It is the flavor of the year in finance, but the fast and profound disruptions due to technology is not a new phenomenon. ”Take something as simple as the phone directory. For many years it was a cash cow for the telecom industry. The internet completely eradicated that business model. Telecommunications also encountered Skype offering genuine disruption through a product offered free of charge. The list goes on with companies and industries technologies that have been thoroughly disrupted,” says Edward Mauser, Senior Advisor at Affecto.
Newcomers will keep coming
These are the powers the finance sector is facing today, as technology sets in for real. ”It is crucial for management to acknowledge that technology is a great equalizer. The traditional barriers of entry are gone, and the customers are not particularly loyal in the digital economy.”
Companies with no natural alignment with financial services can become major players in a very short time. For example, this is what we see in payment solutions. ”Already in 2014 the 20th largest bank in the United States, by deposits, was Starbucks, based on one single factor, their loyalty program. Customers have no problem letting a coffee chain handle their money, as long as it is quick and convenient for them,” says Affecto.
Looking to change banks
Particularly speed is a vital parameter these days. ”Because everything is connected, customers and market shares can move quickly and often unexpectedly. Look at the rapid market adoption of MobilePay in the Danish market. The product and the time was right. And the customers were ready. In fact, a third of all Danes are looking to change banks, and for the age group 18 to 29, the number is 41 per cent.”
The pace is not going to slow down in the coming years either. On the contrary, it is another basic condition finance executives will have to contend with. ”Computing power grows exponentially, and it has been that way since the 1960's, doubling the performance every other year. Imagine if that was the case with cars or refrigerators. Disruption will not stop, it will not flat line, it will increase,” says Edward Mauser.
No technologies discussed
Understanding these fundamentals regarding technology and speed is essential at the executive and board level. ”Our clients do not have to understand how the technology works, but they want to know what it does to and for their business. There is a big difference.”
The approach is reflected in Affecto InnoLab, where the client receives tailored advice. ”You present us with a problem, and we dedicate resources to identify solutions. No specific technologies are focused on or proposed, it is all about business value. Together we take a hard look at the data and the business processes, and we help the client with new insights, by talking,” Edward Mauser explains.
Some challenges and calls to action are, however, almost universal. The most important being the following.
Embrace the newcomers
No company is succeeding in this digital disruption alone. Connectedness is key, also in business. Traditional finance companies should reach out to new players, not ignore them.
Innovate from the outside
Traditional organizations are not equipped for fast innovation based on new technologies. It often makes sense to separate the innovation unit from the bureaucracy, in order to create a startup environment. An incubator where failure is allowed.
Follow the customer
The illoyal and fast moving customer needs to be followed, and more importantly, understood. Data provides that opportunity, and thus the promise of providing better customer relations in the future.
Master the vital resource
Data is called the raw material of the digital age, and management of the vital resource is essential. In order to be agile as a business and follow the customer, the operational data needs to flow efficiently across business units, something Master Data Management can provide.
Affecto is one of the largest Nordic companies delivering solutions globally across managed and professional services. Affecto is a leader in creating first class products and advisory for their customers. Danish clients include BEC, Nykredit, Ikano, PFA, and Alm. Brand.