When members of Boeing Employees Credit Union visit the institution in person, chances are they're using an ATM. The airplane manufacturer's 650,000-member credit union only has two branches, putting ATMs in the pilot's seat when it comes to customer experience.

In attempt to ensure quality service, improve monitoring, anticipate the need for adjustments and take full advantage of an upgrade to image-enabled machines, the credit union has licensed a new ATM management product from NCR that provides online operational information, performance measurements and inventory analysis.

"The ATM is our teller, and making sure our entire network is providing services and that machines are up an running is critical to our operation," says Shirley Taylor, virtual banking channel manager for BECU, which has just under $9 billion in assets under management.

Called APTRA Vision, the NCR product retrieves both operational data and inventory information from BECU's self-service network. "We can select an ATM, drill down and see that it's fully up and that it has enough cash," Taylor says. "Or if there's a member that needs cash and the ATM he visits is 'down,' I can look up the next nearest [fully operational] ATM and tell the member to go to that location."

The credit union is upgrading its ATMs to accept image enabled multiple check deposits, raising the stakes when it comes to cash machines as a relationship tool. The first financial institution to license APTRA Vision, BECU has about 85 full-service ATMs that currently accept multiple image-enabled check deposits, with about 100 other envelop deposit ATMs and a handful of "cash only" ATMs at locations throughout metropolitan Seattle and Chicago. The CU's goal is to have all its ATMs able to accept multipe-check image deposits by 2012.

A feature of APTRA Vision that can help manage initiatives such as expanded deposit capabilities is the solution's ability to track the number of times an ATM has "self corrected" a cash jam or check jam, so that more extensive maintenance can be scheduled for that machine. "The product puts the ATM into a business context, so banks can understand the ins and outs of the ATM channel," says Bob Meara, a senior analyst at Celent.

The product's architecture extracts data from multi-vendor ATMs, as well as self-service kiosks and teller applications. This data can be combined with information on transaction volume and types of transactions. This data is then placed on geographic maps to view trends, which can help the institution perform predictive analysis and identify new locations for ATMs. "There's so much more to track at an ATM than if it's just 'up' or 'down,'" says Nicole Sturgill, a research director at TowerGroup.

The ATM data also allows the credit union to track which features the institution has deployed at specific machines, and how many customers are using those features. The information is presented to the institution's staff as a visual representation of the firm's geographic footprint, identifying where specific ATMs reside. "[Staffers] have a picture of the Seattle area, you can see roads and mountains and towns and where the machines are," says Bob Tramontano, a vp at NCR.

Rival Diebold also offers a range of monitoring technology; including cash optimization; remote problem diagnosis and recovery; and the ability to push specialized content out to ATM machines. "The end device can be a revenue stream in terms of fees and customer loyalty," says Paul Mercina, director of software and service product management for Diebold. Diebold, which says it has "hundreds" of ATM clients, offers its monitoring technology to its customer network, though Mercina says it recently began extending its work to other ATM manufacturer's platforms. Mercina also says Diebold is developing a predictive model that can analyze ATM data and spot future trends.

Other tech firms that offer self service device monitoring include Fiserv, whose clients include Cardtronics, IBM and Wells Fargo. Brian Jorgenson, vp of product management for Fiserv, which offers dashboard and forecasting technology for ATMs and other self-serve devices, says the "device agnostic" capabilities of monitoring are becoming table stakes. "What's new is the ATM software that can work on a Wincor Nixdorf or a Diebold or an NCR device," he says.

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