“We didn’t actually overspend our budget.
The allocation simply fell short of our expenditure.”
For years, banks have struggled with the overall design of check/document imaging systems. Online reports were usually on one system, imaged checks and statements on another. Documents could be imaged on several – one for signature cards, one for loan documents, one for invoices, another for lockbox. As a result, one of the biggest struggles for banks has been trying to decide how many platforms/products to purchase.
This decision was made somewhat easier by two factors:
Forward to 2003. While everybody knew imaged checks would become mainstream, few were right about how fast it would happen. Viewpointe alone images more than 60 percent of the 40 billion checks written annually. The Fed and other imaging/presentment services (e.g. the Endpoint Exchange Network) account for most of the rest. Banks internally image most of the on-us items that don’t get routed.
Imaged document systems are becoming more affordable, and the number of loan docs, signature cards, lockbox invoices, internal bank invoices, appraisal information, withdrawal slips, teller receipts, et al that is becoming available for access and research is proliferating at a biblical level.
Maybe it is time to reexamine exactly how banks will treat all of this information and manage it as an asset and a service and efficiency tool. As luck would have it, we have some case law to work with – data warehouse.
On paper, an enterprise repository/source of data makes perfect sense. Information as a corporate asset… integrated reporting… It is no secret, however, that most initial forays into data warehouse did not result in the imagined payoff. Any credible ROI that banks have realized on this investment has been very recent. Why is this? Here are two reasons that certainly hindered success:
The net result is that there are still lots of local databases, identical data stored in multiple analysis systems (just think about all the spreadsheets where we store an account balance!), and a lack of corporate commitment in many banks to use an enterprise warehouse.
Back to imaging. At the end of the day, all of our images are no more than a data warehouse of pictures. Like the data warehouse, the images must be managed as a single enterprise asset. Because the records are static in the sense that they don’t need to be updated, the images are simpler. However, in the long term there will be more sources. Think about it. Checks may be stored at a Viewpointe-like service provider, at the Fed, locally (on-us items), at the point where they were converted to an ACH item, or elsewhere. Documents may be stored locally, at a service provider’s site (e.g. lockbox provider, third-party loan, credit card payment service), or elsewhere. As our clients in Massachusetts would say, that’s a wicked big warehouse.
Banks will expand use of imaging quickly, and our Gonzo advice of the week is to learn from our first data warehouse efforts and do two things:
An explosion of images will hit us in the next two to five years. Let’s don’t think about how to store and access them after it happens. It’s time to start thinking “horizontally” about imaging systems.