From efficiency to experience

In an omnichannel banking world, the quality of experience enjoyed by a customer is actually built backstage, where internal processes are hard at work. It is process innovation that ensures that every transaction in every channel is optimized to maximize customer expectations as well as business objectives.
Traditionally process improvements and innovations were focused largely on enhancing efficiencies and reducing costs. But with customer experience emerging as a key metric of competitive advantage and growth, the goal for process innovation today is about maximizing customer as well as enterprise value across each interaction. Modern technologies like componentized solutions, APIs, automation and artificial intelligence are enabling banks to quickly reinvent their processes around changing customer expectations and market dynamics.
That changing process innovation trend, from efficiency to experience, is quite evident in the nominations at the BAI – Infosys Finacle Global Banking Innovation Awards.
Take for instance last year’s finalists in the Innovation in Internal Process category. Experience was the explicitly stated outcome of just one program, involving the development of a consolidated platform that aligned CRM strategy, data mining analytics and modeling structures to predict customer needs and enhance customer experience across contact points. One of the other nominated innovations was definitely experience-adjacent as it involved leveraging big data and AI for personalization. But the last two were both targeted at streamlining the rather inconvenient and cumbersome process of collection. The first was a mobile application that gave collection executives real-time access to the entire suite of debt-servicing tools and also gave delinquent customers the convenience of anytime/anywhere payments. The other was a scenario-based collection solution that enabled the bank to streamline and focus its collection strategies while simultaneously reducing costs.
Cut to this year, when experience is unambiguously front and center of the shortlist. The Powerful Teller-Dashboard concept from DenizBank helps enhance customer experience at and across every contact point by consolidating screens and workflows and streamlining operational processes. The platform aligns customer relationship management (CRM) strategies, predictive analytics and data mining analytics with a user friendly, intelligent interface to create a consistent customer experience irrespective of channel. The i-Kit iPad platform from The Bank of East Asia (BEA), on the other hand, focuses on a specific process – that of enriching the application and onboarding customer experience for the entire portfolio of products. The platform allows customers to open an account in just 15 minutes or apply for a credit in 5. BECU takes a similar approach to ATMs by using real-time actionable insights to improve customer experience in this channel. By implementing a real-time transaction monitoring and customer analytics solution, BECU has been able to build richer insights into ATM interaction patterns and negative experiences and leverage that to improve the underlying processes. The final nomination, for a crowdsourcing platform from CaixaBank, invites customers and other mobility experts to submit ideas and suggestions for improving existing apps or even developing new ones. CaixaBank’s FinApps Community platform represents the latest frontier in customer-centric innovation – involving customers in the design and development of their banking experiences.
So the bar for internal process innovation has clearly been raised. The success metrics are no longer just about maximizing cost and operational efficiencies at the back-end but also about delivering perceptible value at the front. Join us at the Awards to honor the pioneers leading this process innovation-driven shift from efficiency to experience.
Winners and finalists will be recognized by Infosys Finacle and BAI during an awards ceremony at the BAI Retail Delivery Conference & Expo, on Oct. 13th at 3 PM, in Las Vegas, NV, USA.

Tracking Mobile Banking Innovation – II

The emerging markets have the numbers and the ambition, but innovation is not necessarily or innately indigenous. That was where I signed off in my last post, so let me pick it up from there.
What works for the developing can also work for the developed. Emerging markets typically innovate around constraints – like weak infrastructure or low literacy for example – that may not be applicable to more mature markets. The innovation process in emerging markets is often defined by a search for fundamental utility rather than indisputable excellence, which has driven frugal innovation in many of these countries.
But though the approach to innovation may be starkly different, it does not automatically preclude solutions from crossing the developmental divide. Case in point, Kenyan success story, mPESA, which can now be found even in some developed markets. Or consider YouTube’s plans to enable offline playback in order to circumvent the problems of limited mobile bandwidth and access in India. Now that’s an idea that should find resonance even in bandwidth-rich countries.
But having said that, I must add that emerging markets are also evolving up the innovation value chain. Brazil, for instance, has taken a two-track approach to banking innovation where one track caters to the affluent classes with ‘developed world’ products and the other focuses on the needs of the underbanked.
So quality or caliber of innovation is not necessarily the most efficient, or even the most equitable, approach to map an innovation to its provenance. Why, Malaysia’s Maybank has managed to completely mobilize account origination even as many banks in developed markets are still grappling with the complexities.
My view, therefore, is that every mobile banking innovation is a winner and disruptive innovations with a global resonance will emerge from markets at all levels of maturity and sophistication. For instance, any hardware innovations that originate from developed economies may well be adapted to serve certain needs that are specific to emerging markets.
But emerging markets do seem to be developing into a hotbed of mobile banking innovation. Apart from their inherent growth potential, technology vendors, telecom providers and financial institutions from around the world are also increasingly looking at these markets to establish and develop global innovation hubs. In many of these markets, ‘mobile first’ banking is not merely seen as an evolution of traditional banking but also as the easiest and quickest route to take formal banking to the un- and under-banked masses. Now that is a situation ripe with the possibility of fostering innovations that could easily find application across the globe. Meanwhile ambitious startups in the established innovation ecosystems of the developing world are working on the next big idea that will resonate globally. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the power of an idea and the versatility of its applications. Geography is just incidental.