London may be renowned for its financial sector, but the annual London Tech Week demonstrates to the world that the capital is a step ahead when it comes to innovation too.
An opportunity to showcase the best talent and ideas the city has to offer, the financial sector should be looking to the week as a source of inspiration on what their customers will be requesting in the not so distant future.
This year, artificial intelligence (AI) was on everyone’s lips, with conversation rife around what opportunities the technology could bring. In reality, it’s actually been around for over 60 years, but society is now at a stage where it is entering our daily lives and we’re seeing real products and solutions based on this technology enter the market.
Aspects of financial sector customer service could definitely be revolutionised with this, with chatbots, personal assistants and robo-advisors providing instant advice to customers 24/7.
AI isn’t just limited to customer service though, with it being used to spot behavioural patterns and trends that can help banks understand their customers better and tailor their product offering more accurately to each individual.
Alongside AI, what the ‘city of the future’ will look like captivated the audience. When thinking about ‘smart cities’ the imagination could easily run wild, but accessing technology at anytime from anywhere in major cities could easily have implications for banks, with customer expectation only set to escalate further.
Just last month, the Mayor of London announced plans for tubes to have 4G mobile coverage by 2019 – the opportunities truly do become endless with constant connectivity, and banks should be aware of this.
While the event also included some more tongue-in-cheek announcements, such as such as the start-up Gravity aiming at making a man in the UK become the first to defy gravity, London Tech Week is a good indication of what banks to need to look out for. Both businesses and consumers can feel the excitement around these technology launches, but there are issues banks need to address before they start developing ground-breaking products.
IT infrastructure – is it ready?
To launch the products they want to in response to customer expectation and improving technology, banks have to first concentrate on the legacy issues within their IT infrastructure. It is no easy challenge, but banks should look at following key steps to ensure they are ready:
• Align their framework so that it is standardised across the whole international banking industry.
• Collaborate with other players in the financial ecosystem to ensure the whole sector can take the steps forward together.
• Develop APIs that work within a standardised core banking framework ecosystem.
• Use the APIs to integrate with them new partners to ensure they can effectively launch new releases of digital products.
Banks may feel that they need to focus on new technologies, but to be successful in this journey, they first need to concentrate on making sure they have their IT environment in place.
In addition, collaboration may not seem like a logical step in a world of fierce competition, but if the whole industry introduces a standardised IT framework, all banks can move forwards and adopt any technology they may need to. Only once they have done so will they be able to launch the products their customers are so desperately seeking, at higher speed and lower costs.
Sourced by Hans Tesselaar, executive director of BIAN