More than ever, leaders throughout the financial services industry are looking for ways technology can help meet customer expectations to deliver new products and services quickly and securely. A new survey from MeriTalk in partnership with Dell Technologies found that 99 percent of IT leaders in financial services organizations agree digital transformation is a top priority and will improve operational efficiency, data security, and online engagement.

Technology is structurally changing the financial industry. For example, retail banking has seen a huge decline in physical branch utilization as customers gravitate toward online and mobile banking. Previously, institutions would compete by adding more branch offices or hiring more people, but now they can only be competitive through IT innovation, noted Manny Kamer, financial services practice leader at Dell Technologies, during a recent webinar.

This is true around the world. During the webinar, “Optimized for Growth: Transforming Financial Services with Cloud, Data, and AI,” Greg Chamak, field chief technology officer for Enterprise East at Dell Technologies, pointed out, “In 2005, if you lived in Kenya there was a very good chance you didn’t have a bank account. Today … there’s a nearly 100 percent chance that you have a mobile payment account.”

The first consideration for successful digital transformation is making services accessible to users in a secure and resilient way. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, compliance and security often took a back seat to remote service delivery, Kamer noted; now, organizations are focused on risk management, and most importantly, that they have a safe data set in a safe location that can withstand a ransomware attack.

The next consideration is where to place data. Most banks are using at least five clouds, for example, so it’s critical that their data strategy enables movement of data from one cloud to another, Kamer noted. A data adjacency strategy is also critical. For example, if an organization is using Google’s cloud analytics engines, its data must be readily accessible by Google Cloud with low latency.

The third consideration is the level of service that users are demanding. Observes Kamer, “Today, businesses not only have to provide a better digital experience for our customers, but at the same time, we need to hyper-personalize that data to each individual customer … to provide more and more services through that digital experience.”

This process can only happen through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning – which can authenticate identity on the phone or on an application, greet customers personally, and offer services based on past interactions.

In fact, “AI will continue to massively affect finance … every aspect of finance, including marketing, customer, engagement, risk management, and process automation,” Chamak noted.

For more insight, view the webinar on demand.