Major events such as storms can provide a quick look into the progress of digital communication or information sharing have come. While Hurricane Sandy has been a bonanza for social media in some ways, particularly when sharing photos, some financial institutions along the storm's path are still primarily using relatively older methods to get information to staff.
"I wish we could have used newer channels to communicate with our team members but we have not set those up yet," says Will Sampson, executive vice president and chief information officer for East Carolina Bank, a $975 million-asset bank that serves areas around Wilmington and Nags Head, N.C. that were hit hard by the storm over the weekend, before it made its trip up the East Coast.
As Sandy churned up the coast, some newer social networking tools proved useful. The Maryland Emergency Management Authority, for example, is placing a wide variety of storm information, flood alerts, power outage and emergency supply information on a Pinterest page. Pinterest is a platform that allows users to place, or "pin," items such as text and photos to a virtual wall as a way to organize and share information. Maryland's emergency management agency has "pinned" pictures of floods, along with links to resources for the public.
Closer to banking, a number of financial institutions have been using Twitter feeds to provide updates. Chase's Twitter feed on Monday morning was oddly cheery: "Good Morning. We hope you all had a great weekend. We're back to answer's or concerns until 9PM ET Today. How can we help you?" Later Tweets announced the bank's tri-state area branches would be closed on Tuesday, and that fees for certain transactions had been waived because of the storm.
For internal communication, the banks BTN canvassed late Sunday and early Monday were still primarily using older phone banks and emails to communicate with employees.
A BNY Mellon (BK) spokesman said the bank is still in the early days of social media interaction with clients. That being the case, the bank is relying on a combination of telephony, e-mail and intranet site updates to provide information to employees and electronic messaging to advise clients of storm-related changes in service delivery.
At East Carolina Bank, Sampson says the bank itself has only sustained minimal damage, but as of Monday still had three branches closed due to flooding. Sampson says the bank is in the process of redesigning its business continuity plan, which will include additional channels for communicating information. For now, he says the bank is using email and a weather mail box for staff to call into for information on closings and services. The bank's site on Monday also included weather alert information for the Outer Banks, and the impact on the bank's services.
Like a lot of community banks, East Carolina is in the midst of a major overhaul of most of its technology. That includes a new core banking project that's migrating almost all of the bank's systems to an outsourced FIS Horizon core platform, with local systems, online and CRM upgrades and an Ironkey security deployment. A new online banking interface, data storage, mobile banking and a loan origination system are also part of the project.
These upgrades are part of a strategy to modernize the bank, which had heavily relied on older tech in the past, in some cases using hardware dating to the 1980s.