The International Commercial Bank of China yesterday switched on its bi-directional, simultaneous videoconferencing network that will be used by all its 80 branches across Taiwan.
The network is the largest of its kind in Taiwan's banking sector, company officials said.
The financial institution also plans to extend the system to its newly merged divisions and branches overseas, ICBC President Tsai Yeou-tsair said.
Another possibility, Tsai added, is 3G integration whereby bank employees' could hook up with ICBC's bi-directional, simultaneous videoconferencing network via wireless devices such as cell phones, PDAs, and laptops.
Tailored to meet ICBC's requirements, the system enables ICBC headquarters to perform bi-directional videoconferencing with any or all of its branches. It also accommodates multi-branch videoconferencing or bilateral communication between multiple branches, the bank said.
The system sets a precedent for communication between bank branches and offers a pioneering example for the Taiwan market, solutions provider AT&T said. The project took a year to implement.
"This was one of our most challenging and exciting projects in the region to date. The banking sector is among the most demanding in terms of stringent security, reliability and quality requirements; so we are delighted that ICBC chose to entrust this landmark solution to AT&T," said Steve Lowe, vice president of AT&T Asia.
According to Lowe, the system was designed to facilitate the training of employees with regards to new financial products and customer service programs. It will not only speed up the transfer of information but will also enhance the quality of ICBC's customer service, he continued.
"The solution will also enable remote staff training and development which will help drive improved customer service and support," Lowe said.
"I would like to congratulate ICBC on taking this pioneering approach and setting new standards for the banking industry in Taiwan. I would also like to congratulate the AT&T Taiwan team for taking on this very challenging and complex task, and completing the project successfully."
ICBC hopes regular videoconferences between branches and headquarters will enhance its working efficiency and competitiveness, reducing the amount of time and money spent on travel and accommodation for cross-branch meetings.
"While our core business is focused on providing global network services to large Asian and multinational corporations, this project allowed us to employ a much broader range of services and skills," Lowe said.
"In addition to providing the end-to-end network connectivity, which is the backbone of the solution, we also coordinated with the videoconferencing equipment vendor and handled all aspects of the network integration. As a result, we were able to deliver a one-stop-shop, turnkey solution to ICBC."
Other companies are expected to follow ICBC's lead, the AT&T executive said.
"Videoconferencing is becoming a more stable and more acceptable solution. All of us, including AT&T, are always looking for ways to improve our efficiency and reduce our costs, and videoconferencing is one way of doing that," Lowe said.