By Frederic Dussart, Senior Vice President, Dell EMC Global Services
The Financial Services (FS) sector faces disruption from several angles. Smaller and well-publicised ‘challenger’ players like Monzo and Atom Bank are targeting those who live their lives on their smartphones. While large non-FS organisations, such as Apple, Android and Google are creeping over into the payments industry. And according to ourDigital Transformation Indexthe market understands these very real threats. 50% of FS organisations think that their company may become obsolete in 3 to 5 years time, while 80% expect non-traditional start-ups to pose a threat in future.
If you think about, as consumers we need banking but we no longer need bankers to do it. Some, including myself, believe that it’s just a matter of time before we’ll be turning to the Google’s of this world for everything, including our financial services. The ‘Ubernet’ if you will, something which The Economist warned us about back in 2014. So with this in mind, what should traditional FS organisations be doing now to ensure they’re able to adapt?
Mine all of your data and make use of it
If you look at new successful disruptors in any sector who’ve gone on to become the market leader, their success all hinges on using data to understand the customer and connect them to what they desire. Neither Uber, Airbnb nor Just Eat own any physical assets in their industries, they’ve just tapped into consumer’s desires to manage their lives through apps and ensured they have the right data and partnerships to deliver their “goods”. Financial services should be following their lead by making the most of the data they have at their fingertips. What they can really compete on is their customer knowledge, as they have years of historical data on them. By mining this data for insights businesses can decide where to streamline, digitise or expand the customer experience. Research already suggests that customers want to see faster services with 24/7 availability.
Monetise your strengths
Businesses should consider where their strengths lie and how they can be turned into additional revenue streams. For instance, historical customer data could be made available to other sectors. If someone has recently purchased a mortgage then they might be in the market for home insurance, life insurance, furniture and white goods. Years of experience and a deep knowledge of the industry could and should be packaging up for consumers to offer added insights and value. Barclay’s has been dipping its toe into this with its Code Playground, Digital Eagle and video tutorial campaigns. And more can be made of FinTech investments if a longer-term view is taken. Banks should partner with more mature startups to target new customer segments, or to use this technology to offer more comprehensive, capable, customized services to their customers.
Make sure you know where to begin & that your culture can keep up
Many of those I speak to know that they need to transform but are unsure where to start and how to build a strategic roadmap to get them there. They’re also still feeling cautious but to these people I say, measured and responsible risk-taking is essential to retain a competitive edge. No business should avoid self-disruption. They might be making 40% margins on a legacy product, but if new technology enables them to deliver the service at a significantly lower cost they mustn’t avoid it simply because it also requires narrowing their margins. This is precisely the thinking that allows companies like Uber to steal a march on the establishment it sought to challenge. Business leaders must also take responsibility for empowering the wider workforce in order to drive transformation and embrace an organisational culture that encourages employees to innovate and take risks for the good of the consumer. You might never be an Uber but you can certainly learn to behave more like them.
Form productive partnerships
This is where expert partners come to the fore. Particularly as 79% of FS organisations are still not investing in digital skills. Building a taskforce of experts can help fill any internal knowledge gaps within an organisation, as well help map out a strategy and then provide the tools to actually make it happen. A trusted advisor should help bridge the gap between the old, the new and the future, and produce measureable business value. Dell EMC has been working closely with The Bank of Ireland to help it compete effectively in the digital economy by developing a new online mortgage service and system in just 12 months. The service generated £250m in new mortgage applications in the first 3 months alone.
While we can’t predict exactly what the financial services world will look like in ten years’ time, we can be sure that whoever is able to adapt and evolve the fastest will be the ones who thrive. Just like a game of musical chairs, traditional FS organisations are trying to find their seat in a changing ecosystem. And with the right transformational strategy, culture and partners there’s no reason why older players can’t find a unique way to deliver stable growth and profitability.
Want to serve your customers better? An effective online strategy is what financial institutions need
By Anna Willems, Marketing Director, Mention
A strong online presence matters.
Having a strong online presence, that involves social media is now a crucial part of all business strategies. Whether they are retail brands, sports teams, libraries or even restaurants, most companies are investing more and more in developing their digital brand image and online presence – financial institutions are no exception.
When it comes to market trends and innovation, financial institutions are first on the line. After all, we — people and companies — trust them to manage our money to the best of their abilities. And even more so than any other market, we demand secure, trustworthy, fast and user-friendly services.
Reaching such high expectations is not a given. To this point, banks and other financial institutions have no other choice but to have a perfect understanding of their market, their audience, and their needs. What they need to get there is a fail-proof online strategy.
Gaining a deep understanding of your market
One of the best things about using social media to learn about your audience is that people give unsolicited opinions. They speak their mind and share their thoughts candidly.
This is the key to help any business to learn about themselves. They get to analyze their audience’s challenges and aspirations without having to ask them directly or serve them time-consuming surveys and polls.
UK-based Asto, a company that is part of the Santander Group, is committed to helping small businesses have access to financial and non-financial tools. Asto was looking for something that could help them discover what their target audience was talking about and find opportunities to add to the conversation. Mention enabled Asto to keep on top of reviews and customer comments, which has helped us provide a better service for our customers.
Which platform suits your offering the best?
There’s no point choosing to create campaigns on TikTok if your customers don’t use it – you need to think about who they are and work back from there.
You do this by automating the process using a social listening tool. A social listening tool will help you to view your market as a whole and identify where the key conversations are happening — and, therefore, where you should be. What’s more, you will never miss any relevant mention of your institutions, products, services, or competitors.
Handling a crisis
Financial institutions need to watch carefully for negative press – social media is the first place people will go to if they feel they’re not getting the service they need. In theory, rogue employees or unhappy clients can post anything they like online to try and hurt your brand. And if their messages gain traction, you’ve gone from one person saying bad things, to thousands.
That’s why listening needs to be part of any crisis management plan. Now, sometimes, there are crises you cannot prevent. And those usually hit pretty hard.
Power of influencers
For an influencer marketing campaign to work for your financial institution, partnering with nano content creators may well be the best way to go. They’re ability to play a part in how they shape your brand story can make a huge difference when it comes to engagement and reason to believe in your service.
Many financial institutions are already leveraging influencer marketing. It’s an efficient strategy to: Build trust and gain credibility, reach out to new audiences and share engaging stories.
The online review conundrum
94% of consumers check online reviews before they decide to buy something or subscribe to a service. They need what we call social proof. It says that the more people say they use your service, the more it will look like a good service. In short, you need to show how happy people are using your service. But not all online reviews are positive.
Having said that, we find that financial institutions shouldn’t ignore negative reviews. Instead, embrace them as an opportunity to rebuild trust in your brand. Less delicately put, take the bull by the horns and turn them to your advantage. Always respond to relevant complaints (and as fast as possible). Take responsibility for what happened. Be helpful.
And ignore trolls.
Learn from the competition
Over the last two decades, a marketer’s daily life has greatly evolved. Most importantly, we now can measure everything we do, including the consequences of our actions on our business. Having said that, you can’t evaluate how well you’re doing without comparing against
Truth is that 77% of businesses rely on listening to keep an eye on their competitors. What this means is that 4 in 5 of your direct competitors are likely watching each and every single step you take. And you should do the same.
Setting the trend
From staying up to date with the latest industry trends and innovations, to keeping an eye on the competitors’ newest services, to being the first to know of potential brand crises – tracking relevant online conversations lets marketing and communication professionals working for financial institutions to stay one step ahead in an industry that is leading change and innovation.
Why the Boom is Long Overdue (and Here to Stay)
By Roger James Hamilton, CEO, Genius Group
Virtually every aspect of our lives has been taken over by tech, so why is it that our schools, that are educating the business leaders of tomorrow, are still operating in much the same format as they did 100 years ago?
The global pandemic put digital learning in the spotlight and an Edtech boom has ensued, with companies like Coursera, Quizlet and Udemy seeing unicorn style growth. And the market is not slowing down. The education technology (Edtech) boom will continue.
Resilience and Growth
Unicorns are defined by rapid growth. Traditionally, these companies are not overly concerned with early profitability, long-term sustainability or value creation as much as with putting their competitors out of business.
But something different is going on in the Edtech market. The unicorn has lost its appeal. When learning platform Quizlet achieved unicorn status this year, CEO Matthew Glotzbach was keen to play down the moniker reserved for start-ups valued at $1 billion or more, preferring to liken his company to a camel.
Unlike unicorns, camels are real, hardworking beasts. Respected for their adaptability to various climates, resilience, and abilities to survive for long periods without sustenance. These are all traits much better suited to weather the economic storms created by the pandemic.
Despite their considerable abilities to adapt to challenging conditions, the climate is looking particularly sunny for camels within the Edtech market. In fact, all creatures great and small have the potential to capitalise on unprecedented growth in this sector.
The nature of education makes it a traditionally slow-moving area, which renders it unattractive to some investors. Yet, the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent surge in remote learning this year triggered a flurry of uptake in e-learning platforms.
We’ve seen the adoption rate for new technologies be accelerated by events like this before. For example, the SARS crisis of 2003 contributed to the boom in China’s ecommerce industry, as quarantines lead consumers to shop online. Of course, this market trend did not slow down once quarantine restrictions were lifted. Ever since, global online sales have risen exponentially. The same is set to happen in the Edtech market.
Providing a Solution
As with ecommerce in 2003, the demand for Edtech in 2020 was already there. It has been there for years. For the past decade at least, there has been a notable need in recruitment for qualified talent in data science, coding and digital. Edtech can bridge the skills gap, not only within formal education but also for adult learners upskilling and reskilling for today’s digital world.
Similarly, the financial crash of 2008 had the effect of fast-tracking the rise of the gig economy, requiring millions more to learn entrepreneurial skills. The idea of a job for life is now a distant memory. The Edtech sector can deliver the tools to equip students of all ages with the skills necessary for creating their own opportunities, as well as exchanging knowledge and collaborating in a digital economy.
Rising unemployment, as well as competition for jobs and government furlough schemes has seen interest in digital learning courses for adults also soar during the past few months. Figures show that the corporate e-learning market is set to increase by as much as $3.09 billion between 2020 and 2024.
The Edtech boom kickstarted by the pandemic is just the beginning in a paradigm shift in how we view education and work.
Over the next 10 years, with the rise of artificial intelligence, automated technology, and augmented reality, traditional, manual and customer service based roles will diminish and there will be less need for a large workforce when computers and machines can do the role equally well.
The need for a truly 21st century education system that reflects the needs of the job market is long overdue. Edtech companies are offering solutions to many of these issues that have troubled the economy for the past decade or more.
A Different Animal
Enter the zebra (back to our animal analogies). These types of Edtech businesses will be the ones to watch within the sector. With zebra companies, there’s a sense of community and collaboration, rather than competition. They understand that there’s room for more than one superstar in a market. Zebras are herd animals after all. The zebra believes that competition is healthy for everyone involved—something to watch and use for motivation and growth. It closely observes consumer trends and continually strives to solve new and developing problems for those consumers.
For zebra companies, profit margin is vital because it is necessary for steady growth and sustainability. Revenues hover between $5M and $50M, it serves customers within a specific niche, requires annual growth capital of $100K to $1M, and generally has more than four streams of revenue.
Zebras are both black with white stripes and white with black stripes – they have a fluidity in their approach and are camouflaged at the same time. This creates a double bottom line: Zebras want to conduct real business, by solving a pressing problem in a sustainable way, whilst reacting to contemporary challenges. This too could be said of the Edtech industry as a whole.
5 Sustainability Lessons That Are Crucial For Business Success
By Michael Stausholm, founder of Sprout World (sproutworld.com)
Sprout World is the eco-company behind the world’s only plantable pencil, with over 30 million pencils sold in over 80 countries. Michael has also advised the likes of Nike and Walmart on how to implement more sustainable production practices, and in addition to running Sprout World, mentors green start-ups as a board member of Greencubator.
- Making money shouldn’t be a taboo
As a mentor, I’ve met countless passionate souls who feel so committed to change the world with their business that it’s a taboo to talk about profit. But this can be fatal for your company.
How are you supposed to develop, produce and sell your product or service if you don’t make any money? There’s an expectation that green entrepreneurs have bigger hearts than others. That we are all in the game to make a difference for humanity and the planet. That making money is not important at all, and if your business is making good money, it’s better to keep your head low and be a bit ashamed of it.
But growing a company is costly. Focusing on your income is a must if you want to survive the first year. After all, if you are not making money, you won’t be able to develop a long-lasting business, and then you can’t make a difference. It makes absolutely no sense to talk about sustainable business, if the business is not making any money and has to shut down. So, the takeaway is that making money from the beginning might not be your priority, but it shouldn’t be a taboo either.
- You don’t need brand new ideas to be successful
Good ideas are like gold. People spend their whole lives chasing a good idea. But often, people use it as an excuse for not launching their business and remaining stuck in the same unfulfilling routine. But here’s the thing: good ideas are overrated. You don´t need to reinvent the wheel to create a successful business because an idea is absolutely nothing if you don´t act on it.
The world is full of good ideas. We all have them now and then, some even repeatedly. But what matters is what steps you take to implement it. There are plenty of companies that achieve great things not because they had a great idea, but because they are taking products or services that have been around for ages, and just making them better. So, don’t wait around for divine inspiration for your next great idea because you might be waiting forever.
- It’s OK focus on the money with potential investors
Growing a business often requires external funding from investors, loans, or possibly even crowdfunding. And this is where it might get difficult for you to get help from investors. If, for example, your focus is merely on the environmental benefits of your product or service, it’s simply not attractive for an investor, who typically has profit as a measure of success.
A study by Warwick Business School showed that green entrepreneurs must balance “what is important to me” with “what is important to them” if you want to attract capital and create a successful business. The researchers of the study followed six green startups for four years, and the conclusion was that entrepreneurs had to balance “what’s in it for them” higher, to achieve success.
Even though it can be frustrating to focus more on profit and less on being 100% sustainable, it has to be done. Making your business economically sustainable will allow it to be more eco-friendly – and hence make a difference – in the long run.
- There’s no need to go all-in on purpose and sustainability from Day One
Setting ambitious goals are important if you want to improve and move your company towards a more sustainable path but goals can be so overwhelming that they prevent you from acting. Instead, break your goals down and into small steps. Ask yourself: what is the first thing we can do right now to be a bit eco-friendlier?
The problem with sustainability and being purpose-led is that the issues and challenges can be overwhelming, even for large corporations. For this reason, it often ends up looking like greenwashing, because the goals are so enormous that it can seem impossible. It’s best to set partial goals on your journey and to improve your standards step by step.
- It’s OK to hire someone for their mindset, not their CV
If you don’t have a team with the right attitude, your ideas and goals are worth nothing. One of the most important things I’ve learned when finding the right person is their mindset. Finding someone who shows a genuine interest in your mission and purpose is helpful but more importantly, hire team players, people who are always willing to help across the board. A great rule is to hire only people who you can see yourself spending 8 hours on a flight with and enjoying the conversation.
And ensure the hire is a good culture fit. Make sure that everyone is motivated and enthusiastic about their role because they feel the job is never boring, and their colleagues are great to be around. This is especially helpful during these particularly tough pandemic times when your team needs all the support they can get. People say that culture eats strategy for breakfast. This isn’t true. Culture eats everything for breakfast, lunch and dinner too.
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