Transforming the financial services model

We speak with Dimension Data’s Alex Bennett and Steve van den Heever to understand how banks can digitise processes and mobilise employees with Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business

Rebecca Gibson
Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson on 25 August 2016
Transforming the financial services model

This article first appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of The Record.

In April 2016, Accenture reported that global investment in fintech rose 75% from US$9.6 billion in 2014 to US$22.3 billion in 2015. Meanwhile, Efma predicts that there are close to 20,000 fintech startups worldwide, and that almost US$100 billion will be spent on fintech this year. 

“Although the worldwide financial services industry has faced increased regulatory pressure and tighter profit margins since the 2008 global economic crisis, the real disruption is coming from new startups and fintechs,” says Steve van den Heever, group sales director for Financial Services at Dimension Data. “These companies are harnessing digital, mobile and social technologies to completely reshape traditional financial business models and deliver services to consumers in a more convenient and personalised way.”

Certainly, a March 2016 PwC survey showed that 83% of financial services firms and 95% of banks believe part of their business could be lost to fintechs, forcing them to find new ways to reconnect with customers in the modern digital and social world.

“The main aim of these companies has always been, and will continue to be, differentiating their brand and services to ensure they provide added value that keeps customers coming back,” explains van den Heever. “Previously, they could do this by having an informal advisory chat over a coffee in a branch, but now they also need to provide this same personalised experience online and via mobile and social media.”

He adds: “Banks will also need to establish new partnership ecosystems and regulatory frameworks to capitalise on blockchain technology, which could make financial trading processes more efficient, improve regulatory control and eliminate unnecessary intermediaries and manual steps in transaction processes.”

Expectations for mobile banking services are also rising. “More customers want mobile apps that deliver an experience that is most relevant for them,” remarks Alex Bennett, Dimension Data’s go-to-market director of workspace productivity and end-user computing.

However, points out van den Heever, for these new multi-channel customer service models to work, banks must evolve from being static, reactive workplaces with in-branch advisors who only serve walk-in customers. Bennett agrees, explaining that the modern office is more than a physical building manned by employees who provide customer services from 9am-5pm.

“Today’s customers expect to access services, make transfers, process insurance claims, or seek advice whenever, and from wherever, is most convenient for them,” Bennett explains. “Consequently, employees need to be able to work, access data and communicate from anywhere. For example, if a UK customer makes a late-night online enquiry about their insurance claim, they could immediately initiate a video call to a US-based expert who has accessed their information remotely. The customer gets an instant real-time answer, while the insurer maintains the important face-to-face aspect of customer service.”

To become digital, banks should migrate key operations to cloud platforms managed by external partners and develop mobile and online apps, advises Bennett. They must also improve data management and implement unified communication systems that transform how employees collaborate and interact with customers.

“Enterprise collaboration and communication platforms like Microsoft Office 365 make it easier for colleagues to share documents and communicate via instant messages, supporting the efficient execution of customer marketing campaigns,” Bennett says, adding that Office 365 is particularly effective when combined with Microsoft’s Skype platform. “Skype for Business facilitates real-time voice and video collaboration between colleagues in different geographical areas. Together, these platforms allow employees to share knowledge and expertise quickly to deliver better client services.”

Bennett adds: “Skype is already used by more than 300 million consumers worldwide, so it’s also an ideal tool for providing face-to-face financial advice to customers, and boosting cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.”

Office 365 also enables senior management to analyse multiple workloads and employee performance to identify areas for improvement. 

“Power BI for Office 365 analyses financial reports and sales figures stored in Microsoft Excel, while Office Delve and Office Graph offer insights into how each employee and team is working with content, colleagues, partners and customers,” says Bennett. “It could also help banks track customer adoption of new services and mobile apps, and understand how they’re interacting with the content to optimise marketing campaigns.” 

As part of its ‘Vision of Workspaces for Tomorrow’, Dimension Data has developed an end-to-end portfolio of services and hybrid cloud IT solutions to help organisations transform their business models and drive profitability. For example, it helped a major global bank with more than 1,100 branches to deploy Skype for Business, allowing its expert advisors to serve more customers via video from any location, which has expanded the client database.

van den Heever predicts that soon, more banks will be digitised. “Banks have realised that to truly stay in the game, they have to radically change their central business model, so they’re exploring how to automate and digitise processes using technologies such as mobile, the internet of things, robotics, geofencing and more,” he says. “Many banks aim to implement the foundational technology to enable their digital transition by 2020 so they can start tapping into the next generation of consumers, and Dimension Data is poised to help them.”

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