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Straight Talk IT

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Most of the main banking technology vendors have had their client conference in the last few months, with digital transformation unsurprisingly the prevailing theme. Within this, four common key strategies and emerging technologies were consistently presented as central to successful conversion to the digital world.

"Human-centric" digital customer experience at the front end. For most financial institutions, mobile and online channels have been at the forefront of digital transformation strategies, with enhanced user experience, stronger security, and richer functionality core priorities for most over the last few years. However, despite significant improvement, the digital channel experience for most institutions lags well behind that of leading retailers/Internet companies. A key consideration here is the need for "human-centric" design led by actual user needs in using financial services, rather than simply providing digital delivery of banking functionality. Alongside this is a focus on simplifying and removing the "friction" of the user experience, particularly in authentication and user onboarding processes.

Participating in the digital ecosystem through open APIs. This has been catalyzed by the regulatory-driven Open Bank Project in the UK and PSD2 regulation in Europe, which is forcing banks to provide open API access. However, there is now a wider realization that banks need to be active players in the wider digital ecosystem, with most looking to partner with the emerging fintech world rather than just seeing new players as competition. Importantly, this is about the ability to consume new services from third-party providers through APIs to enhance the customer proposition as well as opening up access to banking services.

Analytical insights need to be embedded into business processes. Interest in analytics has matured over the last year, with less eulogizing of the potential of new technologies here and more emphasis on how the ability to obtain faster and more complex insight can be used to actually improve business processes and decision-making. Key here are systems that effectively embed analytical insights into customer-facing or operational processes, such as teller or contact center interactions, that can influence decisions and behavior at the individual level.

Intelligent automation that starts to leverage artificial intelligence (AI). In a digital world, business process automation is critical to be able to deal with both the scale and speed challenges of digital interactions. However, the focus is now extending from back-office processes to more heterogeneous customer-facing ones, with consideration of AI (e.g. natural language processing) to automate and scale customer servicing functions, and use of machine-learning rather than rules-based systems to optimize processes.

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