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Fabio Russo
10 March 2020
Reading time: 5 min.

Innovation in Banking & Finance is a challenge that passes through dialogue

From a hyper-history concept to data subject emergence: let’s assess how innovation is perceived among consumers and the mindset with which banks can implement it internally.

The universal appeal of new digital technology for both professionals and consumers is acharm-amplifier.

For a Digital Marketingprofessional, the spread of articles and blog posts full of tactical ideas,must-dos, current trends, and future projections is an inexhaustible source of questions and challenges.Further, it’s a drive to review enthusiasm for the latest opportunities in digital marketing.

Today, I’d like for us to discussthe impact of technology on consumers and companies, especially in terms of  Banking & Finance. This will help us understand how they can incorporateinnovation and make it their own.

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Did you know that we’re part of hyper-history?

Let’s start from far away tounderstand where we are.

Today’s end-user leads the rising Industry 4.0 social revolution and human-centric innovation. (By the way, don’t miss the 2020 MailUp Marketing Conference—we’ll talk about this, too!)

The user’s new digital technologyexpectations are very high. They grew in a social environment that LucianoFloridi, information’s philosophical father, has defined as “hyper-historical.” Civilization emerged morethan 5,000 years ago from prehistory through the capability of recording information in writing. However, it’s the total dependence from information (therefore,within the ICT domain) that introduced mankind to hyper-history.

In other words, we all share a data space that determines social well-being and even identifies us as individuals (it’s no coincidence that European legislation literally defines us as data subjects, i.e., subjects “made of data”).

This might sound like more of adowner than it actually is. Don’t give up. Let’s move on.

Is being defined as a data subject really that negative? The case of Banking & Finance

The point is that today, we’retotally dependent on digital technology. As consumers, we show unprecedented trust in it. This is best expressed inthe banking services market where, historically, distrust and abandonment rate represent endemic problems.

A January study published by The Financial Brand shows that high-tech bankingactivities in which customers show the greatest interest include:

  • New digital payment systems (mobile payment, digitalwallet, etc.)
  • The use of credit monitoring involves extensive access to credit and sensitive userdata by private companies outside the traditional banking circuit.

This means that the end-user isparticularly well disposed toward innovation and even eager to see his/her userexperience enriched. Essentially, customer self-perception as a data subject positively impacts companies.

So what’s the impact of innovation on Banking?

Quite often in this reality that isfull of opportunities, corporate innovation promoters push toward rapid and consistent changes, especially if they believe thatthe organization doesn’t keep pace with the market.

Medium-structured companies,however, and even more so in Banking & Finance, physiologically tend toward stability and continuity. Such a phenomenon intensifieswith increased company size, revealing a conservative attitude and organizational inertiathat usually disperse innovative impulses into bureaucratic labyrinths.

It’s clear then, that bringingdigital transformation into banks and financial institutions is not just atechnical issue: implementing new technologies requires organizational and cultural change.

In order to facilitate this process,it’s necessary that the people directly involved aren’t just aware of thebenefits of innovation for the end customer but also of their own personal advantages.

Individual motivation is a catalyzer of collective motivation. It involves valuesdesires, and goals, as well as to the same extent, what hinders them. They all strongly impact the emotional sphere.

Intercepting individual problemsand correlating them to collective difficulties and uncertainties (on a team,business unit, or global level), allows for designing solutions that take intoaccount the complexitiesof the entire organizational fabric.

Here’s an actual example: the impact of innovation on E-mail Marketing

Now let theory sink in by moving onto a concrete example, i.e., something most certainly shared by all those inBanking & Finance: E-mail Marketing.

E-mail, by definition, is key indigital leadership. It has a series of commercial and/or info-relational objectives (achieved through DEMcampaigns, newsletters, transactional messages, etc.) within structuredactivity management.

These goals are part of what thecompany intends to offer and obtain. No less important, however, is how. Part of this subset is stilldirectly linked to the relationship between user and brand. The other, however,concerns the operational and managerial aspects that those in charge of the E-mailMarketing program deal with every day.

E-mail Marketing figures differ:some deal with content, some with data analysis, and some with strategy.They’re part of the same system and called to share projects and processesdespite having their own distinct responsibilities and objectives (sometimes radically different).

Each of them seeks reassurance. Atthe same time, however, they’re ready to welcome innovation if it guaranteesnew possibilities to simplify, speed up, and preferably automate part of the work in dailyactivities.

As a brief example, we might cite contact database management. Let’s write down the teams which,within a bank or an institution, could be involved in the activity:

  • Marketing: interested in understanding how to build and personalize communications;
  • CRM Specialist: (or, more generally, who is in charge of data) concerned with how to effectively receive and process the information flow;
  • IT department: must support the work of the former by initiating a technical dialogue for system integration;
  • Team Compliance and legal department, as well as the DPO, which imposes (on all) constraints on data use.

It’s clear that priorities linkedto the same project don’t coincide since they’re simultaneously functionaloperationaltechnical, and regulatory. As if that weren’t enough, thesingularities of each team are linked to the needs of individuals, revealing analmost unrepeatable scenario for each company.

Now, what’s the key to technological innovation? The human component—meaning dialogue

Currently, people are open todialogue, now more than ever: the banking sector has a much more informal and flexible relationship with the marketbecause of increasingly evolved customer expectations. Today, they want to beable to do anything, anywhere, through the digital channel they choose and doit smoothly. A necessary condition of this transformation has been a newcapacity of the entire sector for listening and dialoguing, which also benefitsthe business-to-business liaisons.

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Being able to intercept the needs of individuals in the B2B contextis, therefore, fundamental to bringing innovation. Such a skill essentiallydepends on dialogue, which—if built on trust and managed methodically—develops over time, fuels mutual growth, and, consequently, opportunitiesfor the end-user.

Under this renewed human, dialogical perspective, new digital technologies can bewelcomed as a natural, strategic output for the growth of all corporatecomponents, rather than a goal triggered by collective enthusiasm.

Lending institutions have the tools to cover any digital divide. The broad consensus in our sector stimulates us at MailUp to keep working alongside them every day to renew their trust in our technological and professional capital. This guarantees an interlocutor capable of making the most out of the important investments expected in the coming years.

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Fabio Russo

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