PrimeLending CIO describes how customer experience strategy is shaping IT priorities

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As our company pursues a strategy to allow customers to purchase a mortgage on their mobile device (or to do as much of that work as possible there), we continue to redesign our borrower experience. These days that means aspiring toward a true marriage of technology and process.  
Responsive design, for example, is ultimately going to allow us to move away from our native mobile apps because we can do everything using it that we once did through mobile apps. That includes mortgage-related tasks like using the camera for important photos. The ability to concentrate on one platform instead of two always makes good technology sense. Until recently our approach had been, “As a user you can do everything on the web version and have limited functionality on the mobile version.”
Based on the way that responsive design has evolved, however, you can do everything on your mobile web version now.  And people will enter quite a bit more data than you’d expect on an iPhone. Thanks to responsive design, you may view data differently on the different devices, but we can offer the same ultimate experience on all devices, from the web to phone. That’s the true goal.
There are other ways our customer experience strategy is shaping our IT priorities, even our budgeting. In the past, we’ve always brought together our entire technology budget, which tends to look like a large figure. More recently we’ve learned to break it up and say, “Here’s our traditional IT bucket, with its budget and expenses. However, these other teams are dedicated to changing the way mortgages work from a customer experience perspective as well.”
Our customer experience team is nothing close to traditional keeping-the-lights-on IT. I have developers, a product owner, a product analyst, and QA-dedicated resources. We’ve allocated them to a separate floor in our building so that they work as a true team, all under the IT or technology umbrella.     
Transforming the customer experience also means reshaping existing business process to increase operational efficiency. As one example, we are looking at new Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and how we can reduce what we call “stare and compare,” where our underwriters and our operational folks do a lot of staring at documents and comparing them to the system, and vice versa.  As we integrate more OCR into the process, we are learning that the way we send information through the system is going to have to change dramatically to pull out the true efficiencies of OCR.
If you are bringing in new technologies in this way, it always pays to look at your process first, then ask, “How could we become more efficient by using some of this technology?” We can’t just insert the technology on top of our existing process because it just wouldn’t work to help us gain efficiencies – and more importantly, wouldn’t help us reach our goal of transforming the customer experience.

Tim Elkins joined PrimeLending in November 2008 as Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer. In October 2012, Tim was promoted to executive vice president, chief information officer, and he is responsible for information security, IT operations, and technology initiatives.