How three companies are using IT to rethink consumer services

These 2011 CIO 100 winners applied biometrics, iPod Touches and networking technology to revamp how they deliver core services to customers

By Lauren Brousell, CIO |  IT Management, insider

Security Moving money from a personal investment account can be a complex process involving trips to the bank, fees and paper forms designed to ensure compliance with regulations. And it can be full of stress, because such transactions often occur during a life milestone, such as retirement.

The Vanguard Group, which offers consumers retirement, college savings and other investment accounts, has simplified this multistep transaction process using biometric voice-verification software. The project, which earned a CIO 100 Award, lets customers access their accounts and complete transactions over the phone, using their voices as passwords. “The ultimate security measure is something you are,” says Vanguard CIO Paul Heller. “Voice is actually the most secure” form of identification, he adds, because each person’s voiceprint is unique.

John Marcante, an executive with Vanguard’s retail services group, says transactions that once took three weeks can now be completed in three minutes. Previously, Vanguard employees would scan and verify paperwork for 96 types of transactions. That process requires a phone conversation. Now 70 percent of transactions can be completed using biometric authentication.

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