BNY Mellon's Shekar Pannala is dabbling in the next frontier for mobile apps, which includes context-aware and multi-modal computing, tailoring the delivery of content to where and how the handset is being accessed by the user.

Shekar Pannala
BNY Mellon
Executive vice president and divisional CIO for Global Markets and eCommerce services
Latest Breakthrough: BNY Mellon's new mobile apps leverage context-aware computing, which allows content to be delivered based on the device's circumstances

BNY Mellon is hitting mobility hard in its fight to capture treasury management share, with a major new rollout of mobile apps in the past year and an embrace of a new frontier of mobile technology that uses the phone's embedded capabilities to tailor how services are delivered.

As executive vice president and divisional CIO for global markets and eCommerce for BNY Mellon, Shekar Pannala is one of the major drivers of this broad mobile strategy, which includes a new mobile and tablet suite and the development of context-aware computing. The initial move is the bank's sweeping new TreasuryEdge Mobile app, which is designed to help clients manage their electronic banking transactions and access-related information from tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices.

Rolled out in fall 2011, TreasuryEdge Mobile is one of a growing series of integrated applets available via BNY Mellon Connect from BNY Mellon's liquidity services, asset servicing, and global markets businesses. It's aimed at high-level execs at corporates, such as CFOs, who need to access financial accounts while on the move.

It's a tough market to crack, and a demanding one. "We don't expect the adoption of mobile among corporates will be as easy or as rapid as consumer. The target audience is C-suite people, decision makers and other high-end users," says Pannala, adding the penetration goal for TreasuryEdge Mobile is about 10% of corporate users. "So far, the response has been terrific. We are also working with clients on how they match the mobile app to their own risk and security policies and how they secure their own mobile devices."

TreasuryEdge also includes a number of new services, such as displays of information about a client's cash accounts to aid cash investment decisions; a feature that lets clients report and make payments, and transaction tools that allow clients to create, verify or release intra-company transactions.

"It's part of a larger integrated customer experience," says Pannala, whose responsibilities include managing the applications and development in support of FX, derivatives, capital markets and online information-delivery platforms across channels. He's also part of IT Transformation, a bank-wide initiative that's focused on standards and cloud infrastructure enablement across the organization.

Context-aware computing picks up on environmental clues to deliver content to the user in the safest, most easily consumed way, such as automatically switching to voice-activated mode when the user is in motion.

BNY Mellon is working with Openstream to make context-aware or multi-modal computing part of its mobile apps. Openstream's software connects with the technology embedded in new mobile phones, tablets, PCs and laptops to "sense" the device's location and circumstances. That software then serves as a layer between the computing device and the bank. The bank can send out communications such as alerts, marketing, and transaction confirmation, or execute security protocols based on that location and circumstance.

One use case would be leveraging the phone's accelerometer to determine how fast a device is traveling. This lets the bank leverage the Openstream layer to automatically deliver messages by voice using optical character recognition to translate the visual text to voice. For a customer who's driving a car, the smartphone senses that the phone is in motion and activates the voice service, giving the user the chance to approve a payment or transfer, or receive information about the balance in a specific account with the option to execute a sale or other transaction by voice.

"There are two or three things around context that are more basic, such as device recognition, that we are doing right now. But as far as the wide adoption, right now it's more about the fact that we have the capabilities," says Pannala.

Analysts say BNY Mellon is onto something with context-aware computing. In an earlier interview with BTN, Ovum practice leader Mark Blowers said using contextual information from the mobile device to deliver tailored services matching that consumer's current situation is something that most banks will start to do in the future, though the technology's use is pretty rudimentary now.

Pannala says that while context-aware computing technology is new, it should expand in use as 4G and tech that expands the smartphone's bandwidth to store more information and data becomes more common among users. "If you look at the next 12 to 18 months or so, you will see bandwidth that will be much faster," says Pannala. "We have the architecture in place for more meaningful adoption of multi-modality [in the future]."

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