In a Digital World, Context is King

By April 22, 2014Innovation

Digital World

If you get together a room full of bank executives and ask them to define the term ‘digital’, don’t be surprised if you get a lot of different answers. Some view digital in terms of devices, others think of delivery channels, a third group understands digital as a marketing tool.

What is incontestable is that digital has become part and parcel of the front- or customer-facing end of the banking businesses. Back-end processes, such as documentation and straight-through-processing, that enable scale and automation are being lumped under the rather inglorious label of ‘e-business’.

That raises the question: given that many customers are ahead of their financial institutions in terms of technology use and adoption, what are the requirements for a powerful customer experience? If digital is going to anchor the client-advisor relationship (or the financial institution to client relationship), what needs to be in place?

Clearly, data is key, but context is king. Last week I discussed the insurance start-up ingenie, which captures onboard data on driving habits to monitor and reward young motorists. Then there’s the idea of mortgage offers being delivered to house shoppers as they tour (virtually or in-person) their prospective new home.  I wonder how soon augmented reality, delivered via “wearable” technology such as Google Glass, will inform most consumer buying decisions.

Customer delivery expectations have changed as a new generation of bank customers—mobile, time-starved and information-hungry—has emerged. Their worldview has been formed by companies like Google, Amazon and Zappos, and they’re not about to drive up to a branch or bank office when they can be served faster and better online. Banks need to step up and offer smart, context-rich solutions to their needs if they don’t want to be pushed to the margins.

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