Founder Feature | Riding the Financial Technology Wave
Thanks to Agent IQ for contributing to the ICBA ThinkTECH Acclerator’s Founder Feature series! Agent IQ allows customers to engage with their bank like they engage with friends and family, and enables banks to deepen relationships with each and every one of their customers. To meet AgentIQ and the other nine Fintechs in the 2021 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator, click here. For questions, please email email@example.com.
By Slaven Bilac
Co-Founder and CEO, Agent IQ
The tremendous and rapid changes in financial technology, or fintech, have culminated in a wave of innovation affecting everything from customer experience and cybersecurity to back-end office operations and automated loans. Today’s community banks are challenged to adapt to effectively compete while serving their customers better — in other words, ride the wave. The idea of jumping in the swell can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The trick is knowing what to look for to ensure a long and prosperous ride.
Given my extensive experience in driving technology change and helping companies adopt new technologies, financial institution leaders interested in hopping on the innovation wave often ask me, “What technology changes will dominate the next decade, and how can I prepare for them?” Great question, but changes in technology, and specifically financial technology, involve too many factors to allow for accurate predictions, and trying to prepare for an unpredictable terrain is an easy way to use more resources than any of us can afford. Ultimately, we need to be smarter about our approach to new technology.
We need to recognize the things about our businesses that are fundamental and less likely to change, so perhaps a better question is, “What things will not change despite technological advancement?”
Identifying and focusing on constants can help us prepare for a better future through innovation and sustainability. In full disclosure, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos came to a similar conclusion in the past and has used it to empower Amazon to become one of the biggest companies in the world. Now, as a leader of a company in the 2021 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator powered by The Venture Center, l would like to consider that in the context of community banks.
Things that will remain relatively constant and stable in the financial technology world for the next decade and beyond include:
Technological change will keep accelerating. That means that if you feel like you are falling behind, that feeling will only worsen with time. It becomes even more important to be selective about which technologies to deploy and which to ignore. Trying to do everything is futile and will bring diminishing returns over time.
“New” technology will eventually become dated and obsolete. The natural corollary of the first point, above, but pulled out for emphasis. It is essential to allow for transitional functionality and consider using multiple technologies for similar tasks. Also, the focus should not be on the technology itself but how it helps you and your business meet its goals.
Technology is only as useful as the problem it solves. Rather than getting in on the hype of “new” technology for excitement’s sake, it is crucial to focus on the core problem the technology solves while keeping in mind that cost/friction may offset the benefits a new technology introduces.
Customer demand for enhanced experiences will continue to increase, particularly for personalized, prompt, and effortless service making them feel appreciated and human while making it easy to accomplish their goals. Technology focusing on improving customer experience and reducing customer effort yields happy customers, and happy and satisfied customers drive healthy and profitable businesses.
Given the points above, the next step in building an innovation plan is developing criteria for evaluating potential fintech offerings and how they can differentiate your institution while preserving and promoting your core values. There are always new and helpful technology solutions available, so being selective is important. Here are some possible criteria to consider when deciding on a technology solution for your organization:
Does the technology help you differentiate your institution, or is it a me-too offering? For example, does it allow you to build relationships and provide superior service for your customers, or does it decrease touchpoints and make customers feel like pegs in a queue for the sake of improved efficiency or internal optimization.
Will the customers (and employees) see a clear benefit from the newly deployed technology, and conversely, does it introduce additional friction/effort on their part? Knowing your customers is critical to determining if a potential offering delivers something they want, makes their life more comfortable or better, and isn’t a point of frustration when used.
Is the technology broad and general, or does it address specific pain points clearly and coherently? This question is especially relevant for highly hyped terms like “AI” where an extensive range of possibilities exists, but clarity on potential value comes from specifics.
Is the technology/solution designed to integrate with existing systems, or is it an all-or-nothing solution that would require significant disruption? The ease of implementation is paramount. For many institutions, repeated small steps forward yield a considerable impact, but trying to roll out a solution requiring too many resources to deploy can render the whole effort more disruptive than helpful.
What is the cost of maintaining/deploying the solution? Does it allow for self-service management, or does it depend on professional services?
At Agent IQ, we used the criteria above to measure how our solution would score when evaluated by financial institutions. We designed our solution with our community bank partners so that it is easy to deploy and configure. More importantly, we provide a solution that hits at the core of community banking: building personal relationships with each and every customer. As part of the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator, we’re excited about the future of banking technology. We hope to help those navigating the fintech wave for the benefit of their customers.
Thanks to Agent IQ for contributing to the ICBA ThinkTECH Acclerator’s Founder Feature series! To visit the 2021 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator, click here. For questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.