Tapping mobile innovation for customer delight

Reported by: |Updated: January 25, 2017

PNB moves mobile apps to hybrid platform to enhance customer experience

Customer engagement and meaningful experiences have become top priorities for banks worldwide. Quick response, personalized services, and ease-of-use are the key factors to win customer delight. The demand for banking services using digital channels has put a lot of pressure on banks to rethink delivery channels. With smart phone penetration increasing in India and the surge in electronic payments, mobile applications have become the preferred channel for services between banks, wallet companies, financial institutions and customers. Self-help and self-service are the norm and mobile apps are the enabling technology. A Telmetrics report titled ‘Mobile Path to Purchase’ says 40% of online banking happens on smart phones and tablets. The report states that banking and finance conversions are happening on device; 54% of users who completed a transaction after their mobile activity did so on a mobile device (62% for millennials).

Some months ago, Punjab National Bank (PNB) was looking to further enhance customer experience and improve customer satisfaction. Keeping current consumer trends in mind, it decided that a mobile app was the right channel to achieve this objective. It already had some of its apps on a native platform, but wanted to move these to a hybrid platform. The differences between the two platforms are explained later in this article.

After scouting around for solutions, it finally choose IBM Worklight on MADP (Mobile Application Development Platform). FSS was selected to develop the solution.

PARTNERING FOR INNOVATION

Rajeev Raizada believes innovation is a team game with groups working together to achieve a common goal

FSS is a global leader in payments technology and transaction processing, offering business value in the areas of electronic payments and financial transaction processing solutions and services. The company earned the status of being a payments systems leader through a combination of established portfolio of technology solutions, state-of-the-art infrastructure and 25 years of experience in the payments domain. Headquartered in Chennai, India, FSS has established a global footprint in Africa, Australia, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Singapore and USA.

Rajeev Raizada, General Manager, PNB, Customer care Division said: “Innovation has always been a team game. It has always been a case where you have a number of groups working together to achieve a goal; we have done a partnership with FSS to build speedy mobile solutions using IBM Worklight. Their domain knowledge provides an edge to deliver the projects much before time.”

Before designing the application, FSS gathered the requirements by speaking to the bank’s clients and end-consumers. FSS chose to use IBM Worklight with MADP installation to enable faster delivery. Before starting the development phase, FSS showed prototypes of the application to the bank. This was done to better understand the client requirement before complete delivery. On confirmation from the bank, FSS did requirement gathering and provided the Functional Specification Document (FSD) to the bank. Upon confirmation of FSD the solution was developed using agile methodology.

Suresh Rajagopalan, President – Software Products, FSS said: “FSS is partnering with clients to execute their digital strategies. We chose IBM MobileFirst to simplify and accelerate mobile application development. The combination of FSS domain skills and IBM mobile application development platform yielded faster time to market and enhanced customer service for PNB. We look forward to continuing to build, deploy and manage new applications to meet the needs of our clients who are increasingly seeking innovative mobile solutions.”

HOLISTIC MOBILE SOLUTION

The following IBM offerings (products or services) are included in the IBM Worklight solution:

  • IBM IHS server
  • IBM Worklight Environment
  • IBM Worklight Database
  • IBM Analytical Server

IBM Worklight provides an open, comprehensive and advanced mobile application platform for smart phones and tablets. It helps organizations of all sizes to efficiently develop, connect, run and manage HTML 5, hybrid and native applications. And it leverages standard-based technologies and tools. The platform ships with a comprehensive development environment, mobile-optimized middleware and an integrated management and analytics console — supported by a variety of security mechanisms.

IBM Worklight is part of the IBM Mobile Foundation family of products that provide the essential elements needed for complete mobile development, deployment and management within a business.

IBM Worklight environment was interfaced with the bank’s complaint management system for complaints logging, tracking etc. HTML <iframe> tags were used to call the bank website pages from the PNB customer care app.

Suresh Rajagopalan highlights how the combination of FSS skills and IBM MobileFirst platform accelerated the development of PNB’s app

Yashpal A Negi, Country Manager – Business Development and ISVs, IBM Global Business Partners – India/South Asia, IBM India said: “IBM Mobile Foundation provides simple, scalable, time-tested enterprise mobile middleware, deployable on premises and on Cloud. This mobile infrastructure integrates with popular development tools, connects to essential backend services and is built on top of hybrid cloud technology. Accelerate delivery of mobile apps with rich support for front-end development tools, comprehensive security, application lifecycle management and a complete, backend server-side logic engine. With FSS’s deep expertise in offering innovative mobile application solutions combined with IBM’s cutting edge technology, we are confident of delivering superior solutions to our customers & helping them in achieving there mobile strategy at a faster pace.”

The customer care mobile app developed by FSS for PNB is called We Care and it can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. The app makes it easy for customers to access multiple services from one location. It also enables customers to raise any queries and track them till closure. This has increased the percentage of offline support and reduced the load on customer helpdesk.

PNB We Care App has been instrumental in improving customer satisfaction. This customer care application has reduced the load on bank and facilitated quick resolution of customer’s problems. The app has garnered 4.2 rating on Google Play store and has been well received.

The solution is scalable and repeatable.

HYBRID AHEAD OF NATIVE

While the app economy is thriving, there is one thing that can play spoilsport. A poorly designed app might prompt users to stop using it or uninstall it. And that’s why mobile application developers need to make the application interfaces elegant, and the experience of using an app pleasant. Users expect apps to be updated every few months with new features and enhanced navigation.

In a native environment, apps are developed using the programming language native to the device –it is Objective C and Swift for Apple devices; Java for Android devices. That means every time the app is changed or updated, developers will need to do this for both platforms. In addition, the app must be tested on different Android and iOS versions and hundreds of devices. That increases the development time.

Hybrid apps are developed once using web technologies such as HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, and then put inside a native container such Adobe PhoneGap. These native containers run the web application code and package it into an app, specific to a device. So the development time is significantly reduced. That’s why PNB decided to port its existing apps to the hybrid environment.

THE WAY AHEAD

FSS is now working on porting the other four apps from PNB to the hybrid environment. The next app that will be released will be a financial app for UPI payments. This will also be developed using IBM MADP. And since all PNB apps will eventually be on a hybrid platform, it will be easier to roll out updates every few months. PNB will be able to introduce new services and respond faster to customer requests and grievances. This will further enrich the customer experience and win loyalty.

brian@glocalinfomart.com