But IT is viewed as more than just a provider of unfailing support to the bank's day-to-day operations. "We are solidly positioning IT as the facilitator and enabler of enterprise change, innovation and growth," said Michael Leung, CIO and senior vice president at Bank of America (Asia).
In 2005, the bank embarked on several large-scale initiatives, including the implementation of a data warehousing and business intelligence (BI) project. The project was particularly significant as it was the first time Bank of America (Asia) incorporated BI into its data gathering and reporting systems.
The BI tool not only increased productivity, but also enhanced privacy of customer data as employees no longer downloaded and stored report files on their PCs. Access level control was also implemented to ensure that only the relevant personnel can view information in the various data marts.
Another project was the Wealth Portfolio Analyzer, which was positioned to help the bank put together and access a complete profile of its customers. This application enabled counter and service staff to attend more effectively to the customer base, and also paved the way for targeted selling of financial products.
Bank of America (Asia) also relies on e-alerts via e-mail, SMS and phone to keep its customers happy. The e-alerts range from notification of new stock that can be purchased, to personal reminders of birthdays or payment deadlines.
True to its desire to leverage on advanced technologies, the bank has also lined up major initiatives for 2006. For a start, it is in the process of revamping its core banking system, which it has been using for the past 12 years. Requirement studies are underway and the bank is in the process of confirming a vendor for the two-year project.
Another idea the bank has been exploring to improve its services to customers is the use of RFID (radio frequency identification). According to Leung, however, there are "no groundbreaking ideas yet" as to how to effectively use the technology in a bank setting. The possibility of data tamper resulting from intercepting RF signals is another security concern for the bank.