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Getting off the ATM maintenance merry-go-round

Getting off the ATM maintenance merry-go-round

photo istock

Once upon a time, ATM management might've gone something like this: Receive a phone call about an irritated customer unable to get cash; send out a tech in a van to fix the problem; send out the tech and van again, this time with the right part to fix the problem; send out the tech and van one more time to take the ATM out of maintenance mode, which the tech forgot to do after fixing the problem.

The result: time lost, opportunity lost, customer confidence lost. Self-service management solutions could mean a shorter, happier story, as NCR Corp. Product Manager Eric Malone explained in a recent phone conversation with ATM Marketplace ...

ATM: How does a self-service management system save cost?

EM: It can help save costs in a number of ways. Firstly, it reduces the cost to serve first line and second line maintenance by adding the ability to track and automate. If an FI doesn't have any other solution at all, they at least need to know that a problem occurred and when it is fixed.

A self-service solution also helps to decrease the average down time and increase total availability. If the servicers are made aware more rapidly of the problems and told of the exact part or sensor that needs to be addressed and arrive with the right parts, then the event becomes closed more quickly.

And it reduces the overall service calls in general by remote resolution. You know from your home PC that many times a reboot fixes an issue, and that's often the case with an ATM as well. If you can do that remotely, or start and stop a service or reset the configuration file or something that a service provider would have to go in a truck and do physically, then you've saved cost right there.

ATM: How specific can the system get in letting the deployer know what the problem is?

That depends on the self-service management solution. The lowest common denominator in our industry is XFS and that's just the base agreed industry standard for reporting faults and events at the level of each peripheral device.

But each manufacturer also has proprietary-level information that allows a deeper-dive understanding of exactly what the problem is, and a mature self-service management solution can get into that vendor-specific proprietary information and give the service providers a more in-depth view of exactly and precisely what the problem is.

ATM: Are most management systems multivendor?

EM: I can only speak to NCR's solution, specifically. Our self-service solution was born out of an acquisition from a company called Gasper and it's kept that DNA all along, so we're very vendor-independent.

Speaking to the industry at large, I would say that most financial institutions have a mixed ATM vendor fleet, so having a management solution that is multivendor is very important.

ATM: How big does an ATM deployer need to be to benefit from a self-service management system?

EM: The value proposition can be measured on a per-ATM basis. In theory, even if you have one ATM, there's value in managing. Depending on the customer's fleet size, the price typically goes up and so does the multiplied benefit.

It's true that very small institutions typically don't operate their own management solution. But even they benefit from the ATMs being up, available, driving positive consumer experiences.

In the end, even at the smallest scale, the FI needs to manage the ATM. It's just whether they will be doing it themselves, or will they delegate that to another entity.

ATM: If they delegate, can they still keep track of the status of their fleet?

EM: Absolutely. In an outsourced model, typically, they're delegating the actual day-to-day management and business rules to a service provider. And then the output for the financial institution is good, real-time dashboards, reports, trends, alerting on out-of-the norm behaviors. And that can be delivered via a nice web interface dashboard or via a mobile application they have in their pocket.

ATM: What kind of reporting might go along with that?

EM: If you've got a full solution set you have inventory and asset information, cash denomination, currency information and how that moves throughout the day, week, month. And you've got transaction histories down to detailed granularity.

All of that information is a wealth of data that can be mined for very insightful analytics, and a good management solution will provide an integrated business intelligence tool to allow querying insightful information and making business decisions out of that.

ATM: How does an FI know what to look for in a system?

Firstly, they need to recognize that a self-service management solution is more involved and proprietary than a generic network management tool. It has specialized peripherals, specialized business rules, vendor management, etcetera. So typically, you want a specialized tool.

Secondly, they need to consider their core needs. Do they want just a simple kind of red-yellow-green awareness dashboard or do they want something more robust to drive and eke out high levels of availability?

Do they want a tool to help them drive business decisions beyond just break-fix, like making ATM placement and purchasing decisions through analytics? They've got to figure out what success looks like and what they want with a management tool.

Then they've got to think about what their tolerance for self-control is vs. their total cost of ownership and what model works best for them. Do they want to go software-as-a-service? Deploy in the cloud? Do they want to go with an on-premises solution because they have a high need to control the IT? Or do they want to outsource it to a managed service provider?

And then lastly, they need to look for a trusted partner who understands the industry, this domain and has a robust and extendable set of solutions that can fit in their existing ecosystem.

ATM: Is it possible to tailor a management system a la carte to meet specific needs?

EM: Again, I can only speak to NCR's solution, but yes, we have built a modular solution that allows for different packages to be consumed that are optional. And the packages or modules are based on the needs and desired outcomes that the financial institution is looking for, and how to map those to their current business practices and processes.

ATM: So it's important for them to know what they want from their fleet … ?

EM: Correct. And maybe they already have existing homegrown or other solutions for one or more of those things that I mentioned, in which case, it's also important to have a solution that can be tied into an existing infrastructure.

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Topics: ATM Management, Manufacturers, Service / Parts

Companies: NCR Financial Solutions, NCR Corporation

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