Technology is changing the way in which companies work and provide services to customers, especially in the world of finance and banking but Alberta’s ATB Financial thinks it has found a way to stay ahead of the curve.

Tyler Yates, ATB’s senior enterprise content management (ECM) specialist sat down with ITBusiness.ca during BoxWorks 2018 and talked about the way the company has changed its internal management system, why its important to move to ‘the cloud’ and how the financial institution hopes to “disrupt” the industry by investing in artificial intelligence.

Tyler Yates, senior ECM specialist ATB Financial. Courtesy of ATB

“The nature of work is fundamentally changing,” says Yates, “It has already changed and that change is going to be ongoing. Therefore we need to bring in tools that empower our members to be doing their best work wherever they are.” 

ATB moved to a cloud management system powered by Box Inc. in April of 2017. Yates says it was all part of the company’s plan to start using G-Suite tools but they needed a system that would allow them to view and edit not only new content, but its “legacy” content as well. It considered extending its already existing on-premises solution but after some assessment found that not to be a feasible option.

That’s when ATB decided to move to a cloud-based system, says Yates.

“I consider ATB the original financial disruptor in Canada” 

Choosing the cloud

When asked about why ATB moved from a traditional on-premises solution to a cloud-based one, Yates says it was all about the freedom, capabilities, and savings.

With a typical on-premises ECM system hardware such as servers need to be bought, and kept on site and licenses need to be bought for everyone to be able to use the system. It can be pricey to then customize these systems, and pay for updates as they are released.

With cloud-based systems like Box, users typically pay an annual subscription fee and can get access to everything they need. As long a user has access to products that are available on the cloud platform, they can use them without needing any extra licensing or system updates.

“There’s no contracting, no big request for proposal (RFP) to go through, no installation, it’s just there,” says Yates, “we’re also not restricted to the tools that an on-premises vendor wants to work with. With cloud and specifically Box we have over 1,400 applications to chose from.”

One way that ATB uses this plethora of apps is for its RM Unleashed tool which includes PDF; since there are dozens of applications that offer PDF, ATB’s users aren’t limited to one service such as Adobe Reader, they are able to use whichever one works best for them.

The cloud isn’t a magic solution

Moving to the cloud hasn’t been as easy as one, two, three however. Even if the way companies work is changing, that doesn’t mean that all employees are keeping up. Yates claims there have been challenges moving from an on-premises to cloud-based management system

“The big challenge we’ve have found is the way that people work in the cloud versus on-prem solutions are fundamentally different,” says Yates, “As our users move over into different tools they have to work in a different way that they’re not used to.”

He says one of the challenges ATB has faced is employees not understanding the ‘timeout’ that happens on the cloud when they have a document open but aren’t actively using it. He says ATB has users who expect to keep documents open from Monday to Friday and keep updating as they go, however a cloud-based system is more about opening a document as you need to make changes and allowing other people to make real-time changes as well.

Canadian financial institutions in the modern age

Even with challenges Yates, who has been in digital content management for almost 10 years, still sees adopting technology for businesses, especially financial institutions, as key to keeping up with market demands.

“The market is being disrupted and the disruption happened probably before PayPal came out. And we’re just going to see more apps and more disruptions come up that aren’t truly banks but offer banking solutions,” Yates tells ITBusiness.ca, “Traditional banks can either fight that and say regulation will protect us or we can embrace that disruption is going to happen.”

ATB and AI

The Albertan bank is doing more than just moving to the cloud, in April it announced a partnership with the University of Alberta to help the financial institution apply artificial intelligence (AI) into its businesses practices.

ATB’s contribution of $940,000 to the four-year collaboration between the university’s students professors and ATB experts, is part of its broader AI strategy, stated a release.

Yates told ITBussiness.ca that the financial institution is working on multiple AI and machine learning endeavors such as using natural language processing and it was one of the first businesses to use the IBM Watson and Box Skills tool which it uses to help digitize paper documents.

“Disruption happens when people are dissatisfied with the way that the financial industry has treated them and they want to find solutions that work for them. Financial institutions in Canada have to adapt, we have to find solutions and tools that are more like the apps and disruptors that are eating away at the bottom line or you will become irrelevant very fast,” says Yates. 

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