Viewing digital transformation as a way to reimagine what’s possible in financial services

 TechnologyValue GBS

Over the last decade, technology has evolved into a real game-changer in the financial services industry. Additionally, a new sense of urgency resulted as COVID accelerated the pace of digital transformation, making technology a driving force in changing business models. Many CUs have made adapting to this new landscape a priority as new core systems, app development and integrations move to the top of annual strategy and budget plans. Yet digital transformation is about more than just adopting a new system, product or tool. CUs must identify how technology will fundamentally change their value proposition and way of doing business.

Consider these four questions regarding the shift to digital strategy:

  1. Member Experience: How can CUs maintain their personal touch while providing the digital engagement channels members are growing to expect?
  2. Branch Network: What type of physical presence do CUs need to complement the digital experience and offer accessible options to members?
  3. Infrastructure: How do CUs build a flexible backbone to ensure systems can support ongoing digital adaptation?
  4. Talent: How can CUs find, keep and develop the right mix of talent to execute their strategy?

Member Experience CUs are continuing to adapt their service models to meet post-COVID expectations and behaviors. Yet as members continue to adapt to and embrace the digital world, they may also find that they miss in-person experiences. A mix of the two most likely will result. CUs must tackle the question of how to do relationship and community banking in a digital age-and figure out how to combine high-tech channels with high-touch service.

Branch Network While the branch has historically been the foundation of the CU service delivery model, most saw a decline in branch visits over the past year-and some predict the departure of branches altogether. But branches are not disappearing entirely anytime soon. Branches communicate legitimacy and a commitment to the local community and to member support-and they truly matter for financial well-being. Low-income and minority-majority communities without easy access to the internet are most affected by closings. “Banking deserts” can harm households and communities, having long-lasting negative impacts on financial behavior and well-being. At the same time, there is real opportunity to reinvent the retail side of banking, reimagine how a branch operates and tackle digital divides that limit access to services.

Infrastructure What does the infrastructure of a digital-first CU look like, and what tech foundation best supports strategic vision? CUs need tech infrastructures that do not lock them into solutions that quickly become obsolete. At the leading edge of digital transformation are open architectures that allow for fast, flexible, interoperable partnerships. At the same time, CUs need infrastructures that integrate business lines and facilitate enterprise-wide data aggregation and access along with strong data privacy and security-enabling a comprehensive banking experience that fits members’ needs.

Talent COVID forced many CUs to enable staff to operate remotely or in hybrid capacities, introducing new technology needs around communication and cybersecurity. CUs continue to change their hiring and training practices to better equip employees to build digital experiences and provide high-quality digital service. Ultimately, skilled teams are required to not simply build and maintain tech systems, but to lead and implement new digital strategies. And many CUs are struggling to find the right talent. Yet CUs have advantages in their hunt for talent: Promoting the community impact of the institution, maintaining flexibility/support for staff around work-life balance and offering a range of growth opportunities.  

Across all these key questions involving member experience, the branch network, infrastructure and talent, Sharetec remains poised to assist CUs in a multitude of ways, helping them embrace and view digital transformation as a way to reimagine what is possible in financial services.