For many of you reading this piece, the term “phygital” (pronounce FIDGE-it-al) will be brand new. In a short time, it has come to stand for something incredible: Never has the world seen experiences from the real and digital worlds so strongly interspersed. The enabling technologies have been developing for years, but now is the time they’ll be used on a large scale across the board—including in banking and financial services. We aren’t talking just about the three-screen omnichannel here, but rather a trend much broader: that is, phygital insights
Phygital is a digital description of reality. The objective of phygital insights is to analyze stimuli from the physical world and use them in the digital one. Thanks to intelligent data processing and artificial intelligence recognizing the probability of various events, we can draw conclusions from information across many systems and sensors, and use them in the online world.
The ubiquitous merging of worlds
Analyzing data and drawing conclusions on an ongoing basis is not enough. Thanks to the possibility of "learning" behaviors—combined with client communication about recent experiences—we have at our disposal intelligent platforms and applications that understand the small and specific needs of the user. Only in this context can data from the physical world acquire incredible value—and translate into real benefits for companies.
This leads us to the emergence of new subscription products that reflect the real behavior of the user. Poland’s Alior Bank (a two-time finalist in the 2017 BAI Global Innovation Awards) uses artificial intelligence algorithms in customer service processes. The Middle Eastern bank, Emirates NBD (which won the 2017 BAI Global Innovation Award for Most Innovative Financial Services Organization of the Year), offers customers a Fitness Account where the benefits of saving depend on the level of their physical activity.
Phygital can also make a big difference in terms of exposure through small ways. Let’s say you combine the notification for passengers waiting for a delayed flight with information that the best coffee at a discounted price is available in a café 50 feet away: This is how you need to think about phygital marketing.
An excellent illustrative example of the integration of data and services in the phygital approach is the notification, upon starting the car engine, of how much time you’ll need to reach your destination. Intelligent software on the driver’s smartphone knows that he got into the car, then bases its projection on his driving habits. This knowledge integrates with current data on traffic jams and driving speed on the route from other drivers—and takes travel routing to a new level by incorporating information unique to the motorist behind the wheel.
Another ideal example of a phygital approach we’re already getting used to comes via behavioral identification. Advanced biometrics—such as voice or face recognition—are used for authorization in banking apps. Now, identification methods are going further, towards even safer solutions. Multi-level authentication is becoming the future, combining biometrics with other methods of user verification.
The future of phygital insights
Skillful analysis of shared data paired with prediction and anticipation of user behavior hold the keys to customer satisfaction. Without these elements, companies will have no chance of thriving in a competitive market.
The new value we currently deal with comes from the combination of three basic dimensions:
- realized potential to understand, analyze and draw conclusions from customer data that was previously unavailable on the internet;
- ubiquitous digitalization that allows us to reach the client in different contexts and moments; and
- ability to draw conclusions about the customer from the very different events that take place in his life.
The full integration of these dimensions was not possible previously. But today, leveraging them in a phygital paradigm opens completely new opportunities to offer customers real value. These will then translate into business development, but there is more: the potential, through phygital insights, to explore a new world of banking possibilities.
Andrzej Szewczyk is the vice president and managing director of Efigence, a digital banking company based in Warsaw, Poland.