Omni-channel is probably one of the hottest buzzwords in the retail industry and we’re starting to see it spill over into other industries like financial services. Omni-channel opens up the doors for organizations to attract and satisfy customers by engaging with them on a whole new level as they become more tech savvy and engage with brands digitally. Similar to retail, the key goal to omni-channel for banking is delivering a seamless experience across channels. Many of the top financial institutions and fintech start-ups are quickly mastering the online and mobile channels. While, mobile devices serve as the key enabler for delivering an omni-channel experience for banking customers, being great in the mobile channel is only the first step to becoming an omnibanking leader. First generation mobile banking apps were primarily silos; however, this is changing as leading financial innovators develop mobile banking applications that focus on integrating channels for a more seamless customer experience. Ultimately, the movement away from multi-channel toward ‘omni’ is less about creating identical experiences but rather creating banking services that allow customers to complete various transactions, add services and make inquiries in a seamless manner.
To take the omni-channel experience to the next level in financial services, organizations must create ‘systems of engagement’ and maximize value at every customer touchpoint to create that seamless experience. IT departments have long been creating systems of record to provide a single source of truth and enhance enterprise efficiency. Traditionally, systems of engagement define enterprise systems that promote business collaboration and encourage peer interactions, but I also think they can be thought of loosely in an external manner adding a layer of effectiveness for external customer engagement and can be achieved with four major enterprise technologies – mobile, analytics, social and cloud.
Systems of Engagement in Banking
A new era is upon us and we are at a crossroads with demand for hyper-engagement and digital experiences from the systems customers engage with. Consumer expectations of technology continue to evolve and will require a scalable platform as banks transform business and operating models. Systems of engagement will be the future of Enterprise IT strategies to support the future model of banking.
Mobile – As I discussed above, mobile devices are the foundation and future for omni-channel banking, as well as the conduit for access to consumer services like mobile payments and commerce. Vantiv has pulled together a pretty nice infographic around “omnicommerce” and the impact of mobile channels on the customer experience and how mobile is not replacing traditional channels but enhancing them. As Brad Leimer discussed in his recent American Banker article, “There Will Be Blood: The Era of Engagement Banking”, the model of banking is changing. Mobile devices, apps, and consumer demands in this era of digital innovation are forcing banks to not only become the financial provider of choice but the financial app of choice with unique designs yet cohesive experiences for both smartphones and tablet banking. (Is that intimidating or what? I think so.)
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Mobile payments and mobile wallets are evolving and as retailers, financial institutions, payment networks and start-ups battle to build value-added ecosystems, mobile is primed to become a system of engagement as acceptance devices that facilitate payments, build relationships with customers and drive new revenue streams.
Mobile lends itself to so many other services around the banking and commerce functions. Customizable interfaces and mobile technologies that allow customers to sense and react through contextually-aware and geo-location services will play a big role in recognizing the next big thing in banking technology. Brands that can mold these capabilities into a comprehensive mobile payments offering that delivers added value and convenience for the customer will likely lead the wallet war.
Analytics – The mobile platform provides the means for delivering banking services, but master data management and analytics are the cornerstone for creating a single view of the banking customer. We’re all aware of the vast amounts of data banks have at their disposal to sift through. Before, businesses invested in deploying “systems of record” for analyzing transaction data (structured data) in databases and data warehouses. The advent of big data and the ability to process large amounts of unstructured data sources deliver added value for banks and the business will benefit from creating a system of engagement to view, analyze and model data. With these capabilities, business users have real-time data access to make better business decisions and help guide omnibanking services.
Cloud Computing – The cloud will be a catalyst for change in many areas of banking operations over the next few years. Cloud has been talked about for years, but we’re starting to see a bigger push for it in highly regulated industries like financial services and healthcare. I had the opportunity to sit in on one of our company-wide sales calls where our industry, partner and company-wide practice leaders all stressed cloud computing as an emerging business technology trend to watch. When it comes to delivering new banking products and services, benefits of the cloud include:
- Improved management and coordination – Collaboration, Speed, Mobility
- Decreased costs and IT overhead
- Scalability and greater integration capabilities
Mobile, data and cloud are all accelerating the pace of change in the financial services industry. However, the cloud gives businesses the freedom to serve their customers in new ways. In the payments industry we are seeing the development of new value-added partner services (PFM, merchant and banking rewards, prepaid). The mobile revolution is about connected devices transferring secure data. The cloud allows businesses to easily adjust software solutions to accommodate evolving payment capabilities in a competitive marketplace. Banks that align with cloud-based, third-party solution providers can drive innovation and accelerate speed-to-market for new financial services and payment products. The cloud services market is forecasted to grow to $131 billion in 2013 worldwide with leading providers like Amazon Web Services and Google gaining trust from financial organizations. For the purposes of running banking applications in the cloud and advanced analytics, this emerging technology reduces barriers and makes it an extremely powerful system of engagement for a business.
Social Media – We’ve seen brands like American Express, Moven, GTBank, mBank, Waspit, DenizBank and many others make a commitment to launching social banking services for account opening, P2P payments, social commerce, customer care, local merchant deals and more adopting the Facebook and Twitter platforms. Social channels are designed specifically to be systems of engagement for individuals, groups and brands. The idea around engagement banking is being in the channels where your customers are (especially when making purchasing decisions), and based on the upward trend of consumers using social media – it’s here and it should become part of the banking norm.
Financial brands and non-bank service providers using customer data, PFM tools, and social APIs to create more seamless omni-channel customer experiences can:
- reach new customers and improve the onboarding process
- engage and build brand loyalty
- facilitate social “sharing” and cross-sell opportunities
- extend merchant services and rewards
- make basic banking functions more convenient and accessible, and
- grow the bottom line.
These technologies are delivering transformational change for the enterprise. The next phase in the search for efficiency gains brings enterprise IT systems together and breaks down silos across the lines of business. Taking a holistic view in addressing obstacles will drive outcomes from the effective use of intelligence derived from systems of engagement.
Does your organization have long-term strategic plans for integrating these enterprise technologies as a system of engagement that embraces omnibanking?