Noticed how automated teller machines deliver ever-more advanced functionality? From merely dispensing cash, these devices have become ubiquitous multiple service centres, offering a wider range of services and transactions to drive convenience for customers and value and differentiation for banks operating in a competitive environment.
Behind many of these innovations is Absolute Systems, which has taken its ability to create and deliver the software that drives a modern ATM to new levels with the introduction of the Symantec Altiris IT Service Management solution from First Technology.
According to David Longe, Absolute Systems CEO, the average ATM is a surprisingly powerful computing platform. “Our application software product, AbsoluteINTERACT, takes advantage of that platform, delivering applications which maximise the potential for a bank to interface with its customers,” he says.
The ATM also serves as a point on which ad-hoc campaigns can be rolled out very quickly, given the appropriate capability to develop and distribute software. “The underlying hardware means banks have a potentially dynamic platform with which to reach their customers in value-creating ways,” Longe notes.
However, in the absence of a sound distribution and management platform, the banks have been somewhat hamstrung, lacking the ability to fully capitalise on the power of their ATM platforms. “Legacy software delivery approaches mean the cost and feasibility of regular updates or ad hoc campaigns have been hampered. It also means poor visibility of the ATM network and a limited ability to be responsive to issues or outages.”
Additionally, the inevitable complexity which results from a heavier software load means there are potentially more issues on the ATM, devices which customers expect to be available and operational at all times.
"Obviously, the bank also wants this expensive piece of hardware to be optimally functional at the time of a customer visit; unavailability reflects poorly on the bank and costs them a transaction and possibly reputational damage,” Longe relates.
He explains that his company identified Symantec’s Altiris as an ideal solution to solve these limitations. As a consequence, a key partnership was forged with First Technology, which provides a complete system management solution based on the software.
The Altiris solution set provides remote software asset management, including software delivery, version control, patch and upgrade management.
Paul Papaioannou, Altiris presales consultant at First Technology explains: “It comes down to a business challenge of IT not being able to respond sufficiently quickly to business requirements. Altiris solves that problem by not only providing a single interface to manage a complete network of distributed systems, but also providing the ability to quickly, accurately and reliably deliver any updates, patches or new functionality to every machine on the network. In short, it brings alive Absolute’s ability to make an ATM a true extension of the bank’s business.”
Longe continues: “We want to address inhibitors and give the business side of banking what it needs: rapid rollout of the gee-whiz stuff we provide, but which operational limitations have restricted us from achieving together.”
Using Altiris, says Longe, Absolute Systems can distribute updates and configuration changes, from small software updates to complete configurations on the fly. “Just as important, we can also see and manage exactly what is out there, including version control, maintenance schedules, status and more. With exception reporting, it also means the ability to focus attention on problematic machines, rather than having technicians work through a detailed printout of every machine before getting to work on solving issues. In short, Altiris allows effective management of the complete ATM network.”
As a result of introducing Altiris, Longe says ever-more advanced and innovative services can be enabled on ATMs. “Our vision for an ATM is that when you draw money, the machine should respond to you as an individual, ‘remembering’ and suggesting your most common transactions, for example. It should provide an engaging and satisfying experience. Whilst we have developed these capabilities already, it is through Altiris that we can make them a reality for banks and their customers. An effective management platform delivers significant advantages for both the bank and its customer.”