It’s easy to spot the latest trend in the tech industry. We’re moving away from desiring tech for tech sake – gone are the days when we were lusting after the latest Apple device because the design had been slightly tweaked and more pixels had miraculously been squeezed into the screen. What we want now is tech as a service that does something for us, integrates into our lifestyle and makes a difference to how we live.
The products which are available now that tie the financial service into a connected lifestyle are pretty limited – to say there’s scope for improvement would be an understatement. Yes, we can pay for things with our smartphones and watches and thanks to some third-party skills, we can now ask Alexa for stock market information – but these and features like them aren’t really connected; they don’t talk to our other devices or look at a bigger picture.
We’re moving towards an automated future, one where we won’t have to ask our devices to do things, they’ll pre-empt us. It’s an exciting concept to explore for those with their heads in the “cloud”. For the most part, these innovations are coming from open source developers and big tech companies, but not always. If Hive and Amazon can be pioneers in the connected space, why can’t financial service organisations?
It makes perfect sense. The finance sector is great at setting up partnerships for added value – from travel insurance to AA cover, we expect a few of these perks with our accounts. The lack of involvement with the IoT begs the question: why have banks not gotten into our homes?
Imagine a future where we could set life goals with our banks – whether that be for early retirement or to buy a boat – how interesting would it be if that bank helped change the world around us to help reach these goals? From putting the washing machine on during off peak hours for those Economy 7 customers, to turning the heating down a barely noticeable half a degree, these micro savings would soon add up. Utility companies are currently taking the lead here and we’re feeling the benefits of smart meters in our pockets, but having a long-term goal and a partner to help us achieve that would be a game changer.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could take the micro savings we’ve just made and invest in a portfolio of stocks and shares, one where we could ask our devices to keep us up-to-date with changes in the market and more importantly provide advice on how to react to them? (Let’s save the argument about responsibility in an AI era for another day.)
And how about if our banks recognised the changing ways we work? The IoT allows more of us to work from home but still collaborate with the office, be that down the road or in another country. Having a bank that seamlessly integrated with our employer could mean we tell our house we’re on the clock and have work pay for the utilities we’re using during that time, we expense petrol to get to meetings, so why not the electricity we use whilst working from home? At the moment, innovation is happening all around us – someone’s bound to do these things at some point so why not a financial institution? Being the financial partner in our lives has got to be a million times better than being the financial provider.
So how might we go about achieving this utopia?
Take a positive approach to the big idea: It’s so easy to say ‘no’ to a new idea. It only takes one glance from someone senior in a meeting to kill a great thought dead before it’s had a chance to develop. If instead of saying ‘no’ to concepts, those you work with encouraged them, added to them and embraced them, innovation can flourish and “moon shots” become possible.
Take AXA Insurance, for example. The brand invited various parts of the company to workshops to try and figure out how to have more quality conversations with its customers. By working together, in a positive atmosphere, the team extracted valuable insights from a broad range of departments. This created a much richer strategy than a more traditional approach that utilises ‘relevant’ stakeholders as well as having the added benefit of allowing knowledge to be shared across the organisation.
Innovation is not invention: Once we know what we’re aiming for, we can look at solving the barriers that are getting in our way. We need to remember that innovation is defined as a new way to solve an existing problem so let’s look at things differently wherever we can. How could we utilise existing technology in different ways, be that fingerprint sensors or geolocation to address security concerns or having AI provide simple suggestions customers could action when it comes to their investments?
Build trust through transparency: Along with security comes gaining customers’ trust. We can build that by being transparent – showing them how their money is saved through regular, clear reports, highlighting how favourable for the environment this is or how beneficial it could be for the UK’s economy as it fuels more entrepreneurs.
As customers become smarter, so will their expectations. Now’s the time for financial institutions to stop apologising for past mistakes and start to look to the future.
Think about how much varied data is going out to servers and how much innovation could happen by approaching the IoT collaboratively. By making use of the technology available, feeding all this into the financial system, providing customers with a greater service, and approaching these benefits differently, you can make the most out of this digital (r)evolution.
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their IoT use-cases? Attend the IoT Tech Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.