The COVID Effect : The busines of getting digital transformation done

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This is still one of my favourite (and most frustrating) topics to write about. How can legacy banks or any other organisation become more lean, relevant, digital and continue to prevent themselves having a “Blockbuster” moment.

If ever there were a need for executing a portfolio approach to developing products, engaging with customers, and rethinking what technology means to a drive success in all these areas…that moment is here.  The COVID pandemic has been perhaps one of the most shocking things to have happened at least in my lifetime, however I notice that as tragic and horrible this disease is, it has done something quite unique in the world of banking. It ended an era of “procrastination” to “doing” as more and more customers could only manage their finances remotely, hence needed resilient feature rich digital channels and services. Most banks responded to this need a lightning speed, which has been fantastic for consumers.

But I cannot help to wonder if in this haste to support customers, whether we have more sticky plasters in the system. This has been part of the banking problem for several decades now, where technology systems are aging and more complex than they need to be as a lot of technology innovation simply was not available decades ago. So, some of the underlying issues as to why change takes so long, change is expensive, and digitisation is hard to execute remain.

So how does an organisation move forward with its modernisation approach? Having worked with several banks globally and supported a few non-financial services start-ups there are some key things that should feature in all thinking. These items are a laundry-list of advice, but an insight into the active conversations that should be undertaken if we are to leverage some of the digital acceleration we have seen since March 2020…

Active Conversation Agenda

  • Is the banking proposition you are offering still relevant to the customers you want to serve today, and what are you specifically doing for SME businesses that have struggled in this COVID climate
  • Is the technology stack that supports the organisation ever going to be capable of being modernised in a timely manner without burning several millions of investment in the process. Could lean-greenfield now be a better option
  • Are you set up to leverage Open Banking from either a customer, data or partnership perspective
  • How many additional services could you offer customers if integrating with the organisation was easier? What can other partners provide that makes the process of saving, moving home, starting a new business, and managing cashflow easier
  • If transforming payments isn’t on the list beyond consolidating multiple platforms, or an attempt to modernise them, it needs to be…big techs may not want to become a bank but they certainly want to enable payments
  • Learn to reinvent all the above at a molecular level every 4-5 years… not single model and architecture can survive decades anymore, so the journey needs to be more like using Lego…you break apart what you have built and start again, which adding the latest bricks each time

The above is not advice is that necessary dialogue that should be taking place every week, not just around the planning cycle. That is what is means to get something done, and really done.

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