Blog » 2018 » March » Let the Transformation Begin

Posted on Mar 22, 2018 10:50am PDT

Hand Holding Smartphone with Glowing Area Surrounding Finger Touching the Phone
It was a busy week for the Bridgeforce team at CBA LIVE 2018 in Orlando. We always look forward to this event as it is one of the few places where you can hear from experts in marketing, compliance, analytics, technology and every key line of business (deposits, credit card, home lending, etc.).

This year’s theme, "Beyond the Bank" focused on the transformation happening across our industry. There were lots of mentions of self-driving cars, AI, cybersecurity challenges and, of course, blockchain. That said, two major themes jumped out.

First: how technology is fostering real innovation in banking – they are no longer the latest FinTech startup fad or wishful thinking from the IT department. The second major theme is the need to just get started. This was best captured by futurist Scott Klososky who quipped that waiting for the first six banks to prove a technology and then jumping in quickly to be the seventh is no longer an option. If it ever was.

Cynics might argue they've heard this before...remember back in 2000 when we were all going to be using our phones to pay for everything by 2005? Or back in 2014 when Big Data was going to enable the automation and optimization of every customer interaction by 2017?

We believe it will be different this time. In fact, we KNOW it will be different this time. Why are we so confident that technology will transform the financial services industry? Bridgeforce points to the following four key reasons/trends:

  1. Millennials - the largest generation in US history at roughly 85MM are all adults and entering their prime earning years. This matters because virtually every millennial is a digital native. They simply don't relate to banking in the same way as baby boomers do and therefore have fundamentally different expectations of their financial providers.

  2. Personalization - Consumers now expect their preferred brands to provide personalized experiences in their preferred channel, whenever they want, whenever they want resulting in a disconnect between the experience banks are delivering and what customers want/expect. Not all customers, of course, but enough of a majority that banks need to transform the service model.

  3. Data/analytics - Not too long ago, collecting and analyzing large volumes of data was extremely expensive as it required investments in on-prem databases, purchasing 3rd party data and hiring teams of data scientists. With cloud technology and partner networks, the cost has declined to the point where even the smallest banks can be data-driven–the democratization of data analytics. The implication is that any bank can now afford to do the number crunching that drives personalization.

  4. Technology - With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, consumers finally have a technology form factor and associated bandwidth that enables an experience as good or better than in-person interactions. Moreover, the super-computer is always within reach, probably the first thing you reach for in the morning and the last you put away at night.

The combination of these factors has critical implications for banks. One of these is the realization that core systems are antiquated and, for many reasons, cannot provide the customer experience we need to deliver. Similarly, the marketing technology stacks and strategy of old can’t meet the current always-on, real-time, 24/7 communications that customers expect. Finally, even new data environments struggle to incorporate unstructured data such as social media feeds or voice-to-text.

While this seems monumental, there are concrete measures to take now to help move down the technology path. Bridgeforce will explore these in more depth in the future. In the meantime, three good first steps are: (1) customer journey mapping; (2) a cloud-first procurement strategy; and, (3) a technology gap analysis that leads to a two- to three-year technology roadmap.

No doubt this will be an exciting time. Unlike previous periods of innovation, there is no final destination for this journey. But we need to get started. We need to be flexible, learn from missteps, recover quickly and keep moving forward. These will become the core principles of banking going forward.