Jeffrey Granvold, Senior Manager, Global Customer Experience Design Practice at Verizon
Today, the demand for evolution in financial services continues to reach new highs. This demand stems not just from today’s digital consumer with an insatiable appetite for a more robust and agile customer experience from digital banking services; but, also from the needs of the business community. Stringent financial regulations, fierce market competition from new Fintechs, and the need to infuse new technology into business practices and services are transforming the financial services sector in ways never seen before. It’s an era of customer experience (or CX) transformation and one that requires thinking about a financial services organization as an “adaptive enterprise.”
Fundamentally, an adaptive enterprise is one that continuously evolves, incorporating not just the latest and greatest technologies that empower customer experience transformation; but, also predicting the future needs of the financial institution and customers they serve. It’s logical then that the network infrastructure which powers an adaptive enterprise should also be adaptable. And further, I would argue that “gimbal thinking” is needed which involves maintaining a constant state while approaching digital with a multi-dimensional mindset from the ground up, outside-in, and inside-out—from the operational core to the experience edge of the organisation.
The adaptive network
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So what kind of networking technology can adapt to rapidly changing conditions while supporting “gimbal thinking?” Software-defined networks which are designed to manage the application layer and control the flow of data based on data type and function, are evolving, and pushing the envelope of the adaptive network’s capabilities. A software-defined network is now able to analyse the application data in near real-time and provide logical improvements to the processing of that data. In essence, the network is adapting to the requirements of the evolving demands for a better customer experience. What the future will bring is a network with “gimbal thinking,” that is the ability to think for itself in a multi-dimensional state and predict the changes necessary to evolve based not solely on the demands of the network; but, also on the demands by the consumer for a better customer experience. This networking evolution represents an industry sea change.
Before digital transformation became an industry theme, financial services organizations spent most of their efforts in collecting customer trend data via surveys and focus groups. The collected data was not only used to substantiate investments in marketing programs, but also in the investment in technologies that encompassed new ways of embracing their customers. Today however, with the advances in mobile first designs, open API adoption, and Artificial Intelligence, the access to exponential customer data is driving new customer experience designs that rely heavily on an adaptive network. Some of the examples that we see today can be found in the greater functionality of mobile banking applications. The ability to withdraw money from an ATM using a mobile device, the capability of chatting with a bank agent live via a banking application and getting advice/support via Artificial Intelligence are key drivers that require an adaptive network design.
Mitigating risk in the customer experience transformation
And while agility and adaptability to business processes are critical, managing security risks in the financial services sector has never been more important. The increase in digital footprints driven by the explosion in the market of greater function and capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT) has created a near borderless attack surface for cyber breaches. As massive amounts of data are being collected from devices, processed, and presented for a better customer experience, the potential risk for gaps in the security protocols become more prevalent.
As part of an overarching customer experience strategy, financial services organizations need to take a step back, look more broadly at their security processes and assess whether the current approach to their security playbook is comprehensive enough. Is it secure enough for the changes that are being made? What does it mean for the internal stakeholders involved in the development of a customer experience transformation? Does the organisation’s current security program support its vision? These questions substantiate the need for the security organization to take a proactive role as part of the greater CX team assisting in future designs that satisfy both the security needs of the customer as well as their desire for a more robust customer experience.