users to send mail to each other, store information, create discussion groups and send out attachments in the form of documents, for example. > Newsgroups, mail groups and discussion forums are similar to email systems but are more concerned with circulating mail to large numbers of users than they are with exchanges between two users. In practice, the basic difference between newsgroups and forums on the one hand, and mail groups on the other, is that newsgroups and forums show users information in response to a direct request (on-demand service) whereas mail groups send information to the user (interruptdriven service). > Workflow systems for document circulation between employees in a company mean that organizations can, largely independent of location, define, put into effect, monitor and coordinate work processes. When workflow systems are implemented at companies this immediately imposes systematic document processing so that all documents comply with the adopted standards. Implementing these systems at companies also implies and imposes a division of roles and access to resources. > WWW services make it possible to access text documents and navigate between them. If a group of people are creating documents and moving between them and continuously updating and expanding their content, then this becomes a group work system. Some hypertext systems can
monitor visits to a specific web page or link or, at least, compile traffic statistics. > Group schedule planners make it easy to plan time for work groups, individuals and resources. Among their usual features are options to view the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly schedules of teams or people. This makes it possible to plan meetings without any time conflict with events already planned to take place. > The Knowledge Base is where documents can be posted, changes in them can be monitored and comments can be attached. The people working together on the document may also have planning and coordination tools to help them. These may include the option to block parts of documents, or to link through to other documents that are also being constructed. Wikipedia.pl provides a good example of this.
Real time group work systems: > Chat is one of the most popular synchronous, or real time, tools. Using chat, the participants in a given cooperative process can communicate with each other in real time. There are various systems that provide one-to-one or one-to-many communication. These systems allow people to establish themed channels and assign or allocate access to them. > Whiteboard is one of the most popular group process synchronous tools. It allows a group of people to view, work on and add content and information to the same space. This solution can be used when a group is working on a visual problem. In most cases these applications are designed for informal discussions, but they can also be used to exchange structures or for tasks that require drawing, such as designing a chart. > Audio conferences are possible without using computers. The alternative is to use digital telephones or, in some cases, analogue telephones. In this way multiple people can be linked together for a consultation. It is also possible to connect with network users via TCP/IP protocol. > Videoconferencing – this expands on audio conferencing, of course, by adding a visual image of the person or group you are talking to. These systems usually require a broadband Internet connection, which not all users have. When videoconferencing is conducted across a more limited connection, the video image is of lower quality and the image refreshing process is noticed by the viewer. > Decision Support Systems (DSS) are designed to support groups in their decision making processes. They include tools for brainstorming, critical analysis, event risk assessment and assessment of alternatives, as well as voting. These
systems assist in making more rational and well informed decisions.
Implementing group work Group work systems are employed in nearly all companies. Yet in almost all of these companies, these systems need to be elaborated and improved. Implementing these solutions has the effect of optimizing management by making project management more transparent, improving communication and making task coordination more efficient. It is therefore evident that implementing the system will reduce the costs of project team management and coordination. Another significant advantage of the system is that it can be accessed from anywhere in the world and therefore can be used to complete tasks outside the company’s various locales. This takes on even greater importance in this era of ever-increasingly mobile societies. As a leading IT systems integrator, Comarch possesses depths of experience, skill and knowledge in offering comprehensive solutions for implementing group work systems. This covers all stages involved, including design, implementation and maintenance. Comach’s offer includes third party applications, as well as these proprietary applications: Comarch Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Comarch Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Comarch Knowledge and Workflow Management, and Comarch Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence. Other producers’ solutions can also be implemented. Should you have any questions, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org <
Miłosz Brzozowski Comarch SA Position: Business Solution Manager Sector: Trade & Services
34 > Trends & Strategies
Sales and bank customer service 2007 This was the motto of yet another conference organized in November of 2007 by Comarch under the patronage of the financial monthly “Bank”. The speakers, from both IT companies and banks, spoke about new retail models and their role in technological support.
All participants emphasized the fact that financial institutions and banks in particular, face great challenges regarding IT modernizations. Some of them (like SEPA or MiFID) relate to challenges that the sector must undertake. Other challenges, such as an implementation of a scheme together with BI technology, also seem necessary due to increasing competition. Krzysztof Kalicki, the chairman of Deutsche Bank Polska SA, exposed the importance of SEPA to Polish bank clients. He stressed that the implementation of SEPA will support the standardization of bank service rates across Europe and the introduction of common accounting instruments. Banks will however require changes in their accounting systems; for example to connect 6.5 million payment portals into one sales network. Since January 28th, 2008, new payment systems have been put in place based on direct debit and direct payment. The process of introducing card information systems (MV Standard) at banks is to be finished by 2011. In relation to SEPA, Polish banks will take the burden of technological costs in the amount of between 1 to 15 billion Euro. How quickly will banks introduce SEPA technology? Krzysztof Kalicki warns that some will delay this process for as long as possible. Bartosz Milanowski, Websphere Sales Representative for IBM Polska, advises that the sooner the banks do it, the better, since these costs will quickly be absorbed through the acquisition of new customers and new market shares. For example, SEPA allows foreigners to open one bank account in Poland and transfer money cheaply from European countries and acquire bank cards that are accepted all across Europe. According to the speaker, banks will gain by saving infrastructure costs, gaining transparency and auditability of processes as well as the introduction of new products on the market. technology review [www.comarch.com]
Tom Schwiders, district director of IDC Central Europe, talks about the need to concentrate on the client in the banking sector. In his opinion, not only is client segmentation important, but also adjusting appropriate sales channels according to customer groups as well as the ease of changing a product within a bank or a group of banks is also important. Sławomir Maciura, sales director at Citibank Handlowy drew an interesting picture of the “Polish Credit Market” underlining that doing two things are unacceptable: first you cannot send off a customer in order to fill out additional paperwork (because the competition will win this customer over) nor can you issue him with a credit, while not looking at this process as a continuing one. When selling a credit, the customer adviser must do this keeping the risk in mind, not allowing for the portfolio to blow up within the next few months or years. Maciura also stressed the importance of signing properly drafted contracts in terms of the responsibility issues between the bank and intermediaries. He expressed his content with Comarch’s implementation three years ago of a Credit Forecast Sales Support System which is also constantly redeveloped with other CRM functions; providing complete information about the client, trainings, etc. Mirosław Druchowicz of Domestic Accounting Chamber SA talked about other aspects of clientbank relations. He highlighted the fact that even with quickly developing electronic banking, a client needs to have at least three signatures on paper in order to open a bank account. For internet banks, he must use the certificate issued by this particular institution. In addition, banks have not yet introduced one common standard of a shop payment method. According to this expert, banks should keep a closer watch on Internet communities, to
understand their specific features, language, needs, as well as to promote electronic signature. It is hard to understand that some banks block their employees from access to the Internet and by doing so limit their ability to access customers. Krzysztof Maurer of Comarch has performed an interesting review of loyalty systems at banks. When considering the fact that many bankers have multiple bank accounts in other banks as well, it further demonstrates that bank clients can be guided by their emotions. This is why knowing a client’s preferences are essential. On the other hand, Ireneusz Górniak, IT director at Fortis Bank Polska SA, talks about the necessity of business and technology department communication improvements in banks. When implementing an important technological project, a communication plan should be prepared which considers the method and frequency of communication with the directing committee. The communication plan should be accepted by all sides involved in the implementation, both informally and formally in written form. Ryszard Drużyński, vice-president of Raiffeisen bank Polska SA, brought closer the issues of “process management at a bank”. He recalls that processes are a chain of activities conducted from the beginning to the end. In his opinion, the sale of bank credits via intermediaries should only be a part of the process as it does not end with accepting the documents and granting the credit, there is an entire complex post-sale procedure in place. The conference had an all-encompassing and thorough format and received positive reviews by those in attendance. First published in “Bank” magazine, Issue 12, November 2007
Comarchâ€™s solutions for Finance and Banking Client
Internet Retail Banking Internet-based multi-channel banking
Retail Credit Process Management Comprehensive credit process management CRM Retail & VIP Integrated front-office application for customer advisors
Internet Corporate Banking Internet banking for large and medium enterprises
Corporate Credit Process Management Credit process management for large enterprises Factoring Comprehensive solution for factoring processes CRM Corporate Customer advisor support system
Internet Investments Investments via the Internet Risk Management Investment-credit portfolio risk control
Asset Management Comprehensive platform for asset management and depository banks Custody Accounting system for custody banks
Universal services and solutions
Learn more at: www.finance.comarch.com
Content Management System Internet content management
Commission Sales network management and commission calculation
Document Management System Scanning, Processing and Storage of documents
Data warehouse Banking data warehouse
Debt Management Debt management
Consulting and Turn-Key Systems Consulting and Analysts team, Turn-key system development
The credit process can be much easier With Comarch Credit Process Management, credit procedures take as little time as possible. Our solution enhances customer service quality and allows credit decisions to be made promptly and swiftly thereby minimizing customer inconvenience. Business benefits include a reduction of operational costs associated with the automation of the credit process â€“ from the initial proposal to the payment of the credit sum and repayment monitoring. Comarch Credit Process Management increases your competitiveness by using a variety of distribution channels and the availability of up-to-date modeling of the credit process.
Comarch Credit Process Management Learn more at www.finance.comarch.com
Published on May 14, 2009
Comarch Technology Review is a publication created by Comarch experts and specialists. It aims at assisting our customers and partners in ob...