We live in a world where information is at our fingertips, writes Sebastian Commin, specialist: digital enablement at Alexander Forbes Retail.
You can book a ride, order food and plan an entire holiday on your phone. Technology is changing the way we live, with a massive impact on how we build products to meet this new lifestyle. The value of the products we buy is being reduced, while the value placed on the services required to make use of these products is increasing. We are being forced to reimagine an entire product’s life cycle and all services connected to it.
The power of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Big Data are revolutionising the way we do business. Digital experiences are becoming personalised to the extent that all content and recommendations can be specific to each person’s unique situation. Internet of Things devices are allowing us to interact with technology in ways we only dreamt of in science-fiction, from watches that can alert emergency services in critical situations to speakers which can control your entire house.
With these new perspectives and enhancements, we are drastically reducing the cost of creating products while packing them full of new features. Add to this the increasing number of smart devices available to people, and improving availability of internet connectivity, more people have access in more ways than ever before. All of this is fast-forwarding the speed at which we are able to put products and services into the hands of customers. This makes it increasingly easy for new companies to form and disrupt the current well-known encumbered players.
The financial services industry was largely protected from disruption due to high start-up costs and the specialist skills required to successfully run the business. But times are changing. New companies are starting to take advantage of the sluggishness of the usual suspects and grab a portion of customers’ wallets.
We are living in a world which is more connected than ever before. Most people have access to a smart device, even in rural areas. This connectedness is helping create bigger communities and enhance the sharing of ideas, creating a new customer which expects more from the current providers.
Putting the customer at the heart of their vision and leveraging new digital technologies, or reinventing uses for old technologies, these modern companies are changing the narrative around financial services. By digitising and streamlining current processes, a lot of manual work can be removed, such as replacing the pages of insurance claim form with a single photo. This allows new start-ups to charge much lower fees and rapidly pivot their resources towards new innovative ideas to delight customers, attracting them away from the more established players.
This is forcing the current market leaders to rethink their businesses and drive down costs to compete in a new ever-changing market place. This means more customers are gaining access to financial services in more ways than ever before, with the increased competition making it more and more affordable.
And while things are changing we have only scratched the service, the impact of Artificial Intelligence; Big Data; Internet of Things devices; and many more technologies, have yet to be unpacked and fully experimented with within the financial services industry. The speed with which we explore new technologies and implement them into current or new business practices, the faster we innovate and redefine how people engage with finance, which in turn opens up opportunities for greater inclusion.