Thursday, April 29, 2010

WEB payments up, unauthorized transactions down

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Companies experienced cost savings in 2009 as people switched to lower cost ACH bill payments and companies spent less time managing unauthorized debits.

WEB bill payments (ACH payments initiated at the billing company's website) grew 9.7% in 2009 vs. 2008 and unauthorized WEB debits decreased 13% down to 0.04%.

One utility company in Florida continued their strong growth in 2009. However, this utility company has not always grown their electronic payments at impressive rates. Looking back to 2004, the utility's electronic payment adoption rate was well below industry average. The utility company substantially increased their electronic payment options and integrated the entire payment process resulting in a tripling of their electronic payment adoption rate.

Source: NACHA, April 7, 2010

Treasury and finance expand to a strategic role

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Corporate finance and treasury officers' roles have expanded from operational to strategic, a move that has been accelerated by the recession.

Eighty-one percent of senior financial executives say that their job is more strategic than this time last year. Forty-four percent of senior financial executives now have daily contact with the CEO and board.

Finance and treasury's responsibility have grown from managing balance sheets and cash flows to include: improving liquidity, increasing working capital efficiency, enhancing cash forecasting, taking advantage of global opportunities and managing fraud. Automating functions is a more pressing need for finance and treasury departments now that they are taking on more responsibilities.

Many companies are still managing multiple vendors to accept customer's electronic payments, rather than saving time by allowing one vendor to manage all of their electronic payment channels.

Source: Wells Fargo Treasury Trends, April 6, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments


today Magazine Editor Mark Brousseau looks on as J&B Software's Mike Packer demonstrates the vendor's Mobile Deposit solution at NACHA's Payments 2010 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Specialized document management products challenging ECM mega-suites

Posted by Mark Brousseau

The divide between "Enterprise Content Management Suite" platform vendors and more specialized Document Management product suppliers is becoming more pronounced, giving buyers more choices to address a broad range of content management challenges, according to new research by The Real Story Group (formerly CMS Watch).

The Real Story Group just released its annual Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Document Management Marketplace overviews earlier this week, including "Cross-Check" charts for both sets of vendors. The overviews assess changes that have occurred in the previous 12 months, as well as trends emerging in today's marketplace. This research differs from other market analyses by focusing on needs and impact for the buyers and users of technology, not the sellers. "It's a risk mitigation report," notes Real Story Group analyst Alan Pelz-Sharpe, "giving you an inside look at what is really going on among the vendors and what you need to know to make the right procurement decisions." Given the divide between the more focused Document Management market and ECM suites, The Real Story Group has created two Cross-Checks.

There are no "leading" vendors or "magic" segments here. A vendor's suitability may depend on the enterprise customers' risk profile, as well as the "fit" of the technology itself, which The Real Story Group evaluates in its subscription-based research.

Other key takeaways from this analysis conclude that:

• There is continued consolidation at the top end of the market
• More focused Document Management vendors continue to thrive
• International and non-traditional options (open source/cloud) continue to disrupt both markets
• SharePoint 2010 will be remain a strong contender and competitor — but typically not a replacement system

Just as importantly, the ECM market is strong and continues to grow, with dozens of viable supplier options targeting specific business problems. "When it comes to selecting the best technology for your enterprise, you must look beyond ‘the top right quadrant,’" argues Real Story Group founder Tony Byrne. "Otherwise you'll blind yourself to many other great options."

What do you think?

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments


Posted by Mark Brousseau

Mike Packer of J&B Software (pictured) demonstrates the vendor’s Mobile Deposit solution yesterday at NACHA’s Payments 2010 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. The solution, developed by Mitek Systems and incorporating J&B Software’s workflow and check clearing capabilities, enables users to make remote check deposits using mobile smartphones.

“Mobile Deposit makes a lot of sense for companies that don’t have a lot of check volume, such as a business with five to six checks a week,” Packer says, adding that J&B Software would fall into that category since it receives most of its payments electronically. “Banks have been slow to move on this,” he says, noting the vendor has several pilots underway among its customers. “But in five to six months, we expect to have significantly more conversations on Mobile Deposit as bank IT budgets begin to loosen up. SaaS will help adoption by making it easier for banks to set-up mobile deposit.”

Packer says the vendor’s recently introduced SaaS delivery model for Mobile Deposit was generating a lot of interest at Payments 2010. The SaaS delivery model eliminates barriers to entry, allowing organizations to quickly adopt mobile deposit with minimal up-front cost and setup requirements, Packer says. “SaaS extends mobile deposit to millions of potential new users,” Packer says, noting Mobile Deposit is targeted to banks, brokerages, retailers, insurers, consumers and freight companies.

The solution captures check images through a mobile smartphone and prepares them for transmission to the financial institution as Check 21-compliant images using Mitek's mobile IMagePROVE technology. For security purposes, a complete audit trail of where, when and how each check was captured is logged. No data or images are stored on the smartphone, Packer says, and all communication is 128-bit encrypted.

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments


Posted by Mark Brousseau

William Buser, director of sales, Pertech Resources, says he spoke with a “fair amount” of financial institutions at NACHA’s Payments 2010 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle that were interested in teller capture solutions. In the short time I was in the Pertech Resources booth, a number of prospects stopped by, as well as an analyst for a top financial services research firm.

“Some solutions vendors are saying that teller and back-counter branch capture are dead,” Buser says. “But many financial institutions, particularly smaller ones, still aren’t doing either one. What’s really happening is that financial institutions are telling these vendors they aren’t going to purchase a big, expensive batch-feed scanner for the branch. And we’re saying that they don’t have to.”

At Payments 2010, Pertech Resources was demonstrating a new compact workstation (pictured with Buser) for teller and branch capture that costs a fraction of the price of batch-feed scanners, and has the ability to swipe any magnetic card, including credit and debit cards. The workstation already is interfaced to a number of core processing solutions, including Fiserv, Jack Henry & Associates, and FIS, and soon Pertech anticipates that a core processing vendor will offer scanning software as part of a package for the workstation (meantime Pertech Resources offers it own). In addition, Buser says Pertech Resources plans to offer a software package for the device to read drivers licenses or healthcare cards.

The bottom line: “Teller and branch capture is alive and well if you have the right solution,” Buser says.

AR professionals expect a better 2010

OB10, the leading global e-Invoicing network, and International Accounts Receivable Professionals (IARP), a not-for-profit guidance-setting association for the accounts receivable profession, conducted a recent survey of accounts receivable professionals designed to gauge current business practices and the future state of organizations from an accounts receivable and collections perspective.

Results of the survey, which will be conducted annually, indicate that AR professionals are taking a number of steps to ensure more predictable payment from customers while predicting a general improvement in their organization’s overall economic situation in 2010. Survey participants included presidents, CEOs, owners, CFOs, AR directors and AR managers from organizations across a broad spectrum of industries and sizes.

“The results of the survey provide very strong insight into the current invoicing and collections practices of AR professionals and give a glimpse of where they are going to direct their efforts and resources in the future to ensure more predictable cash flow,” said Thayer Stewart, Vice President of Marketing for OB10. Although generally satisfied with their collections results, 41 percent of respondents have increased their collections efforts and slightly more than half have been contacting their customers more frequently in order to receive payment. Furthermore, in light of the increased collections activities, 71 percent of respondents said they had received requests from their customers in 2009 to invoice them electronically, with 42 percent saying they had received more requests in 2009 than in previous years. AR professionals view this positively, as 82 percent who received requests believe that submitting invoices electronically expedites the collections process.”

The survey also asked AR professionals to indicate the average number of days it takes their customers to pay them once an invoice has been submitted. The result was an average Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) number of 36.1 days, with 69 percent of respondents citing that their invoices are paid between 26 and 50 days after submitted to their customers.

“Almost two-thirds of the AR professionals we polled told us that 2009 was worse than or about the same as 2008 financially,” said IARP CEO Tom Bohn., “However, the outlook going forward is increasingly positive, as almost 60 percent of respondents said they believe their businesses will do better financially in 2010 compared to 2009. Of those expressing optimism, 63 percent say they have a positive outlook because their companies have become more focused in their sales and marketing efforts, 61 percent said they have been more successful in reducing costs and 58 percent say they expect the economy to rebound.”

To read more about the results of the 2010 OB10-IARP Accounts Receivable Survey, download the executive summary as well as the full report from the OB10 and IARP Web sites at http://OB10.com/ARSurvey or http://www.theiarp.org/ViewItem-324.do?parentCatId=219 respectively.

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments


R. Edwin Pearce (pictured, far left) and Dax French (far right), both of eGistics, Inc., greet employees of SunTrust this afternoon at NACHA's Payments 2010 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments



R. Edwin Pearce, executive vice president of sales and corporate development for eGistics, hands Michele M. Naghoon, AAP, vice president, ACH production manager, SunTrust, the Flip camcorder that she one through eGistics' prize drawing at NACHA's Payments 2010 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments


Ed Bachelder, director of research, BlueFlame Consulting, reads the latest issue of his favorite magazine this afternoon at NACHA's Payments 2010 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments


today Magazine Editor Mark Brousseau celebrates his birthday over lunch at the Cheesecake Factory during NACHA's Payments 2010 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments


today Magazine Editor Mark Brousseau greets George H. Bassous, chief technical officer, Affirmative Technologies, this afternoon at NACHA's Payments 2010 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments


Rick Krauss, ICP, associate consultant, accounts services in Dallas, Allstate Insurance Company, reads the latest issue of his favorite magazine this afternoon at NACHA's Payments 2010 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Monday, April 26, 2010

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments

J.P. Morgan’s Treasury Services business continues to be the industry leader in ACH payments origination volume. J.P. Morgan was ranked first in ACH payments origination for 2009, according to NACHA, The Electronic Payments Association.

“J.P. Morgan’s commitment to quality has set the stage for our continued stability and our capacity to successfully support clients amidst the financial turmoil of the past year,” stated Pat Thelen, executive director, J.P. Morgan Treasury Services. “We are constantly challenging ourselves to improve efficiency, which enables us to help our clients further streamline their payment processes.”

J.P. Morgan continued its online payment growth in 2009, achieving an increase of 16 percent over the previous year. “This growth in electronic payments is a result of the increase in online payment transactions,” explained Thelen. “As consumers and small businesses increasingly adopt online banking tools that deliver a convenient, secure, electronic means of making payments, J.P. Morgan is helping clients manage these rising online banking volumes efficiently. While we continue to enable consumers to make payments electronically through Chase.com, we are similarly helping billers manage the accounts receivable process with products such as eLockbox. We support the entire electronic payments cycle for our clients.”

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments

Posted by Mark Brousseau

The meshing between accounts payable and accounts receivable and different payment types and mechanisms is going to be this decade’s focus when it comes to payments innovation and standards, Aaron Bills, COO and founder, 3Delta Systems, told me this morning at NACHA’s Payments 2010.

“There is an evolution and maturing occurring in purchasing as a strategic function,” Bills said. “We’re finally working back from the manufacturing supply chain to the financial supply chain.”

“The fewer fingerprints we can leave on the transaction, the less costly it is to process,” Bills said. “We’ve had these different tracks where people have tried to solve similar payments problems. What the market needs is a localized, parameterized and database-driven payments infrastructure that supports multiple tenders, multiple nations, multiple parties, and multiple levels of security.”

That’s why 3Delta Systems is expanding beyond its purchasing card (p-card) roots to develop what Bills refers to as a “global payment infrastructure” – a centrally managed solution delivering a high degree of authentication and appropriate levels of control (such as PCI) across all payment types. “By having a platform that we can rapidly extend or adapt for different requirements, we can achieve success in an environment that is churning quickly and where the ‘right path’ hasn’t been defined.”

Bills said to think of it as an ‘intelligence switch.’

“The industry has a last mile wiring problem, where that are a lot of nice applications that need to be connected to a network,” Bill said. “The nightmare scenario for organizations is that they have a deluge of relationships and technologies that they have to manage; many-to-many. Our goal is to make it easier to manage that by providing a technology base where connections are streamlined.”

“There needs to be a consistent payments process that can be applied, regardless of the tender type,” Bills says. “A merchant simply cannot manage eight to 12 different business processes. It upsets the operational balance.”

Bills said his company’s new product will bring him into competition with card processors who are his channel partners today. But he’s up for the task. “The challenge the processors face is that their technology is very old – a lot of it is written in COBOL. The older technologies will make it harder for current channels to adapt to the rapidly changing client requirements, and that will create the opportunity for technology providers like us. Indeed, we may compete with some in the dynamic space, but it is also likely that the channels that relied on us for our B2B services will rely on us again during this wave of innovation.”

What do you think?

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Today’s announcement that NACHA was bringing its long-awaited Electronic Billing Information Delivery Service (EBIDS) to market got me wondering whether NACHA was planning to leverage a similar concept to address inefficiencies with health payments. After all, the attributes of the ACH Network that NACHA President and CEO Janet O. Estep cited as key differentiators for electronic bill payment and presentment – ubiquity, efficiency, security and the ability to pass information and payments across the network – also would prove valuable in the healthcare payments space.

“Your intuition is correct,” Estep told me during an exclusive interview at NACHA’s Payments 2010 event at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. “Healthcare payments have many attributes that are addressed by the ACH Network: There is a lot of information that must accompany payments. There are a lot of parties involved. And there is a need for security. There are standards available today within the ACH Network that can help transport health payments in a secure way.”

While NACHA has not had conversations with healthcare organizations, Estep said, “NACHA has engaged in conversations with a lot of direct financial institution members as healthcare payments have become a more important issue. We also have spoken with legislators and other rule-making bodies in healthcare. We even created a very small page on the NACHA Web site on healthcare payments. We’re going to continue this dialogue in the next year or so and see where it leads.”

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments

Posted by Mark Brousseau

NACHA is partnering with The Clearing House to bring its long-awaited Electronic Billing Information Delivery Service (EBIDS) into production. NACHA made the announcement during a press briefing this morning at its Payments 2010 event at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. EBIDS, an Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network bill presentment and payment solution, has been a NACHA pilot program since 2008, operated by the Federal Reserve Banks.

EBIDS expands the capabilities of the ACH Network by enabling businesses to leverage its infrastructure to deliver electronic bills to consumer online banking accounts. The ACH Network supports electronic billing functions such as enrollment, bill presentment and enrollment maintenance, as well as bill payment. In the pilot, Verizon worked with J.P. Morgan to deliver eBills to customers at Wells Fargo and Dollar Bank. Since September 2008, 4.5 million transactions (including enrollments, enrollment acknowledgements, bill presentments and payments) were processed through the EBIDS pilot program.

“EBIDS really takes advantage of the core competencies of the ACH Network: ubiquity, efficiency, security, and the ability to pass information as well as payments across the network,” said NACHA President and CEO Janet O. Estep. “EBIDS, perhaps more than any other ACH service that we have introduced, brings value to all participants.”

The ubiquity of the ACH Network will help differentiate EBIDS from other EBPP solutions, Estep said. “The ubiquity of the ACH Network is lacking in the bill presentment space. EBIDS will allow billers to reach all of their customers like never before,” Estep explained. “Conversely, customers will find it advantageous to find all of their bills in one place.”

While electronic bill payment continues to gain traction, Estep noted that electronic bill presentment is still struggling with low penetration. Estep said that the ubiquity of EBIDS will provide benefits to “everybody who has to be involved, and there are a lot of players.”

“Consumers are aggressively migrating to online banking and financial management solutions,” said Russ Waterhouse, executive vice president, product development at The Clearing House. “As an ACH operator, we are in a unique position to provide financial institutions and their customers with a standardized, ubiquitous electronic bill presentment and payment solution.”

Studies show that consumers are increasingly migrating to online bill payment and presentment and specifically seeking a consolidated electronic solution – like EBIDS – to access their bills from a single location. According to a 2009 Javelin Strategy & Research study, 70 percent of online households pay bills via the Internet every month, while only 38 percent have viewed an eBill at a bank or consolidator site, thus reiterating the growth opportunity that exists for online bill presentment. Moreover, Javelin’s 2010 Green Billing Report finds that nearly half of consumers would be motivated to switch to online billing if there was a single online site that consolidated statements.

Biller adoption of EBIDS will be an ongoing area of emphasis as the technology transitions into full-scale production. Over the next several months, NACHA also will work to define the ACH Network fees associated with EBIDS.

“Reducing the volume of paper bills is a strategic goal at Verizon,” said Angeline DePauw, director, remittance processing, Verizon. “We believe EBIDS will help us achieve this goal while at the same time allowing us to expand our customer reach and reduce expenses and customer service calls.”

DePauw added that, “Verizon sends out 22 million bills a month, so if we could suppress just 1 million bills, it would be huge. Just consider the economics of eliminating all that postage.”

“EBIDS sets the stage for future ACH growth,” said Pat Thelen, executive director, J.P. Morgan Treasury Services. “We are confident that when we take this to our clients, they will the value.”

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments

Posted by Mark Brousseau

During a luncheon presentation for journalists at its Payments conference in Seattle, NACHA shared some key takeaways from its PayItGreen Survey 2010:

Less paper equals less unhappiness!
• Respondents expressing lower levels of satisfaction with primary bank or credit union also report lower “electronic only” rates for key financial institution accounts
• This overall finding extends to billers as well
• Proportion of dissatisfied/neutral customers doubles as ‘electronic’ behavior decreases

In billing, minimalism is everything
• Focus on eliminating clutter, reducing paper waste and easy access to statements

For bill payment, expediency is the bottom-line
• Reduction of time and effort emerges as the primary driver

Don’t rule out the opt-out, because most consumers are OK with it
• 6 out of 10 respondents are open/neutral to billers/banks shutting off paper statements automatically

“Double-dipping” – when consumers receive a bill via paper and electronically – occurs more than twice as often with financial services accounts compared to other billers

Among various types of financial accounts, checking and card accounts leads in paperless while others lag farther behind
• Accounts such as investments, lending and insurance have lower rates of paperless

In general, financial services companies lag their non-financial services billers in getting customers to go paperless
• Some sectors such as utilities need particular attention (perhaps bankers can help their corporate clients!)

Providers can improve paperless behavior with particular site or product changes
• Make higher mention of trying to sign up online but finding the process to be too complicated
• Are twice as likely to not trust their provider’s web site
• Worry over not having access to archived statements as well as a need to be in control over finances

What do you think?

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Fiserv is teaming with MoneyGram International to enable consumers to pay a wide variety of household bills through financial institution websites the same day they are due.

Consumers who pay bills at one of the more than 3,100 financial institutions that use the CheckFree RXP online payment service, which includes 23 of the top 50 financial institutions in the United States, will have access to the integrated same day payment option. Initially, bills from more than 100 well-known national and regional companies will be available for same day payment, with the potential to add more than 1,000 additional bills based on consumer demand. Fiserv will utilize MoneyGram's direct connections with billing companies to deliver the payments.

The bills that will be available for same day payment represent those most common to U.S. households, including auto, mortgage, credit card, utility and mobile phone bills.

Consumers will be able to select same day delivery as part of the normal payment scheduling process, ensuring an uninterrupted user experience at the financial institution website. The expedited payment option will be integrated seamlessly for the user through a drop down menu, and will only appear if a bill is eligible for same day payment.

"Other same day payment offerings currently in the market have suffered from low adoption due to a small number of available bills and a lack of integration into the existing online payment process," said Todd Lesher, division president, Electronic Banking Services, Fiserv. "Financial institutions can now address these issues by taking advantage of the combined Fiserv and MoneyGram networks to offer a substantial number of bills through a same day payment option that is built into the online payment flow. Offering expedited payments for multiple bills at one website is another way financial institutions can enhance convenience and maintain their position at the center of consumers' financial lives."

"Our partnership with Fiserv will enable consumers who pay bills through financial institutions to now also make same day urgent bill payments to the many billers in our extensive network through Fiserv's leading online bill payment service," said Dan O'Malley, MoneyGram EVP, Americas. "This partnership is a great complement to the other payment choices MoneyGram already provides to consumers at our more than 40,000 agent locations in the U.S."

The same-day expedited bill payment option is expected to be available to the more than 3,100 financial institutions that use the CheckFree RXP online bill payment service in the second half of 2010.

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Consumers’ use of their Internet-capable mobile phones to access online banking and pay bills online climbed significantly over the past 12 months, according to new research released and jointly sponsored by FIS, NACHA, and eCom Advisors. This research was unveiled at a breakfast press conference this morning at NACHA’s PAYMENTS 2010 Conference at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

“With expanding ownership of Internet-capable smartphones, consumers’ use of their mobile devices to access online banking information, view and pay bills, and make online purchases is becoming much more mainstream. We worked with NACHA and eCom Advisors on this research to better understand the pace of mobile banking adoption and the primary factors that are driving this consumer behavior,” stated Kay Nichols, executive vice president of channel solutions at FIS. FIS is a pioneer in delivering integrated mobile banking and payment solutions that provide end-customers with the convenience and immediacy in accessing their banking information.

The March 2010 survey, completed by 1,236 U.S. consumers who own and use mobile phones, was designed as a repeat of a similar consumer survey fielded by eCom Advisors in March 2009. The 2010 research found that 27 percent of consumers who own an Internet-capable mobile phone had used the device to access their financial institution’s online banking website within the past 30 days, compared to the 2009 result of 22 percent. In addition, 20 percent of consumers who own an Internet-capable mobile phone had used the device within the past 30 days to pay bills through a financial institution or a biller website, a significant increase from last year’s response of 11 percent.

In addition to adoption and use, the 2010 research foundthat consumers’ propensity to use mobile devices to conduct banking functions correlates more to the sophistication of the mobile device rather than the consumer’s age. The percentage of consumers who reported using their Internet-capable mobile phone to conduct online banking transactions within the past 30 days varied significantly by type of device owned:

… 65 percent of consumers who owned the newest touch screen smartphones (e.g., Apple iPhone, BlackBerry Storm, Motorola Droid, Google Nexus);
… 30 percent of consumers who owned other touch screen smartphones (e.g., Motorola Surf, Samsung Impression, LG Dare);
… 27 percent of consumers who owned non-touch screen smartphones with QWERTY keyboards (e.g., BlackBerry Curve, BlackBerry 8800 Series, Samsung Gravity, Palm Treo);
… 9 percent of consumers that owned of all other types of Internet-capable mobile phone models (e.g., Motorola RAZR, Verizon Escapade, Nokia 2680 Slide, Nokia 1680 Classic).

“Some smartphones are clearly smarter than others when it comes to inducing mobile banking and bill pay usage,” stated Fred Brothers, managing partner of eCom Advisors. “Regardless of the consumer’s age, those equipped with iPhones or the newest smartphones with full-sized touch screens are twice as likely to use them for mobile financial services as those who have smartphone devices with smaller screens or keyboards,” said Brothers.

The influence of mobile device sophistication was also apparent in consumers’ bill payment behaviors. The percentage of consumers who reported using their Internet-capable mobile phone to pay bills online through a financial institution or a biller websitewithin the past 30 days varied significantly by type of device owned:

… 40 percent of consumers who owned the newest touch screen smartphones (e.g., Apple iPhone, BlackBerry Storm, Motorola Droid, Google Nexus);
… 16 percent of consumers who owned other touch screen smartphones (e.g., Motorola Surf, Samsung Impression, LG Dare);
… 22 percent of consumers who owned non-touch screen smartphones with QWERTY keyboards (e.g., BlackBerry Curve, BlackBerry 8800 Series, Samsung Gravity, Palm Treo);
… 13 percent of consumers that owned of all other types of Internet-capable mobile phone models (e.g., Motorola RAZR, Verizon Escapade, Nokia 2680 Slide, Nokia 1680 Classic).

Consistent with a key finding from the 2009 research, the 2010 study revealed that while overall mobile bill-pay adoption is increasing, there is room for financial institutions to drive market growth. Of the 20 percent of consumers who reported using their mobile devices to pay bills online within the past 30 days, 62 percent stated they went directly to billers’ websites most often, while 38 percent reported that they went to their financial institution’s website most often.

“The results reiterate that the time is right for financial institutions to expand their online bill presentment, as well as bill payment, solutions,” stated Janet O. Estep, president and CEO, NACHA. “Introducing PC- and mobile-based products that make it easy for consumers to navigate the complete billing cycle is critical to ongoing adoption. Initiatives such as EBIDS, supported via by ACH Network, offer a way to efficiently deliver electronic bills of all kinds to a wide breadth of consumers via online banking.”

What do you think?

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Historically, cash and checks have dominated as the primary means of settlement for person-to-person (P2P) transactions, but that has the potential to change rapidly according to new research released by NACHA and eCom Advisors in partnership with FIS and PayPal. The research was unveiled this morning at a breakfast press conference at NACHA’s PAYMENTS 2010 Conference at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

“Financial institutions and solution providers are increasingly seeking to leverage the ACH Network to enable their retail customers to conduct electronic P2P payments,” stated Janet O. Estep, president and chief executive officer of NACHA—The Electronic Payments Association. “This research adds to our understanding of consumer demand for this payment service.”

The February 2010 survey, completed by 1,180 active online banking consumers in the U.S., was designed to test consumer reaction to two new concepts. The first concept was using a P2P payment service offered within the online bill-payment applications of financial institutions. Nearly half (48 percent) of active online banking consumers are likely to use such a service, according to the research.

The research also investigated consumer interest in several different scenarios for P2P payments offered by financial institutions. Results concluded that:

… 33 percent of consumers are likely to use P2P payments to send money to a son or daughter at college;
… 31 percent are likely use P2P to send money out of the country to a family member, friend, or associate;
… 25 percent are likely to use P2P to split the cost of a gift with co-workers, friends, or family members.

The second concept tested in the research was an ePayment Portal, defined as a service provided by a financial institution allowing consumers to transfer money, pay bills, conduct P2P payments, and track all their money movement from a single place online. Nearly half of consumers (49 percent) expressed interest in the Portal concept. Of this interested population, 70 percent would likely use P2P payment services within the Portal.

Paul McAdam, a Partner at eCom Advisors stated, “We are very encouraged by the results of this research. Nearly half of today’s online banking consumers expressed interest in using a P2P payment service offered by a financial institution, and if the P2P service is integrated with a suite of money movement solutions within the online bill-payment application, consumer interest jumps significantly. This research provides significant evidence of a large pool of pool of likely P2P adopters.”

Another key finding is consumers who have already adopted mobile financial services likely will be the first adopters of financial institutions’ P2P payment solutions. Consumers who used their mobile phones to access their bank account or view or pay a bill within the past 30 days reported a likeliness to use the study’s P2P payment concepts at rates more than two times higher than those reported by the overall sample of active online banking consumers.

“Today’s active mobile banking consumes are clearly attracted to the notion of replacing cash and check transactions with P2P payments via their mobile devices,” stated McAdam. “In addition to targeting marketing communications to encourage this segment to adopt P2P, financial institutions should also integrate P2P payments with their mobile banking services.”

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments

Posted by Mark Brousseau

In 2010, Online Banking Solutions (OBS) predicts the following banking industry trends:

… Online banking and security will take center stage.
… Banks will begin to leverage additional delivery channels beyond the Web to create high-value solutions for their clients. This will begin with alerts and notifications, secure file transfers and the introduction of commercial mobile banking services.
… Companies will increase the number of file exchanges with banks in support of a full range of treasury services.
… Banks will begin to develop/acquire commercial entitlements and single sign-on (SSO) components to rationalize and improve the overall end-user experience.

What do you think?

TAWPI @ NACHA Payments


eGistics Chairman and CEO Bob Lund, also chairman of the TAWPI board of directors, greets Tonya Gregoire of IAPP and Billy Terrell of eGistics this evening at the NACHA Payments conference in Seattle.

P-Card Conference Wrap-Up

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Steven Putney, a partner with PayTech International, provides his thoughts on the 11th Annual National Association of Purchasing Card Professionals’ (NAPCP) conference held in Orlando:

Over 600 purchasing card payment industry professionals gathered April 18-21, 2010 at the 11th Annual NAPCP Conference in Orlando. Representing a broad span of private and public-sector organizations, they convened to discuss topics that ranged from best practices and technology developments to legislative changes affecting the purchasing card industry.

For purchasing card professionals, staying current on industry changes is critical to playing an effective role in the management of their organizations. The conference provided excellent opportunities for attendees to gain insights on a wide variety of topics and network with peers, industry providers and purchasing program experts.

This year, the program offered five different tracks that focused on important aspects of purchasing card programs:

• Building the foundations of a successful program: What factors and considerations are paramount to ensuring that purchasing card programs achieve their objectives?
• Effective program management: How do you monitor your program, manage strategies and insure compliance?
• Optimization strategies: How can you increase program effectiveness and use new technologies to simplify transaction management?
• Industry overviews: What are the important trends in the technology, economics and legal arenas that are shaping purchasing card programs?
• Professional development: How can you increase your knowledge and effectiveness?

The rapid convergence of purchasing cards with the overall AP strategy at large corporations and public- sector organizations was a theme heard across many sessions. Case studies were shared in breakout sessions on how to increase control over purchases, identify opportunities for savings and ensure corporate compliance--all essential to a successful purchasing and AP strategy.

New enhanced technology platforms (originally developed to support only purchasing card transactions) were demonstrated that have added functionality to integrate deeper into the organization’s workflow processes and accounting systems and support a full range of electronic payment types. These platforms can facilitate a convergence across AP, and potentially help organizations consolidate multiple vendors down to one.

Another topic that received a great deal of attention at the conference was how to successfully expand payment programs internationally. Multi-national corporations and public-sector organizations must identify and address significant variation in key areas across different regions of the world. Areas of consideration for multi-national programs include cultural differences, commercial credit availability, legal & regulatory issues, availability of data and tax compliance challenges.

The conference provided a unique opportunity to mingle with peers and industry experts and gain a perspective on opportunities to improve existing programs and plan for the future.

Building your deal team

Building Your Deal Team - Assembling the Right Players
by Kenneth H. Marks

Thinking about selling your company, buying a competitor, or maybe raising capital? You need a deal team with the right mix of talent and experiences to get the best value and to assure the transaction happens. As economic activity is starting to pick-up, some small and mid-sized companies are testing the waters and seeking to launch strategic initiatives to move their businesses forward. In some cases this means raising capital and in other cases it means partnering with or selling to an investor or buyer with deep pockets or where there’s a strategic fit. No matter what the case, having the right team can make the difference - not just in the value and quality of the deal, but whether you actually get the deal done.

So, before you jump into a transaction and start negotiating, make sure you have the right players on your side -

1. Legal Counsel – a critical member of the team. As management considers its alternatives and potential actions, it needs to understand the issues and potential ramifications. Your lawyer should be experienced with transaction structuring and securities law issues, and should be someone whose judgment you value and trust. There are many issues that arise out of the various corporate finance and M and A (mergers and acquisitions, which includes selling a business) transactions. It’s important to have a lawyer who is a “deal doer” as opposed to a “deal killer.” Deal doers have the best interest of the company and shareholders in mind and are focused on completing deals and finding ways to make transactions close. In all deals, there are obstacles and emotions that arise even after the business principals have agreed on the major terms. A lawyer who can think creatively can facilitate solutions to overcome these obstacles.

Though you may have a long and successful relationship with personal counsel that may be strong in real estate, estate planning, or some other discipline, that lawyer may not be the right counsel for corporate finance and M and A transactions. Typically these folks will focus on the wrong issues and spend too much time getting up to speed, the end result being either a poorly done deal or a failed transaction. If current counsel lacks the skills you need to achieve a successful transaction, ask him to help you locate and evaluate new counsel with the right skills; do this before you begin the transaction process, not afterwards.

Having counsel that is known for doing deals and for expertise in transactions can be invaluable in the process and will lend credibility in reaching your goals. Lastly, some law firms have partners that cross over from counsel to an informal investment banker. This is not bad if they have the marketing skills, deal instincts, experience, and available staff time; but it can be problematic if their role is not well understood and defined.

2. Investment Banker / M and A Specialist - if you are selling your company, this role is a must. If raising capital, others on the team may be willing and able to assume the position; it depends on the stage of the company and the type funding required. Investment bankers and M and A specialists are intermediaries that drive the transaction process, help present and market the company and may actively participate in negotiating the deal. You can think of them as the “deal quarterback”. In some cases you will find a strategic advisor or consultant filling this role, which is fine too. The process of a selling a business is reasonably complex and requires an integrated effort of the entire team to get the best results. The key is to have a partner-level professional with transaction AND business experience that understands the entire process, the subtleties, and the inter-related issues and opportunities.

3. Accountants - we use the plural tense because there are usually multiple accountants involved in the process. First there is the need to have financial statements that comply with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Valuations tend to boil down to a multiple of EBITDA (earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortization) or cash flow. The audit accountant can help your team insure that you have defensible earnings information that will likely be required in negotiating the deal. Without it, you will be operating from a position of weakness and constantly being second guessed by the investor’s or buyer’s team.

Second, there are the tax accountants. Particularly in the sale of a company (vs. financing), there are a number of decisions that can directly impact the eventual after-tax cash proceeds to the shareholders. Your ally and partner in making these decisions is either your tax accountant, which should have corporate finance or M and A transaction experience, or a tax attorney with the same.

4. Board Members and Management - no one knows your business better than you and your management. There is a dual purpose in choosing your internal players: (a) to have multiple eyes and minds focused on the deal that understands the intricacies of the business and its industry, and (b) to represent the interest of the shareholders and key stakeholders that will be required to get the transaction complete. A critical investment component for many investors and buyers is management. In addition, having your senior team members on-board early in the process is usually key to successfully presenting and marketing the company. It enables outsiders to observe the breadth and quality of management, and allows management to evaluate potential investors or buyers in real-time as the process progresses. At a minimum, expect to have your CFO or controller, and key board members ready to engage as required.

Carefully interview and assemble a group of professionals that have the focus, expertise, network, and mind share to enable you to make sure-footed, solid decisions as you contemplate and execute on the financing or M and A process. Keep in mind that not all advisors are needed at once - prioritize, and be aware of the cost and benefits of the engagements and timing of support. The mix of these professionals and their firms is a function of the credibility of your company’s management, size of the business checkbook, stage and industry of the company, and the realistic growth opportunity of the business.

Kenneth H. Marks a Managing Partners of High Rock Partners, providing growth-transition leadership, advisory and investment. He is the lead author of the Handbook of Financing Growth published by John Wiley and Sons, www.HandbookofFinancingGrowth.com. You can reach him at khmarks@HighRockPartners.com.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Customer loyalty to banks drops significantly

Posted by Mark Brousseau

While the U.S. economy may be showing signs of a modest recovery, retail banks continue to struggle with their most basic mission: satisfying customers. In fact, a recent consumer survey reveals that overall satisfaction of retail banking customers has decreased for a fourth consecutive year, to 748 on 1,000-point scale, primarily due to low marks in customer service, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study.

To gauge consumer attitudes, J.D. Power recently surveyed nearly 48,000 retail bank customers across the United States. Respondents were asked to rate their bank on a variety of topics encompassing account activities; account information; bank facility; fees; problem resolution; and product offerings.

Results of the study show that poor customer service is the most common reason why customers switched banks in 2010. According to the study, 37 percent of customers who changed their primary banking relationship in 2010 did so because of poor customer service at their previous bank. This represents a real missed opportunity for banks, according to the study.

“As retail banking customers become considerably less loyal, banks need to focus on getting the fundamentals right,” said Michael Beird, director of the banking practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Banks who get back to the basics—such as maintaining a clean branch and greeting customers as they enter the branch—may help to alleviate some of the distress customers are feeling and increase overall satisfaction.”

Performing simple service acts such as greeting customers as they enter the branch, offering additional assistance, and thanking them for their business may increase overall satisfaction by nearly 50 index points. However, less than one-half of customers reported experiencing those services.

Loyalty suffers
J.D. Power and Associates research indicates a clear connection between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Generally speaking, satisfied customers are loyal customers. On the flipside, customers who report lower levels of satisfaction are much more likely to switch service providers, no matter the industry.

According to the study, expressed loyalty to banks, which is measured by the percentage of customers saying they will “definitely not switch” in the next 12 months, has fallen significantly during the past three years. It was only 34 percent in 2010, compared with 46 percent in 2007. Further, the gap between larger and smaller banks is considerable, with 40 percent of customers at smaller banks reporting that they will definitely not switch, compared with 33 percent at larger banks.

High fees often cited as reason for switching
Fees continue to have a major impact on customer loyalty, as well. According to the study, 29 percent of customers who switched banks in 2010 cited high fees as their reason for leaving. The study also finds that customers can be highly satisfied even when paying fees, provided that they receive sufficient value for the price paid. Fee-paying customers with above-average fee satisfaction indicate better experiences with branch access and appearance, promptness of being served, and the bank’s Web site navigation and range of services.

“While fees have a significant impact on customer satisfaction, banks can mitigate this effect by giving the customer choices,” said Beird. “Customers tend to be considerably less dissatisfied when they have different overdraft options, such as transferring from a savings account or sending a balance alert.”

The way customers bank is changing
As technology continues to infiltrate every aspect of daily life, banks too need to adapt to changing customer preferences. According to the study, 51 percent of customers report a preference to bank online—an increase from 44 percent in 2008. In addition, 7 percent of customers report using a mobile device to check balances, transfer funds, and pay bills.

What do you think?

Small businesses eye mobile remote deposit capture

Posted by Mark Brousseau

One in four consumers and 39 percent of small businesses desire mobile remote deposit capture (mobile RDC), a technology that allows an image of a check to be deposited through a camera-equipped mobile phone. That's according to new research from Javelin Strategy & Research. A niche product in 2010, small banks and credit unions are the first to offer mobile RDC to identified trusted consumers as a way to retain customers and grow without reliance on branches.

Per the Mobile Remote Deposit Capture report, smartphones are a key factor in the adoption of Mobile RDC. Consumers need access to the mobile web and the ability to take a two-megapixel digital picture with their camera phone. “If one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S. – Bank of America, Chase, Citibank or Wells Fargo – offers mobile remote deposit capture, you will most likely see a domino effect of the other banks offering the service,” said James Van Dyke, president & founder, Javelin Strategy & Research. “With trust worsening and mobility increasing, large banks can dampen the exodus while moving closer to mobile payments with mobile remote deposit capture. Paper payments die slowly, and as RDC helps with electronification of checks for a death by a thousand cuts.'”

Because nearly three in four of business transactions are made via check, this product also has mass appeal to businesses, which – unlike consumers – could be likely to pay for this service, Javelin concludes.

Other key findings of the report:

• Mobile RDC can be an important element to stem customer attrition or attract new customers without costly infrastructure.
• Already, more than one in four consumers who have been victims of ID fraud has had their checking account number stolen. Financial institutions considering implementing mobile RDC must put tight security measures in place to prevent even more fraud.
• Financial institutions can cut costs by offering the eight in ten of consumers who walked in to a branch to make a deposit or withdraw cash in the last 90 days the alternative to use their phone to make a deposit.
• About one in five of smartphone owners use mobile banking on a daily basis – more than double the rate for consumers who do not own a smartphone.
• Many consumers are ready for RDC now, particularly selected high-income individuals
• Four out of ten tech-savvy consumers view mobile RDC technology as desirable.

“Mobile RDC captures unique attributes of mobile hardware and always-on connectivity, to expand mobile banking relationships. We forecast that by 2014, over half of the U.S. population with mobile phones will be using smartphones, a dramatic escalation from the current 18%. This will provide a solid base of growth for additional mobile RDC services,” said Javelin Strategy & Research Analyst Mark Schwanhausser.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

7 Steps to Structured Content

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Structured content can be a powerful change agent within the organization. But to reap the power, Tom Magliery, an XML Technology Specialist at JustSystems, says organizations must first embrace the change. Magliery offers the steps below to help make the change happen:

Companies that adopt structured content have consistently seen it accelerate the creation, simplify the maintenance, and improve the quality of their content. They've seen structured content drive higher quality information, reduced publishing costs, and faster times to market for their technical manuals, policy documents, financial information, and other content and content-based
products and services.

So how does an organization - a department, division, or an entire company - get on the structured content bandwagon? Or, if it's already on the bandwagon, how does it expand the use of structured content within its operations? In either instance, the organization needs a strategy for moving to structured content and managing the change such a move creates. After years working with companies and helping them with their structured content adoption, I've found several common steps in the process.

Step 1 - Find a champion. You need a manager to sponsor the project, someone with a vested interest in the success of the structured content project. The champion's title is not as important as his or her commitment. Depending on the size of the organization, the title may be relatively modest. Department managers can be just as effective in the champion role as senior vice presidents. In fact, the department manager may be more effective than the senior VP in a department-level adoption. Regardless, the champion needs to be someone with a strategic vision and influence in the organization when it comes to content processes, and someone who stands to benefit by the move to structured content.

Step 2 - Understand the problem. What are the problems associated with your current content practices? And what are those problems costing today in terms of money, lost time, redundancies, inefficiencies, etc? Companies in regulated industries or litigious fields need to consider costs associated with penalties and litigation. For most companies, a typo is embarrassing, but it can lead to a huge fine or worse for companies in financial services or pharmaceuticals or other regulated industries. Finally, consider opportunity costs, the opportunities you can't pursue due to unstructured content constraints - e.g., adding multiple languages in a product line or publishing content in new formats.

Step 3 - Propose the alternative. Given the problems revealed in the previous step, define how structured content is going to resolve them. Map structured content's key functional attributes - content reuse, separation of format and content, etc. - to the challenges currently posed by unstructured content. Identify how reusable content could drive down costs by eliminating duplicate content creation or mitigate risk by ensuring the right content is used in all technical, legal and financial documents. Explain how the separation of format and content accelerates time to market by simplifying the creation of new content deliverables. Bottom line, you need to provide your champion with a vision of how structured content will solve those specific business problems that you just articulated.

In step 3, you also begin gathering requirements for the new structured content systems. This is a good place to start engaging the people who will be using the new tools and working with the new processes. You get a better idea of users' needs, and you get users invested in and excited by the new system, all of which promotes successful adoption.

Step 4 - Implement the change. Most organizations starting from scratch with structured content are better off starting small, getting their feet wet with a departmental pilot project instead of a broader departmental - or enterprise - rollout. Even organizations expanding their use of structured content are encouraged to move slowly, racking up a series of small successes rather than risking one spectacular failure. So start small and get professional assistance with the technical details rather than trying to do it all, even the tasks that are within your skill set.

Similarly, don't reinvent the wheel when it comes to using structured content within your specific business. If DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) or some other schema is an appropriate solution for you, use it. The proof of concept is the proof of value. Later, you can expand the pilot into a larger implementation.

Step 5 - Hold users' hands. The last thing you want to do is implement a structured content solution only to have writers sneak off, create content in Word, and then copy and paste it to the structured content system because they're not comfortable. Make the users comfortable, especially the power users who others look to for how-to tips and advice. Too many organizations implement a project and move on, forgetting the people who have to use the new tools. Don't underestimate the amount of training and support users will need to be successful. And don't forget to give the users a voice in the adoption process. Implement a feedback cycle that lets them communicate their challenges and requests, and nurtures the feeling of investment that you initiated during Step 3.

Step 6 - Adjust and extend. Pilot projects are highly recommended for organizations that can afford them. The benefits of the pilot are the lessons learned from experience in the pilot. A pilot project reveals areas that can be improved and ways to make structured content tools and standards better fit the organization. So the pilot lets the organization make adjustments and corrections as it moves forward and builds out its structured content system.

Note the typical pilot project advice is "avoid customizations." In structured content, the pilot advice is "don't worry about getting your customizations perfect." Customization and specialization is inherent in the value of structured content. You can modify the systems to best serve your business needs. So as structured content adoption grows beyond the pilot, one of the key issues involves selection of the right products and the right standards. Those choices give you the right balance between what works out of the box and what is flexible - i.e., customizable - enough to meet future needs. You don't want a system that requires a lot of customization to be usable, but you do want a system that is capable of such customization to meet your evolving needs.

Step 7 - Acknowledge the success. No matter what size the organization or project, success needs to be communicated to project champions, project stakeholders, and the organization at large. This helps stakeholders look to other business units that may be suffering similar problems and help drive change in those areas of the organization. Ideally, those successes will be supported by before-and-after metrics that demonstrate quantifiable improvements - time or money saved, process efficiencies realized, etc.

What do you think?

TAWPI @ AIIM

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Next year, info360 -- AIIM international's exposition + conference will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., March 22-24, 2011.

“Every two years we move info360 and ON DEMAND to another major city, and Washington is one of the most accessible cities on the east coast. The expansive convention center is located right in downtown, convenient to hotels and nightlife making it a perfect setting for a large convention,” says Debra Brown, event director for ON DEMAND. “Many of our exhibitors have expressed interest in having the events in Washington giving them a distinct opportunity to meet new customers from the government sector.”

“Washington was the No. 1 location identified by our attendees in an event survey, so we are feeling positive about the move to Washington, DC,” adds Beth Torrey, event director for info360. In 2011, info360 and ON DEMAND will also be held at the same time as ITEX, the trade show for Office Technology and Business Solutions.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

TAWPI @ AIIM


TAWPI's Jason Glass (left) and Frank Moran (center) greet Jim Tauber of Open Text at info 360 -- AIIM international's conference + exposition this afternoon at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

TAWPI @ AIIM


TAWPI Vice President of Sales Jason Glass greets Debby Kristofco, director of corporate communications and events, ibml, this afternoon at info 360 -- AIIM international's exposition + conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

TAWPI @ AIIM

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Based on what he saw yesterday, Jim Thumma (jthumma@docfinity.com), vice president of sales, marketing and professional services for Optical Image Technology, Inc. (OIT), says it is clear that info 360 – AIIM international’s exposition + conference continues to shrink. Many vendors I spoke with today share his assessment, noting that expo hall traffic has been steady for most of the show, but lighter than in years past.

Thumma’s other observations on info 360:

… “There are lots of companies pushing the cloud,” Thumma said
… Thumma found it ironic that despite all the "squawking" over the past few years about “what SharePoint isn’t,” the SharePoint pavilion was positioned in the front of the expo hall, and featured a cast of companies marketing SharePoint add-ons.
… “There are many old faces here, but also many new faces,” Thumma said.

What did you notice at info 360?

TAWPI @ AIIM


TAWPI President Frank Moran (left) greets OPEX Product Specialist Herb Thiel, ICP, and president of the TAWPI Delaware Valley Chapter at info 360 -- the AIIM international exposition + conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

TAWPI @ AIIM

Posted by Mark Brousseau

In a recent research study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, only 38 percent of the respondents said their companies had a formal enterprise-wide information governance strategy in place. Sixty-eight percent of the respondents expect their information governance challenges to become more complex over the next three years. Similarly, EMC estimates that 85 percent of all unstructured information within an organization goes unmanaged -- there are no formal policies for retaining, protecting or handling it.

Unfortunately, this lack of information control is impacting business decisions.

Last year, a survey conducted by IBM’s Institute for Business Value discovered that eight out of 10 business leaders make major decisions with missing or untrusted information. In many cases, the information needed probably resides within the organization; just not accessible at the right time.

What do you think?

TAWPI @ AIIM

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Nine top IT leaders -- comprising the Council for Information Advantage -- published a report at the AIIM conference providing a blueprint for transforming information in assets to gain competitive advantage. The council was assembled by EMC Corporation.

“When an organization leverages information to revolutionize how it competes and transforms how it does business, it has gained an information advantage,” says Mark Lewis, President of Content Management and Archiving Division at EMC. “Throughout my countless customer visits, we have found that organizations are still really struggling with how to make intelligent use of the information they have. EMC convened the Council for Information Advantage because its members have deployed strategies for leveraging information to compete more efficiently, increase customer loyalty, grow market share and identify new sources of business value. We believe that their personal experiences and lessons learned will help other organizations blaze their own trails toward an information-advantaged future.”


The first report from the Council for Information Advantage outlines fundamental strategies that are often overlooked as companies work to achieve information-driven competitive advantage. Council members drew from their professional experiences to provide actionable recommendations that can be executed, for the most part, without costly investments in new IT solutions or programs. This practical, straightforward guidance focuses on how to increase the accessibility and value of corporate information and win organizational support for information-based change initiatives. These guiding strategies which are explored in detail within the report are:

 Transform information liabilities into business assets through information governance. Define and institute an enterprise-wide information governance policy to control how information is kept, shared and used. Consider appointing a Chief Information Architect who is responsible for maximizing the value and reusability of information by taking a long-term view of technology development.

 Elevate information architecture. Rather than fine-tuning data for specific applications or narrow business processes, align data and technology solutions in order to maximize the potential value of information through access and reuse.

 Balance people and process with technology. Increase the time and resources devoted to managing changes in how people work as a result of new technology investments.

“It’s a major advantage to have a culture that values information because it removes a lot of the barriers to creating knowledge,” commented council member Deirdre Woods in the report. “That’s one of the advantages universities have. The sharing of information and knowledge is inherently understood to be a good thing and a priority because it’s part of our core mission.”

The members of the Council for Information Advantage include:

 Dave Blue, Senior Manager, Enterprise Data Services, The Boeing Company
 Andrew Brown, Managing Director, Head of Strategy Architecture and Optimization, Bank of America
 Guy Chiarello, Chief Information Officer, JPMorgan Chase
 John Chickering, Vice President, Fidelity Investments
 Paul Cushing, Senior Vice President of Technology and Media Infrastructure, ESPN
 Dimitris Mavroyiannis, Group Chief Information Officer, Eurobank EFG Group
 Sanjay Mirchandani, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, EMC Corporation
 Joe Solimando, Senior Vice President of Global Operations and Technology, Chief Information Officer, Disney Consumer Products
 Deirdre Woods, Associate Dean and Chief Information Officer, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

What do you think?

TAWPI @ AIIM

Posted by Mark Brousseau

The first day of the info360: AIIM Expo + Conference and ON DEMAND Conference & Expo included a full slate of activities. The two events run through Thursday, April 22 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

“We are thrilled with the buzz on the show floor and the standing room only crowds in the keynote sessions of both programs,” says Debra Brown, event director for ON DEMAND.

Michael Rogers, MSNBC’s “The Practical Futurist” and Technology Expert, started off the day as a keynote speaker for info360. The conference room quickly filled (with overflow attendees viewing the presentation via video link in a nearby room) as he discussed ways for businesses to continue to move into the virtual world to stay competitive and communicate effectively with their customers. Following Rogers, Robert Shimp, J.D., and group vice president of Oracle Corporation, led a lively discussion on how innovative organizations are driving the integration of content management with their core business processes. John Mancini, president of AIIM, presented Eight Trends that will Transform the Content Management Industry.

SharePoint 2010 Summit @ AIIM Expo was kicked off with a keynote speech by Eric Swift, general manager, Microsoft, who discussed the benefits and ease of the new SharePoint 2010 in action to the standing room only audience, all interested in learning about the new product that will be released soon. The SharePoint 2010 Summit @ AIIM Expo will continue through Thursday with innovative sessions from those who developed SharePoint 2010, as well as early adopters who are already putting this new platform to work in their organizations.

On the show floor free educational sessions, networking opportunities and dozens of new products were introduced at info360.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Changing ISO Space

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Based on what he's heard at the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) Annual Meeting and Expo this week in Las Vegas, independent sales organizations or ISOs are beginning to struggle in a very saturated credit card market, says Mario Villarreal, president and COO of US Dataworks, Inc. (mvillarreal@usdataworks.com, 281-504-8150). US Dataworks is exhibiting at the ETA event.

"The various ISOs that we talked to [Wednesday] are interested in other payment platforms separate and apart from credit card services," Villarreal explains. "The ISOs understand the RDC [remote deposit capture] market, but are not attracted to it due to the narrow payment focus for a complicated implementation. One ISO representative told me he was looking for more 'bang for the buck.'"

"What ISOs are really looking for is a platform that brings multiple payment types and channels together under a single solution," he says. "The payments industry and the ISO space is changing. The question is which vendor will break away from the traditional way of doing business to win."

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Great Expectations (And How to Manage Them)

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Getting the most out of an AP automation project has a lot to do with managing expectations. Jim Thumma (jthumma@docfinity.com), vice president of sales and marketing for Optical Image Technology, Inc. (OIT), explains:

The greatest barriers to successful AP automation are the same as the obstacles to implementing any new technology solution: the failure to manage people and their expectations.

Rarely does an automation project fail because of inadequate technology. The software that is used for automation today, as well as the hardware that supports it, is mature. Although technology continues to improve, many solutions in the marketplace today are fundamentally strong, reliable, secure, and consistent.

Problems typically surface―and projects sometimes fail―because of people’s mindsets and management’s lack of preparedness to help them to change. Many workers resist changing from something familiar to something new, even if the solution offers better tools than the ones they currently use. After all, as the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the one that’s unseen. At least the old way of doing things is familiar.

If you want to move your people from resistance toward acceptance (and ultimately enthusiastic support) of AP automation or any other new technology initiative, you must give equip them with confidence. This means:

... Sharing your vision with staff early in the planning process;
... Getting their input and feedback as plans develop so they have ownership in the solution;
... Setting clear milestones and benchmarks for progress;
... Communicating transparently and encouraging regular feedback;
... Unearthing what additional training staff will need to succeed;
... Addressing each and every fear staff members have early in the process;
... Starting the training process early so fear of change can be dispelled;
... Making sure rigorous testing is in place so the project is successful when it “goes live”;
... Recognizing employee achievement as worker efforts result in success; and
... Encouraging ideas for continual process improvement.

Poor communication, lack of project transparency, neglecting to inform and prepare workers for new initiatives, and failing to give people the time they need to learn and grow can shake people’s confidence. Project managers must work diligently to keep lines of communication open and to address concerns proactively.

Choosing a technology solution that is user friendly also goes a long way toward managing people’s expectations. Intuitive software and hardware that offer extensive and user-friendly guidance make adoption quicker, easier, and far less costly to support, resulting in a quicker turnaround from project implementation to producing measurable ROI.

Those responsible for choosing an AP solution must carefully consider the needs of their IT staff and end users―before, during, and after implementation, if they expect to achieve their goals. If people are properly prepared for what’s coming, and careful thought, planning, and follow-through are matched with a technology solution that is tailored to business needs, there is no reason any AP automation project should fail.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Maximizing RDC Payback

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Not getting the labor savings you expected from your bank's remote deposit capture solution? Wally Vogel, founder and CEO of Creditron, Inc. (wvogel@creditron.com) is not surprised.

"In instances where checks come in and are posted to accounts receivable, scanning the checks for the bank saves a trip to the bank, but does nothing to aid in reducing data entry, balancing, or exception handling," Vogel explains. "These are the time-consuming parts of posting and depositing payments, and they are not addressed by a remote deposit scanner from the bank."

Vogel adds, "What will save significant time is a complete remittance processing solution which can: scan remittance documents and checks, automatically recognize data to reduce key entry, balance the transaction, and perform look-ups and validity checks to handle exceptions quickly. Of course, a complete remittance processing solution also can update the accounts receivable system and deposit items remotely as well, without requiring the user to re-scan or re-key the checks."

The bottom line: the trick to saving time with remote deposit capture is to handle both sides of the transaction with a single automated solution, Vogel says.

What do you think?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Getting Out of the AP Paper Rut

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Hosted information management solutions may hold the key for helping organizations finally get out of the AP paper rut. R. Edwin Pearce, executive vice president of sales and corporate development for eGistics (epearce@egisticsinc.com) explains:

As a result of the economic downturn, companies are reevaluating their internal operations for opportunities to generate cost savings and unlock hidden value. Nowhere is this value proposition clearer than in accounts payable (AP) processes.

Most enterprises are still employing manual methods of invoice-processing, which has inflated both processing costs and AP cycle times. Seventy-five percent of enterprises are currently mired in a manual and paper-based rut when it comes to managing the initial phase of the AP process, reports Aberdeen Group. Inefficient manual processing can cost $20 or more per invoice, Forrester finds. When you consider that invoice processing typically accounts for more than a third of purchase-to-pay processing costs (Hackett Group), and, similarly, a third of the time of AP personnel is spent in responding to inquiries concerning invoices, it's no wonder that enterprises are focused on cost containment and driving efficiencies in their AP departments.

By reducing their paper handling and manual processing, enterprises also are able to take more early payment discounts and optimize supplier payment strategies.

The Key to Savings
The key to streamlining AP lies in automating the invoice receipt and approval workflow, the initial phase of the AP process, says Aberdeen's Christopher Dwyer.

In a new IAPP study, enterprises cite discrepancy resolution, approval processing, and matching as the activities that cause their AP departments the most "pain."

Workflow technology can relieve all of these challenges. IAPP's study reports that 23 percent of AP departments that have implemented an automated approval workflow say they are "extremely satisfied" with the technology. An additional 37 percent of respondents describe themselves as "satisfied."

Using workflow technology to automate the invoice approval process can provide AP departments with compelling benefits, including: lower operations costs, streamlined processes, reduced AP cycle times, and better quality controls.

The challenge for AP departments is deploying a platform that can bridge their legacy systems, and providing anyone involved in the approval process with real-time access to images and data -- all while ensuring security and tracking.

This is where a hosted information management platform comes in. By combining repository management with workflow capabilities, a hosted information management platform provides:

• the ability to store any paper-based or electronic financial documents, including vendor bills, bank statements, credit card statements, and correspondence
• instant retrieval of any stored document
• compatibility with an enterprise's preferred front-end capture system and ERP system
• notifications when documents are ready for review and/or processing

With a hosted information management platform in place, AP staff no longer has to waste time searching for documents through crammed file cabinets or their e-mail inboxes for third-party inquiries or internal purposes. A hosted platform can accept and securely store feeds from other systems, such as those for electronic invoicing, or from any scanning solution an enterprise might use to capture documents, including distributed desktop scanners or centralized high-speed devices -- all in support of front or back-end AP systems

To process an invoice, AP staff can view a document in their hosted platform and enter the data into the corresponding record in their legacy AP system.

Additionally, unlike traditional licensed, on-premises solutions, a hosted platform doesn't require upfront capital expenditure for hardware and software or annual maintenance fees. And hosted solutions are designed to support approvers across departments or far-flung offices without additional licenses or customization.

IAPP's study found that 9 percent of AP departments plan to implement approval workflow technology in the next year. Hosted information management platforms can help by providing a more effective way of storing, sharing and accessing invoices and other documents -- and getting enterprises out of their paper rut.

What do you think?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How AP Trends Impact AR

Posted by Mark Brousseau

AP trends highlighted in IAPP's recent AP Automation Study are driving the need for enterprise payments hubs. Mario Villarreal, president and COO of US Dataworks (mvillarreal@usdataworks.com) explains:

Organizations that are still on the fence about the need for an enterprise payments hub may feel like they've received a proverbial shove after reading the results of a new study on accounts payable (AP) trends conducted by International Accounts Payable Professionals (IAPP), based in Orlando, FL.

IAPP's study found that while the overwhelming number of organizations still make payments via paper check (97 percent), more organizations are using automated clearing house network/electronic funds transfer (79 percent), wire transfer (59 percent) and purchasing cards (50 percent). The move towards these electronic payment channels is driven by the unique attributes they offer, the IAPP study found. ACH/electronic funds eliminates most of the costs associated with paper checks. Wire payments are primarily used for sending payments internationally. Purchasing cards enable front-line employees to make purchases within minutes instead of days, while eliminating paperwork.

While electronic payments are building momentum, the IAPP study suggests that paper checks may have staying power: an eye-popping 91 percent of invoice dollars are still paid via paper check. Similarly, AP departments also are still overwhelmingly using the mail to submit remittances advices (82 percent); it is standard, IAPP's study finds, for the envelope with the paper check to also contain the remittance advice.

So why worry about what's happening in AP? Because those payments will eventually find their way into an organization's A/R department. And most corporate remittance operations are currently structured in silos to support individual payments types, such as check, ACH, wire, and purchasing card. Each of these payments types has its own fraud and compliance components, resulting in redundant systems, lack of transparency across channels, potential processing delays, and less than optimal customer service.

Based on the results of IAPP's study, these payments processing challenges may get worse.

Enter Enterprise Payments Hubs
That's where enterprise payments hubs come in.

An enterprise payments hub allows billers to realize working capital management improvements with a single platform for processing all paper-based and electronic payments and clearing channel, in turn, driving Straight Through Processing (STP) of receivables.

An enterprise payments hub provides a consolidated, end-to-end transaction processing platform that offers integration with legacy payments and receivables systems and processes, resulting in an aggregated and centralized payments processing solution. An enterprise payments hub is capable of managing the entire payments lifecycle including payments processing, check processing, payments decisioning, and returns management -- all critical to receivables management.

Increased visibility can be realized through the use of consolidated payment monitoring and reporting, giving a more complete view of a company’s cash position. This helps companies gain centralized control of their cash and more accurate visibility into their payments and receivables.

The centralized reporting provided by an enterprise payments hub can provide internal business intelligence that can point to new revenue streams and increased cost efficiencies. Companies that can effectively view, analyze, and act on this payment information can react more quickly to receivables trends and customer service inquiries, while improving forecasting and budgeting.

An enterprise payments hub is especially effective when the multiple payments channels of an organization are centralized, as standalone systems and processes can be significantly reduced. For example, an enterprise payments hub can enhance workflow, data management and payment routing, and facilitate common processes and administration across all payment channels. This functionality eliminates manual processes, accelerates exceptions handling, increases corporate agility, and improves float. These capabilities also provide a platform for straight-through-processing (STP). Similarly, an enterprise payments hub reduces bank fees by facilitating least cost, best fit clearing.

The Bottom Line
With an enterprise payments hub, organizations can better realize the benefits of working capital management. Companies are now able to gain control and visibility over their payments processing and receivables management, which in turn offers treasurers new cash management tools. For instance, consolidating payments information in an enterprise payments hub produces a more accurate and timely view of payments. Payment streams also are consolidated for clearing. The end result is that least cost, best fit routing can be applied to payments to reduce fees and improve float.

With AP departments adopting a wider range of payment mechanisms, billers can't afford to sit on the fence any longer. To remain cost competitive -- and keep up with industry standards for accuracy and speed -- they'll need an enterprise payments hub.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Shifting CEO Priorities

Posted by Mark Brousseau

There has been a major shift in CEO priorities from early in 2009 with top priorities switching from cutting costs to retaining customers and enhancing existing relationships, according to Gartner, Inc. Through 2015, a recession-era mentality among CEOs will ensure a policy of paying for future investments from the cost savings obtained from existing IT operations.

“From the CEO’s perspective, growing confidence that is tempered by business caution will result in an aggressiveness to harvest the successes of the past through improved productivity,” said Jorge Lopez, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “At the same time, CEOs are taking those returns and investing them in building a future that can deliver high returns.

“CEOs are maintaining tight cost control to deliver better margins and more cash to cope with the continuing economic turbulence,” said Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner fellow.

Gartner has identified five key issues that CEOs should be focusing on in 2010 and beyond as well as related advice for CIOs:

CEO Issue No. 1: Getting to the End of Restructuring
CEOs are in the midst of finishing off the work they started in 2009: streamlining their business operations, dumping nonperforming or nonstrategic assets, and working to ensure that they don't let their "break-even" point start to rise and thereby increase their exposure to another economic shock. While many CEOs have continued to invest in initiatives that will improve their cost structure or allow them to drive revenue as the economy recovers, they are "financing" this by taking a very hard look at not only their internal cost structures, but also the cost structures of the partners in their ecosystems.

In this environment, CIOs are advised not to expect an increase in budgets in 2010 but rather to expect to “finance” future IT projects from the cost savings obtained in other parts of operations.

CEO Issue No. 2: Integrity, Corruption and Fraud — Rebuilding Trust
The imperative for rebuilding trust is as much to regain the confidence of customers, which will allow economic growth, as it is to regain governmental trust, which translates into electoral decisions. Companies are still in the early stages of that rebuilding of trust, and while Gartner is optimistic that this can be "repaired" for many companies in 2010 and 2011, the general distrust of economic conditions seems to be slowing down the return of the consumer — a difficult factor in the U.S., for example, where consumer spending comprises as much as 75 percent of all spending.

Accordingly, CIOs should expect to see increased interest in capabilities and technologies that help provide transparency to internal operations of the sort that increases trust. More openness will surround the financial structure of the organization, and expenses will be examined to high levels of detail. Business intelligence will see strong interest in this time frame.

CEO Issue No. 3: Planning for a Return to Growth — Playing Defense, While Playing Offense
This year is about CEOs taking a firm stand on plans for increasing shareholder value. This may be through acquisitions that are less expensive in a time of lower equity pricing or lower capital costs. It may also be about investing in initiatives that achieve a strategic goal.

CIOs need to understand that organizations are of two minds. They are investing in the innovations that will build the future, while guarding against the possibility of another economic recession or crisis in the next 36 months. For CEOs, this is one of the most difficult maneuvers to execute in business, as it must accommodate impulses that are sometimes contradictory. To this end, CIOs must ensure that they are able to segment the activities of the organization so that each part of the team can focus on what is most important: One team takes care of cost optimization activities, while another is focused on the future.

CEO Issue No. 4: Government Is the New Partner at the Table
In many advanced economies, during the past 30 years, state control and intervention in industries have been gradually rolling back. However, the tumultuous economic effects of the banking crises of 2007 and 2008 have driven swift and large-scale government interventions to bail out and save companies, and more market interventionist and state control styles of government may arise from this situation.

The resulting new regulations will require compliance by any new systems. Several areas will see new regulatory actions in the coming 24 months, including the financial services, automotive and transportation sectors. CIOs need to keep scanning the landscape of regulatory actions in federal, state and local governments, as the pace is expected to pick up in 2011.

CEO Issue No. 5: The Future of Recession-Driven Changes
One of the key issues in the boardroom is to understand the future of the changes forced by this recession. Will the growth in all industries return to the levels that were enjoyed before the downturn? Will the drive to improve process efficiencies be long-lasting, or will there be a marked return to a top-line focus in the business?

Gartner believes that IT has a significant role to play here because it needs to deliver insights for the business to enable it to effectively navigate the changes ahead. That means IT must make investments in understanding customer intent, predicting the impact of business conditions and connecting strategy to outcomes.

“These long-lasting changes place quite an additional load on IT. The long-term focus on efficiencies to reduce exposure to another financial crisis will continue to force IT to make the business of the past more productive, while IT must invest in the future at a rate that does not grow IT costs faster than the business,” said Lopez.

“CIOs should build an IT culture of intolerance toward inefficiency and impatience for the gains from newer lighter-weight technologies such as social networking, virtualization and mobile device apps,” Raskino said.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Human Cloud?

Posted by Mark Brousseau

A new category of software is revolutionizing the way enterprises will work in the next decade by moving information workers themselves into the Cloud, according to new research by the Real Story Group.

Having mastered the science of hosting and processing information assets, vendors are now beginning to distribute live information professionals on a massive scale. "This is all a natural evolution," notes Real Story Group principal, Alan Pelz-Sharpe. "Enterprises have gone from outsourcing, to nearshoring, to offshoring employees...so moving them into the Cloud represents an obvious next step."

Some skeptics have raised technical challenges of hosting human beings in the Cloud. However, an Amazon spokesman played down the technical hurdles. "We digitized Edward Tufte's books, and honestly, we found human beings a lot less complicated," noted Amazon's Justin Tyme Beamme-Up.

Other observers have noted that transferring sentient beings to and from the Cloud could present substantial bandwidth bottlenecks. Real Story Group's Theresa Regli predicts particularly heavy strains on networks in North America.

The Human Cloud marketplace remains very immature, but established vendors have recently rolled out competitive offerings.

Longtime vendor Joylent has a new offering called "Joylent Green," a more eco-friendly Human Cloud service that reduces energy supply to the autonomic nervous system during non-business hours.

Another vendor, SalesForce.com, is experimenting with hosting actual salespeople. "It's great! Now I can get their loud voices and loud ties out of my office," said an executive at one satisfied beta customer.

Different types of Human Clouds have emerged, including public and private versions. "We host public clouds for your employees' faces, hands, and mouths, but we put their private parts in, well, a private cloud," said Stratto Cumulus, CMO of Rackspace, who confirmed the vendor had no plans to change its name.

Meanwhile, from Redmond comes news of the forthcoming release of Microsoft's Human Cloud offering. Microsoft's Vice-President of Information Worker Cloud Services revealed that the company's "ShareJoint 2011" offering will be released to beta during Q2 2014 under the slogan, "Where has your body gone today?"

Not every major Cloud vendor is sanguine about the human angle. For example, EMC has no near-term plans to release a Human Cloud service. "As a general rule, we don't like people," explained EMC spokesperson, Ms. Anthrope Hardisk.

Happy April Fool's Day!