Customer Experience and Transformation In Financial Services – Part 1

By Stuart Macgregor, CEO, Real IRM and The Open Group South Africa

This is Part 1 in a two part series.

Chapter 1 – Introduction

The financial services industry is undergoing massive change.

Around the world, organisations offering banking, lending, insurance, trading, and payments services are realising that customer-centric, design-led approaches can revolutionise the way that financial services are delivered to a new generation of consumers.

But to achieve practical, sustainable transformation, financial services firms must turn their attention to their business architecture. Combined with sage business strategies, having the right architecture unleashes the dynamism and agility to succeed in the new digital era.

In other words, for financial services companies to achieve transformation and digitisation, addressing the architectural foundations is the starting point.

In this series, we’ll apply an Enterprise Architecture lens to McKinsey’s ‘10 timeless tests’ from its ‘Banking on customer centricity’ white paper’ – a litmus test for an organisation’s customer experience qualities.

These ‘tests’ are essentially questions that financial services companies need to ask themselves, areas to address, and activities they need to perform as they steer their way towards transformation and customer-centricity. They are housed within four distinct (but inter-related) groupings:

  • Vision and positioning: shaping the strategic direction, so that customers want to use your products and services, and employees feel highly engaged within your organisation.
  • Customer engagement model: defining the solutions and developing the go-to-market approach that will deliver exceptional customer value.
  • Development agenda: Ensuring your short-term growth and long-term success, with customer-oriented activities rooted in the pursuit of economic goals (and not just customer satisfaction).
  • Organisation, capabilities and insights: Anchoring customer-centricity within your organisation by creating optimal structures, incentives, capabilities and governance frameworks.

In this series, we’ll explore how the right business architecture is essential for your organisation to progress along any of these four dimensions.

Business architecture becomes the common vocabulary to define your organisation – across business units, silos, or geographies. It allows leaders to understand the complex, organic structures of the organisation. It forms the basis for strategy implementation and the context for programmes and projects.

More broadly, we’ll look at how Enterprise Architecture helps to free financial services firms from the tangled mess of legacy infrastructure, entwined over decades and decades, which hold them back from delivering exceptional customer experiences.

We’ll explore the ways in which Business Architecture supports rapid innovation and helps financial services companies to fend off the challenges from leaner start-ups in the FinTech space, from local telcos and retailers, and borderless digital giants like Google, Apple and Facebook.

And we’ll show how business architecture brings a new richness of customer insights – to develop closer customer engagement and tailor-made solutions.

Chapter 2 – Visioning and Positioning

Across nearly all industries, a brand’s value is increasingly dependent on the delivery of exceptional customer experiences.

In fact, services-oriented industries are those with the most burning need to create superb experiences that surround the direct (transactional) engagement.

Whether they’re in wealth management, business asset financing, general retail banking, insurance, or anything in-between, financial services firms will only remain relevant by continually delighting their customers. For this reason, embedding experience design into every facet of their services has become the mantra for any forward-thinking financial services organisation.

But – with often millions of customers to look after – so many financial organisations are struggling to translate these lofty ideals into tangible reality.

As noted by this Open Group paper titled Roads to a digital customer experience new technologies “are rendering obsolete the traditional frameworks and models that companies have been using to capture and design customer journeys and customer experiences”.

The answer? Start with the architectural building blocks

It’s only by developing the right architectures, processes, and systems that the organisation’s customer experience vision can find solid footing. By taking an Enterprise Architecture (EA) approach to experience design, the vision becomes a defined set of behaviours, incentives, and operational processes.

Ultimately, this spawns a new culture of customer-centricity that delivers meaningful enhancements to customers’ experiences. Empowered by new technologies and unshackled from outdated ways-of-working, staff are given the tools to execute on the customer experience vision.

EA enables the organisation to build a clear roadmap to transition from its current state, to its desired target state – by looking through the lenses of Business, Information, Data, Applications, and Technology (BIDAT).

By developing the roadmap in the context of these five domains, the organisation can pinpoint exactly how EA can facilitate the organisation’s goals of delivering exceptional customer experiences.

It unearths the complex inter-relationships within the organisation that impact customer experience, supports those that are responsible for designing and implementing the change.

For instance, EA helps firms understand where their customers’ data is housed, helps to eliminate duplications of this content, or identify overlapping systems that are trying to achieve the same objectives.

Ensure the brand and vision are guiding behaviour

As the financial services organisation moves from a product focus, to a customer experience focus, it becomes imperative to look at the internal company culture –  and eliminate the ways-of-working, cultures and habits that are no longer competitive.

This requires all areas of the organisation to come together and agree on the vision, and the definition of the target state that everyone will work towards.

By taking a transformative, almost ‘entrepreneurial’ approach to one’s operations, it becomes possible to start optimising and digitising processes, and decluttering wherever inefficiencies exist.

At a foundational level, EA enables the organisation to clearly delineate and distinguish between one’s functions, processes and capabilities.

EA enables the organisation’s leadership to link roles to processes, generate useful process guides, and define the training needs analysis for those various roles. Not only does this give individuals clear career paths; it also reduces the costs of producing training material (now that roles and processes are clarified and standardised).

Chapter 3 – Customer Engagement Model (Part 1)

In its paper ‘Disrupting beliefs: a new approach to business-model innovation’ McKinsey’s starting point is that “every industry is built around long-standing, often implicit, beliefs about how to make money”.

In retail banking for example, these beliefs include industry concepts like ‘share of wallet’, ‘cross-sell opportunities’, ‘acquisition costs’, and ‘lifecycle value’, among many others.

“[These beliefs] are often considered inviolable, “ continues the McKinsey paper, “until someone comes along to violate them. Almost always, it’s an attacker from outside the industry.”

Nowhere is this more apt than in financial services. Attackers from other industries are certainly threatening to invade the hallowed turf once reserved exclusively for banks, insurers, investment and trading providers, and others.

In retail banking, for example, these disruptive forces include the likes of:

  • Mobile wallets (such as M-Pesa)
  • New payments solutions (like Apple Pay or Square)
  • Cryptocurrencies (such a bitcoin)
  • Social lending (eg The Lending Club or Prosper)
  • Personal financial management tools (like Moven)
  • Crowdfunding (eg KickStarter)
  • Non-banks offering financial services (like Virgin or Discovery)

Other areas of financial services are certainly not immune to change as well. In the insurance realm, for example, disruptions like:

  • Usage-based vehicle insurance using GPS and accelerometers in smartphones or sensors
  • Online insurance aggregators and marketplaces
  • Other industries encroaching (eg insurance bundled offers from cellular providers or retailers)
  • Peer-to-peer insurance networks
  • Autonomous, self-driving vehicles in the not-too-distant future.

For incumbents, this presents a worrying reality: newer and more agile attackers won’t have the internal cost structural issues, the legacy infrastructure and higher head-counts – meaning these cost-efficiencies can be passed down to the consumer.

Part 2 to be published on The Open Group blog on November 29, 2016.

Stuart MacGregor CEO, Real IRM, South Africa
Stuart MacGregor,  CEO, Real IRM, and The Open Group South Africa

Stuart Macgregor is the CEO, Real IRM Solutions and  The Open Group South Africa. Through his personal achievements, he has gained the reputation of an Enterprise Architecture and IT Governance specialist, both in South Africa and internationally.

Macgregor participated in the development of the Microsoft Enterprise Computing Roadmap in Seattle. He was then invited by John Zachman to Scottsdale, Arizona to present a paper on using the Zachman framework to implement ERP systems. In addition, Macgregor was selected as a member of both the SAP AG Global Customer Council for Knowledge Management, and of the panel that developed COBIT 3rd Edition Management Guidelines. He has also assisted a global Life Sciences manufacturer to define their IT Governance framework, a major financial institution to define their global, regional and local IT organizational designs and strategy. He was also selected as a core member of the team that developed the South African Breweries (SABMiller) plc global IT strategy.

Stuart, as the lead researcher, assisted the IT Governance Institute map CobiT 4.0 to TOGAF®, an Open Group standard. This mapping document was published by ISACA and The Open Group. He participated in the COBIT 5 development workshop held in London in 2010.