Financial services flex to a new, immersive digital dynamic

Profile picture for user Chris Pope By Chris Pope April 30, 2018
Financial services are transforming to a new digital dynamic that offers an immersive, opti-channel customer experience, writes ServiceNow's Chris Pope

Digitization dynamic financial services industry via ServiceNow
Like all business verticals, the financial services industry has been going through a process of extreme transformative change driven by digitization over the last decade, if not more.

New regulatory pressures, heightened cybersecurity concerns and an increasingly demanding customer and user base – all have changed the way our financial industry operates at its heart.

A new digital dynamic has surfaced, where enterprises and consumers demand intuitive, sharpened, personalized services that constantly augment to provide new enhancements.

This is more than multi-channel interoperability and it is also beyond the world of omni-channel integration. This is opti-channel – optimization of financial services for a new era of immersive experiences.

Into immersive experiences

When we talk about ‘immersive application experiences’ we mean two things. An immersive app has to provide a simple and intuitive user interface (UI), obviously, but there’s also an immersive link to the operational core of the IT stack.

To be truly immersive, a financial services application must also integrate with other core functional systems of record and transaction such as CRM and ERP. But creating the architectural foundations for this kind of agility requires layers – three of them, to be precise.

A three-layer financial services model should typically be structured as follows:

  1. A foundational core of transactional services technology, with essential reporting functions integrated with the data storage fabric.
  2. A more agile layer of data analytics, security, integration and other product differentiation technologies designed to provide incremental services to users, depending on the configuration parameters they decide to define for their device touchpoints.
  3. An upper tier of truly agile services innovation, where new delivery channels and new products can be created, while opti-channel intelligence is used to deliver new banking services optimized for every customer’s requirement model.

Lifecycle events

If we create our next generation of financial services intelligently following this three-layer structure, then we can start to provide the enhanced immersive experiences that customers have already started to expect. A financial services company needs to be able to offer enterprises and consumers optimized services that support their shared ‘lifecycle events’, such as tax deadlines, mortgage milestones and auditory requirements.

With that upper tier of truly agile development in place, we can start to innovate these services. Initially, as optional plug-ins to the core stack, then ultimately as part of a full-blown services offering.

We know that people want to use application-aware technologies that are optimized to understand user profiles, preferences, behavioural traits and more. We can provide those functions using technologies that employ machine learning and artificial intelligence, but at their heart this all comes back to intelligent automation.

The changing nature of the delivery chain

The ideas explored here reflect three major trends:

  1. Removing friction from the customer journey for immersive experiences.
  2. The use of big data analytics and cognitive intelligence through machine learning to drive robotic process automation.
  3. Improvements in delivery as a result of all financial services firms realizing and understanding their place in the total delivery chain.

As we go forward from here, the truly contemporary financial services company understands that it will not own every single piece of the delivery chain. Individual service components such as payment gateways, credit checks, background checks and financial investment extensions can now be more individually compartmentalised and, thus, delivered in a more optimal, opti-channel delivery mechanism.

Full-stack agile

So how can financial services companies ensure their workforces have the tools they need to survive in this new digital dynamic?

It comes down to first identifying priorities and then making sure that learning is a continuous part of the ongoing development process. We need to keep a new cross-functional workforce empowered and ensure that they never feel inhibited.

This goes beyond agile – this is full-stack agile with scrum teams, but also with cross-functional squads, chapters, tribes and guilds all working together in a new matrix of positive connections.

I will be hosting a financial services panel at ServiceNow Knowledge 18 in Las Vegas this May, so I hope to engage with many of you on this topic and hear more about your own work and progress in this space.