BUSINESS

What can financial businesses learn from consumer technology?

What can financial businesses learn from consumer technology?

By Clint Oram, co-founder and CMO, SugarCRM

It may only be the first quarter of 2018, but thanks to the rapid acceleration of technology, alongside the vast array of economic and political changes taking place, for many last year may seem like a bygone era. Although change is rife in the financial industry, it’s nothing compared to the innovation transforming our personal lives.

An audit of your personal life will likely highlight the sheer scale of technology that has been introduced in the past few years and transformed our lives. Already, the use of instant services for everything from transportation and dining to entertainment and even social interaction have changed our expectations as consumers. We no longer buy things, we join things and, whether it’s Netflix, Spotify or HelloFresh, we use them when we need to. In fact, research by Zuora found that UK spending on subscription services trebled in 2017. This isn’t surprising, as the subscription economy makes it easier to maintain a healthy work life balance. It frees up time that may previously have been spent rushing around, perhaps shopping or cooking, so that when we’re off the clock we can truly relax.  Everything is on demand, whenever we need it.

Blurring the lines between work and play

It’s clear the days in which the commute to and from the office separated your professional world from your private life are long gone. You can now do both around the clock, regardless of your location. While it’s great that you can access work from wherever you are, it’s also important to remember to keep a balance between your professional and private life. Remember to take advantage of the added personal time new technologies can offer you. Your life can be lived as you want it or, to coin a phrase, increasingly you can “work like you live”. It’s no wonder then, that 60 per cent of city staff now have the option of working remotely, according to Astbury Marsden.

But how many times have you sat staring at unresponsive documents, or become frustrated as your VPN constantly fails while clients are waiting on financial consultancy? This isn’t comparable to the instant experiences we expect in our personal lives, which brands like Netflix and Amazon Prime are delivering.

Now we’re accustomed to the truly instant experience there’s no turning back. Our experiences of technology outside of work means we’ve shifted our ideals of pace and experience. Leaps in technologies like mobile, big data, machine learning, virtual reality, quantum computing and many more are powering all these trends.

Financial professionals working like they live

However, while technology in today’s world is having an amazing impact on consumer and personal experiences, the financial industry is still lagging behind. You only need to look around at the proliferation of desktop PCs in your office to see how different it is to the smartphone world we live in outside. The instant culture of our personal lives is often absent when we’re in the office; we’re asked to forget our thumb-driven world and regress several years. Enterprise software is often bloated, clumsy and sometimes decades behind the rest of our digital life.

I believe financial professionals should be working like they live and the new generation of relationship intelligence solutions are beginning to make this a reality. This is particularly important for customer-facing consultants, where success almost entirely depends on the customer experience. Gartner research found 89 per cent of marketers now expect to compete solely on this.

In the near future, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools will provide background on the customer or prospect with little input. For example, their title, where they work, their education, family information and even personal hobbies and interests. By automating the aggregation of large and diverse data sets while using deep learning techniques, the financial industry can understand customers at a deeply personal level. The below video paints a picture of how this could look in the future.

The future of finance

The finance industry may feel it’s not ready to implement a work like you live mantra and it’s impossible to say how quickly it will become a reality. Perhaps the best way to summarise is through a quote from Abraham Lincoln, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. So, if you spend your time waiting for the future to arrive you’ll find it’s already been and gone. Instead of hoping the industry will change to implement the latest technology, financial organisations must act now to ensure IT is running seamlessly both in the office and remotely. Only then can they truly begin to innovate.

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