The Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) has opted to integrate Salesforce.com with its core banking systems in a bid to avoid costly and time-consuming upgrades that it would have faced if it had decided to roll-out on-premise solutions, such as Oracle Siebel or Microsoft Dynamics.
Even though Salesforce is slightly more expensive over a three year Return on Investment (ROI) period, COO Mohamed Gamil believes that the benefits of a public cloud platform far outweigh the extra investment required.
The Bank has just completed its third major project using the Salesforce platform, where it is now looking to bring on board as many systems as it can, so as to make application processes for online customers as seamless as possible.
Gamil began exploring options for a new CRM application back in 2009 when employees were using Excel spreadsheets to manage clients.
“The problem started, which is a classic problem, when we didn’t have a proper CRM and sales management system to look after our leads and opportunities – everyone was running from Excel spreadsheets. When the bank started in 2004 we were using a Siebel solution, but after a few years no-one knew how it was set up or how to use it properly, so people ended up using manual processes,” said Gamil.
He explained that IBB had three options at the time – upgrade Siebel, deploy Microsoft Dynamics, or opt for a cloud solution with Salesforce.com.
“To be honest it wasn’t a comparison between two different systems, but more of a comparison between two different concepts. Dynamics is a good system, but it’s not different from Microsoft Exchange, from SQL, or any other on-premise solution. It came down to two considerations – the costing model (Opex versus Capex), and the security concerns, especially because we are a bank,” said Gamil.
“After a lot of discussion we opted for Salesforce – we went to the FSA about the security concerns, but we got a third party to carry out due diligence and that was all fine. The other aspect was pay as you go, or pay as you grow as I like to call it. Microsoft Dynamics was going to cost £60,000, where we would depreciate that over three years. But after implementation costs, we were looking at about £35,000 a year.”
He added: “If you calculated Salesforce’s annual costs, they were slightly higher – a few hundred pounds. However, after three years you end up in the same dilemma of needing to upgrade. But with Salesforce you pay pretty much the same amount of money, but you get all the upgrades and benefits included. This is a model that appealed to me much more, especially because we are a small bank and it was around the time of the credit crunch.”
Once deciding upon the Salesforce CRM and sales platform, IBB began integrating the cloud tools with its core Misys banking applications so that it could transfer all of its customer data into the cloud. Gamil said: “We had to migrate and push all of our banking data into Salesforce, so that we could manage any campaign or any new opportunity.”
Migration began in late 2009 and completed in March 2010, where the CRM and sales systems were live with all of the bank’s customer data fully replicated in the cloud. Customer data went through an XML file and then was converted into CSV format, which was uploaded directly into Salesforce – all 60,000 customers were migrated this way.
Every few months IBB also carries out a bulk upload, whereby it sends all the data it holds back to Salesforce to make sure that everything matches up with its banking system.
Gamil was quickly assured that Salesforce was the right platform for the bank, thanks to positive feedback from his IT department and 140 employees using the system. Because of this he decided to build an ‘on-boarding platform’ into Salesforce, which would be used by new customers joining the bank when submitting an application form online.
“We had a discussion internally where we looked again at whether we should build something on-premise or if we should go through Salesforce. Once again we carried out a business analysis and came to the decision that Salesforce was the most efficient solution because all of our leads, opportunities, prospects and customer data are sitting there,” said Gamil.
IBB went live with the new on-boarding application in January 2012, where it is now also integrated with the bank’s Misys platform using IFrame, so that existing customers can also take advantage of applying for new current accounts online using the Salesforce tools.