Jeff Dennes, senior vice president and chief digital officer at Huntington Bank, has a lofty goal for his bank's digital future–the creation of one clean application design and user interface that works on all devices, including iPhones, Androids, iPads, laptops and even ATMs.
Software for specific activities, such as account-opening, personal financial management or stock tickers, could be created once and repurposed on all digital channels.
The starting point for any given program or piece of code could be anywhere–an iPad app, an Android app, a Microsoft Windows app, an online banking program. With the help of some software the bank is using from Kony, the new piece of code can be adapted quickly to other platforms.
"I've built an iPhone, Android and iPad app," notes Dennes of the work he's done since arriving at Huntington from USAA a year and a half ago. "I can take those apps and start incorporating code that I've built for a salesperson to do customer acquisition out in the field." The time and pain of writing code for each platform is eliminated, development times for new apps are shortened.
Such an outlook makes one rethink design and user experience, Dennes says.
"What I've iterated since I got here is we're going to design for mobile, meaning we're going to design as few steps as possible for that process," says Dennes, who was one of Bank Technology News' Innovators of the Year in 2011. "If we can fix it for mobile, then it will work for online banking and an ATM, an iPad and the next digital channel that comes out."
The Kony software Dennes uses was upgraded with HTML integration support last week (it's now called Kony 2.0). "That will allow us to speed up the delivery of content and services onto our apps, because it's incorporating code we may have already built for another channel," he says. Reusing existing HTML code will not be as easy as cutting and pasting, Dennes says, "But it is taking HTML apps you've already built and incorporating them into your apps and rewriting the functionality."
Such a strategy also could help act as a bridge to HTML5, essentially a description language that enables a browser to size itself to any mobile device with a richer look and feel that's closer to a native mobile application.
The biggest opportunity that Dennes expects to see come out of this work is the ability to acquire new customers and cross-sell to existing customers over a mobile device. "People aren't thinking about that yet because they still think of mobile as a three-inch iPhone or Android device," he says. "But there are other ways to go about that and those are some of the things we're exploring."
The mobile channel also has the potential to improve banks' engagement with their customers.
"People ask me all the time, what's the business case for mobile?" Dennes notes. "There's not necessarily a business case that says if you turn on mobile you're going to get X more customers or products, which is what most bankers want to hear. … Where I see mobile being exponentially more engaging is that now you have customers accessing their finances every day over a mobile device, sometimes multiple times a day.”
Personal financial management is another emerging opportunity for mobile.
"Every financial institution out there wants to grow up to a point where they have a full breadth of services to be able to help customers manage their finances from cradle to grave," Dennes says. “I don't think you're ever done; there's always continuous improvement to build those tools out."
And like many other banks, Huntington is exploring the idea of supporting mobile payments. "There's a lot of dialogue and debate about when will mobile payments take off," he says. "For the mainstream consumer, I'm sure that's a few years off. When do banks get into this space? Everybody is trying to figure that out."
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