Accelerating digital enterprise innovation

Developing and implementing a holistic digital strategy and innovation program is critical for financial institutions wanting to thrive in today’s crowded, competitive market, full of disruptive new entrants. However, the reality is that many financial services organizations continue to struggle with understanding, defining, and addressing the nexus of mobile, cloud, Big Data, and social digital solutions in a holistic and agile manner.

Digital is difficult, for these reasons: 

  • Niche disruptors exert unique competitive pressures on individual business units, spawning independent, fragmented digital strategies within pockets of the enterprise.
  • Digital initiatives impact not just technology, but also reshape business processes and employee behavior.
  • New Information Technology (IT) paradigms can be difficult to overlay on legacy systems.
  • Employees with high-demand skills are hard to attract and retain.

Consequently, building a truly digital business goes beyond implementing the latest digital technology. It requires establishing and sustaining a fundamentally new customer-centric value proposition – one that the entire organization embraces and promotes. It requires both speed and agility, including the fast paced incubation of ideas, fail-fast innovation, rapid learning and an adaptive digital architecture.

Digital Vision

The first and most critical step is to define a digital vision that is aligned with your business goals, reflects your brand and resonates with customers and stakeholders. One successful approach is to convene a workshop of key marketing, business and IT leaders to explore digital disruption and lessons learned from other industries to evaluate the viability of innovative ideas and create an actionable digital strategy and roadmap that’s tailored to your organization.

To be successful on a digital journey, leadership must accept where the enterprise is on the Digital Maturity Model and pinpoint where its future state should be. From there, you can envision a supporting, integrated and flexible future state vision and architecture that leverages the most appropriate technologies, reduces the proliferation of one-off digital solutions and supports your return on investment. Early stage pilots and focused proof-of-concept projects are critical to reassure key stakeholders that digital is possible in your enterprise, increasing the success rate of future initiatives and securing executive commitment for the digital vision and roadmap.

Even the largest and most successful financial services institutions are jumpstarting their digital journey. For example, a top 10 financial services institution recently developed a strategic three-year roadmap to revitalize its investment management platform powered by an advisor-friendly user experience and robust master data management foundation. This project resulted in favorable advisor retention and a 15% savings in overall IT spend.

Another multi-national investment management firm developed a business-aligned roadmap to streamline and integrate its fragmented front-end applications with a customer-centric user interface design and a simplified governance framework. The result: enterprise-wide customer engagement standardization through a comprehensive user experience (UX) standards library with over 100 UX elements, available through a UX governance portal. 

Becoming a digital business means enabling new business models, expanding reach, building customer loyalty and leveraging modern and disruptive technologies. Although a daunting task, accelerating your digital enterprise innovation program is not a pipedream for the future. Now is the time to make it a reality.

Mr. Subramaniam is senior director, Digital Strategy, for Plano, Tex.-based NTT DATA, a provider of IT services. He can be reached at [email protected]