The scope and scale of technological change in the financial industry is unprecedented. Can the bank adapt to the new technologies and keep up with this trend? Or does it risk being left behind (and struggling)?
Many financial institutions have already embraced the digital shift, particularly in the area of customer experience, and of course mobile banking. But new technologies are not limited to these few innovations!
Here are some explanations.
Can the banking industry keep up with emerging technologies?
When it comes to the digital transformation of the banking industry, the ability to leverage new technologies is an important factor in ensuring their growth and survival.
Indeed, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) argues in an annually published study that there is a direct correlation between digital Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and financial performance. According to the figures on a global scale, organizations with a stronger digital IQ enjoy better positioning and are likely to achieve stronger financial performance.
The problem is that the digitization of the banking industry is occurring at a faster pace than most of these organizations can handle.
In 2007, PwC first measured an organization’s ability to harness and leverage technology. According to that study, digital IQ (or digital maturity) has declined over the past 10 years across all industries.
The issue is that powerful new tools continue to permeate the market, even as companies struggle to digest the foundational technologies like cloud, mobile and analytics on which next-generation banking successes depend.
Put another way, the emergence of technology seems to be outpacing the ability of banks to absorb it at the moment. And this despite the interest and willingness of financial institutions to do so.
Why are digital transformation efforts failing?
Today, when we talk about “digital”, it is no longer limited to computers, information systems and telecommunications. The meaning of the term extends to a broader approach to technology, namely:
- To its impact on customers,
- To the culture of the workplace,
- To strategies,
- Business outcomes,
Part of the challenge in digital transition is that many of the tasks related to digital transformation (prioritization of investments, innovation, product development, etc.) are assigned to CEOs and CIOs. However, given the scope of the actions to be implemented, the management of the appropriation of these new technologies should be shared by all senior executives. Thus, the PwC study cited above notes that actions to create a better customer experience have dropped from 25% to only 10% over the past year.
The fact that the decision process on technology choices is concentrated may explain why digital initiatives are so far mainly focused on revenue growth by approaching new markets or cost reduction. While initiatives using new technologies focused on creating a better customer experience generating a less visible (even if real in the long run) ROI have taken a back seat.
The solution: combine technologies
On the one hand, banks need to develop a rigorous approach to better embrace emerging technologies. But investing in innovative tools that enable communication and sharing is no longer enough. It is also necessary to master these technologies and combine them. For example, Pwc suggests some essential levers such as :
- The extension of the Internet to objects (Internet of Things or IoT),
- Artificial intelligence (AI),
- 3D printing,
- Augmented reality,
- Virtual reality,
- And information storage and transmission technology (Blockchain).
As an example, banking professionals can use their customers’ data and combine this with advanced analytics and IoT. This could enable direct payment of smart home devices.
Similarly, the widespread use of intelligent conversational tools (chatbot) and virtual reality devices could significantly improve interactions between banking institutions and their customers.
Digital innovation in a rapidly changing SME market
In today’s COVID-19 pandemic environment, most – if not all – small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been impacted by the crisis and new market realities. From the changing habits of consumers, who are increasingly turning to digital, to the need to adopt tighter cash flow and supply chain management, SMEs are facing a radical shift in how they manage their business. The emergence of new needs and requirements that have become more pressing with the crisis accentuates this reality.
In such a context, banks can act as partners for SMEs, helping them survive, even thrive, during the crisis to remain relevant. However, many banks will have to reinvent themselves and go through digital transformation to seize this opportunity.
Digital transformation is not a new phenomenon, but it needs to happen faster. We believe it is critical for financial institutions to take advantage of the digital shift to nurture their commitment to their customers, focus on efficiency and help them achieve their innovation goals. It’s more important than ever that small business customers are invested in and supported throughout their journey, both remotely and digitally.
With the emergence of new technologies, banks have realized an important fact: today, digital is not just about technology. It is also important to increase the role of human factors, the way of thinking and to improve the way of working. It is through this combined approach of human and digital that banks will be able to adapt to new technologies.