Banks ramp up mobility — at least for customers

Banks are using mobile technology to make things better for customers. How about for their own employees? Let’s just say that transaction is still being processed, according to panelists at the Enterprise Mobility Summit last week in Toronto.

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It’s a great time to be a customer.

The options for customers are endless right now. Feel like buying something? Choose from brick-and-mortar, online or mobile commerce. Ticked off about what you just bought? Tweet your outrage at the brand or merchant in a couple of quick clicks.

Too lazy to book your next flight online? No problem, a chatbot will relay the cheapest, quickest choices to you in a series of witty (sometimes slightly creepy) texts. Thanks to analytics, the ads you see online and the discount offers that land in your email inbox are personalized based on your interests, your purchasing history, your demographic details.

Technology is revolutionizing customer engagement in every single industry, including banking. Here at Canadian banks, things are going pretty well, at least on the mobile front.

That’s according to Tim Hogarth, vice-president of API, application architecture, innovation and channels at TD Bank. In a recent panel discussion at the Enterprise Mobility Summit in Toronto, Hogarth said TD is “pretty proud of our mobile credentials.”

“But that’s outside the bank,” he added quickly. “Inside the bank, it’s still quite old and quite traditional. You can’t just take what you do externally and apply it internally.”

So banks, he said, are using mobile technology to make things better for customers. How about for their own employees? Let’s just say that transaction is still being processed. Another panelist, also from the banking sector, had Hogarth’s back on this one.

“How do we transform the employee perspective? We started from a customer perspective but have been very late to the transformation from an employee perspective,” said David Del Giudice, vice-president of global HR systems solutions at Scotiabank.

“We’re fairly frugal in banks,” Hogarth acknowledged later in the discussion. “We don’t spend a lot on corporate apps, we spend the bare minimum.”

No shocker there. As Del Giudice went on to point out, it’s easier to justify spending on customer-facing IT innovations because, unlike employee-facing ones, they drive top-line revenue and market share. Yet another barrier to internal innovation is legacy IT (the scourge of bank CIOs everywhere) and its integration headaches.

There’s also the harsh reality that, despite the consumerization of enterprise IT, many corporate tech solutions aren’t exactly enthralling the employees who have to use them.

Employee UX (some have dubbed it EX) could certainly use a boost. In a new survey of 5,000 fulltime workers around the world, only 44 per cent said their company “uses the latest technology to enable them to effectively perform their role.”

The report concludes that people enjoy using intuitive, convenient, efficient technology at home; now they want — no, expect — to have the same awesome technology experience at work. If they don’t get it, they might just walk away.

When Ultimate Software recently surveyed 1,000 American workers, almost one-third said they’re prepared to quit their job over outdated workplace technology.

Besides hurting staff retention, subpar internal IT is also a security risk. A 2015 study by Alfresco Software found a correlation between unhappiness with corporate IT and the use of shadow IT such as personal email and unsanctioned public document sharing tools.

The biggest risk of all in skimping on internal IT, however, is losing the person we focused on at the very beginning of this blog post: the customer.

“We are under-investing in the environment we create for the employee,” Del Giudice said. Somewhere along the line, he argued, “that translates into customer experience.”

Photo: iStock

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