The era of digital transformation has arrived for every business. But the march of progress has advanced further in some industries than others.
Those that have embraced technology enthusiastically, such as financial services, have seen explosive growth and have raised customers' expectations of what's possible. Industries that have responded warily to tech have watched while upstarts have reinvented their fields and realigned the competitive order.
Some legacy businesses have been all but consumed by web-based competitors. In retail, for example, the tale of Sears & Roebuck is instructive. Sears invented the shop-from-home model with its iconic catalog in the 1890s, then saw Jeff Bezos reinvent it more than a century later. Today, Sears is shuttering stores and fighting for survival while Amazon.com is the world's largest online marketplace.
The story in the financial services industry has been a little different.
To their credit, many banks and financial services firms saw the digital transformation opportunity early and have tried to meet the challenge. Every bank today offers mobile banking, online bill pay and a full suite of online money management tools. Major trading firms all offer robust and low-cost ways to buy and sell stocks online.
Yet digital upstarts have nonetheless swarmed the finance world. Storied banks and credit unions now compete with online-only rivals. So-called "robo-advisers" deploy artificial intelligence to simplify investing. Mobile payment companies make it easy to reimburse friends for dinner. And online lenders offer new borrowing and refinancing options.
All this innovation has been a marvelous turn of events for consumers. For the institutions that have traditionally dominated the financial industry — and the tech professionals working within those businesses — the challenge is to understand what modern consumers want from their banks and credit unions (perhaps before they know themselves) and devise innovative ways to deliver.
That's where EquITy comes in. Here you'll find advice and insight on the most pressing tech issues the financial industry faces.
What more must you do to instill confidence among your customers that their financial transactions and data are secure?
Is blockchain, the emerging technology that both underpins bitcoin and makes a whole range of online transactions more transparent, the future of financial security? And if so, how can your institution take advantage?
Will the ongoing decline of brick-and-mortar banking — there are about half as many physical bank branches today as there were 20 years ago — spell doom for local credit unions and small banks? Or can they harness the power of AI and other technologies to better serve their customers and grow their own businesses?
These are the kinds of complex questions that IT pros must answer — and answer correctly. Indeed, given the rapid rate of change and the fierce level of competition in financial services, tech leaders don't have the luxury of taking their time pondering such issues, or of getting them wrong.
Finance is one of the most rapidly changing industries in the world, and much of that change is driven by technology. The decisions you make today will not affect your customers and colleagues just tomorrow, they may determine your organization's long-range prospects.
Our goals at EquITy are simple: to help you level the playing field as you compete with bigger rivals and to empower you to make informed decisions about harnessing the power of technology.