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Digital is all about the people

I got caught up in a conversation about building a new digital bank the other day, and being asked how I would organise the project.  I’m a simple guy and go back to basics, and the basics are people, process and product.

People – customers and employees – are where it all starts.  Happy staff make happy customers, so work out where the people are needed first.  This may sound strange when we’re talking about automation and digitalisation but the people come first.  It is the humanity of the digital touch that will be key, not the digitalisation itself.  Humanity is what differentiates the good from the bad, and the initial focus really should be to identify the customer touch.  Where, when, how and why will the customer need to be in communication with the institution and what will they be wanting to talk with the institution about?  Is their contact something that can be automated or would it be augmented by a human touch?  If there is human contact, is the form of contact something that can be personable or is It better to leave it to the machine?

There are lots of questions to ask about how you would build the bank, but start with building the new digital bank without frontiers.  There are no barriers, so build the bank with passion and vision based upon the human outreach through digital foundations.  That’s where I would start as, once you have that journey outlined, you can start to fill in the blanks.  The blanks define the processes required to connect the human contact to the digital foundation.  It will determine how many humans and buildings are needed in the digital structures, if any, and will provide the road map for building the new bank.

There should also be a discussion of what the new bank is providing to the customer.  Is it a deposit account, provided for free through cross-subsidisation via sales of affiliated products, as per the current model, or is this a new financial organisation?  A new financial firm would look at all the new guys out there like Zopa, Funding Circle, TransferWise, Number26, Atom, Moven and co, and create its digital products based upon digital foundations that compete with digital start-ups with a human touch.

That was my thinking anyways and, although this is a very short update, the basics of any company always comes back to people, process and product.  People – customers and employees; process – organisational structure and the infrastructure that supports the organisation; and product – services and platforms; are the core of every organisation.  People – front office; process – middle office; and product – back office; are the key foundations of a physical or digital institution.  Get people, product and process right, and then rock and roll.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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