By Paul Rigby
Originally published in TechBullion, Feb 28, 2018
The past few years have been a technology roller coaster ride for financial services companies. From heightened cybersecurity threats to increased demands from customers on the digital front, the very rules that defined the industry have changed. And 2018 will be no different.
Today, both wholesale and retail customers look for fully immersive digital experiences from their financial institutions. Retail banks alone spent more than $20 billion on digital technology in 2017. However, as these advancements in technology have fundamentally reshaped the way the financial services industry interacts with its customers, many organizations have forgotten one key aspect—how their employees use their workplace technologies to deliver value in their own jobs. Financial services organizations may, for example, be able to offer customers a fully immersive app that offers virtual reality banking, but if the organization’s employees cannot proficiently use internal technology, such as Dynamics 365—Microsoft’s enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management application—its workforce will always fall short of delivering full value to customers.
Much of the reason why the $20 billion retail bank investment in digital technology has failed to pay off is because businesses are taking an outside-in approach to digital transformation. While investments are being made in transforming the customer experience, little focus is being placed on the actual employee experience with technology. Offering customers cutting-edge tech options is important, surely, but when productivity and customer service are impacted because employees don’t have the skills to do their jobs to the fullest extent andsupport new technology offered to customers, the entire service model suffers.
How can financial services companies ensure their workforce has the tools they need to survive in this new digital dynamic and the skills they need to use them proficiently?
Discover what problems the organization needs to solve first, and prioritize
If an organization tries to solve all employees’ technology issues or teach an entire workforce how to use every technology fully all at the same time, it’s going to drive itself crazy doing so. At our organization, the Vitalyst PROPEL Methodology™ starts with discovering barriers to success, learning styles and personas and setting attainable goals based off that. Take the time to investigate the problem scenarios as a first step. Are workforce issues coming with new technology like Dynamics 365 or legacy systems? Are these challenges inhibiting a workforce from delivering on new digital experiences for customers? What can be accomplished easily to help drive greater productivity? Identifying priorities from the get-go makes solving problems and driving change more manageable.
Make learning and development a continuous focus
One-size fits all training is the way of the past, and those who claim to offer the exact same learning and development courses applicable for an entire workforce aren’t doing it right. Applications like Office 365, Google Apps, Dynamics 365, Salesforce and others are so critical to the way financial services companies market, sell, and deliver to prospects and clients that businesses can’t afford to have a workforce that lacks the knowledge of how they should be used or lack the training and support needed to keep employees sharp. Considering how quickly skills become obsolete today, businesses must offer constant learning and development tools through multiple avenues of learning to ensure maximum value from these critical applications is obtained. By providing employees with a variety of ongoing learning options—from self-help resources, to periodic in-person or virtual sessions on tech updates, to name a few—businesses can ensure their employees are knowledgeable over the long term.
Allow data and analytics to deliver how and what it was intended to do
Financial institutions rely more on data than most companies to assess the success of their products, services and offerings (especially their new digital offerings). But do employees have the skills to interpret and implement change based on this data in a way that makes sense?
New tools, like Microsoft Power BI, are making it easier for organizations to measure, track and deliver results through data. However, these data tools are essentially useless if employees aren’t properly trained in how to use them effectively. It’s time to build data analysis skills of ALL employees—even if it requires additional training for specific employees, depending on their role—through continuous training and learning programs.
Use cross-functional teams to achieve digital maturity faster
The best, most forward-thinking financial organizations are using digital technologies to deliver the best experiences for customers and employees in more ways than ever before. Those who fall behind will be left behind. Using collaboration and cross-functional teams can help businesses move toward digital maturity faster. In fact, MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Digital researchers found that more than 70 percent of digitally maturing businesses are using cross-functional teams to implement digital business priorities. This compares to less than 30 percent for early-stage organizations.The most mature companies are using collaboration to share ideas with each other and learn new skills from experts across other departments and roles. Cross-functional teams can, in essence, accelerate the learning and maturity process faster than traditional methods. Financial services organizations need to take advantage of this opportunity for faster results.
Financial enterprises will never reach the top levels of digital transformation without a workforce that’s empowered, not inhibited, by its workplace technology and able to use analytics to drive the business forward. Only those who embrace the transformative power of technology for employees—not just customers—and give them the tools to do so, will be able to drive additional value for customers deep into the future.