Beth Schultz
Beth Schultz is editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect. Beth has more than two decades of...
Read Full Bio >>

Beth Schultz | December 11, 2017 |


Comms APIs: Morgan Stanley's In, Are You?

Comms APIs: Morgan Stanley's In, Are You? Chief digital officer discusses the company's use of Twilio APIs, and the importance of software communications for a digital future.

Chief digital officer discusses the company's use of Twilio APIs, and the importance of software communications for a digital future.

As I've written previously, software is largely considered the future of communications. That puts a spotlight on companies like Twilio, one of the pioneers in enabling communications via APIs. But from a business implementation perspective, we've mostly heard about the digital natives -- Uber being the poster child -- embracing the movement. Established companies? Especially those in technology laggard industries like financial services? Not so much.

That's why it's so refreshing, as well as encouraging, to hear about companies like Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, which as announced this summer has embraced the use of Twilio communications APIs as part of its digital strategy. That's a bold next-generation move for a traditionally technology conservative financial services company -- but perhaps even bolder is its decision to publicize the strategy. Naureen Hassan, chief digital officer at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, shared the reasons behind both decisions during a customer panel at the analyst day Twilio held last week (see related No Jitter post, "Twilio CEO Talks Up Transformative Power of Software").

Why Use Communications APIs?
To the technology decision itself, text messaging between financial advisors and their clients served as the pain point that ultimately led Morgan Stanley to investigate the use of SMS APIs, Hassan said. By federal regulation, financial services companies are required to record and supervise conversations between financial advisors and their clients. That is relatively straightforward with email -- Morgan Stanley, like its peers, simply retains the emails in massive file stores, searchable as the need arises. "But how do we record what people are doing on their phones [with text messages]?" Disallowing use of text messaging certainly isn't a feasible strategy in this day and age, she noted.

So Morgan Stanley considered two solutions, Hassan said. First it thought about giving each of the company's 16,000 financial advisors his or her own smartphone that the company would own, lock down, and monitor. However, as she pointed out, that would have been a "very expensive proposition," given the costs associated with buying and managing such a large number of phones.

The other idea was to allow financial advisors to add a phone app to the BYOD devices they were using for other purposes, and lock it down using the MobileIron enterprise mobile management system, Hassan said. And this, of course, is the route it took, working in partnership with Twilio. Now financial advisors have access to a Morgan Stanley phone app that rings a work number on their personal phones and allows them to text message with their clients in a way that meets federal requirements for recording and supervising those conversations.

Morgan Stanley did consider providing this solution via a mobile virtual network operator, but Twilio's ability to handle the security architecture and management that comes with serving a "significant financial institution," at global scale, was a key selling point. As was its ease of use and integration via APIs, Hassan said. The Morgan Stanley tech team, working with Twilio, had a proof of concept up and running in four hours -- a good sign that it would be able to get the app into full rollout quickly, she said.

Why Go Public?
Morgan Stanley has been vocal about its digital strategy in part because it feels the press does a disservice to the financial services industry by equating digital disruption to the replacement of human advisors with robo-calling for potential clients. "We wanted to change the dialog," she said.

Automated solutions do have a role to play, especially in helping financial services firms reach underserved market segments in which customers don't have the need for personal guidance, she said. However, she added, the much bigger opportunity is in using digital technology to better serve core customers by allowing financial advisors to communicate with them via new channels and not only in person or by phone.

Morgan Stanley's vision is to turn its 16,000 financial advisors into digital marketers by providing them the same tools you'd typically find a brand marketer using, say, to sell soap -- "the communications tools, the data and analytics, and the intelligence," Hassan said. "If we put [these] in the hands of the 16,000 people who also have relationships in their local communities, we think it's a really powerful way to grow our business."

Naturally Morgan Stanley is investing heavily in developing the data and analytics that leads to deeper market and customer intelligence -- "but it can't just be about data and analytics for the [financial advisors]," she added. "We also need to be able to give them a way to get the messages out, to be able to communicate with clients at scale in the way that clients want to be communicated with in this day and age -- texting, email, video, multimedia -- and expanding beyond where we are today."

Hassan closed the panel discussion with a message for Twilio that's of broad value: "Keep pushing our thinking. Give us new ideas; we're eager for them," she told Lawson. "We're so heads-down in so many things we're trying to do, so bring us new ideas because we're hungry [for them], but it's hard to pick our heads up sometimes and see what else is out there."

At Enterprise Connect, we're committed to helping companies like Morgan Stanley and others as they grapple with understanding the software-based future, how communications APIs might help advance their businesses, and how to get started. The 2018 conference program includes a thought leaders' summit on software communications; how-to breakout sessions such as "Why You Should Embrace the API Movement" and "Building Your UC Developer Community;" and even a hands-on pre-conference mini-hackathon. And no doubt, comms APIs-related demos will be in abundance on the expo floor.

This is your future; join us at Enterprise Connect 2018, March 12 to 15, in Orlando, Fla., and don't miss out on this great learning opportunity. Register now using the code NOJITTER to save an additional $200 off the Advance Rate or get a free Expo Plus pass.

Related posts:

Follow Beth Schultz and No Jitter on Twitter!


August 8, 2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a reality for your contact center. But to turn the promise of AI into practical reality, there are a couple of prerequisites: Moving to the cloud and integr

June 20, 2018

Your enterprise may have adopted SIP Trunks, but are you up to date on how the latest technology is driving evolution in approaches?

In this webinar, youll learn how the new generation of SI

June 6, 2018

The two largest strategic vendors-Cisco and Microsoft-have been busy making changes to their enterprise communications roadmaps, incorporating collaboration applications as fundamental components.

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.