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A march on mobile and delving deep into data

If you are a bank without a visible digital transformation programme then there’s a high chance you’ll sink, perhaps slowly, but eventually and inevitably. Shifts in consumer expectations, new market entrants and the rise of non-bank digital-payment services such as PayPal, are eroding the existing banking model and threatening the revenues and longevity of long-established financial institutions.

This transformation is being spurred on by the mobile revolution. Recent research revealed that the number of smartphone owners has reached 72 per cent in the UK, growing by 14 per cent in the last 10 months alone. As a direct result of this, the desire for mobile banking and payments continues to rise.  Industry analysts Gartner predict that by 2016, 25 per cent of the top 50 global banks will have launched a banking app store for customers. It’s great to hear that these organisations are taking note of customer preferences, but senior management must reach deeper, and take this opportunity to devise a comprehensive and successful mobile-first strategy, that’s not just focused on quick wins and ultimately prevent disintermediation.

Challenges and Contests

Financial institutions continue to be disrupted by rapid, consumer-friendly advances in mobile software and whilst most major UK banks currently do offer customers some form of mobile banking, it’s crucial that they now keep up with the pace of technology to create exciting new opportunities to retain existing customers and attract new prospects.

Underpinning these mobile banking strategies is the deployment of big data analytics solutions. Client facing employees are gaining key consumer insights from comprehensive dashboards, which are allowing them to harness intelligent analytics, become more proactive and make more informed decisions in real-time.

The modern day digital challengers are particularly good at collecting vast quantities of customer transactional and behavioural data and analysing it in real-time to develop targeted mobile consumer strategies. And, while many banks understand the need to have a mobile aspect to their services, becoming mobile-first is much more than turning existing financial services into an app. Mobile-first is about designing products for mobile phones or devices before making corresponding designs for  traditional desktop and laptop computers. And, as to be expected, challenges will lay ahead:

Legacy platforms often struggle to handle the heavier, highly dynamic workloads of mobile apps. The age and complexity of the infrastructure can’t often manage the highly agile and flexible demands of mobile systems without a virtualised and automated environment in place

Mobile app usage is more intense than web app usage, with new data from Nielsen showing that Android and iPhone users aged 18 and over spend 65 percent more time each month using apps than they did just two years ago. This requires the right software in place to process the increasing traffic on mobile platforms  

Downtime for upgrades or maintenance is becoming much less tolerated by customers in today’s ‘culture of immediacy’, so there’s an increasing demand for instant access to services. This makes the need for seamless application updates all the more important.

Making the transition to a mobile-first strategy can be a significant and rewarding move for financial enterprises. But it requires an IT infrastructure that supports an agile framework for development and can marshal real-time data and analytics on a grand scale. Most importantly, it requires a new mind-set at board level to embrace the same agile thinking, decision-making and collaborative spirit.

As financial institutions focus their efforts on the mobile app evolution they also need to delve deep into analytics, consider the right platform to manage the data load demands and ensure that they can manage deployments with minimum impact on service delivery. Only then will a mobile-first transition prove truly successful.

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