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Low code raises the game on bank operations

As I have argued before, the battleground for banks is now around digital sales and service experiences. What this demands of a bank is an operational backbone that can adapt to change fast.

The drivers of change are obvious. They range from changing customer behaviours, the competition from digital disruptors to the dislocations caused by pandemic lockdowns. And all this against a backdrop of pressured margins and low interest rates.

What banks need to lean on is both technology and people to raise their game on operations. My Australian colleague Jonathan Tanner (ok he’s a Brit living in Oz so don’t mention the Ashes!) has written extensively about this, and I want to share some of his thoughts.

Jonathan starts from how the pandemic, especially in its early days, tested bank operations. Staff were home working when call centres were inundated with requests for help. Banks struggled to get their workforce to deal with enquiries because of a lack of access to relevant systems, training, and channels. Simultaneously, operations team had difficulty completing their work due to the same remote working patterns.

Of course, we have learnt from the early stages of the lockdown and there are better processes and systems in place. Yet, the lack of agility exposed in the pandemic highlighted how the investment in digital transformation may be falling short.

Notwithstanding how the investments have been made in a number of areas (like customer experience, cloud migration and risk), too much has been done in isolation, adding in operational gaps and complexities even as processes are digitised.

How banks can remedy this and transform operations requires them to focus on the end-to-end process and have a low code systems strategy to complement and enable a more agile workforce.

If banks want to adapt their operations more quickly, they really need technology that is easily adaptable, can ease pressure of change on their IT colleagues: one that is true low code.

The rules for success with low code start with how it is applied to fix a specific operational need and has a clear outcome for example, faster processing of a mortgage application. The other rule is embracing how low code opens up app development and process improvement to a non-technical team. As Jonathan says, low code tools provide a common language for coders and non-coders to join forces to focus on operational change.

The ability to get business and technology stakeholders collaborating and innovating on process improvements will deliver great results but there can be some resistance. Some of this can be overcome by how low code is ideally suited to hands-on experimentation, allowing sceptics and nervous non-techies to discover how easy it can be to work with.

The other line of objection may come from the traditional IT establishment within a bank. Some may be anxious about how low code could spawn shadow IT that’s hard to control and support. Fears of rogue apps can be avoided when a bank chooses a unified platform that brings all sides together and gives the enterprise IT team oversight. Indeed, these frameworks can support the scaling up of low code applications and processes.

Low code isn’t a silver bullet and banks, like other organisations, need to agree on where the approach can be best applied. But, for improving operations, the way low code empowers those who run operations to transform processes to create better outcomes for them and customers, offers tremendous rewards.

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