When keeping pace with digital transformation in financial services today, the journey between A and Z is long—but the time organizations have to get it right is short.
It’s no secret that the path to industry innovation can pose more challenges than in other sectors. Evolving global regulation and standards require a higher degree of forethought, due diligence and certainty about the effectiveness of every solution introduced. The margin for error is … well, in truth there isn’t one. In the weeks before 2019, technology simply moves too fast.
In an environment like this, no one can afford to proceed in a vacuum. Partnerships—especially with the right fintech partner or with other incumbents—are increasingly a must. They make organizations fast, smart and focused enough to break down the overarching challenges into manageable, scalable solutions.
While those solutions and the portfolios of partners will look different for every financial services organization, the five steps each must take to bridge the experience gap between the physical and digital world remain largely the same.
- Start by understanding the desired outcome. Only when an organization has a clear vision for the future will the optimum path forward become apparent. Choose a consultative partner with the right expertise to map out best practices toward that vision as you maintain control of cost and scope.
- Identify specific pain points to be addressed. If the vision is a simplified customer experience, for example, the first pain point may manifest itself when customers start a process on a mobile device or online—and have to restart when they shift to a different channel. Pain points almost always require go-to-market support from technical and strategic perspectives. On the technical side, the organization may need hardware, software and system integration partners. On the strategy side, the organization will need to ensure internal and external scalability.
- Assess the systems already in place. Is the business able to support the new types of tools and technology needed to be successful? If the pain point solution means giving all employees iPads to serve branch customers on the spot, having the iPads and applications will not be enough—not if the wireless network is weak or vulnerable. Banks must know the real limitations and needs before getting started. A strategic partner can help audit systems already in place to ensure time and money are not spent on theoretical but unrealistic solutions.
- Find the right mix and level of partners. With so many potential partners operating in the ecosystem, finding the right one for the specific business outcome presents possibly the biggest challenge. Ultimately, the expertise and ability of the individual partners will represent an organization’s biggest advantage or worst obstacle on the way toward digital enterprise transformation. Companies that tap into this broad, complex ecosystem of partners cannot assume that every potential ally “working within financial services” is created equal. It is critical to determine the right partner, with the right expertise, for the right solution, before starting a go-to-market project.
- Build an environment where partners can succeed. Silos do not work when tapping into the knowledge of the ecosystem. Is the environment ready for partners to connect to the organization? Today, many financial institutions (FIs) are examining the possibility of using application program interfaces (APIs) to open their doors to partners. Simply put, APIs act as the glue to connect multiple systems to build one efficient platform. You can also think of the ride sharing application Lyft, which uses APIs to synchronize maps, payments and texting in one application. APIs also leverage more cloud services to enhance the way FIs collaborate with partners. This final foundational step remains essential to bringing the desired solution to life.
Perhaps the most important decision an organization can make when attempting to tap the wide ecosystem centers on trust: that is, determining whom to trust to vet, test and ensure the success of chosen partners. A good consultative partner engaged at the very start of the process will connect to best-of-breed partners and accelerate any path forward on the digital journey.
That can make all the difference, for somewhere on the transformative path from A to Z, everyone deserves a chance to dot their “i”s and cross their “t”s.
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Al Slamecka is financial services industry lead at Cisco.
Danny Vicente is a global marketing manager and financial services industry lead at Cisco.