As we enter the new year, financial services organizations are assertively focusing on how they optimize their business during uncertain economic conditions. The goal of most businesses is to do more with less, or at minimum optimize their ability to execute their mission for their client. In working with many financial services organizations, I am seeing a variety of ways that organizations are able to leverage technology to do more with less this year.
#1. Build total customer value accelerators to achieve more with every client
The best thing you can do for your clients is create value for them. Interestingly, many financial services organizations do not effectively look at total customer value and how to create MORE outcomes for each relationship. The best financial services organizations think of their clients as value generators, understanding the relationship between their own success and their client’s success.
Examples of what I’ve seen other customers of ours do in value accelerators:
- Recommendation engines tied to actual customer best practices
- Financial optimization of customer product set
- Recommendation insights for advisors to provide direction to customers
- Customer 360 analysis of engagement approach
- Values-driven investment tooling
#2. Turn Processes into Tools by Making All Employees Creators
You’ve heard that teaching a person to fish catches two fish instead of one… teaching a person to “make” is a force multiplier in your organization. The closest person to your organization's challenges is the person in the field, client facing teams, etc. The most successful organizations are finding ways to empower those workers to become app & process “makers”, who create efficiencies from their knowledge of the business. The question to ask is “how could I make our current process more efficient by using a tool instead of human effort?” The maturity curve below shows the path that organizations travel as they bring this capability to their existing employees.
The curve brings a view of legacy application development, silos, and traditional dependency on IT to Emerging, Center of Excellence, Expansion, and Normative. The Emerging State is where a company picks its top power users and enables them to drive impact. The Center of Excellence creates a downstream impact surrounding scale, enablement, and security, leading to Expansion which drives usage across the entire business.
This is an area for process optimization via tools in Power Platform, ServiceNow, and Teams as major components to driving a more robust workforce that makes each job more efficient. Don’t be satisfied with running inefficient processes. Leverage tools like these through scaled team members across your organization to create great outcomes.
#3. Reduce the footprint of on-premise datacenters and optimize in the cloud
This is a two-part conversation. The first part of the story is driving mid-to-long term cost optimization through the cloud. Those that say, “the cloud costs more” are missing the root of the story, which is that in actuality, the cloud is largely parity, unless you take the opportunity to optimize your resources, eliminate servers, sunset apps, etc. These are the key activities that are done during cloud migrations and should be near the top of your list… “application rationalization”. The following shows a potential migration to the cloud. Notice that the right sized usage is lower than the cost of on-premise, when combined with reserved instances and Azure Hybrid Use Benefits, can create substantial savings. In this scenario we eliminated 20% of the servers because they will be using cloud-native tools going forward.
The second component is that, even at cost parity, you are “doing more with less” in the cloud because your organization receives additional benefits. These include infrastructure-as-code, micro-segmentation of workloads, site redundancy, site security, replication/backup, monitoring, etc.
Finally, realize that even if your organization is not migrating its existing workloads to the cloud, the opportunity for NEW application development based on cloud topologies brings substantial efficiencies in either SaaS or PaaS use cases. Many organizations are looking at how they can reinvent their application platform to bring cloud agility to their customer relationships.
The flip side of this story is that once resources have been migrated to the cloud, it is your organization's DUTY to optimize those resources. For organizations already in the cloud there are always cost savings possibilities because the cloud makes it easy to waste resources if not managed. I find that on average there is 20 – 30% cost savings in any given cloud environment, with the following being the biggest opportunity areas:
- Playground resources left running, even after the person has left the organization
- Test/QA resources left running all the time
- Lack of applying reserved instances
- Not re-sizing resources to actual usage needs
- Not structuring the landing zones to facilitate automation of cost
- Not applying tags to facilitate review of costs
#4. Optimize sales & customer service processes with bots and AI
The efficiency and customer service improvement of a well implemented bot sales & customer service channel is astounding. I’ve gotten to a point where I can see a great bot experience over legacy modes of interacting within organizations is preferred. The reason why is that asynchronous communication is more efficient than synchronous communication… IF it is done effectively. The opportunities here are vast because they are tied to both customer interactions and sales team optimization.
Areas we’ve seen optimization through bots and AI include:
- Sales channels for new questions from clients or escalation
- Product alignment to client need (create package for advisor)
- Customer service (advisor help-me)
- Support scenarios (how do I?)
- Move/add/change (complex support)
All of these can use a bot to efficiently get information, provide data back to the client, potentially resolve (first chat resolution), and/or a warm handoff to a human support professional.
In the case of customer service, the optimization could look like this:
The use case above maps the “picture of the elephant” to understand the dependencies so they could use a bot driven experience for the client and the client support representatives. The goal was to simplify a complex scenario down to something meaningful. As you can see below, there are opportunities across the ecosystem that reconcile in simple interfaces.