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Banks must modernise or risk losing out

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According to the latest World Retail Banking Report, many banks have not adapted their middle and back-end systems at the same rate as the digital transformations taking place in the front-end, or user interface. As a result, middle and back-end systems often receive a lower level of support and investment, which can create a fragmented customer experience and hinder the industry’s ability to attract, retain and engage modern customers.
Another of the report’s findings is that the digital maturity of a bank’s front-end system  may be double that of their middle and back-end systems.
According to Nitin Rakesh, CEO and president of Syntel, banks have an opportunity to level the playing field with their digital competitors by more equitably allocating their technology investments among front, middle and back-end systems.
“Technological advancement in all areas of the enterprise plays an essential role in enhancing the customer experience,” says Rakesh. “Back office work often involves a high level of manual processing, which can be costly, time consuming and can lead to inconsistent results and errors. It is essential to employ smart technology solutions that address these issues to enhance functionality and reduce cost and risk.
“Simply directing resources and investment towards the front end may not achieve the goal of enriching the customer experience. What goes on behind-the-scenes is just as important as the point of contact for customers,” he adds.
The importance of improving the customer experience takes on even more significance in the digital age, as innovative FinTech companies continue to disrupt and carve out a growing market share of the retail banking market.
The World Retail Banking Report also revealed that banking executives believe that customers are increasingly comfortable with internet and technology players and the alternative services they offer, as opposed to traditional banks. The competitive edge that many FinTech companies possess stems from their ability to leverage technology and data to develop customer insights without being constrained by outdated back-end systems, allowing them to deliver new and exciting products to their customers.
“We should not consider front, middle and back offices as separate entities, but as connected parts of the customer lifecycle,” says Rakesh. “Banks need to rework their IT architecture and infrastructure to encourage more streamlined results and significantly improve the customer experience.”
One key, Rakesh says, is to leverage the modernisation effort to free up precious resources, which banks can then invest in front office transformation to become more agile and focus on enhancing the customer experience. By employing automation to move human capital away from repetitive tasks, banks can effectively reclaim up to 25% of their resources and apply them to higher value tasks.
Rakesh highlights three main areas of the middle and back-end systems  that banks should explore for modernization opportunities: automating manual processes; simplifying, consolidating and upgrading multiple legacy systems to streamline business operations; and effectively capturing, managing and analysing customer data.
“A modernisation effort that addresses all three of these strategic areas will enable banks to go to market faster, operate more efficiently, compete more effectively and gain deeper business insights into customer behaviour, sentiment and needs,” he says.