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Software that can fill in for consultants

While ApPello does not claim to be able to replace consultants, its banking software does handle a lot of brainwork once done by people.

ApPello CEO Béla Vér.

In the future, we are told, computers will replace every type of work. A firm here in Budapest seems to be making headway with the challenge of getting machines to do a lot of the work now handled by consultants. 

To be fair, ApPello Kft. does not claim to be able to entirely replace consultants, but banking software is designed to handle tasks like risk assessment, for which banks usually rely on human beings.

Working with software on a job has the potential to easily turn monotonous. Solutions that combine high added value efficiency with a wide range of variety and therefore tend to resonate exceptionally well with users. ApPelloʼs strategy relies on this very concept and is one of the reasons for its success at selling banking software.

“Flexibility and user experience are the two main factors that make people choose our products. Variety is ensured by yearly design updates, while color themes are refreshed every quarter. How terribly boring would it be otherwise for people who have to work with it every day?” CEO Béla Vér asks the Budapest Business Journal.

He invites your correspondent to take a look at the astonishing number of options available for the administrator. Tasks displayed on the screen can be changed in no time and filters adjusted easily. The key is to provide users with tools that allow them to personalize content without the necessity to have programming assistance.

“If a bank has a customer satisfaction survey, for instance, you can change the content of it or you can assess the responses in different ways. It’s all up to you,” the CEO explains. Vér recalls the time when he worked for a bank where software menus were light years away from current structures. “Now the trend is to have Facebook-like messenger boards for bank staff where they can see the storyline of a customer and the tasks that have been completed. The idea is to focus on the working process and display everything accordingly.”

Bankers on board

What may sound easy is, in fact, a very complex issue. Therefore, ApPello trains staff on the job in order to get them acquainted with the novelties of the software. And sector-specific expertise is there not only in terms of IT, but also in banking since 20% of ApPelloʼs staff has some industry-related background.

Three packages are most sought after: “Our loan risk management solution tops our hit list, whereby banks can assess a client’s credit score and can follow through the entire life span of a loan from the moment it is granted,” Vér says. “It is crucial to find the best clients and to keep them. And in the end comes the moment of truth when it turns out whether you granted money to the right one, or chased away the wrong one.”

Also popular is a cash management tool that helps plan how much money should be deployed to ATMs, and at what intervals. “Delivery costs a lot, but running out of cash at a particular ATM costs even more,” the CEO notes.

Hitting the jackpot

Big and small banks alike are seeking out ApPello’s expertise. Given the typical parent-subsidiary structure in the field, sales can run into obstacles as the policy varies as to what liberty branches enjoy. “Selling directly to the headquarters equals hitting the jackpot. But we have always had to start from a subsidiary. That’s how we got to the Vienna HQ of Volksbank, which is now Sberbank, from Hungary, and then to Erste from its Czech affiliates,” Vér says.

The company has made major sales in Croatia, Romania and Slovakia as well, and a local agent in Dubai further intensifies its sales efforts there. The next immediate target is Poland, though, with parallel focus on the Western European market. Beyond the two banks already mentioned, clientele includes CIB, K&H Hungary and Raiffeisen. A loan risk management package for Takarékbank Group is currently under construction.

The future holds further promise; it is a vast potential market. Vér estimates that leading banks spend some HUF 10 billion a year on IT, while maintenance and investing into upgrades have around the same weight. The plan is to keep the pace of innovation. “Our innovation center in Balatonfüred employs around 10% of our 90-person staff. One of our distinguishing features is that we heavily invest in the future through R&D,” Vér says, offering a glimpse of why ApPello seems to be on the right track of development.