4 tech trends that will shape the modern bank branch
The World Economic Forum's annual meeting kicked off on Jan. 21, 2015, as representatives flew in from more than 100 countries to talk economic growth, currency, trends, technology and a variety of other global challenges.
One of the main themes found in Davos, Switzerland is the "future." Conversations are all centered on how to grow and adapt for the coming years, and a frequent topic of conversation was the technology that will get us there. It is no secret that the financial services industry relies on technology for progress - nearly every industry does - and the WEF meeting offers a unique opportunity to peek ahead and see what is coming in 2015.
"Technology has changed how bank executives interact."
One attendee was Cathy Bessant, global technology and operations executive for Bank of America. In an article for American Banker, Bessant shared her opinions about major technologies in 2015 that were also key topics for the WEF.
Here are four tech trends that you could see impact your bank in the new year:
1. Increased partnerships and collaboration
In the past, a bank could operate with minimal interaction between executives, including the chief information officer. According to Bessant, technology today has changed that, with more institutions focused on collaboration and partnerships. She pointed out that technology is now more connected than ever to a bank's actual products and services. For example, you might advertise your cutting-edge mobile banking platform as a way to attract consumers. In the past, your go-to lead generator could have been low fees instead.
Bessant stressed that tech leaders, like CIOs, have to be able to balance the demands of their technology and the overall business. Figuring out how to collaborate effectively is a key trend for 2015.
2. Clear up some mysteries about tech
New technology can be a bit confusing, especially for banks that have spent decades using the same old tricks. When a new tool pops up - like the buzzword-sounding "big data" and "the cloud" - it can be met with equal parts confusion and wonder.
This has led to another important tech trend in 2015, according to Bessant: remove the mystery surrounding new technology. Some professionals view tech as a cure-all, coming in to save the day. This is rarely the case. In fact, technology won't yield increasingly positive results the more money is poured into it. Your bank should work to clear up any related misconceptions and ensure that everyone knows the possibilities of technology - and its limits.
3. Convert complex ideas into simple solutions
In some cases, technology has the unfortunate side effect of making a simple idea incredibly complicated. Bessant explained that it is up to bankers today to overcome that challenge, and make technology a valuable ally, not a hindrance.
"Don't let tech turn a simple solution into a complex problem."
She pointed to innovation and information security as an example. Banks are always on the lookout for that next best thing, and reinvigorating a branch through technology has its pros - but it can also lead to an increase in data breaches and other similar security risks. Don't let your next technological innovation become more of a problem than a solution.
4. Help customers with daily transactions
The fourth key tech trend in 2015 involves the daily transaction. Today, consumers are interested in new ways to bank, and technology provided the answer through mobile banking. According to a CDW infographic, mobility will be incredibly important in 2015 - but financial institutions need to connect with their customers better. Mobile banking must be a useful way to not only check balances but also complete transactions. Right now, few people are using their smartphones and tablets as a comprehensive banking solution.
The new year is shaping up to be an exciting one for banks. Technology has helped streamline the in-branch process, like cash recyclers for tellers, and has also been a critical part of the global conversation about the economy.