Wells Fargo's Innovation Balancing Act - InformationWeek

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10/26/2009
10:21 AM
Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson
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Wells Fargo's Innovation Balancing Act

Wells Fargo's Executive Vice President of Information Services, Wayne Mekjian faces all of the challenges most bank IT executives face, like an increasing focus on security and privacy and a move to consumer friendly services like mobile banking. But he's also had to digest the integration of acquisitions. And yet, the bank still manages to focus on innovation. Mekjian shared some of his challenges and innovations in a video interview.

Wells Fargo's Executive Vice President of Information Services, Wayne Mekjian faces all of the challenges most bank IT executives face, like an increasing focus on security and privacy and a move to consumer friendly services like mobile banking. But he's also had to digest the integration of acquisitions. And yet, the bank still manages to focus on innovation. Mekjian shared some of his challenges and innovations in a video interview.You can watch the video interview directly below.

Mekjian said Wells Fargo spends a significant amount of time looking at security and testing its systems. What this means is that the bank may not be on the cutting edge of every technology while it tries to get security right, and that's not such a big surprise given some of the high profile security breeches in financial services in the past few years, and the accompanying losses,

However, Wells Fargo is working on one particular area of innovation: Mobile Banking. While the bank provides customer notification via text or e-mail for things like overdrafts, it is still working on its smart phone applications -- ones that will allow for transaction services for wholesale banking customers.

Wells Fargo, like many other banks in this market of heavy consolidation, has had to digest a few acquisitions -- events that inevitably lead to mind-numbing IT integration projects. But Mekjian said he believes integrations actually spur innovation, rather than holding it back, primarily because integrations require innovative new ways of doing things. They also represent opportunities to re-think architecture and technology selection.

Another Wells Fargo innovation is envelop-free ATM processes (many banks are implementing this). To get this right required some heavy-duty image processing -- you don't want customers having to repeatedly scan checks; or, as Mekjian says, you need to make that process just like a teller experience. For Wells Fargo, getting this right not only made things better for the customer, it provides tremendous savings to the bank because all of its processes for clearing checks are now electronic.

Fritz Nelson is an Executive Editor at InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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