BANKING ON DIGITAL

Mike Sewart, Director of Digital Services UK & Ireland, Fujitsu

Digital has never been more embedded in our lives than today. For most of us, digital is the new ‘norm’ – whether we are using digital services to shop online or to connect with people across the world – and it is becoming increasingly pervasive. It continues to strengthen our relationships with organisations, opening up new opportunities to make our lives easier across every sector.

Take the financial sector in particular. It is an industry that is truly taking advantage of digital services. Over the last few months alone, we have seen new financial players emerge to shake up the market. From the announcement of Fidor Bank, a “cool and funky” social media bank applying for its UK banking licence, to Atom Banka new digital-only bank, an increasing number of financial services organisations are starting to offer digital services to appeal to a more tech-savvy generation.And traditional players are also getting involved, in the last few weeks Halifaxhas launched new heartbeat authentication, an application which will truly transform how we access our payments.

Digital services and applications have completely altered consumer behaviour from the way consumer’s access information to how we interact with organisations. The financial sector lends itself particularly well to this shift, with the majority of consumer activity based around high frequency and low value transactions. At the same time, this regular interaction provides organisations with an opportunity to move these activities to a platform that is accessible anywhere and anytime, helping to promote both cost savings for the company and time saving for the customer.

To explore this in more detail, Fujitsu undertook research looking into the UK’s digital landscape. The research looked at a number of verticals and while the financial sector rarely leads when it comes to consumer opinion polls, online banking took the top slot for both most valued and most used (67% and 63% respectively) digital service of all sectors.It was also a leader in satisfaction – nearly two-thirds of consumers revealed that they are satisfied with the digital services provided by the industry.

However, employees in the financial sector have a different view. According to the report, while62 per cent of employees said they had a fair understanding of the technology services and applications available to them, only a third (33%) understood them completely.In addition, 42 per cent citied lack of training as the main issue in using digital services in the work place.

These results highlight that whilst financial services organisations have invested heavily in delivering a strong digital front-end there is still work to be done in underpinning this with a digitally-enabled back-end. There is a clear discrepancy in digital services available externally and those being provided internally.This issue is often compounded through organisations providing tactical digital front-end services acting as a “digital veneer” to aging complex back-office systems. The sector needs to look more holistically as digital transformation to ensure that end-to-end systems are in scope for any digital transformation strategy. This will ensure back-office efficiencies are realised and will provide appropriate support services (including training) for internal users of transformed services.

It is imperative for any organisation to have the right balance of digital – for both consumers and employees. From one perspective, consumers value digital services because of the improved channels of engagement making conversations easier and more efficient than before. However, there are still many people who remain more comfortable with dealing with humans. On the other side of the coin, many employees still don’t understand how to use digital services. With the pressure of consumer popularity in digital services continuing to grow, there is more to be done from organisations to improve the backend infrastructure to help employees gain a better understanding.

So what does the digital future hold? The digital and technology landscape is only going to evolve and create even more ways to interact and engage with organisations. As such, organisations need to holistically consider a digital transformation strategy that addresses front and back-office systems. This should be driven from consumer business services but should not neglect the complexity of the legacy environments that still remain in place within more enterprise organisations. Refreshing the back-office in concert with front-end services will ensure digital service transformation meets the needs of the employees as well as customers.

Financial and banking organisations who haven’t taken advantage of digital must act nowor risk falling behind the newer players in the market. It has never been more critical for businesses to have a digital strategy in place to benefit both their customers and their employees.