Ian Stone, CEO of Vuealta
Between 2010 and 2015, the financial services industry changed drastically.
In just those five years, four of today’s most successful fintech companies were launched; namely Stripe, Revolut, Starling Bank and Monzo.
These launches all had one thing in common; putting the customer at the centre of the operation, untied to legacy or history. Fast forward and the fintech industry is coming of age, with the UK’s fintech sector alone attracting £1.34 billion of venture capital funding in 2017, and new companies launching into market every day.
This success means that the challenge these companies now face is one of scale. To keep moving forward, they need to be able to expand and scale up quickly and easily to support their growing customer bases. They need to do this at the same time as maintaining the flawless, fully-digitised customer service that they have become synonymous for. No easy feat.
How they play this growth period is therefore vital. They need to be fast in making decisions and flexible enough to adapt to the constant changes that are now part and parcel of today’s market. That means arming themselves with the tools and information that will help them achieve that.
A new age of planning
The key is in the planning. As digital companies, fintechs already benefit from high levels of flexibility and adaptability. These traits must also be reflected in how they approach their business planning if they stand a chance of still being relevant five years down the road. A recent survey by Ernst & Young revealed that a third of UK fintech companies believe that they’re likely to IPO in that timeframe – a clear demonstration of the rewards that can be reaped from staying successful. What will set the successes apart from the failures is connectivity. A more connected company with a more connected approach to how it plans will be more successful.
Realising a connected approach to planning
By connecting their people, processes and data, fintech companies will be able to more accurately forecast their revenue, costs and liquidity on a monthly if not weekly or daily basis. They’ll be able to model and digest significant variations in activity and resources, as well as changes in operating models and growth scenarios.
Holding information in different siloes makes it almost impossible for a business to have an accurate view of where money is being spent, meaning the value of forecasts are limited. For those looking to scale up their operations, both from a size and geography point of view, these forecast insights are invaluable. Expansion is an expensive business, so using the company’s data, connecting it and breaking down those silos to make more informed, accurate decisions will help ensure that they don’t burn through valuable capital.
It will also help them stay nimble. This is a period of significant change, with new regulations, political fluctuations affecting currency rates, access to skills and trade deals, amongst other things. The future is unclear so staying nimble means having a clear view and plan for what multiple futures could look like. By having a holistic view of how the entire business is performing and then using that data to forecast where it is likely to be in one, three, ten years’ time, the future becomes much more predictable and achievable. Suddenly, a fintech company can start making decisions now that before may have seemed too risky.
When implemented properly at both a technological and an organisational level, connected planning provides an intuitive map of how decisions ripple through an entire organisation. That is only possible with a real-time overview of the business and the ability to quickly understand the impact of any market changes. This is a critical point for fintech companies.
The competition is growing and although the larger banks will never be able to match new fintechs in terms of agility, they have experience, big customer bases and money on their side. Taking a more connected approach to how fintechs plan will be key to success. Only with a clear view of how the business is performing and scenarios for when that performance is jeopardised, will these companies cement their place in the future of finance.
Pandemic pushes BA-owner IAG to a 4.4 billion euro loss in 2020
LONDON (Reuters) – British Airways-owner IAG posted a loss of 4.37 billion euros ($5.31 billion) for 2020 after a year of minimal flying and burning through cash, and it warned on Friday it could not say what would happen in 2021.
The worsening travel outlook and tighter restrictions brought in by countries over the last two months have threatened to ruin Europe’s critical summer season and leave some carriers in need of another round of funding support, analysts warn.
IAG said that the ongoing uncertainty and duration of COVID-19 meant that it could not provide a future profit forecast, illustrating the scale of the challenge for IAG’s new boss Luis Gallego, who is six months into the job.
The group’s focus continues to be on cutting costs to reduce cash burn to try to ride out the crisis.
IAG said on Friday it had total liquidity of 10.3 billion euros, and there were now signs there could be some relief on the way for its strained finances.
UK-focused airlines were buoyed earlier this week when Britain laid out plans for travel markets to possibly reopen from mid-May, prompting a flood of bookings, but uncertainty remains over whether it will include IAG’s long-haul routes.
“Getting people travelling again will require a clear roadmap for unwinding current restrictions when the time is right,” IAG’s Gallego said in a statement on Friday.
“We’re calling for international common testing standards and the introduction of digital health passes to reopen our skies safely.”
IAG’s 2020 operating loss before exceptional items was slightly better than a consensus forecast for a 4.45 billion euros loss, after it sunk to a 1.165 billion euro loss in the October-December quarter.
($1 = 0.8230 euros)
(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton)
Do You Even Know What is Happening in Your Back Office?
By Jennifer Lee, Chief Strategy Officer at Intradiem
Consumers may not realise this, but many of the most important tasks required to provide a great customer experience (such as processing claims, solving disputes, or issuing refunds) are completed by people – specifically, by a team of associates in the back office.
Back office associates are really the unsung heroes of any service organisation. They are tasked with time-consuming and critical work which, if not completed efficiently and effectively, translates directly into lost revenue when customers take their business elsewhere. It’s an important and often misunderstood or overlooked customer service function.
The reality is that, even in an era driven by transformation, many companies’ back office associates are still working with antiquated processes and legacy systems, and service leaders lack transparency into their back office operations. The good news: the technical landscape is evolving, and savvy service leaders are realising that back office associates deserve more focus and attention.
Applying Contact Centre Success to the Back Office
Over the last decade, contact centre leaders have blazed a trail that demonstrates how to leverage technology to improve operational efficiency, leading to cost savings and better customer experiences. Having created a blueprint to drive change, this approach has paid serious dividends, even in a pandemic.
Companies adopting technologies like AI-powered intelligent assistants have dramatically reduced costs in their contact centres. As a result of this success, forward-thinking service leaders are now taking measures to apply similar solutions in the back office to realise productivity gains and cost savings.
The Back Office is Full of Untapped Potential
Back office associates have a difficult job. Their primary role is to complete tasks that make up for a process or technical gap in a service delivery model. This means they work in multiple, unintegrated systems, handle a wide variety of tasks, and often work on many tasks at once – typically in a self-directed structure. The nature of this problem-first approach has led to some common operational issues and trends within back office operations.
Back offices often only have historical and disparate data on hand and thus, lack impactful insights into their operations to gauge and benchmark productivity. This is unlike the contact centre, where each touchpoint of the customer and agent journey can be mapped and actioned in real-time. Just as contact centres have evolved to turn actionable insights into actioned ones, the back office must evolve in order to realise its potential.
Recognising the untapped potential is the first step. If back offices can untangle these disjointed legacy systems and standardise a methodology similar to the call centre for benchmarking productivity, the possibilities for cost savings and optimised customer experiences are limitless.
Leveraging the Power of an Intelligent Assistant
Without a standardised framework, back office managers are unable to gauge if associates are idle or engaged in completing a task, or to benchmark time spent on different tasks. An intelligent assistant can create this framework, collecting and standardising data and providing insights in real-time.
This arms back office managers with crucial information they have never had before. Real-time data helps back office managers define productivity thresholds and set guidelines for managing associate time. The intelligent assistant can then automate the appropriate actions that redirect associates who may spend too much time in non-work applications or sit idle for a period of time beyond the pre-set threshold. For example, at a certain threshold, you can send a notification asking an associate if they need help with a certain task and offer assistance. Supervisors can also use this information when coaching associates.
The result? Higher performing associates, better customer experiences and substantial cost savings.
We are at the gates of a revolution in the back office. Companies, now more than ever, must discover ways to reduce costs and the back office is an untapped opportunity. If managers can translate the proven approach used in the contact centre to the back office, they will see increased efficiency and substantial cost savings.
Toyota develops fuel cell system to cut carbon footprint
TOKYO (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp said on Friday it has developed a packaged fuel cell system module, as it hopes to expand its usage and accessibility of the zero-emission technology amid the industry’s shift towards electric vehicles (EVs).
The world’s biggest automaker, which launched a revamped Mirai in December, has not been successful in winning drivers over to fuel cell vehicles (FCV).
The FCV segment remains a niche technology despite Japanese government backing, amid concerns about lack of fuelling stations, resale values and the risk of hydrogen explosions.
The new fuel cell (FC) battery system, which has been offered in separate parts, will be available in a compact packaged module to be used as a stationary power generator or in trucks, buses, trains and ships, the company said on Friday.
Toyota said it plans to sell the module to other companies in the spring of 2021 or later, but did not disclose details on price or sales target.
“Toyota has been taking various initiatives toward the creation of a hydrogen society,” the Japanese company said in a statement.
“Through these experiences, the company has learned that many companies involved in FC products in a variety of industries are looking for FC systems that can be easily adapted to their own product.”
The automaker said it plans to offer horizontally and vertically packaged models, weighing about 240kg-250kg, each with a rated output of 60kW or 80kW.
These module models can be combined to flexibly adapt to the output level and amount of installation space available.
The module, which packages individual fuel cell system-related products of the revamped Mirai car with enhanced performance, will be produced at Toyota’s Honsha plant in Aichi prefecture, a company spokesman said.
(Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Tom Hogue and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
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