Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination

by Brad Crain ([email protected]) 1,130 views 

A transition to more digital offerings was already on the horizon for banks. However, the pandemic amplified digital demand, forcing the industry to begin an evolution that was likely five to 10 years away. While no one could ever predict a pandemic, the global catastrophe spotlighted why change and transformation must become central tenets of a company’s culture if it hopes to remain relevant for generations to come.

To meet that digital demand, three things must happen in the banking industry:

  • Moving to a new banking core technology platform that allows the industry to provide real-time account information to customers.
  • Moving to cloud computing networks to enhance agility.
  • Developing and implementing new data platforms for better research outcomes and helpful analytics.

Understanding stakeholder and customer expectations is an essential part of designing a winning growth strategy. Therefore, investing in CX (Customer Experience) research parallel to technological advancements is imperative in the banking transformation process. Banks that get it right will have effective data systems that help align products to the needs of current customers while forecasting the needs of future customers.

For example, PWC recently released its Digital Banking Consumer Survey that shows that customers are more open to digital acquisition than ever, with 20 to 25% of consumers responding they would prefer to open a new account digitally, but have been unable to do so.

Brad Crain

Customers expect banks to be able to proactively recommend solutions, services and products to make their lives easier. When they want to view deposits or expenses, they want it in real time and real fast — minute by minute. Banks that move slowly toward the cloud transformation will find it difficult, if not impossible, to provide these capabilities and as a result are at risk of obsolescence.

Change is difficult. There’s no doubt about it. At Arvest, a new chief transformation and operations officer is helping create a culture of innovation where we are willing to put processes in place to test, learn and drive change. Companies must be bold and not be afraid of failure. And when a pilot, test or strategy is not succeeding, fail fast, learn and pivot.

That doesn’t apply only to developing the products that customers need. Meeting digital demand will lead to more automations. Further, associates will need to learn new skills to deliver greater service to customers.

Assessing associate talents and using the findings to place those who have broader ambitions in more challenging positions will be a benefit to growth of the institution and to the associates; a classic win-win.

We’re in a season of digital transformation, and what we’ve learned is that it’s not a destination but rather a journey of continual advancement and improvement among our people, processes and technology. We have embraced this journey and look forward to meeting and exceeding customer expectations now and for decades to come.

Brad Crain is president of Arvest Bank Benton County. The opinions expressed are those of the author.