Technology is neither a panacea for what ails a bank in the marketplace, nor an assurance of continued dominance by market leaders that have aggressively invested in it. But the changing nature of competition requires banks and other financial institutions that want to gainfully compete in today's environment to strategically deploy information technology (IT)--and, more, technology-skilled people--in businesses across the enterprise.

While significant strides are being made in banks' back offices, front-end technologies have thrown bankers for a loop. In many cases, electronic distribution channels are merely being exploited to lower transaction costsoand that is even suspect as many banks have not been able to convince customers to select a mode of electronic interaction with the institution, thereby increasing the costs associated with multi-channel customers. This doesn't even begin to approach customer relationship management and profitability that, in theory, should be the focus of financial institutions. It always comes back to the people behind the business model.

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