Q&A with Alan Kerr, Executive Vice President, Software Solutions

Q&A blog

Alan KerrIn his role since August 2014, Alan Kerr is responsible for building Diebold’s software strategy and organization to generate profitable, sustainable growth and innovation. Kerr brings more than 25 years of experience in the IT and software industry and held a number of executive positions at Kofax, a business process automation software company, Hewlett-Packard Software, Peregrine Systems, Ascential Software and Informix Software.

Diebold:  What is Diebold’s software strategy?

Alan Kerr:  Our software strategy is simple – it’s to provide our customers with smarter, more flexible software solutions to drive efficiencies and reduce costs while wholly enabling consumer interactions across multiple channels of engagement. For example, consumers want seamless, efficient experiences whether they’re at an ATM, online, mobile or in a branch. Our strategy is to enrich consumer transactions with integrated, hardware-agnostic software solutions designed to meet the evolving demands of a self-service network. 

DBD:  When it comes to software, what’s the most common issue you hear from FIs around the world as they struggle to compete?

AK:  The primary pain point is really speed of change. Many FIs that I meet with are burdened with old and inflexible legacy systems they can’t change fast enough. They’re focused on Automation Technology and Branch Transformation while trying to drive a strategy that integrates new ways of transacting business to improve the consumer experience – changing the experience from being transactional to being engaged with the client and adding value. And this is where our software plays a key role.

DBD:  Do you believe that software is the primary contributor to the consumer experience?

AK:  Yes, it is, because software is at the heart of enabling how all technology interactions take place with a consumer. It drives the connection between the financial institution and its customers. Software allows you to integrate. It allows flexibility and personalization. It’s the key component that makes it all come alive to create a great and engaging customer experience. 

DBD:  Tell me more about your FITbankingTM philosophy. What is it?

AK:  The term FITbanking refers to Diebold’s vision of a future where the banking experience is Fully Integrated and Transformative (FIT). It’s a new philosophy we call FITbanking and it is central to everything we create. Through the lens of FITbanking, we’re helping financial institutions create touchpoints that seamlessly fit and secure align with consumer demands and their business objectives.

DBD:  As Diebold’s chief software champion, what role does software play in FITbanking?

AK:  Essentially, software is the primary way to infuse the consumer’s lifestyle, geography, schedule, favorite technologies and preferred payment methods into the delivery of banking experiences. At Diebold, our objective is to find the right FIT for our customers and their customers – and those are the conversations we like to have.

DBD:  What criteria should FIs consider when evaluating and choosing the right software platform to run their self-service fleet? And, how does Diebold stack up?

AK:  Openness, flexibility and partnership are my top criteria. You need to be open to different hardware and software. You need to architect a flexible design to easily interface with multiple systems. And you need to look for an experienced vendor you can partner with – someone who’s done it before, someone who’s committed to the partnership, to the journey and someone who can truly deliver what they promise.

With the acquisition of Phoenix, we have a proven, industry-leading, multi-vendor software solution that’s attested to by some of the world’s largest FIs. It offers the most flexible implementation and delivers an unparalleled, unmatched and very personalized consumer experience. That’s what I mean by openness, flexibility and partnership.

DBD:  How does Diebold’s software align with your customers’ transformation journey?

AK:  We often refer to the bank transformation process as a journey. The FITbanking journey. In fact, one of the wonderful benefits we have with the Phoenix acquisition and with our portfolio of hardware, software, services and security solutions is that we can take all of these building blocks and go on a journey with our customers. We can start with simple transactions and then move to other banking functions inside the branch, outside the branch and then on to digital and mobile channels. The beauty of this journey is that we can orchestrate everything together and eventually increase the FI’s ability to sell more products, give better service and delight consumers. One of the advantages of teaming with Diebold is that we can orchestrate multiple channels and touchpoints through various front- and back-end systems … and, provide the glue to tie it all together. This gives FIs more time to engage and advise with consumers and build long-term trust and loyalty. We call it “putting the banker back in banking” by focusing on the relationship, not just the transaction.

DBD:  Let’s talk about the role analytics will play over the next several years as FIs compete to remain relevant.

AK:   I firmly believe that analytics is key. In the time I’ve been with Diebold, I’ve been driving hard on mobile and analytics. Using new, advanced analytics and big data capable tools, we’re able to share a lot of very exciting business insights about consumer preferences, devices, capabilities, interfaces and more. I’m convinced that the explosion of analytic tools, along with enhanced physical and digital banking touch points to better suit the current demands of consumers, will provide the best competitive advantage to the financial institution.

DBD:  What about mobile?

AK:  We are living in an increasingly mobile world, but you can’t force everything onto a small screen in front of you. Different information is needed to interact with different channels – and the information has to be relevant and consistent but with similar look and feel. There’s no question that mobile is taking over everything we do, but it needs to be done in conjunction with other interactions between the bank and the consumer. Mobile is only a part of it. One of the things we’re doing here at Diebold is to take a transaction started on a mobile device and complete it on another channel – without having to repeat the information request. In other words, we’re working to transcend different interaction points. In this example, mobile is key, but it needs to be integrated with other touchpoints.

As part of our mobile cash access solution, our new XpressionTM SafeLoad is industry-first technology that FITs consumers’ lifestyles – a solution that enables mobile wallets to work at POS terminals and ATMs. In a world of increased security threats, this is a very safe way of onboarding digital wallets into your cellphone. Diebold software engineers developed a two-step, “card present” authentication system, called SafeLoad, to harness the power of the ATM as a uniquely secure authenticating terminal. We built our reputation on security. With this new solution, once again we proved why we’re the bar against which the rest of the industry must measure themselves.

Many of our customers are capitalizing on the mobile integration trend in the financial self-service industry. Our software-powered solutions continue to facilitate the physical to digital interactions that financial institutions need to better serve their consumers.

DBD:  What has inspired you recently?

AK:  I really enjoy meeting with senior executives in the financial industry. They truly recognize the need for change within their organizations and they want to drive transformative efforts to connect more deeply with their consumers. They’re looking for committed, innovative partners like Diebold to deliver – so those collaborative conversations have been incredibly inspiring.