Sunday, August 31, 2014

How do banks compete in today’s disruptive environment? (Part 1)

In this changing environment, changing dynamics of the market, how do banks remain competitive and deliver more to their customers? How do they achieve the double targets of keeping their customers happy and at the same time maintain ever increasing revenue and profitability growth. And above all, how do they remain customer centric? These are some critical questions that demand answer, for the banks to be able to define their strategies for their next phase of growth, both organic and inorganic.

Even though customer centricity is the buzzword in the market and being customer centric is the key challenge faced by the banks. However, how many understand what is customer centric? In simple words being customer centric is to do and sell what customers want. Thinking like one’s own customer is being customer centric. In fact, being customer centric is putting customer at the centre of all processes, all products or offerings and even people. Customers have to be the fulcrum of all decision making. Customer centricity is decision making which is outside-in, rather than being inside-out. Bring in the ideas from outside (customers) and then decide. Decide based on what your customers want.

One would ask, what enables customer centricity? Though, one needs to change their operating models, etc to facilitate customer centricity; a highly flexible system capability sitting as middle layer in a typical IT landscape in a bank can easily deliver this capability from systems perspective. This capability can enable right offerings based on what the customer wants. Imagine a right offer orchestration layer which can deliver right offers to the customers across the channels and manage the customer experience at the same time. This enables increase of the wallet share from the customer, based on relevant parameters (profitability, channel, etc).

Many banks still have their products, channels and business lines in silos, or they are partially integrated. This makes their systems product centric, non-integrated as well. Non-integrated systems prevent these banks to have an enterprise-wide, 360 degree view of the customer, which in turn prevents them to be customer centric. This cripples bank-wide efforts to improve customer experience and doesn’t allow them to adequately monitor operational and transactional level activities. These banks need a capability to introduce this flexibility which allows them to have a complete customer view – whether it is a corporate along with its subsidiaries and their complete product holdings, channel utilisation and other transactional metrics, or a husband, his wife and his children all in a single view, contributing as a household.

Such an enterprise-wide view across the value chain will not only allow for better monitoring capabilities, but will generate improved cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.  This system will allow you to actually execute such strategies by maximising the customer profitability and improving customer experience and satisfaction manifolds.

In an environment where customer behaviour changes frequently, one needs a system which can capture and manage the changes to the offers dynamically. Similarly, the pricing and other ingredients of the offer should be modified dynamically too. You need a system which allows offer personalisation based on individual customer requirements or requirements across a customer segment. It is a capability which allows more choice and less risk in terms of customer offerings.

Need of the hour is a system which runs on business rules and hence, when the customer requirement changes, customer behaviour changes, the system and hence the bank can deliver a changed experience. You also need a system which offers flexibility to manage new changes as and when such developments happen. A highly flexible and configurable system to orchestrate the changed environment becomes essential to succeed.

It’s a logical understanding that as the number of product holdings per customer increases, average revenue per customer increases considerably and the annual churn of customers reduces drastically. In fact, customer stickiness increases exponentially, as the number of product holdings per customer increases from 1 product to 4 to 5 products. This automatically, increases the total revenues for the bank tremendously. Thus, the product bundling capability becomes a key element for success in a bank. A system which can seamlessly drive dynamic product bundling to cater to ever changing customer requirements will prove to be absolutely necessary.

All the existing and old banks of the world (as I mentioned in my previous post) have many legacy systems, which complicate the situation further. They are typically very obdurate in their approach towards the new systems and enjoy the manual activities from their owners a lot. In such situations, you need a proven system which can work alongside these old systems and let them do what they do best – customer data storage, transaction processing, etc. The new system has to have strong integration capabilities, both real-time and batch.

These old systems bring some more challenges – any new change brings customisation efforts typically running into months together. Imagine a new idea that you want to test out in the market and the change is a good few months and few hundred thousand dollars away, thereby completely eroding any competitive advantage that may have accrued otherwise. Research says more than 70% of the banks take more than 3 months to introduce a new change or a new product offering.  In today’s competitive landscape, banks need capability to launch innovative product offerings faster than the competition.  You need a system which is highly flexible and parameterised and comes with a complete workflow to manage the processes and acceptance and rejection of the changes. To considerably reduce this time to market, you need a capability which allows very less IT / technical intervention, rather allows the business to try out new innovations all by themselves. Being an innovation leader not only allows you to be disruptive, but it also develops a strong brand value for you.

This post is the first post of the 2 part series to describe ways to address challenges faced by banks today

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