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Strange Bedfellows: Banking in The Age of The Customer

Back in March, I wrote a blog entitled, Banking's New Mantra: Must Play Well With Others about the need for banks to ally themselves with non-traditional partners and wider ecosystems to compete in the brave new world of the digitally empowered customer. It triggered some interesting comments about the cultural shift – some would even say 'revolution' - taking place in banking. On June 23rd, we will have the opportunity to hear some first-hand examples of this in action at the SAP Financial Services Forum in London.

The increasing role of mobile banking, unprecedented changes in both technology innovation and usage, a crowded field of new, non-traditional competitors and digital disruptors, and rising expectations (and power) among customers and prospects are just a few of the new challenges facing banks and the wider financial industry as a whole. 

Banking is in what Forrester describes as the 'Age of the Customer' – a 20 year business cycle in which the most successful organisations will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers. I think fundamentally most banks understand this, but many still have considerably more to do if they are to meet customer demands around even basic banking services, not to mention advanced services. Modern banking today means embracing a customer-centric mindset, with an omni-channel approach, and a digitally enabled business model – all the while continuously managing risk and keeping a mindful eye on regulatory compliance.

It also means working with new types of partners that banks would traditionally never have considered being in their ecosystems. At the Forum, I'm looking forward to listening to the case studies from Twitter and from RBS. Forward thinking financial institutions are starting to realise that data derived from Twitter can actually be used to make more informed trading choices and to improve customer service. Likewise, RBS is investing in innovation to drive meaningful digital change to address the challenges of the new commercial landscape head on. It will also be interesting to hear our partner sessions by Accenture, Deloitte and IBM on how financial institutions can embark on this digital transformation journey. I am also looking forward to hear the view points of the challenger banks such as Fidor and Starling Bank.

Today's banking is vastly different to a decade ago and will bear even less resemblance moving forward. Ten or fifteen few years ago, speakers from start-ups, tech companies, aggregators, social media, and financial institutions would never have been presenting under the same roof to the same audience at a financial services event such as this – which for me is what makes the Forum so appealing. It's these bigger picture themes and tangible examples that I'm personally looking forward to hearing.

Banks know they must move beyond core products and services, and participate - or even create -larger ecosystems (both internally and externally) if they are to harness revenues upstream and attract potential customers. I think we will begin to see more and more digital innovation teams cropping up within banks. Teams that understand how to harness technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers and deliver more compelling experiences to them. It is these types of individuals who will think like disruptors, reshape the industry, and create new sources of value for both banking intuitions and customers. The very same types of individuals who will be presenting at the SAP Financial Services Forum on 23rd June. Don't miss it. 


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