April 25, 2012

Although the consumerization and bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, trends aren't new concepts, a shift has occurred recently in how banks are approaching them. While CIOs and other bank executives remain wary of security issues surrounding the use of employee-owned mobile devices for work, they're increasingly embracing consumer IT within the enterprise as an opportunity to drive efficiency and innovation, as well as to increase employee (and customer) satisfaction.

"A major sea change has occurred in the past two or three years" regarding BYOD initiatives at financial institutions, says Gary Curtis, chief technology strategist at New York-based consulting and technology services firm Accenture. "Rather than having an initial reaction of, 'How many problems is this going to cause?' CIOs are now saying, 'How do we make this work without putting the company at risk?' There's no longer a question of whether they should make it work -- it is happening in just about every major financial institution."

Bank of America ($2.13 trillion in total assets) is among the institutions that are embracing consumerization in the workforce, reports Cathy Bessant, head of global technology and operations at the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank. Noting that consumerization will continue to pervade the culture of financial institutions, she says Bank of America is "moving increasingly toward" bring your own device. Bessant explains that while many BofA employees already use their own tech devices for work purposes, an official BYOD policy has not been instituted across the entire organization, yet.

But, "It's not all or nothing," Bessant notes. "BYOD is something our associates have been asking for and is a huge positive. We're moving strongly in that direction."

BYOD programs aren't limited to large banks, adds Ross Feldman, chief technology officer for U.S. financial services at Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP. "We're seeing innovation in these areas from the community banks and credit unions, not just the multinational powerhouses," he reports. In fact, Feldman adds, some smaller financial institutions are farther along in their BYOD implementations than bigger banks because the implementations are occuring on a smaller scale relative to market size.

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