Digital transformation is no longer a question of when but how. If you have been resisting transformative change then you run the real risk of lagging behind and losing ground on the competition. But the obstacles come in many shapes and sizes. The financial sector is one of the most heavily regulated in the UK and there are a host of compliance issues to consider, particularly given the arrival of GDPR.
So what can you do to kick-start digital transformation in your finance business? These are the key steps to drive your transformational journey…
Digital transformation in itself is not a clear goal. If you want to bring your finance business into the digital age then you must be clear about why. Your goals could be to:
All businesses can leverage digital innovations such as mobility, internet of things and data and analytics, but what matters is how they apply to the particular challenges you face. Competitive advantage is not just derived from implementing innovations in isolation. Instead, they must be used in combination to address your challenges and help you achieve your goals. (Find Data Analysts Here)
Employees are usually so consumed by their day-to-day tasks that they do not have the time to consider how things could be done differently. Breaking through the traditional ways of doing things requires an innovate culture that disrupts the mindset. Rotating job roles within the business can help to develop a better understanding of the company’s capabilities and identify where changes can be made.
Companies may also choose to create internal start-up units where employees can dedicate time to experimenting with better ways of doing things. Building cross-functional teams that share ideas and data across departments will encourage openness and collaboration.
New technology in itself can be smoke and mirrors. You might choose to change your consumer-facing digital capacity, but if the processes behind the scenes remain the same then there won’t be any real improvement. For finance businesses to transform themselves digitally, investment must be made across the whole system.
Before buying into the hype surrounding the latest technology, financial organisations should carefully assess their process challenges across their teams and establish how technology can improve things. Organisations should also consider the importance of change management to ensure adoption by internal teams, external customers, suppliers and any other stakeholders. Failure to do this could result in the deployment of a solution that does not deliver the anticipated payback or meet the necessary regulatory requirements.
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The reluctance of many finance businesses to change is not due to a lack of resources, it’s often the result of risk-averse management. Digital transformation is an inherently risky process and failure is a real possibility. However, sometimes it’s important to fail so you can learn from those mistakes and make a full recovery. The important thing is to test new ideas in an environment where it’s safe to experiment before changes are rolled out across the company. Once the technology works, it can then be shared.
As an increasing number of processes become automated, financial organisations may have to make changes to the skills they have. For example, a finance business made up predominantly of accountants may have to become a mixture of accountants, data scientists, technology experts and process leaders.
Organisations should also assess the skills of current employees and define future needs. It can then identify any gaps and put training in place to ensure existing members of the team have the necessary skills to use the new technology.
The entire organisation does not have to become an expert in agile working, but the business should adopt a number of methods that can be used to increase the organisation’s ability to identify and respond to new digital opportunities in the future. It can establish specific teams to tackle challenges the business is facing and reduce hierarchy and emphasise autonomy so that changes can be made more quickly.
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