Banks must answer six key questions to ensure they are ready for innovation-led change.
1. Does my strategy account for rapidly changing revenue and profit pool?
Implementing new technology independent of strategy is ineffective. Banks need a clear strategy that defines their operating model and identifies key markets, customers and products. The strategy should be frequently reassessed, given the pace of technological change.
2. What is my role in the ecosystem, and how do I innovate efficiently?
As banks reduce the number of in-house functions and seek partners to drive innovation, it is critical they foster a deep understanding of their competencies and deficiencies. They must also develop a clear view of which processes a partner might be able to do better, or at a lower cost, or both.
The most successful banks will participate in a new, broader type of financial ecosystem. The culture will be one of collaboration, not protectionism. Relationships with FinTech firms, utilities, managed service providers and even competitors will be common.
3. How do I implement strategic change in a rapidly evolving digital environment?
New technologies do not necessarily drive a need to use them. There is often limited advantage to being a first mover, and any advantage can be quickly eroded by fast followers who learn lessons from first movers.
According to Celent, banks spend approximately 75% of their IT budgets on maintaining legacy architecture, often on tactical patches that embed poor processes that then propagate to new technology. For example, robotic process animation can radically reduce costs, but applying robotics to existing procedures may just reinforce inefficiencies.
One attractive solution to this problem is launching a greenfield digital bank to which banks can migrate customers. It is a costly proposition that management can be reluctant to implement, even if it does drive long-term success.
4. How do I change my talent to support a more digital business?
The stars of the future might well be internal entrepreneurs, as opposed to those who excel at in-house development. This brings implications for talent acquisition at all levels of an organization. Other talent-related trends include automation that frees up humans to perform more value-added tasks, and the migration of talent from banks to technology firms and service providers.
A heightened focus on internal cost reduction may seem threatening to the retained organization and existing employees may wonder “Will software robots eliminate my role? Will my experience and skill set be appreciated in the new world?” These are understandable concerns, and banks must prevent a “them vs. us” mentality that reduces motivation and can lead to a talent exodus.
5. Am I sufficiently considering new risks and the need to embed cybersecurity in my strategy?
As the pace and scale of technological change accelerate, the perimeters between internal and external risk are blurring. Banks must successfully manage these developing risks to maintain high levels of digital trust.
By infusing cybersecurity concepts and practices throughout the organization, banks are better able to identify and mitigate digital risk. Banks create value when the rationale for cybersecurity shifts from preventing breaches to enabling innovation and growth.
6. How do I transform my technology and the technology organization?
Digital maturity is a moving target. The most successful banks understand where emerging technologies support strategic objectives and don’t get caught up in hype about new, unproven technology. The marks of a true digital leader are organizational flexibility and agility.
Banks need to demonstrate to supervisors (and other stakeholders) that they understand the risks associated with new technologies and pursue innovation in a way that enhances — or at least maintains — operational and financial resiliency.