Best Practices: What can a Portal do for Your Brand? [Part 1]

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Every technology project has the potential to transform a business for the better, but only if they are designed with best practices in mind. With over 100 digital transformation projects under our belt, we understand how important it is to design solutions with best practices in mind. Portals can be one of the most transformative projects an organization ever undergoes and can bring surprising results if implemented correctly. Here are six best practices for designing an easy-to-use portal solution that can create value for your brand.

 Portal

Best Portal Practice #1 – Envision the Transformation!

When designing a portal, it’s important to envision the transformation you want to accomplish.

Most brands beginning the process of digital transformation have insufficient integration between systems. Usually, they deal with static content being uploaded and downloaded from a variety of systems. This process could mean having employees uploading and downloading the latest version of a .PDF file, having access to static brand libraries and having to make every change manually.

To successfully implement your portal solution, your brand needs to see the ongoing goals of the digital transformation. That foresight involves moving passed current industry standards and envisioning the transformative potential of a new technology solution. Your end goal should not be industry best practices; it should be transformative, moving your business to fully automated processes with full integration.

Embracing the future of your portal solution will put your brand in a position to retain competitive advantages today while finding new opportunities for success going forward.

Best Portal Practice #2 – Customer Journeys

What can a portal do to improve the quality of the customer experience? A quality portal makes it easier for an organization to manage communication, provide a high level of customer service and build relationships with your clients.

Without an intranet, it’s typical for customers to feel out of touch with your organizations. Do you send customer communications from a generic, corporate email address? Do your emails often go directly to the customer’s junk folder. Even when it does reach their inbox, these communications usually go unread for a variety of reasons, such as:

  1. The email comes from a generic address,
  2. The attachment is too difficult to read on your customer’s favorite device
  3. A lack of personalization, making the email look like spam

All these issues are closely related to the lack of integration between systems, and not thinking in a customer-centric manner. These problems usually aren’t limited to one area of a brands communication strategy. Over time, the lack of an integrated communication strategy might alienate your customers, causing them to look for another provider. A portal can solve those problems by putting all information in one easy-to-access place. This gives your customers access to whatever information they need.

Best Portal Practice #3 – Change Advocates

A portal solution built with best practices in mind will engage your key stakeholders, giving them a personal connection with your business, and turning them into advocates for change and improvement. A well-designed portal solution will connect all areas of your business, helping management gather first-hand user insights to improve workflows and processes, or to find new ways to solve existing challenges.

Portal
Each department, role, or individual would have their own, unique views, providing them access to information and giving them a personal connection to your business processes. This personal connection to your brand, along with a streamlined, single-login experience will reduce employee frustration, increasing productivity and engaging your employees. Studies have shown that engaged employees are far more productive, and result in reduced employee turnover. Can your brand continue to thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape? Can you afford to not take advantage of technology that will have a tangible result on your bottom line?

Veriday’s experience designing technology solutions has helped us deliver results to our long list of clients. Is your brand is looking to transform your business processes using technology? We can help implement a solution designed with best practices that meet your needs. If you think we can be of assistance in your next digital transformation project, contact us, and let’s sit down to see what we can do for you. In the next post, we will discuss three more best practices for implementing portal solutions. 

 

 

Check out Part 2 Here!

Factors Affecting Costs of Technology Projects

There are many factors that affect costs of technology projects. Whether your organization is looking to create a new system, from scratch, or upgrade an existing system. At Veriday, we have extensive experience working on technology projects, and as a result, have a fundamental understanding of factors that affect the cost of projects of this nature.

1) Scope of Project

The factor with the most impact on the cost of a technology project is the scope of the project itself. A more comprehensive project, with more components and capabilities, will be more expensive to create.

If the project involves creating a solution from scratch, it will be a larger project, and cost more. Sometimes, this is the best course of action. Some systems and technologies are extremely difficult (and therefore, expensive) to upgrade. If a legacy system is built on obsolete, difficult to integrate technology, upgrade costs will rise.

If the project involves integrating existing systems with a new component, costs can vary depending on several factors including:

  1. What technology is the new system built on?
  2. What technology is the legacy system built with?
  3. What level of integration will be required?
  4. What level of technological expertise will be required to integrate the two?

2) Required Personnel

As with any business activity, the highest costs of any technology project will go to human resources. Hiring people with the skills needed to complete complex projects is difficult, and they will need to be well-compensated to attract those individuals to your project.

Technology skills are in high-demand, and highly-skilled technology professionals are very tough to find and recruit to your project team. These individuals are necessary for any project because they have the knowledge and skills to put together the nuts and bolts of your solution.

Sometimes it’s more cost-effective to hire external resources, especially if there is a set-in-stone deadline for the completion of the project. There are companies (such as ours), with the required expertise to complete the technology project that your enterprise is trying to execute.

Trying to save money on personnel often results in higher long-run costs in technology projects because mistakes need to be fixed, unexpected roadblocks appear, and high-level activities need careful delegation.

3) Timelines

Technology projects can take a long time from start to finish. There are many factors that impact the timeline of any project. The project scope is a primary factor when creating timelines, as creating one thousand features will take longer than creating one feature. The complexity of the project will also play a major role when creating a project timeline.

The complexity of the project will impact timelines in three main ways:

  • Investigation

 

Time spent brainstorming, testing and implementing innovative methods of solving complex problems. The more complex a project, the more time will be spent on investigation.

 

  • Planning

 

Complex projects require more comprehensive planning, leading to longer timelines. Increased time spent planning is especially common in projects that require significant amounts of integration between systems built on disparate technology. Even if the task itself is straightforward, planning workflows and processes can be time-consuming.

 

  • Implementation

 

More complex projects require more time to implement correctly. Technology projects need to be tested and reviewed to ensure all components of the project are properly integrated and have full functionality. Projects that require integration with large databases or proprietary systems need to be comprehensive testing, which will add even more time to the length of the project.

4) Testing Requirements

The fourth factor that will impact the costs of a technology project is the testing requirements. There are certain business functions which require an extra degree of testing to ensure the consistency and security of the new technology solution.

Any technology solution that will govern personal information of an organization’s employees or customers or deals with key competitive information needs to be comprehensively tested to ensure the security of the system. Comprehensive testing will add to the cost of the project but can save the organization significant costs in the long-run. The average cost of a data breach is over $3.5 million, which is much, much higher than comprehensive testing would run you.

Other Considerations

Another major factor impacting the cost of technology projects is the costs associated with licensing the required technology. These costs can be prohibitive if a proprietary solution is chosen. Several companies that have proprietary platforms for creating digital experiences and the cost of using those technologies is very high.

To reduce the cost of your technology project, you can use an open-source solution such as Liferay, which has supported versions of their latest platform Liferay DXP, at costs that run much lower than the average, proprietary platform.

There are many reasons why you should use Liferay DXP, one of the leading portal platforms on the market when undergoing your next digital transformation project. From their accessibility to the flexibility of the platform, it’s hard to choose a better platform than Liferay. Contact us and find out how Veriday can design and implement your next technology solution.

 

Is Blockchain Right for You? Bridging the Legacy Gap (Part 2)

Did you miss part one of our series on Bridging the Legacy Gap with Blockchain? Check it out here!

There are many considerations that banks need to make when bridging the legacy gap with blockchain. We touched on some basic factors that affect payments projects in Part one. In this post, we will examine some of the key technological and regulatory considerations when upgrading your legacy payments system.

Legacy System Integration

The major challenge that banks face in modernizing their payment systems is the required integration of legacy technology. How can banks securely record all transactions and data on the Blockchain? Any new payments solution, whether blockchain-based or not, needs to be able to handle and record all transactions. If the new solution cannot meet the bank’s needs, then legacy systems cannot be retired.

Most financial institutions have built their existing infrastructure on a disparate set of technologies over an extended period. This diverse mix of technology has made integrating the current solutions one of the most significant challenges in the next generation of banking.

It’s clear that many banks do not have the technical expertise to integrate legacy systems with emerging technologies to improve the user experience. Banks should look to partner with firms that specialize in technology solutions to reduce complications. This partnership can bring two benefits.

The first benefit that arises from financial services organizations partnering with technology companies is an expertly integrated solution, built using the technical skill of a partner firm. This partnership will benefit financial institutions by providing them with a better payments system.

The second benefit of partnering with a technology company to build your payment solution is the fact that, if chosen correctly, your partner can help fend off competition from FinTech firms.

How? Well, if you select the right partner, they will be on top of developments in the technology sector. They can be a long-term partner that can help your organization evolve with ongoing technology trends, giving you a distinct technology advantage over your competitors.

Regulatory and Compliance

Another major challenge facing banks modernizing their payment systems is maintaining compliance. Financial services is an industry mired in regulation. Adding new technological capabilities to meet the needs and desires of customers can lead to the threat of non-compliance.

Every jurisdiction has slightly different regulations for financial services providers, but there are similarities for all of them. One common factor is that financial institutions need to archive transactions to ensure the organization is complying with all regulations. Other concerns with compliance and new technology suites include the fact that there is a degree of the unknown.

How secure are the latest technologies? What data could be exposed in a breach?

That line of questioning leads to several unknowns, and that can lead to significant trouble for financial institutions. Banks regularly act with caution, and remaining compliant is more important than introducing new technology that may improve processes.

Every financial institution that wants to bridge the payments gap by introducing new solutions to their technology suite needs to tackle the challenges of remaining compliant and gaining an in-depth understanding of their future payment solutions.

These challenges have no basic solutions. Regulators still need to build an in-depth understanding of the blockchain and other popular payment technology. Brands need to begin transitioning their technologies to more modern, twenty-first-century options so they can gain a better understanding of compliance risks and continually update the technology solutions to improve the security of their customer data.

To learn more about regulatory considerations surrounding blockchain technologies, check out the Harvard Business Reviews article: How Safe Are Blockchains? It Depends.

Takeaways

There are many factors that the financial services industry needs to be aware of if they intend to bridge the legacy payments gap with blockchain. Particular questions that need to be asked before integrating include:

  • Do all processes and systems have a clear purpose and definition?
  • What processes or inputs need to be automated to work on the blockchain?
  • What needs to be done to ensure the new system is compliant?
  • Find a technological savvy partner to help integrate legacy systems with new solutions.

If you have answers to all these questions, your organization will be in an excellent position to grow your client base in the future. People want to be able to transfer funds and do their banking through a channel which is convenient to them. Upgrading legacy payments systems is a required activity, it’s better to start sooner rather than later. Bridge the legacy gap today!

To stay up to date with the latest news about financial technology, follow us on Twitter @VeridayHQ or LinkedIn. If you need to update your legacy payment system, we might be able to help. Contact Us to find out how Veriday can use our team of financial technology experts can create a solution that works for your brand.

Is Blockchain Right for You? Bridging the Legacy Gap

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In 2017, it has seemed as if every day there were new reports, predictions, stories, and articles on how innovative and disruptive blockchain technologies can be.

The allure of a decentralized ledger is powerful, especially in financial services. The great appeal may stem from the fact that there are multiple use-cases for the blockchain. It does not begin and end as the backbone for cryptocurrencies. In fact, the flexibility of the blockchain is a primary reason why investors and technologists alike have taken an interest in the technology.

There are many use cases for blockchain, but the one that could have the most impact on society is using it as the decentralized ledger for transactions of any type. Cryptocurrencies do not have to be developed for the blockchain to have a major impact on the payments landscape.

It’s clear that technology companies are growing to dominate the peer-to-peer payment landscape. These brands are making strides to take over payments for small businesses. This trend isn’t new. It all began with Paypal, but since then, many payment companies have popped up (Venmo, Moneris, Square, etc.). In addition to those financial technology companies, brands such as Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon are making their way into the payment landscape. If people can send each other money over an app they already use every day, what chance to banks have to win back the market?

Challenges to Technology Integration in Banks

Despite its growing popularity, the blockchain isn’t a magical solution that can solve all of a bank’s problems. There are challenges associated with upgrading any technology suite, but especially those that involve updating an outdated legacy system.

For a blockchain-based solution to integrate with a legacy system, all processes must be explicitly defined and automated. Any ad hoc inputs, reports, or processes need to be standardized and defined. No process can run on the blockchain if it requires human intervention. Blockchain-based solutions need to be able to update automatically for the decentralization to realize its full potential.

Internal processes and outputs must be clear and concise while meeting a business need. If there are ledgers with poorly defined purposes that are to be moved to a single, decentralized ledger, the blockchain solution will not be able to work until the purpose and inputs of those ledgers are defined within a greater system.

The other major challenge to creating an integrated blockchain solution is finding a place for manual processes and transactions. If a process is not automated, the blockchain cannot move it to a decentralized ledger. Banks will need to either automate these processes or find a place for them in the new, decentralized, automated system.

These challenges aside, there are several other considerations to be made when modernizing a legacy system with the blockchain. We will cover them next time in Part Two of this article.

To stay up to date with the latest news about financial technology, follow us on Twitter @VeridayHQ or LinkedIn.

5 Most Impactful Digital Transformation Trends in Finance

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It’s clear that the financial services industry is experiencing digital transformation. Driving that transformation is a series of trends that incentivizes banks to change. Consumers no longer want the same old experience; they want convenient, secure solutions that meet their banking needs. These five digital transformation trends will encourage banks to improve their digital capabilities and advance into a new era of banking.

1) Blockchain

2017 has been the year of the blockchain. For the uninitiated, blockchain refers to a digital ledger in which transactions are recorded chronologically and publicly. The blockchain is so attractive to banks because it offers transparency, security and lowers transaction costs. Banks are working to increase the effectiveness of peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, and the blockchain can be the foundation of that system.

Blockchain-based technologies are driving digital transformation in banking by offering the possibility of an entirely transparent ledger of transactions. The blockchain can make it easier for consumers to transfer assets between each other. Blockchain-based systems can add a layer to security to P2P payment and lending systems, a feature that is already popular with consumers.

By adding a layer of reliability to P2P payment systems using blockchain, banks can increase consumers confidence in their ability to deliver branchless banking.

2) Branchless Banking

While some customers enjoy using branches to meet their banking needs, an ever-increasing portion of the population wants to be able to handle all their banking without ever stepping in a branch. In fact, over 40% of consumers have not used a bank branch in the past six months.

Consumers want to do their banking without having to go to a branch, and digital transformation is the cause. Many people have become used to shopping online, watching TV online and using the internet for nearly every transaction they need to make. Banks are no exception. They need to offer a high-quality, secure, branchless experience to keep their customers satisfied.

Features such as online personal banking, offering the ability to sign up for services online and digital peer-to-peer payment systems will allow consumers to forego using a branch while still being able to meet their banking needs. The blockchain is one new feature that can facilitate branchless banking.

3) New Features

Once upon a time, debit cards were a new, innovative feature that could be used to excite customers. Today, those same debit cards are being phased out for more convenient payment systems. If a bank does not continually develop new features, consumers will look to FinTech challengers to scratch their itch for innovation.

Developing new capabilities, such as online banking, P2P payments or building an app has changed the way that banks interact with customers. The status quo changes quickly, and what is fresh and innovative in 2017 will one day be considered outdated.

An essential feature of digital transformation is the drive to continually innovate and improve the customer experience using technology solutions. This continual innovation will lead to more fundamental changes that shake the banking industry to its core. The innovation caused by digital transformation may alter aspects of financial services that were once thought to be immune to change.

4) Cashless Transactions

Cash currencies are becoming less common in societies all across the world. The process of states transitioning from cash to digital currencies has already begun. On November 8th, 2016, India announced a recall of over 80% of the country’s currency, something that wouldn’t be possible unless the move to digital transactions had already begun. Thanks to the growing ubiquity of digital payment apps, online banking, and P2P lending platforms, cash has lost much of its usefulness.

Paper currency is on its way out, thanks to technologies such as blockchain ledgers and P2P payment systems. To many, carrying cash is an annoyance, and even the smallest transactions are conducted with a credit or debit card. In the future, cash will have no place in any developed society. It’s time for banks to implement digital payment systems that require nothing but a smartphone. One day, even cards will be considered a nuisance.

The future of transactions lies in peer-to-peer payment systems. Nobody wants to have to find an ATM just to get cash so they can pay their friend back for lunch. If you cannot provide this digital feature, customers will lose patience.

5) Enhanced Security

All consumers need to be aware of online security threats. Recent, high-profile examples of cybercrime have contributed to some individuals being skeptical of any digital technology. Even well-known companies who are digital natives such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook have to deal with these concerns. Consumers want to ensure their data is safe, especially when the data contains sensitive information that a bank might need.

Banks need to develop security protocols that consumers can easily learn. Banks should educate their customers on things such as: The importance of protecting passwords, using secure connections, always being vigilant of potential security threats and, reporting suspicious emails and links.

By teaching customers to follow these procedures banks can build consumer trust in their bank’s security capabilities. Building that trust will motivate customers to begin their own personal digital transformation, pushing them to complete everyday transactions through digital channels.

These five digital transformation trends are not only affecting banks but the financial services industry as a whole. Financial service professionals need to adapt to what consumers want. Banks need to offer convenient service, where customers control the interaction. Most consumers have already begun to expect some level of digital mastery. Are you ready to meet their needs? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ or LinkedIn. If you want to learn more about digital transformation, you can check out more of our blog posts here.

Emerging Technologies and The Future of Customer Engagement

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Over 4.75 billion people worldwide use at least one mobile device. This widespread acceptance has dramatically changed the way brands engage with their audience. People are always accessible. This accessibility allows brands to use mobile channels for marketing and communication, enabling real-time messaging to specific people.

The future will inevitably hold more technological breakthroughs that fundamentally change the way humans operate. Marketers need to ask themselves how they can make full use of new technology solutions, as they may end up growing to become a “force of nature.” At one point in time, brands struggled to see the potential in social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. That’s changed. Today, over 50 million businesses use Facebook in one way or another. In 2016, these companies spent a combined $26.885 Billion (USD) on Facebook advertisements. These technology platforms are here to stay.

But the mobile device and social platforms are not unique. Any technology with widespread adoption will change the way businesses connect with their audience. The ubiquity and versatility of the mobile device have allowed businesses to be creative with the mobile channel. Therefore, the big question is: How will emerging technologies affect the future of customer engagement?

1. Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes computer-generated imagery on a user’s view of the real world. The technology takes your location and builds a virtual world where you can digitally interact with real-life things that are around you. That means that something in front of you in real life (such as a bench in the park), will also be in front of the “digital version” of you. AR allows a computer-generated image to be added to that park bench, enabling you to see both the bench and whatever is laid on top of it, whether it be an animated monster or information about how to purchase that bench.

In 2017, AR is still in its infancy, with very few commercially successful applications of the technology to date.

Pokemon Go, an augmented reality game created by Niantic and the Pokemon company, introduced the average consumer to the technology. As businesses and individuals continue to work with the technology, successful commercial applications will continue to be developed.

There are still some things need to be worked out for AR to enter the mainstream. Wearable devices that can overlay graphics into the user’s field of vision need to be developed. Using a smartphone to access AR features may still be too much work for the average person to adopt the technology fully. Once the required infrastructure for the wearable technology is in place, nothing can stop AR from taking off.

Augmented reality has a larger number of non-entertainment applications compared to virtual reality (VR). AR can be used to overlay graphics into real-world situations, melding physical and digital spaces into one.

So how will AR affect how businesses engage with customers and how will it influence the overall customer experience?

From graphics overlaid on real world images (and video) to immersive “worlds” that seemingly change the way buildings and other objects look, the possibilities are endless. The technology is already being used in games such as Pokemon Go. It’s only a matter of time before another non-entertainment industry begins to adopt it.

There are several potential applications for AR, including applications that can increase customer awareness and motivate sales.

A financial advisor could use future AR applications to place a picture of themselves and their contact information near their real world office. That would allow anyone using the technology (whether it be through their smartphone or another AR-centric wearable) to see information about the business while walking past.

A retailer could use AR to showcase their products around their brick-and-mortar location. Potentially peaking the interest of those passing by and lead to an increase in sales. With AR still in its relative infancy, it’s hard to imagine what the fully mature technology will look like.

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another technology solution that will play a key role in the future of customer engagement. Major tech companies are working to create more intelligent algorithms that can make complex decisions, and evaluate human language.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is defined as:

“the branch of computer science concerned with making computers behave more like humans.”

There are many avenues for the future of AI, and no single method looks like the clear route right now. The end goal of AI researchers is to create machines or algorithms that can take real-world inputs such as “vision” or sound and make decisions based on those inputs.

The future of machines with human-level intelligence is still quite some time away, but it’s clear that the technology will eventually become a core component all nearly all commercial activities. Understanding what consumers want, and when they want it, will help businesses make more timely offers to customers, increasing satisfaction and revenue while decreasing friction in the buyer’s journey.

AI will lead to fewer interruptive ads, higher-quality content, smarter suggestions and smarter use of an organization’s resources. In combination, these effects can increase the cost-effectiveness of marketing and sales departments by reducing wasteful expenditures. 

Artificial intelligence can reduce friction in transactional relationships and streamline decision-making by using data to make offers that will be better received by customers. As the technology matures, AI will be able to target recommendations, content and offers to motivate action. AI solutions will eventually know more about your customers on a second-to-second basis than we ever thought possible. These recommendations will eventually allow real-time marketing to become a legitimate practice.  It will allow brands to engage their customers at critical moments in the buyer’s journey and recommend actions that will increase profitability and customer satisfaction.

3. Voice-Computer Interfacing

So far, 2017 has been the year of the digital assistant. Google has Google Home. Amazon has Alexa and the Amazon Echo. Microsoft has been working steadily to improve Cortana. And Apple has potentially the most famous of the bunch in Siri. Major tech companies are fighting to sell you an assistant that will recognize voice commands to help you interact with your computer (and other connected devices).

Continued improvements in AI will need to be made for voice-computer interfacing to reach maturity. Currently, most digital assistants have limited use-cases. The only applications and processes that are available are pre-programmed. For voice-computer interfaces to reach their full potential, improvements to their flexibility will need to be developed. Users need to be able to access anything they want through a voice request. Significant improvements need to be made to get to that point.

Consider the progress made by search engines over the last 20 years. With continued improvements, companies like Google have eliminated fraudulent and dangerous websites from their results. They have enabled users to search various parameters (images, videos, etc.), and are working to reduce inaccurate results from its rankings. 20 years from now, voice search could be just as ubiquitous and advanced as text searches are today. Marketers will need to prepare for voice-optimized digital properties.

Technology advances to new, unseen heights every day. It’s hard to imagine how these technologies will change the customer experience.

If you like thinking about the potential applications of emerging technologies, you might also like these articles:
10 Technology Trends & Predictions You Should Pay Attention to in 2017 (Part 1)
10 Technology Trends & Predictions You Should Pay Attention to in 2017 (Part 2)
6 Open Source Technologies That Changed The World
As always, thank you for reading. We would love it if you followed us on Twitter @VeridayHQ or LinkedIn here.

Financial Services: A Case for Industry Disruption

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The number of community banks (those with less than $10 billion in assets) shrank 14% between 2010 and late 2014. Why have community banks been disappearing? The same reason that traditional taxi drivers have been struggling over the last few years. Disruption from technology enabled challengers. Even larger financial institutions need to be concerned about the threat of disruption. They too are at risk of losing business to technology enabled challengers.

These competitors follow a standard archetype regardless of the industry. Technology enabled challengers look to provide a more convenient and frictionless experience to consumers by reimagining the industry-standard business model. Challengers can provide these improved experiences by leveraging consumer technology to provide convenient, low-cost solutions. Today we will examine how Uber disrupted the taxi industry, and why financial services are at risk of disruption.

Uber: A Case Study

What does Uber have in common with FinTech firms?  A willingness to disrupt an industry by utilizing innovative technology solutions.

Uber disrupted the taxi industry by using technology solutions to provide a more convenient, lower cost experience to consumers. The taxi industry carried high costs from ownership of vehicles, an inconvenient and inefficient system for hailing rides, and relied on regulation to protect the industry from competition. Uber managed to win a substantial portion of the market share from traditional taxi drivers. Their rides cost less, arrive faster, and are simply more convenient to use.

Consumers quickly saw the benefits of Uber’s business model. They were attracted to the convenience of ordering a ride from their smartphone, and the fact that ordering an Uber cost less than taking a taxi. Uber is both more convenient and cheaper than a ride in a traditional taxi. Many consumers quickly abandoned taxi rides and began Ubering instead. The marriage of technology and convenience was too much for the taxi industry to compete. Worldwide, Uber took $6.5 billion of revenue from the taxi industry in 2016 alone.

The financial services industry can learn lessons from what happened to the taxi industry. If banks and other financial service providers do not change their business models, their industry will be disrupted as well.

Similarities in Financial Services

The financial services sector has many things in common with the taxi industry. Some of the biggest similarities that financial services have with the taxi industry are:

  • legacy systems,
  • a lack of integration with consumer technology,
  • reliance on regulatory barriers to protect the industry from competition,
  • inconvenient service offerings.

These similarities mean that the banking industry is vulnerable to the same type of disruption that turned the taxi industry on its head.

Consumers want convenient and competitively priced solutions to their problems. Those same factors are important when selecting a financial service provider. Three main factors stop financial institutions from offering a solution with those attributes, and they happen to be the similarities that financial services share with the taxi industry.

1. Legacy Systems

Financial services institutions, especially large banks, are known to have outdated legacy systems that hinder the ability to alter or add to their technology suite. These legacy systems have been in place for years, and many legacy systems are outdated due to the pace of technological change over the last decade. Outdated and expensive legacy systems represent significant costs to financial institutions. They are one of the primary reasons that the financial services industry are at risk of disruption from FinTech firms.

Legacy systems are a reason that financial institutions cannot offer low-cost, convenient, technology-enabled features to consumers. While features that fully integrate financial services with their everyday devices would be greatly appreciated by consumers, they are difficult for financial services institutions to implement because of legacy technology. The existing technologies already in place simply do not have the capabilities that customers need.

2. Lack of Integration with Consumer Technology

Legacy systems might play a part in preventing FinServ firms from adopting technology solutions that integrate with consumer technology. Regardless, FinServ firms need to integrate their services with consumer technologies. People want to use their smartphone to transfer money or check on a payment. Mobile and online banking is no longer something that adds value; it is now a requirement. The next steps for integrating financial services with consumer technology will be to prepare for virtual assistants, artificial intelligence and a hyperconnected world where the smartphone is central to all the activities in a person’s life.  

People want convenience. The best way to provide that is by making your services accessible to those using popular consumer technologies.

3. Reliance on Regulatory Barriers

The financial services industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries on Earth. These regulations increase costs for financial institutions and add steps to a variety of financial services workflows. The additional steps created by compliance can dramatically slow down business processes. Regulations also represent a significant barrier to entry for FinTech firms due to the significant costs associated with maintaining compliance. Some regulatory requirements that limit competition in financial services include minimum capital requirements, multiple points of oversight and particular requirements regarding oversight of information assets. These barriers are difficult for any new challenger to overcome.

Existing financial institutions have relied on these barriers of entry to protect themselves from the competition. Without these regulations FinTech firms, challenger banks and other technology companies would be able to enter the financial services industry and compete with traditional financial service providers.

Regulations Won’t Protect Financial Services Forever

As Uber began taking market share from taxi drivers, the taxi drivers pushed back. They called on governments around the world to regulate ride-sharing services. In some jurisdictions, ride-sharing services were regulated by government bodies. In many others, they were not.

Relying on regulation to avoid competition did not work well for the taxi industry. Politicians tasked with regulating ride-sharing services realized the benefits companies, like Uber, bring to consumers, and therefore are unlikely to ban them completely. The same thinking goes for FinTech firms. If a service is a net positive to society, politicians will allow that service to continue. They will remove regulations, opening the industry to new competitors to better serve their constituents.

Financial service providers cannot rely on the same regulatory landscape forever. In 2017, the United States government made plans to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act, a lynchpin of financial regulation for the past decade.

As FinTech becomes more refined and builds trust with consumers, regulations will inevitably be loosened. If traditional providers of financial services do not prepare to compete head-to-head with these innovative challengers, they may face the same fate that the taxi industry did in their battle with ride-sharing services.

Culture of Innovation

The biggest reason that banks and traditional financial services firms are at risk of disruption is that they lack a culture of innovation.

Financial technology firms were born out of innovation. Innovation is embedded in the fabric of these companies. Their whole purpose was to disrupt the financial services industry through innovation, and to date, they have done an excellent job of achieving that disruption.

To avoid losing market share, traditional financial institutions will need to change their culture. They will need to embrace change and be more willing to change their ways. Just because a process has worked for 50 years does not mean that it will work for 50 more.

The taxi industry did not embrace innovation. Ride-sharing services changed the way the industry worked, and it severely affected taxi drivers everywhere. A taxi license used to cost over $1,000,000 in New York City. Today, that price has dropped to around $600,000. The value of a license has dropped substantially because nearly anybody can become an Uber driver.

Financial Services needs to invest in modern technology solutions or risk disruption from FinTech firms. Be more like Uber and less like the taxi industry. Only adopting a culture of innovation can help financial institutions retain their market share.

Disruption: Unavoidable

Over the course of history, many industries have been disrupted because of technology. The introduction of paper money disrupted finance once already. There is no reason why the industry cannot be disrupted again. The internet and improved methods of communication have disrupted many industries over time, showing that change is inevitable.

Today, technology solutions make industries with seemingly insurmountable barriers to entry accessible to smaller competitors. Finance is no exception. Major banks and other financial institutions should begin to adopt FinTech solutions to get ahead of the competition. As consumers become more comfortable with digital payments, blockchain based ledgers and other innovative technology solutions (including some we have yet to imagine), firms that specialize in these technologies will gain a large competitive advantage. The financial services industry can reduce the threat of disruption by listening to their customers and evolve with their wants and needs.

 

Are Banks Failing at Customer Experience?

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Welcome to Part 2 of our two-part series examining customer experience in banking, through graphics from the Financial Brand. In Part 1 of this article, we discussed which channels consumers use to research various financial products (or services) and what banks believe the biggest benefits of personalization are. We also looked at why banks struggle to provide an excellent customer experience and examined the gap that exists between banks (who believe they offer an excellent CX) and their customers (who believe the same). In this article, we will take a look at how banks intend to enhance their service, which channels consumers deem most important and why technology has not been more widely implemented to improve CX.

5. Intentions to Enhance Service

Intent to enhance customer experience

On the graph from our previous article, Customer experience excellence: reality vs. perception, we saw how customers and firms rated their customer experience. Here we get a chance to see what financial service providers plan on doing to improve their CX. At the bottom of the list lies social media. Something that, while useful for communicating broad information, does not make for a better experience in banking. Branch transformation, something that has been a focus for decades, also lies near the bottom of the list. 

Enhancing mobile and online channels is by far the most common answer. This shows that omnichannel is a growing concern for banking providers. The attention to omnichannel is beginning only after FinTech firms have begun to apply pressure to traditional banking sectors.

The other three most common answers go hand-in-hand with providing an omnichannel experience. Staffing and training, leveraging new technology and providing better support are essential to combating FinTech firms. The reason that mobile and digital channels need more development than the traditional in-branch experience may be due to the decades’ banks have spent trying to perfect the in-branch experience. Digital and mobile channels are still relatively new and need to be improved upon, as they are the greatest strength of most FinTech competitors. This graph provides hope that banks are finally moving to the modern era.

6. Ranking Importance of Customer Experience by Channel

Consumers view of the importance of channels for customer experience

This graph examines how important each channels CX is for banking. It is very clear that in-branch experience and web experience are the most important channels to provide an excellent customer experience in. For now, in-branch banking is the most important delivery channel. This could be for a few reasons, one being that many demographics, such as the elderly, are still far more likely to come into a branch than to use any another channel.

Very few people think that phone banking is the most important channel in regards to experience. However, it holds a very strong number of votes for second and third most important channel. This could be because people still want to talk to a real person if they experience issues with the channel of their choice. Regardless of how much progress digital channels have made over the last decade, people still often feel most comfortable solving their problems with a human.

The seemingly least important channels are those that are accessed via a smartphone or tablet. This might be due to low adoption rates but may be due to the fact that smartphones are not people’s only channel for banking. Perhaps most people use smartphones to check their balances or to transfer money to friends. They are not trying to do complex tasks and therefore, are less concerned about a great CX. 

7. Obstacles to Offering a Personalized Customer Experience

Obstacles to offering a personalized customer experience

So, after we examined how banks and customers think of customer experience in finance, let’s examine what obstacles are in place to determine what is delaying FinServ firms from offering a personalized experience.

The main obstacles appear to be budgets that are not large enough to keep up with the ever-changing regulatory requirements and security concerns. This is par for the course with the industry. Often regulations and security concerns are at the front of most companies minds. Budget constraints come with the territory, as handling security issues can be extremely costly.

Other major obstacles include disjointed business processes, providing omnichannel experiences, outdated technology infrastructure and competition from FinTech providers. Many of these obstacles are issues that banks need to handle internally and have not been because of a lack of budget or leadership.

None of these obstacles should scare financial service providers from adopting more personalized CX, yet they do. Financial service firms need to improve, their viability as stand-alone businesses depend on it.

These graphs conveyed a lot of information about customer experience in banking. The first two graphs showed the perceived importance of improving various channels, both for banks and consumers. Banks plan on improving their mobile and online channels with a secondary focus on providing better training to employees. Customers should appreciate those efforts as they believe in-branch and online experiences are the most important channels in banking.

The final graph shows the challenges faced by banks when trying to offer a more personal experience. Banks have a wide variety of challenges to face, from a lack of funding to a complex regulatory landscape. These challenges will need to be successfully maneuvered in order to offer the personalized experience customers expect.

Did you find these graphs informative? How do you think banking will change over the next few years? Is customer experience the most important aspect of banking? What takeaways can other FinServ firms take from these graphs? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ!

You Won’t Believe How Data Silos Are Killing Your Business

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More than 80% of marketers say that data silos within marketing obscure a seamless view of campaigns and customers. That’s just one department within an organization suffering at the hand of data silos. Data silos negatively affect everybody, from IT to sales.

A data silo is a repository under the control of a particular division or department. In a data silo, data is isolated from the remainder of the organization. Silos are often found in large organizations, although they can occur in small or medium sized organizations as well. Each department needs to use their own data to meet their own goals and responsibilities. This means that data often doesn’t get shared with others in the organization. Data silos occur accidentally (or through outdated processes), a result of different departments using various information systems that while meeting the departmental needs trap information. Thus, the trapped information is kept away from other parts of the organization.

You spend so much time, effort and resources ensuring that your organization has great data. If you have all your data in a single readily accessible location you can do so much with it. Great data allows you to:

  • Improve efficiency and success in customer acquisition
  • Improve your capacity to make informed decision
  • Streamline processes
  • Increase productivity

Having access to high-quality data allows your business to increase revenue by making better decisions due to the insight provided from analyzing the data. Having yet-to-be analyzed data, while seemingly innocent, can have negative consequences for the organization, both today and in the future.

Issues Today

The fact that data cannot freely move to where it’s most needed forces people to duplicate the data, mostly through imports and exports. This leads to manual data manipulation by employees who need to move the data to another system. Then all of a sudden, we are stuck with duplicate data that has been manipulated by hand in some systems while remaining easily accessible in its original form elsewhere. Any time you start changing or cleaning up the data before moving it to another system, you are asking for trouble. Errors and wasted time are often a consequence.

By not properly handling and analyzing the data that your organization collects, you are leaving room for mistakes to be made and for opportunities to be missed. Often times there will be waste in multiple departments because data is not shared between them. These mistakes and missed opportunities will arise, either because the decision-maker does not have the data available to them, or the decision-makers do have the data, but due to an error during manual manipulation of the data, it is inaccurate.

Companies continue to utilize a wider variety of services, both internal and third-party, for different aspects of their business. The average small-business is now using 14.3 different systems. We are seeing more segmentation of data within these silos, with less interaction between them. This results in poor communication between departments, systems, and processes, leading to unproductivity and difficulty meeting both your clients’ needs and company’s business goals.

Issues Tomorrow

In the future, as machine learning and other predictive technologies fully infiltrate your industry, you will be left behind if you have not yet dealt with the issue of data being trapped within silos. In order to be fully effective, any artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning programs must have access to the entirety of your firm’s unmanipulated data. The AI or machine learning program needs to analyze the data for any relationships between categories and cannot do that if the data is not in one comprehensive database.

Low-end machine learning solutions will soon be able to make better conclusions about relationships in your data than you will. You need to make an investment to consolidate your information into one system before it’s too late. If you don’t, you are missing out on valuable insights that can benefit your business. Your information management system needs to meet the individual goals of each department as well as the organization as a whole.

By having a restricted flow of data organizations cannot possibly analyze all available (and already collected) data to draw broad, overarching conclusions about potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats. This restriction defeats the whole purpose of collecting the data in the first place, which is to get a holistic view of an organization by looking for relationships within the data.

So, what can you do about data silos?

To avoid having information trapped in data silos, you need to preemptively develop a plan and solution. There are several options you have to ensure your data can be easily moved. A content management system (CMS) will help collect and share information within your organization. Other solutions include marketing automation software, an integration platform, or a data lake.

Marketing Automation Software

Marketing automation software is defined by Hubspot as:

“Platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.”

Integration Platform

  • An integration platform is a platform that allows an organization to integrate different applications and services into one solution.
  • While similar to an enterprise resource planning system (ERP), or a CMS, an integration platform is more generic, not designed for any specific purpose.
  • This allows the system to be more flexible, having a wider variety of features when integrating programs.

Data Lake

  • A data lake occurs when data is moved from separate silos into one system. This can be done using a variety of platforms or programs, such as a CMS or an integration platform.
  • While very flexible, these lakes are hard to govern, making them less useful than the above solutions.
  • Data lakes should only be created in absence of a CMS/ERP as a last case scenario.

An organization must ensure all departments are on the same page. The solution should have enough complexity for it to allow every department to accomplish their goals without massively changing their workflows. Data should not be “owned” by a department, it should be shared in an unaltered form with other departments.

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Existing data silos are preventing you from knowing your customer and limiting your ability to make informed decisions. There are many ways to avoid data silos, each solution unique to your business needs. Whichever method you use is of less importance than your main goal: eliminating silos so data can flow freely through your organization.

Do you notice issues with the flow of data through your organization? Do you think a CMS could potentially solve your data silo issues? Let us know what you think over on Twitter @VeridayHQ!