By Michael D’Onofrio, CEO at Orbus
Customer demands have transformed in the last 18 months. Now, over half of customers want to be able to switch between human and digital channels.
To create a first-class customer experience, the banking, financial services and insurance sector needs to deliver a true omnichannel experience. This means offering the same services to customers across all digital and offline channels, synchronising their data for reuse across channels in real-time.
In turn, digital transformation has accelerated to meet the customer, wherever they want to be met. According to a recent survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, financial services firms see customer experience as a key differentiating factor, with many “investing heavily in digitalisng their operations to deliver memorable customer experiences efficiently, effectively, and in compliance with increasingly complex government regulations”.
Organisations need to put the customer at the centre of their business operations if they want to succeed and win over the competition. Prioritising the focus on the customer journey is no longer a nice to have, but a must.
Consider a customer who wants to apply for a mortgage. Some banks may offer this service over the phone, or online but not face to face within a branch. Another scenario could be that the customer wants to set up a new account and all the online channels fail, causing them the inconvenience of having to go to the bank in person. These are both examples that show failure in the customer journey. In turn, they are driving innovation and new approaches to operational resilience.
By mapping out a customer journey, CIOs and other stakeholders can visualise each step that a customer takes when interacting with the business and see which processes, data and technologies are needed at each of these stages.
Enterprise Architecture can holistically analyse, plan and model business structures. There are three key ways Enterprise Architecture can help:
- Create business and technology roadmaps to align business and IT requirements
In an era of digital uncertainty, being able to map out your technological needs is vital for informing and guiding decision making. This can bring several benefits to an organisation. First and foremost is the opportunity to align business technology with business strategy.
An overlooked advantage of a roadmap is that it can communicate how technologies support a business – whether it is helping with managing costs, improving productivity, or addressing cybersecurity issues – which may otherwise be opaque to stakeholders that don’t encounter them day-to-day.
- Control investment and cost savings across the omnichannel infrastructure
Every company is making investments in new and superior technology, but too often these investments can spiral out of control, adding massive cost and complexity to IT infrastructure.
Incumbent banks for example could in theory implement digital transformation projects faster to accelerate product development if they were to add their technology stacks in a controlled and calculated fashion. However, their approach is often one that disregards existing technology. They focus on moving quickly which leads to spiralling technology costs and complexity and has an impact on future developments.
Enterprise architecture can help in providing an analysis of the current capabilities a business has, how to use what already exists and introduce new technology only when it is needed. This avoids adding unnecessary costs and complexity. More practically, Enterprise Architecture provides the structure necessary to pursue cost-saving measures such as application rationalisation (the act of reducing the size of an organisation’s application portfolio).
- Gain visibility across the infrastructure to anticipate and prevent potential security threats
Firms have always had to contend with physical security, but the interconnected world now means cybersecurity has become the biggest threat. IT or Risk professionals struggle to have clear visibility over the enterprise. Aside from knowing the scale of the application and technology portfolios, they still must deal with organisational and data silos, or with complex systems, or with duplicated or wasted information. If a firm cannot understand and know its structure, it is doomed to fail with security.
So how can firms gain visibility across the infrastructure to avoid these security threats?
A well-maintained Enterprise Architecture can help meet these challenges. It can provide organisations with existing maps and models of every aspect of the organisation and relationships between them, all stored in a central repository. It also allows banks to align with best-practice security and regulatory frameworks and methodologies. Having a security architecture in place means that banks can create a unified design across the entire enterprise that mitigates potential security and compliance risks.
According to Gartner “By 2023, 60% of organizations will depend on EA’s role to lead the business approach to digital innovation”. With the continuation of digitalisation in financial services, we can only expect the strategic role that Enterprise Architecture has on supporting the business need for innovation and its contribution in controlling costs and efficiency to be more crucial than ever. As such delivering first class customer experience will no longer be seen as something to be added to business operations but a standard part of it.
It’s a consumers world
In today’s competitive market, the tables have turned and consumers have declared “it’s not you, it’s me.” Since consumers now have almost unlimited access to information and products, it makes loyalty hard to earn and easy to lose.
In turn, the financial sector must take a customer-centric attitude to its processes and services in order to meet the consumers where they are, not the other way around. But this transformation requires intricate planning. The use of Enterprise Architecture will undoubtedly be crucial to the banking sector in successfully roadmapping a more customer-centric future ahead.