Collaborate to accumulate: why banks are embracing the new workspace

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The financial services industry is going through a period of huge disruption. Traditional banks and investment houses need to be more agile, embrace the digital workspace and source the right talent to compete effectively with fintech-driven challenger banks.

The rapid convergence of mobile, cloud, virtualization and enhanced cybersecurity technologies has made the digital workspace a very powerful differentiator. Many financial institutions have already looked to unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions to improve processes and better engage with customers.

The digital workspace, however, goes beyond this. It connects people through real-time conversation to create a persistent, holistic, virtual, always-on, anywhere workspace. However, Gartner warns that businesses still have some work to do to make the digital workspace a success. It believes that only 7 to 18 percent of organizations have the “digital dexterity” to adopt new ways of working such as virtual collaboration and mobile.

“Solutions targeting new ways of working are tapping into a high growth area, but finding the organizations ready to exploit these technologies is challenging,” explains Craig Roth, Research Vice President at Gartner. An organization with highly dexterous employees has the cognitive ability and social practices to use media, data and technologies in different and innovative ways.

Change is happening, but it needs to accelerate. According to IDC, some companies are still transitioning from legacy TDM-based telephony and messaging to a UC&C-based infrastructure, with cloud-based solutions being top of mind for many CIOs. IDC has also noted a growing trend among organizations to explore embedding business processes and applications in communications.

“Established traditional financial institutions need to simplify their business and become more agile and digital to remain competitive against fast growing fintech-driven challenger banks and over-the-top (OTT) companies,” argues Philipp Ringgenberg, Director of Business Innovation & Consulting, Orange Business Services. “This includes better internal communications systems that will allow teams to collaborate and work closer together to become more efficient and compliant.”

Attracting talent

Disruption in the financial services sector is being driven by technology, but financial services must not ignore the human factor. Talent and skills in digitization are being fought over as established and new players in the financial services sector look to recruit and retain creative digital talent that can adapt to a continuously changing market place.

The National Bank of Australia, for example, is just one of many financial institutions looking to rapidly ramp up its digital expertise. It recently hired 600 technology specialists in software engineering, data, architecture and security. It is now looking to expand its Artificial Intelligence (AI) expertise.

While financial institutions have traditionally provided attractive remuneration packages, start-ups and fintech-driven challenger banks are now competing head on and offering more flexible ways of working and attractive workplaces.

Retaining the knowledge base of an outsourced and aging workforce is also a major challenge as employees either retire or move on. These employees have huge value in terms of experience, their work ethic and stabilizing influence on business. Financial institutions will have to devise recruiting strategies to adequately replace them.

Breaking down hierarchy and silos

Collaborative platforms can help financial institutions to break away from a rigid hierarchy that has plagued the sector. They enable a seamless, transparent flow of knowledge and ideas which can be used for informed team decision making.

Data silos can inhibit agility, stall communications and make processes difficult to navigate. Demolishing these silos and bringing in collaboration tools can help financial institutions increase flexibility, productivity and efficiency – and also help retain and attract the best employees by providing a way for them to innovate and enhance their abilities. Training and updates can be done through web and video conferencing, for example. This allows information to be cascaded through an organization at a time that suits employees.

Financial services, by its very nature, is a dynamic industry. By bringing together all communications into one unified platform, they can avoid multiplying investment. The technology can empower teams and develop inter-group synergies, regardless of departments or time zones to collaborate and make decisions faster – accessing information where and when they want it. Such tools also speed up the development of ideas that support innovation to deliver competitive advantage.

“In the future we will see financial institutions that aren’t here now,” says Pieter Zylstra, Regional Director for Digital Transformation, Orange Business Services. “People are looking for banking, not banks. But banks have a strong brand; if they can innovate and communicate, they can survive.”

Financial services

Taking the next step

But collaborating is far more than simply choosing a solution. It is imperative that financial institutions work with a collaboration partner that understands the uniqueness of this market place. One that can provide a complete package that puts the customer at the center of everything they do.

Traditional financial institutions face an enormous challenge in balancing innovation and extensibility with accountability and compliance. Secure collaboration, enabling people to easily reach out and communicate with each other across borders and devices, is an essential ingredient in safeguarding their future.

Discover our collaboration and communications solutions for financial services, and find out why leading Middle Eastern bank Ecobank chose Orange for network and cloud.