I spent Tuesday and Wednesday of this week at Finovate Europe. As always, it is a great way to spend two days thinking about digital financial innovation and how firms can deliver better experiences for their customers. Here are a few of my impressions from the two days:
Biometrics is becoming mainstream.We barely raise an eyebrow when shown authentication processes by firms like eBankIT, ID Mission, Jumio, Nice Systems and Wipro that use facial recognition, fingerprints or voice recognition because these technologies now seem almost commonplace. Yet the technologies are hugely impressive and far advanced on what was available or even possible a decade ago.
Future generations will pay differently. The credit card is one of the greatest financial innovations of all time. Yet, despite the various card innovations on show, I cannot rid myself of the belief that plastic cards will one day soon start to seem as quaint and outdated as cheques (and, indeed, business cards). There are many big obstacles on the path to mainstream mobile payment adoption, and payment habits take decades to change, but I don’t think the future is bright for plastic cards.
In 2013 I wanted to help executives understand some of the fundamental changes that are happening in business because of the digital revolution. Big names capture the attention of the media – who in the USA could have failed to hear about the collapse of Blockbuster or Borders? Who in the UK could have failed to hear of the demise of HMV? When writing about these failures, most analysts highlight the disruptive companies that put them out of business; companies like Netflix, Amazon and Apple. But I wanted to know if there was something more fundamental going on that impacts the ability of an incumbent to defend against digital disruptors. So in 2013 I set out to research digital business successes and failures in an effort to uncover the secrets of digital mastery.
I captured insights from my research in reports published in 2014. Here’s my pick of the top four you should read to gain a deeper understanding of digital business (these reports are available to existing Forrester clients, non-clients can purchase them individually or download a summary from this page):
#1 The Future Of Business Is Digital - The results of 18 months of research into what lies behind successful digital businesses were first published in March in this report. Originally published for CMOs and CEOs, the report was subsequently republished for CIOs as “Unleash your Digital Business”. This report highlights how digital business differs from traditional business; provides an overview of the customer’s dynamic ecosystems of value; and offers six strategies to help transform any business into a digital business.
Late last night, Sony revealed that it would pull The Interview from its release schedule. This decision was made in response to the step taken by the major theater chains, all agreeing that they would not screen the movie on its release day. The unprecedented decision is causing consternation among entertainment media types who feel that Sony has put the right of free speech in jeopardy. That's a conversation worth having, and I'm glad it's happening. But there is an entirely new question that this situation brings into dramatic relief, one that didn't exist before and one that our premeditations won't help us resolve. The question is this:
Can companies participate in cyber war?
Up until now, companies have prepared to defend themselves against cyber attacks as one-off nuisances. Such attacks are now so common that they no longer make the news. Even massive breaches where millions of customer data points are compromised tend to give us pause for only a few moments, perhaps a few days, and then we move on. But what Sony experienced was not just a security breach. This hack was a declaration of cyber war intended to bring Sony to its digital knees: a low-cost digitally effective cyber war that puts none of the hackers' assets in harm's way. And given yesterday's announcement, it appears to have worked.
In casting an eye forward, we predicted seven events that would change the insurance landscape in 2015. A major force informing all seven predictions is the fact that smart insurers are recognizing that in the need to generate more good ideas faster, they have to radically change how they develop and execute new thinking. That means that insurers need to short cut the industry’s traditional “we’ll build and control” culture and instead go into the market, spot a hot business technology start-up that brings a lot of what’s needed to create a minimum viable product, and partner with them. And the smartest of the smart insurers are employing two unique industry forces—a very regular flow of premiums and the dynamics of equity markets— to get even closer to the source of new ideas: By investing in them. In 2015, we’ll see more insurance venture capital startups form in the wake of similar VC business launches from insurers like American Family, AXA, MassMutual, and Transamerica.
Digital transformation will drive technology spending growth of 4.9%.Always-connected, technology-empowered customers are redefining sources of competitive advantage for AP organizations. In fact, 79% of business and technology decision-makers that Forrester surveyed indicated that improving the experience of technology-empowered customers will be a high or critical priority for their business in 2015. Similarly, 57% said that meeting consumers’ rising expectations was one of the reasons that they would spend more money on technology next year — the top reported reason for increased technology spending
In 2014 digital business hit the boardroom and the C-suite offices: At the beginning of 2014, 93% of executives told us that they believed that their industries would experience digital disruption in 2014. But our surveys and interviews also tell us that many executives don’t believe that their firm has the ability to execute on that plan, and many don’t have confidence in the plan itself.
Now we’ve taken a look at 2015 and predicted a dozen ways digital banking will change in the coming year.* At the center of these predictions is what Forrester calls the age of the customer: A 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers. To succeed in the age of the customer, digital bank executives must work with partners across their organizations to use business technology — which Forrester defines as technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers — to deliver more compelling customer experiences to bank customers.
For several years, we have noted a shift in power from companies to customers. Customers call the shots; they can and do transfer their loyalty when they aren't catered to with engaging customer experiences. The age of the customer has reached the banking industry; as in other industries, banks must change the way they do business to move the customer center stage.
Thus, application development and delivery (AD&D) teams must work with their peers across the bank to develop and apply the technology, systems, and processes needed to win, serve, and retain customers, partnering with eBusiness executives leading digital banking initiatives to drive new digital innovations. And this is not just a minority movement: Forrester’s Financial Services Architecture Online Survey 2014 shows that close to 80 percent of financial services firms around the globe work on transforming their application landscape or plan to start doing so within the next two years.
To prepare for this transformation imperative, AD&D pros need to be aware of the key trends for banking applications; the emerging and accelerating architecture trends, products, and services; as well as their to-do lists for 2015, which you can learn more about in Peter Wannemacher's Predictions 2015 report. While some banks aren't yet ready to take full advantage of these trends, Forrester believes that AD&D teams must be aware of, learn from, and prepare for eight trends in 2015. Among them:
More than two years ago, Westpac – a bank in New Zealand – rolled out its “Cash Tank” feature for mobile bankers. Suddenly, customers could view key information like account balances without needing to log in (needless to say, it was and is opt-in-only). This new mobile banking feature immediately made a splash and was hailed as a small-but-impressive innovation. Other banks – such as Société Générale in France and Bank of the West in the US – offer similar pre-login information features.
This led folks like me to wonder: How might digital teams at banks take pre-login information further or make it even better?
Great digital strategy is often about pushing the limits – and not just in big ways. So Citi’s recent update to its smartphone apps is noteworthy for the bank’s decision to push the idea of pre-login information even further with Citi Mobile Snapshot. Citi customers who bank via their mobile phones can view not only balances but recent transactions without the hassle of logging in.
We spoke with Andres Wolberg-Stok, Global Head of Emerging Platforms and Services who shared with us a diagram that demonstrates the evolution of its mobile banking effort before and after Citi Mobile Snapshot (see below).
Over the past year, we’ve told banks that some of them would become custodians. We’ve told insurers that many of them would be forced to specialise. We’ve told wealth management firms that many would shrink. We’ve done this to show them how digital disruption could savage retail financial services, just as it has done with the music and publishing industries.
But we don’t want to be just the bearers of bad news: We want to help you deal with new players like peer-to-peer lending platforms and even Google entering retail financial services. And to be fair, it’s not all bad news. There are plenty of companies out there using digital innovation to meet their customers’ financial needs in new and better ways. Take for example BBVA which has brought its customers the virtual assistant Lola, video banking, and the crowdfunding platform called Suma. And BBVA hasn’t stopped here. The Bank is currently running the sixth edition of its Open Talent competition for start-ups most likely to affect financial services.