If competitors developed such a global system first HSBC could find itself

If competitors developed such a global system first

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cash worldwide. If competitors developed such a global system first, HSBC could find itself sidelined in the competition for the world’s most important banking customers. To meet this threat HSBC would need to leapfrog the concept of a simple global inquiry system, otherwise it might find itself trying to compete with a product that was always functionally one step behind that of the competitors. To turn the threat into a positive strategic thrust, concluded Strickland’s group, HSBC had to develop the most ambitious concept possible. The Hexagon vision was to deliver the resources of a worldwide banking system right to the desktop of the manager. “At the time their systems were just dumb terminals,” not capable of two-way communication. “We envisioned intelligence on the desktop,” Strickland told us. While competitors systems were offering only cash management, Hexagon was to be a complete banking system. The global scope of the system was a major component of the idea. In the simplest sense, the system would be a new channel to deliver information that the bank already offered to the customer. The primary beneficiary was expected to be the customer, who would have access to better information, rather than more paper. Eventually the customer might also benefit from automated handling of data from the bank. The objective for the bank was to use this added value to capture market share by meeting and surpassing the capability of the systems offered by competitors. At the same time the bank expected to benefit from automating information delivery by reducing data handling costs. According to David McMyn, one of the original project team members and now Senior Executive, Group IT, HSBC, the value created by the system was originally expected to be 80% from increased customer value and 20% from cost reductions for the bank. The Hexagon concept focused on providing infrastructure support for firms engaged in multicontinental trade, especially in Europe, North America and the fast growing Western Pacific. Such firms need real time 21
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Impact of GIS on a Global Bank information on cash, receivables, and securities balances worldwide; they need to be able to manage those assets by shifting them to where they are needed; they need effective delivery of trade financing services; and they need real time information on foreign exchange and securities prices. The concept also focused on upscale retail customers who traveled extensively for business or professional reasons. Such an upscale customer might have, for example, a home and family in Vancouver, a home office in London, and work extensively in Hong Kong, Japan and China. Retail bankers in the firm were cool to the idea, so after studying its feasibility, the bank decided in 1983 to go ahead with the project focused toward multinational business customers. “It was the most exciting business decision of [our] lives,” said Strickland. Although spending on IT had been steadily increasing in the bank for a number of years, this was the firm’s first
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