Europe’s financial services industry is at a crossroads. Over the past decade, the region’s regulatory framework has become stricter, pushing organizations to change their models and consider new areas of business. At the same time, digital technologies have grown smarter, making it possible to deliver greater responsiveness and personalization.
The role of IT professionals within financial institutions is also evolving. From providing technical assistance and support services, their responsibilities are now expanding to encompass more strategic functions that directly contribute to revenue. This includes collaborating with business units across the organization to work on major transformation projects, coordinate operational plans, and manage IT budgets and investments.
Société Générale (Socgen) – Europe’s sixth-largest bank – is at the forefront of these trends. With more than 32 million individual, corporate, and institutional customers across 76 countries, it is a complex organization that handles all types of sensitive customer and non-customer information. In 2016, Socgen’s Retail Banking Group leveraged Micro Focus IDOL – a world-leading cognitive search and analytics platform for text, image, video and audio data – to optimize the way it manages critical assets, resources, and knowledge.
Driving change for critical efficiency improvements
The project is a major transformative endeavor for Socgen. It aims to overhaul Finder, the main application that allows bank personnel to access the bank’s internal non-customer knowledge database.
Containing a wide range of legal, regulatory, and administrative documents, the database contains approximately 25,000 documents and plays a key role in the bank’s compliance mechanisms in France and across Europe. Accredited users can access the database through one of 500 internal service applications. Once in the system, they can view, browse, and extract meticulously tagged, labeled, and cross-referenced documents in a wide range of formats.
“The database itself is a great resource for a large part of our 24,000 employees in France,” says Robert Delgado, IT Project and Application Manager in the Retail Banking Group. “But the application that grants access to the database is more than 30 years old, and it shows. Its flaws are becoming harder and harder to ignore, especially as our operations become more and more complex.”
Several limitations make the application hard to use. The search function – the application’s most fundamental feature – is far from intuitive. Apart from a hard-to-use interface, it also requires specific codes and commands to execute searches, many of which are not widely known or referenced across the organization. This is especially troublesome when people leave the organization or are replaced within teams, as entire references can be lost.
Results are also presented in a non-intuitive manner. They are displayed as detailed data sheets that cannot be sorted or organized by attributes. Additionally, the application does not allow users to conduct batch operations, making it a slow and complicated task to find and extract documents from multiple repositories.
“The current application is generally seen as slow and inefficient,” says Christelle Heng, IT Analyst and Project Manager in the Retail Banking Group. “Users tend to begrudgingly use the system as it requires time and patience to navigate. Beyond the system’s flaws, this negative perception is something we’re trying to remedy across the organization.”
Bracing for success with a trusted solution
Socgen has made great strides in the preliminary stages of the project, recently entering a decisive preliminary deployment phase.
Since September 2017, the four-person IT project team has been using IDOL, to determine the viability of the new Finder system, a principal element that underpins a wider transformation and migration project. By the time the preliminary deployment is completed in February 2018, a number of improvements will have been tested and approved for wider implementation in 2019.
“The main objective is to improve all human–computer interaction processes,” says Delgado. “From visual improvements to the application’s interface to more substantial operational workflows, we’re trying to give users unparalleled control and visibility over processes that were out of their hands.”
A key improvement is the way search queries and results are treated and displayed. From simple indexing commands to complex batch operations, it will be faster and easier for users to access the exact information they are looking for. Results will be displayed as URLs that take the user straight to a specific document or a file of any format. Users will also be able to sort, filter and organize documents based on their exact needs.
“IDOL plays a key role in this transformation journey,” says Heng. “We already use the solution to structure and manage a wide range of data on several of our servers and intranets, so we’re very familiar with its abilities. Our hope is that by 2019 we’ll have uncovered its full potential in other key areas, making the system more accessible for current users and turning into an invaluable asset to users 10, 15, or even 20 years from now.”
“We are transforming the bank into a multi-channel digital bank,” adds Delgado. “This is a major endeavor that will require time and patience to reach. For now, the key step is to turn this preliminary deployment into long-term success.”
Visit www.microfocus.com/idol for more information on how IDOL can help you maximize the value of your organization’s critical information and knowledge.
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