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A digital state of mind: transforming financial institutions

Transforming a financial institution means more than just digitising processes. It really is a state of mind

Critical Software
|Nov 16|magazine8 min read

Myth-busting digital

There’s a lot more to digital transformation than simply digitising processes. Indeed, the act of digitising analogue processes is arguably the least important step in an institution’s journey to becoming digital. 

The oversimplification of the act of embracing digital in financial services has meant many institutions have failed in their endeavours to enhance processes, both internally and externally, and improve customer experience. Indeed, this attitude towards digital has meant that, to some CEOs, ‘digital transformation’ has gained the unenviable status of being seen as a marketing buzzword, meaning little more than adding a few fancy gadgets and smartly designed landing pages to one’s arsenal of tools to appeal to ever-more digitally savvy customers.

But becoming a digitally mature financial institution means far more than this alone and requires considerably more work to be successful. The ideal digital institution has identified processes that can be made effective through digitisation and have won the support of people. What’s more, staff need to be fully equipped to implement the truly organisational change that comes with digital. 

Reality bites

Yet the reality of digital still presents some severe problems for financial institutions. According to PricewaterhouseCooper’s Global CEO Survey 2019, many still haven’t reached this stage. Up to 53% of the financial services chief executives surveyed believed that skills shortages had hindered digital innovation in their institutions, both internally and externally.

The costs of not considering people from the outset of any digital transformation strategy can stretch across many areas, from the reputational to the financial. Further PwC analysis showed that 75% of front-office digital transformation fails to achieve substantial ROI. In 70% of these cases, this is because there has been a lack of focus on people during the transformation process. So it is clear that forgoing the people-centric approach to digital transformation comes with a high financial premium for institutions. 

The people error in action

Imagine a dashboard. That might not sound very exciting at first, but let’s say an institution’s marketing department wanted to adopt a new dashboard, displaying key customer metrics including the total number of product and service sales per day, a breakdown of where these newfound customers came from (e.g. from online, via the phone, or through an in-branch enquiry), as well as standard marketing KPIs like email open and conversion rates, advertising spend, etc.  

But there’s a problem. The dashboard is poorly laid out and doesn’t actually display all the information the marketing department requires to make informed, data-led decisions about what, where, and even why their next campaign should be. Because of this, take-up of the new dashboard is limited, and the department’s campaigns perform below expectations as a result.  

The lack of buy-in from staff here demonstrates the impact of such an obstacle on digital transformation strategies. If people aren’t convinced by a new element of digital in their working lives, they will simply not use it, potentially incurring considerable costs.

Maintaining a digital state of mind

It’s clear, then, that digital is far more than just digital. It involves a concerted effort across an institution in order to achieve results. 

But it’s not just people who are needed to make digital happen – and work – in financial services. How digital can be integrated into products and services needs to be accounted for, in addition to its interactions with customers. 

To find out more about the all-encompassing journey to digital maturity, and how Critical Software can help you on your way, take a look at our free white paper here.  

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