To the Editor:

I read with interest Tom McGrath's Aug. 11 guest article "Don't Be Left Holding Bag with Failing Web Vendor" [page 11]. As the largest provider of Internet banking services to financial institutions, we at Digital Insight agree with his position.

Now is a critical time for our business, but even more importantly, our customers' businesses. Decisions by financial institutions to take their businesses to the Web is an event in itself; choosing the right partner to help them get there is another.

Our position remains the same: Financial institutions should plan for the future. This involves not only the viability of the service partner, but the technology they choose, the way they deploy and maintain it, the solution's ability to scale and grow as the business grows, and the confidence of knowing their customers' data is available, safe, and secure.

To Mr. McGrath's list of partner evaluation criteria, we would add:

  • Identify a strategic partner - be it a trade organization, consultant, or a vendor of choice - that can help in developing a plan for building your Internet strategy and presence. If you conclude through the planning exercise that the current business model is the best - that it's not time for Internet banking - it is still worthwhile just to go through the process of deciding where you are on the Internet and where you want to be.
  • Choose an incremental-development approach. The needs and solutions that come out of the planning exercise should enable you to implement incrementally so that value can be realized along the way.
    To assist in developing your Internet banking solution, you can use a single vendor for consistency and continuity or you can assemble a best-of-breed solution for specific functionality not available from a single vendor. Some caveats, regardless of a decision to work with one or multiple providers:
  • To echo Mr. McGrath's point, make sure that the vendor you choose to do business with is financially strong. The Internet economy is weeding out the weak every day. It's imperative to work with the winners.
  • In addition, be sure that security is a priority for anyone your organization works with. Security is getting regulatory scrutiny today and is paramount in the minds of customers.
  • Establish the metrics by which you will gauge your results. If you currently have 3% of your customers using your Internet site, set some specific goals of what you want that number to be. Then think long-term. Ask questions like: When I have 10% online, how many loans should I be generating every month? It's less important that you have a precise benchmark than that you pick a goal and move toward it, so you know whether you're doing well or poorly.
  • Market, market, market. A solid marketing program is crucial for driving adoption and enrollment. Some very straightforward best practices exist that have proven to double or triple online enrollment.

John Dorman
Chairman, president, CEO
Digital Insight Corp.
Calabasas, Calif.

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