By Sreeram Iyer, Chief Operating Officer, Institutional, ANZ Banking Group
According to a Bain & Company study1, only 8 percent of global companies achieve their targeted business outcomes from their digital-technology investments. Eight percent or a similarly low level is a stark reminder for any company of the core challenge facing most leaders who drive automation: “How do you migrate from technology investments resulting in mere digital tools to true digital assets that are used to their fullest capabilities?”
The challenges and root causes
There are two dimensions to this challenge:
- Internal: Are your employees truly adopting the new, improved capabilities offered through these platforms? How much have their behaviours changed? Has that been measured? Due to the differences across an employee base, it’s crucial to form a baseline understanding that digital adoption is neither a marathon nor a sprint—and a “one size fits all” strategy simply won’t work. Instead, digital-rollout initiatives should address—just in time and just enough—to transition the workforce through the change.
- External: Corporate customers are often as large as, if not larger than, the banks that offer them powerful tools to interact and maximize their banking relationships. This often gets complicated due to the multi-product environment of cash, trade, payments and/or lending. Additionally, most corporate and institutional bank customers are multi-banked. This poses extra challenges for adoption as the technology stack is rarely the same among corporate banks and clients.
The reality is that the customer is driving any change on which an organization embarks. Today, customers expect relevant content related to what they’re doing anytime and anywhere, in their preferred formats and on their chosen devices. Their expectations dictate an organization’s strategy.
Quite unlike the adoption challenges for retail banking offered at the last mile, one legitimate question for corporate banking is: “Why is digital adoption a challenge in the first place?” Interestingly, this author could not find many credible published studies on this matter.
So, three reasons from experience come to mind:
- Digital access points through channels for corporate customers could expose them to data and privacy breaches.
- Counter-intuitive to digitization is the migration process, which is often agonizingly and annoyingly paper-based (!) as well as wet-signature denominated.
- There is not enough conviction that credentials management and control are adequately avoidable in the hands of the customer.
When it comes to internal employees not adopting new platforms or tools, the following contributing factors emerge: First is the continued optionality to use erstwhile platforms that have not yet been decommissioned. Then, there is a lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities. With a well-expected digital strategy, work often moves to different “boxes” within organizational structures. And finally, it is necessary to embed a digital mindset with empathy. Digital is about connecting people. In my view, empathy is also about connecting people. It is hard to draw a very direct line, but I do believe some of these skills that we’re building will only make us stronger and bring each other’s capabilities together as we move forward, as the environment continues to transform.
So, what needs to be done?
Based on a 2021 IDC (International Data Corporation) study2:
- US$1.5 trillion was spent on digital transformation globally in 2021;
- Global spending on digital transformation is expected to reach US$6.8 trillion by 2023;
- The top benefits of adopting a digital model are: It improves operational efficiency (40 percent), allows for faster time to market (36 percent) and helps meet customer expectations (35 percent).
And so, it is now abundantly clear that the crucial question to include in any digital strategy is “What needs to be done and by when to boost digital adoption after deployment.”
Digital tools must mature to become digital assets as rapidly as is practical. Only then will they support digital-transformation efforts and achieve their return on investment (ROI). This applies equally to internal employees and external customers. Digital adoption is significant as it helps companies realize the software investment’s value. It optimizes business processes, enhances employee performance and improves ROI.
Therefore, focus on the following four key elements:
- Understand customer expectations. As the world changed around them, customers changed right with it. Organizations need to recognize their customer bases and exercise empathy towards end-users because customers expect connected online transactions, personalization, innovation and data protection. As a banker, I believe that any company—especially banks—can do a few things differently.
Banks can integrate their internal silos and offer one multi-product face to the corporate client. However, this is easier said than done. But its absence is the difference between the success and failure of any digital transformation.
- Trust and privacy. There is no denying that security and fraud issues are foremost in customers’ minds—and rightly so. According to McKinsey3, companies should develop clear, standardized procedures to govern requests for the removal or transfer of data. These should ensure expedited compliance with regulations and cover consumer requests for data identification, removal and transfer. Organizations need to simplify data-privacy policies and spell out exactly what, when and how customer data will be used and be transparent about any partners that have access.
- Rethink the customer-service model. When it comes to corporate banks, the pandemic has shown us that the customer-service model must move from reactive to proactive interactions. Banks need to challenge, optimize and raise productivity in their service models.
It is now clear that all self-service capabilities offered under digital-transformation programs need to be supplemented by in-person support for complex client interactions. This alone will boost digital adoption significantly. Thus, the customer-service model must move from a reactive cost centre to a proactive value generator. Value can be generated by feeding insights gained from customer conversations into product and service design.
- Prioritize technology investments. Big banks need to get technology that improves flexibility, agility and speed-to-market. Digital adoption is a continuous and ever-evolving process. Depending on the complexity of the new technology, the number of users or employees, and many other factors, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months before you see tangible results from it. Having a clear vision is critical to understanding how digital practices can help to empower the enterprise and drive it towards that vision.
Technology decisions should not be made in isolation as every system is typically interconnected directly or indirectly. This connectivity impacts how technology investments are valued within organizations. Every technology investment should be evaluated to determine if it is required for a point solution or part of a wider value for the organization and its customers.4
In summary, capabilities have changed, and complexities have increased, so we must rise to the challenge to ensure digital adoption is given enough attention—through communication, motivation and education to both customers and the people serving—to lift the digital experience. Ensure digital adoption is at the heart of the digital-transformation strategy.
It is vital to measure the right metrics and answer the question “What does good look like?”—to help you understand your service experience and create an action plan. Measurement is not the goal here; improvement is. But by measuring these metrics, we can chart our success for any digital-transformation platform. Target your employees and your customers for sharp adoption. Expectations and experiences change, so maintain your investment in digital transformation and shape it as you seek continual feedback.
Digital adoption isn’t just about signing up customers. It is equally about our internal employees; hence, we must give the adoption strategy as much attention as we do when designing a platform. We spend huge amounts of time and hundreds of millions of dollars on the platform of the future. More importantly, though, we need to spend money to communicate, educate, inspire and really get people to make use of what is being built.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.
1 Bain & Company: “Four Myths of Digital Transformation: What Only 8% of Companies Know,” Vishy Padmanabhan, Steve Berez and Pascal Gautheron, June 25, 2019.
2 Zippia: “37 digital transformation statistics : Need-to-know facts on the future of business,” Sky Ariella, April 26, 2022.
3 McKinsey: “The consumer-data opportunity and the privacy imperative,” Venky Anant, Lisa Donchak, James Kaplanand Henning Solle, April 27, 2020.
4 Deloitte Insights: “2022 Banking and Capital Markets Outlook.”