Citibank’s Transformation of Traditional Money Management Into E-Business

Citibank’s strategic intent is to convert its traditional money management business into an e-business framework. How does Citibank transform its traditional assets into digital assets? What issues, if any, do you envision that Citibank must overcome in order for the implementation to be successful?

According to Porter two main ways for a company to compete are on cost advantage or on differentiation. Citibank chose not to compete on price, but instead chose to compete on differentiation.

Since many other companies have similar products and services, Citibank bases its differentiation on customer service. Traditionally, this involved “offering telephone hotlines, relationship managers who understood clients’ needs, product consultants who provided service expertise and most important, continuous investment in technology to support both the front-end and the back-end electronic banking systems”. In order for “successful” transformation of traditional assets into digital assets the company must maintain or enhance its differentiation. Since the company’s differentiation is based on customer service, that means that in the transformation from traditional to digital assets the company must continue to be highly responsive to the customers’ current and future needs, and must do so to a higher level than the competition.

One main way that Citibank achieved transition from traditional to digital was via alliances with such technological companies as Oracle, Commerce One Inc, SAP AG, Wisdom Technologies and Bolero.net. Earlier the company invested millions of dollars on its own in multiple areas of e-business, and failed. Technology is not Citibank’s area of expertise, and it found dealing with constantly changing technology to be an expensive struggle, which it ultimately lost. However, by 2000 Citibank had changed its strategy to one of garnering alliances and using its partners’ strengths to create the technological infrastructure that the company needed to access markets and meet its customers changing demands. Working through alliances reduced Citibank’s risks and costs, increased its effectiveness, and allowed it to remain flexible in meeting changing technological and customer demands.

Customer demands varies, both in the short term and long term. According to McCauley and Kahn, one of the most important obstacles for Citibank to overcome in migrating customers from traditional to digital service was meeting their deep seated concerns about security. While to some degree this hindered Citibank’s efforts in rolling out Web-based applications, Citi did actively implement “multi-layered security architecture… public and private access keys, single-use passwords and multiple authorization controls” in order to meet customer needs (2002, p. 9). In addition, with digital processing it looked to transform repeatable processes that could be “commoditized” into an efficient digital factory. Commoditizing repeatable processes improves efficiency, but also allows resources for additional regional focus — localization. So too, Citibank’s strong brand name is a resource that translates into increased trust as a “trusted provider” when competing with Deutche Bank and other competitors. In fact, most Fortune 500 companies assign value to Citibank’s specific offerings, and prefer it to other international payment providers. Citibank, then, offers multiple areas of value to customers.

The key question, however, is whether this value translates into a competitive advantage which translates into additional profits. Though Citibank met their customers’ needs in the area of information technology, how unique is what it offered? Cutting edge technological capabilities can soon become “hygiene factors”, which are considered to be required, rather than a competitive advantage. These then, do not qualify for differentiation or competitive advantage. While at one point Citibank may have offered cutting edge technological capabilities, the competitive advantages these afford can quickly be eroded. Customer service and transactional efficiency are important. However we need to ask what other areas of business require attention in order for Citibank’s ultimate success. If these are not met, the corporation will not meet its growth goals.

Communication Strategies to Avoid Communication Breakdown

What actually matters in the chain of communication is whether the sender and the receiver are in sync and on the same wavelength. If that is the case then there is never going to be any communication breakdown that occurs.

There might have been times when you communicated something to someone and the person nodded sagely. You felt that the person had understood exactly what you wanted. But, alas, the end product was not something that you had in mind. So much for being a good communicator! In order for communication to flow smoothly and seamlessly, the starting point of the communication chain, the sender must take the ownership and responsibility of being an able and effective communicator.

The sender does not only have to draft the message but, must also consider how it is going to be received by the recipient and how will the message be interpreted. The entire chain of communication that starts from the sender does not end until the receiver has understood perfectly what you are trying to convey and also generated enough feedback for the sender, by means of action or a communication.

The objective behind communication is to create an understanding amongst both the parties involved and what outcome is required. In the communication model there has to be a two way communication between the sender and the receiver. Same is the case with the sharing of the responsibilities too. The onus lies on both of them to try and get it right, the very first time.

The sender on their part must be crisp and precise in their communication. The sender must convey relevant information in a coherent manner.

The receiver on their part must be an active listener and must be able to comprehend exactly what the sender is trying to convey. In case of any questions, they must seek clarification before doing what they feel the sender requires. Also, the receiver must never try and assume things. In case of any doubts it is always best to check with the sender from whom the communication commenced. This will spare them a lot of heartache and trouble later on.

As human beings we have embedded filters that we use to allow only what we want to hear to come our way. Therefore, what we hear is what we want to hear and not what the opposite person might have wanted us to hear. As a sender, you can cross check to find out if the message you conveyed has been interpreted on the opposite side exactly as you wanted it to be.

Poor communication can result in a lot of discord, errors and misunderstandings all around you. These can be avoided if the intent is made known clearly by the sender, in clear and specific language, with no room for ambiguity. Therefore, the sender must state clearly what they want and mean. The receiver on their part must seek clarification of the sender’s intent when uncertain. The receiver on their part must have good questioning skills to fall back on.

Hence, clear communication techniques are a must for all concerned.

The Best ITEC Anatomy and Physiology Questions

ITEC Anatomy and Physiology is broken down into 12 body systems. These are as follows:

The Cell
The Skin
Skeletal System
Muscular System
Cardiovascular System
Lymphatic System
Nervous System
Endocrine System
Reproductive System
Respiratory System
Digestive System
Urinary System

For anyone looking to enter the complementary or beauty field, having an accredited Anatomy and Physiology qualification is vital.

There is so much information to learn with this subject, you have to memorise a lot of terms including muscle name, bones, glands, disease and disorders. As a result it is very important that you have Anatomy and Physiology questions to test your knowledge throughout your studies.

An example of some sample questions are:

1. Which hormone does the adrenal medulla secrete?
a) Glucocorticoids
b) Adrenaline – Answer
c) Insulin
d) Testosterone

2. Which part of the brain is the relay station?
a) The cerebrum
b) The medulla oblongata
c) The midbrain – Answer
d) The pons varolii

3. Where does fertilization take place in the female reproductive system?
a) Uterus
b) Fallopian tubes – Answer
c) Uterus
d) Ovaries

4. What is the function of the pleural cavity?
a) To prevent friction between the layers of the lungs – Answer
b) To exchange gases between the layers of the lungs
c) To prevent a backflow of air between the layers of the lungs
d) To moisten the layers of the lungs

5. What is the function of antidiuretic hormone?
a) Stimulates basic metabolic rate
b) Increases water reabsorption in kidneys – Answer
c) Maintains calcium levels in bones
d) Contracts the uterus during labour

The best ITEC Anatomy and Physiology questions are in multiple choice format. I recommend that you break down each body system and learn one at a time. Write out your revision questions, preferably about 20 per day, memorize these and then test yourself at the end of each week. Once you learn one body system, move onto the next and so on. The key is to be consistent. You will be amazed at how much knowledge you gain learning this way.

Sun Tzu Art of War – Communication Tools

According to the Book on Military Administration, "In battles, as verbal communication can not be heard clearly, cymbals and drums are used as commands" As visual communication and eye contact are hampered, banners and flags are used as signals. Now the purpose of using cymbals, drums, flags and banners is to draw attention of the troops and focus them for combat under the direction of the commander. Once the troops are united as one body, the courageous ones will not advance forward by themselves and the cowardly ones will not retreat by themselves. This is the art of directing larges forces in battles. - Chapter Seven, Sun Tzu Art of War

For battles at night, use more torches and drums. For battles in the day, use more banners and flags. These different means of communication can be designed to influence the judgment of the enemy. – Chapter Seven, Sun Tzu Art of War

As mentioned above, during day operations more banners and flags should be used for communication and during night operations, drums and torches should be used instead. From here we can see how observant Sun Tzu is. He even noted down what type of communication we should use during each battle, but of course the list of tools mentioned is not exhaustive, communication channels should depend on the terrain as well. For example, if you are in a flat terrain, a larger banner (daytime) or fireworks (night) should be used for communication because they can convey accurate messages, if you have explained accurately what each signals mean. But note here is that your signals, not tools, should be like your strategy, it should change with every battle. If you have a fixed form of communication signals, sooner or later, your enemy will be able to decipher them and that that would likely be the result of your defeat. This explains why Sun Tzu said the means of communication can be used to influence the enemy.

Business Application

Communication is very important in business. Communication breakdown can be detrimental to a business, like losing a big client or slow reaction to a rival's move. With a strong understanding of each communication tools weakness and strength would you then be able to use it to your advantage. Good communication system can grant a company great flexibility, shorter reaction time and faster response. It is similar to an irrigation system. With good proper control system of the flow, accurate amount of water, water flowing to the right place, the fields will flourish because of it. These are capabilities that are extremely valuable in this dynamic business environment. Some forms of communication channels are e-mail, letters, internet messenger, telephone, internet telephony or video conferencing and face to face. I will talk about their usage within the company. Please take note that having the proper communication tools is only one aspect of a good communication system though.

E-mail

E-mail could be formal or informal, nowdays because of the corporate frauds that happened in US, companies are now required to keep a copy of all the e-mails that are sent out to within and outside the company. E-mails does not solicit fast response from the recipients. It can be secure if the security system's guideline and usage is strictly adhere to. E-mail is a cheap way of sending information and documents within the company and these information can be stored electronically so cost savings align from these characteristic. But one downfall of communication is emotions are not properly delivered out. E-mails would be suitable for clear cut instructions or information that does not require immediate attention and preferably within a department. Cheap because can transfer with least costs through company even if overseas. It is sooner to technology risks.

Letter

What is described here are paper letters sent from one department to another. It is only needed when you want to formalize a request or a work order. But this kind of communication is slowly being taken over by e-mail. Letters are more concrete than e-mail because electronic files are typically subordinated to suspicion of editing or changing. Letter has the same characteristics as that of the e-mail but since it is tangible, it is not like e-mail where you can deny you have received it .. Security wise, it could be better or worse than e-mail depending on situations. It could be cost if you need to send it overseas. It is more reliable than electronic mode of communication.

Internet Messenger (Instant Messaging)

With the popular use of internet, internet messenger like ICQ, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger are being popularized, it allows fast relay of information and nowadays these messengers have the capabilities to help you know whenever the person on the other end is around or not. But again, it lacks the transfer of emotions. The voice and tone of your message can not be sent out through the messenger, even with emoticons, misunderstanding can still occur. What you sent out could have been in a tone of offering help like "What do you want me to do?" But others after reading the message may interpret, you are angry with him for doing something. But Internet messenger has its pros as well, it could have been used as a channel for informal discussion within the company because some of these messengers can allow multiple users in a single chat windows. And it is cheap since most of them are free and information can be transferred overseas cheaply. It is sooner to technology risks.

Telephone

Compare to the other modes that are mentioned, it is a reliably better channel of communication. Because your tonality, voice qualities are also transmitted reducing the chance of your message being misunderstood. But it lacks another communication characteristic that is important and that is body language. It definitely solits fast response because you can only communicate when the receiver is on the other side at the same time. But it can be very expensive if you need to communicate overseas. And reliability should be better than any electronic channel since this industry has been around for a very long time.

Internet Telephony & Video Conferencing

Internet telephony is slowly becoming very popular because SMEs and MNCs can make overseas call cheaply. This also includes video conferencing, which is made more popular with the prevalence of broadband. It has all the characteristics of telephone, with video conferencing being better because body language, to some extent, can be conveyed as well. But reliability could be a problem depending on the infrastructure and service provider available on both sides. Setting it up is cheap with a web camera and broadband connection.

Face to Face

Up till now, this is the best form of communication, the only downside is you despite you can observe and receive the full signals from your conversation party, the same thing can be said for the other party as well.

So choose the proper communication tools to effectively bring your message across. The correct communication tools can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your communication system thus improving your business process.