Digital Banking Mobility Means Not Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket

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Editor's Note: In this week's blog, we address the importance of why financial institutions FIs must think comprehensively about the customer experience across all their various delivery channels. 

Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?

Scientists and philosophers have been fascinated about time for centuries. Turns out, time does not always behave as we assume it will.  Most of the spooky stuff happens at the quantum level and for general purposes, the “keeping of time” works well.  It is hard to image how we could organize our society without it. 

Nonetheless, it seems that even in our daily lives, time may be changing in a way.  Today, it is not uncommon to hear someone say there just “isn’t enough time in a day.”  That, of course, is not a true statement – at least in the world of general physics. There is the same time in my day as there was for my grandfather who rose before the sun to clear land, sell wood and plant crops stopping only when he could not see to continue.

The truth behind this phenomenon drives the personal tech industry. We cannot buy more time but if we buy the right technology, we can use the time we have more efficiently. That is way we are all so attached to that super computer in our pocket, purse or briefcase. See a doctor, pay a bill, approve a multi-million dollar contract – all of this is done while commuting to work on the train or waiting for that latte.

Digital Customer Expectations Are Spreading Across Multiple Channels

Most verticals have seen the rise of the devices dramatically reshape their businesses.  Financial institutions (FIs) are no exceptions. However, the impact on banks and credit unions does not just manifest in a race to stay compatible with each new device or operating system. That is a basic requirement but the overall challenge is much larger and more difficult. A recent Forrester report discusses this “bigger picture” of what is going on in FIs making what may make some banks and credit unions feel anxious. 

According to the research firm, isolated channel deployments strategies will (maybe are) already claim victims in financial services. In its “Plan For Digital Banking Engagement Platforms, Not Mobile Banking Solutions” report, the market research company and technology authority explains why bank and credit unions are focusing more on implementing a strategy anchored by a digital banking engagement platform.

As has been said before in this space, the following components are essential for broad, effective digital engagement by financial institutions:

  • A scalable digital banking platform;
  • A versatile business model allowing for quick investment in innovations and new initiatives; and
  • A technology partner that allows the institution to innovate continuously and often.

Given the number of FIs already consumed in trying to remodel and update their aged, online and mobile channels, the question becomes can they shift gears fast enough – in terms of human resources, and their overall mindsets – to address the need Forrester notes. 

It is not just about a 15-year old online banking system that lacks basic UI/UX best practices and most of the new features/functions that are expected by today’s end users.  It is about the impact of the digital revolution across every touchpoint between businesses and their clients, creating new expectations about responsiveness, personalization and choice for each person being served. This means FIs must think comprehensively about the customer experience across all their various delivery channels rather than focusing on one or two channels.

There Is Some Good News

More banks and credit unions are taking a holistic view of their channels according to Forrester. In its survey of the top three to five initial focal points of the transformation of a bank’s “landscape of business applications,” identified changes in level of engagement in these areas:

  • Internet/online banking has decreased 24 percentage points over six years;
  • Mobile banking has decreased 9 percentage points over the last two years; and
  • Digital banking has increased 23 points over those two years.

Still, only those who have little grasp of the amount of complexity in the IT infrastructures of FIs would suggest this will be an easy or smooth transition. Changes in the types of devices, services, products and engagement models preferred by consumers will insure the landscape is dynamic, and in certain instances, dynamic.  That is why the choices banks and credit unions make concerning technology partners is critical to being able to “win” in the digital age. 

Technology that heralds from an era when siloes of technology and islands of data were the model, is not flexible enough for the long-term goals of most institutions. Banks and credit unions should consider scalability, extensibility and configurability to be mandatory requirements as they evaluate their options. Otherwise they run the risk of charging down a dead end street and wasting time as well as money that they would have benefitted from while trying to compete in the marketplace.