Go Digital Or Die: A Guide To Digitalization For Financial Services

Darren Hunt

The multitude of compliance and regulatory measures around the financial services industry can be enough to make any IT decision maker’s head spin. So throwing the pressure to “go digital” into the mix is probably the last thing they need.

But the silver lining is that the new technologies enabling this revolution can help businesses not only future-proof themselves but also prevent more nimble rivals from gaining market share.

Put legacy in the past

The line between how we work and how we live has become increasingly blurred as the world becomes ever more digitalized and connected. This new digital age is bringing people into the workforce who expect particular ways of working, often evolving around the communication tools that they have become accustomed to using in their personal lives.

However, many of the financial organizations I speak with face somewhat of a quandary, given the legacy systems they have in place are incapable of seamlessly integrating these new tools. They are therefore rightfully concerned that they could see current and prospective employees snapped up by more digitally savvy organizations.

It is therefore imperative to get on board with the latest digital innovations and reap the benefits of new technologies, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, to ensure customer loyalty and stay relevant and competitive.

A great example of this in practice is the Standard Bank of South Africa, which needed to find a way to streamline its processes to simplify engagement with the country’s largely under-banked population. The bank had to unravel the hugely complex systems it had in place and migrate 25 partner systems and 35 million customer profiles onto one server. The result? A single view of the customer and relevant offerings that have dramatically improved customer experience and loyalty – helping the bank to run simple.

All financial services can now experience similar benefits, particularly by embracing these key trends on the road to digitalization:

  • Customer engagement: It’s important to engage customers across numerous channels, ensuring workforces are engaged and have all the information they need at any time. Only then can you break down siloes and enable smarter collaboration between teams, colleagues, and business networks.
  • Smarter data usage: As your organization becomes increasingly digital, there has becomes a greater need to ensure that data is used in a way that makes it easier to gain real-time access to information. You’ll then find you’re able to do things faster, simpler, and in a more agile manner.
  • Adding value: Banks have previously been able to sit back and wait for customers to come to them. But all that is changing, with the focus now shifting from transaction execution and product selling to adding value – which requires a completely different mindset and business model.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has embraced all of these trends, resulting in it becoming the nation’s No. 1 major bank in terms of customer satisfaction levels – moving up from its previous fourth-place rank. The bank was encumbered by legacy systems that were restricting its business process and causing operational failures, so it opted for a flexible and simplified system that put customers at the heart of its business.

The results have been huge. The bank is now able to offer 24×7 banking, giving customers greater visibility into their transactions. It has also reduced the time it takes to bring new products to market by 75%, accelerating personalized offers from months to days. The focus on putting the customer first has given the bank a major advantage over its competitors, reducing customer balance queries by 15% and processing errors by 30% – which all translates to happy and extremely satisfied customers.

Whether you’re mapping out your potential digital journey or already taking the first steps on the path towards it, don’t be wary of digital transformation. Instead, think of it as something to aspire to that will help improve your business in innumerable ways.


Darren Hunt

About Darren Hunt

Darren Hunt is a head of Strategic Industries (UK and Ireland) at SAP. With over 25 years of experience in the IT and technology market, he is leading his team to deliver enterprise-wide digital solutions that are capable of transforming businesses and organisations.