No More Dithering Over Digital Transformation!

Guest Author

Blog By: Aubrey Hawes

There’s little doubt that one of the main factors currently affecting the financial services industry – and that’s likely to go on affecting it for years to come – is the move towards digitization. Digital disruption in itself isn’t new – it’s been happening in different industries over the past 20 or 30 years. Now it’s the turn of financial services.

A new report, ‘Digital Transformation – The challenges and opportunities facing banks’ looks at the current and future impacts of digitization. This emerged from a joint ‘Think Tank’ venture between Oracle Financial Services and Efma (the not-for-profit association that provides a knowledge base, resources and networking opportunities for financial institutions).

I had the opportunity to present the output from the Think Tanks at the Efma Distribution Summit at London in April. This was attended by some 300 senior executives from financial institutions across the world.

(To find out more, visit https://www.efma.com/index.php/events/conferences/overview/EN/2/513/1-1JOVMD)

The Think Tank sessions were very useful, and highlighted the concerns that banks are feeling about the topic of digital transformation. Many are reticent about making significant changes that could change the whole direction of their banks – whilst also recognizing that change is both necessary and inevitable. The report starts by examining the impact of digital disruption over the years, and most recently the role of fintechs. There is still a question mark over whether they are likely to be partners of banks or competitors in the future.

The report explores four key digital strategies that banks have been using with varying success. These are:

  • Launching a digital brand – and creating engaging digital experiences for customers. This might involve positioning a new brand differently from the existing one; or developing a set of processes
    that enable the new digital brand to compete in a different way. 
  • Digitizing processes – and the challenges banks are facing from non-traditional players that are creating their own new business processes rather than using old analog processes. At the moment, banks risk being left behind in the race towards digitization. They need to simplify their processes while going digital.
  • Modernizing the digital experience – and the need to use tools that will enable banks to engage more effectively with customers. The development of a digital enterprise is based around the four ‘Ps’ – Product, Price, People and Place. Place (which can be physical or virtual) refers to the need to enhance the digital experience at the point where the customer is. This can also include delivering APIs but we will discuss this more in a later blog.
  • Launching new digital capability – such as money movement apps, mobile wallets and the use  of data as ‘currency’. Banks need to start thinking more seriously about how they can take  advantage of innovations such as virtual reality, FitBit or the Internet of Things, as all of these will play an integral role in the future lives of their customers. They also need to re-examine and transform the role of the branch, so that it becomes more focused on customer service and advice rather than transactions.

Time and tide…

Ultimately, banks can’t really avoid the need for digital transformation. If they try to, it’s unlikely that they will survive over the next 10 or 20 years. Even if they do embrace the need for change, there’s still a risk that they will only go into this half-heartedly or with a lack of proper planning. This isn’t likely to help any bank seeking the holy grail of an enhanced customer experience! 

Yes, there are many challenges ahead and many pitfalls and potholes that could cause banks to stumble, but there are numerous resources and points of advice available – and the benefits of transformation far outweigh the difficulties involved. Whatever they decide to do, banks need to start doing it now, if they haven’t already. Time isn’t on their side. But Oracle is always at hand to help…

To see the full report on Digital Transformation, please visit http://www.oracle.com/us/dm/seo100518687-emea-gb-wh-de1-ev-2950962.html.

Aubrey Hawes is a Senior Director for Product Marketing at Oracle Financial Services. He can be reached at Aubrey.Hawes AT oracle.com.

The views expressed herein are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of the employer.


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