Nick WIlliams takes a look at the financial sector’s evolving approach to digitalisation
The fact that 90% of the world’s data has been created in just the last two years highlights how quickly and how radically digitalisation has taken hold. Without a doubt, we’re all operating in a digital world and those organisations who haven’t kept up will soon find themselves all at sea in a data-driven global marketplace. For financial services in particular, a sector which was one of the first to effectively collect, process and connect client information, even before the mass digitalisation of the last few years, the need to digitise operations has never been more pressing. With newcomers to the industry offering innovative, customer-friendly, digital products from day one, existing players are playing catch-up when it comes to developing the cutting edge digital offerings of the new kids on the block.
While the sector is hastily trying to digitise its portfolio of customer products to satisfy the needs of the current generation of online natives, a lack of operational, back office digitisation is stifling the true digital potential of many financial services organisations. Even with the best digital will in the world, a new website or app won’t be enough to reap real improvements in operational efficiency and agility, two of the key factors which ultimately lead to improved customer service and the holy grail of customer loyalty. The only way to make the digitalised customer-facing side of the business deliver real business benefits is by implementing a holistic, end-to-end solution across the business, optimising business insight and efficiencies wherever possible.
An updated IT strategy is required if financial services businesses are to implement the comprehensive digital approach that’s required to create real business insight from the increasingly huge volumes of data that their slick consumer-facing apps and products are helping to create. Access to the right information, at the right time and in the right context is vital if financial services organisations are to outpace their younger, more agile competitors.
One of the major problems faced by many financial services institutions is dealing with legacy IT infrastructures, with creaking, bolted-together systems and solutions the cause of some of the biggest bottlenecks. Not only are many of these legacy systems unable to deal with the varied products that make up a modern business offering, but the inability of the solutions to automatically process the sheer volumes of data generated by s customer interactions, are slowing things up even more. This inability of the IT infrastructure to take the information and deliver instantaneous, data-driven insight into the business is hindering any efforts that the business is making to digitise its operations.
The overarching IT strategy of any financial services organisation must be to generate maximum value from the raw data the sector has always been so good at collecting. The difference now is how quickly the business can make sense of the data, interpreting it quickly and efficiently to not only provide valuable operational insight, but to speed-up decision making, vastly improving business agility. A network of spreadsheets, disparate systems and departmental work-arounds simply won’t do any more. Linking all process steps together with one, unified system serves to simplify any complexity, reducing data processing, minimising errors and delivering accurate, in-depth analysis and reporting, all at the click of a mouse.
With global only set to spread further still, financial services organisations need to plan for the future now. As businesses know all too well, digital technology is already transforming customer interactions and relationships. Those financial services institutions who don’t take the time to digitally transform the operational side of their business might soon find themselves left behind, drowning in a sea of data while their competitors chart a more successful course.
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