Key Takeaways from Enterprise Mobility Exchange Financial Services 2016

Simon Barton

Enterprise Mobility Exchange’s Financial Services event took place on March 15. For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s a rundown of five of the most important takeaways from the Exchange.

It’s all about the customer

“The customer should be front and centre when you’re creating your mobility roadmap,” says Bil Ahmed, Head of Product Innovation, Investec.

With mobile applications gradually replacing traditional, bricks-and-mortar locations, banks are concentrating on improving user experience. Yet with consistent fears surrounding security, it’s difficult to strike a balance between making an application usable, but also safe.

For Steven Hardy, Director of Digital Transformation, Barclaycard, vigorous testing by consumer groups helps banks identify flaws in applications early on in their roadmaps. “If you do this, there's a high probability that it will resonate with the audience," says Steven.

Without testing, applications can become too tech-heavy. This means that they will be designed for the company, not the consumer.

Mobile isn’t an IT function, but a business one

Nicholas McQuire, VP, Enterprise Research at CCS Insight, was one of the first people to discuss the importance of mobile being viewed as a business function, not just an IT one.

He asked the audience to raise their hand if they were an IT professional, and the vast majority did just that. This shows that for many banking firms, mobility has yet to be embraced by all departments within the business, and that senior management teams still often see mobile as an issue specifically for the confines of the IT department.

A company’s mobile strategy must be integrated with the business’ objectives, so that it can help drive them forward.

A layered model to mobile application security likely

There was a divergence of opinion at the Exchange. We spoke to the Head of IT Security, Bank of Ireland, who, due to the importance of protecting very sensitive data, felt that security should never be compromised for user experience. Bil Ahmed and Nick McGuire, however, were opposed to this.

This debate is indicative of the worries that banks – and companies operating in other industries – have with mobile. A layered approach, however, was the most common antidote to the problems with user experience and security. McGuire said: “I am seeing companies gradually take a layered approach to security – this means that they are prioritising both.”

While positive that the trend’s being recognised, there’s still a long way to go before an optimised layered model is commonplace. And at the Exchange, it was, perhaps, the main issue experienced by delegates.

Legacy systems are holding banks back

Billy Ferguson delivered a presentation about the importance of banks embracing digital and stripping legacy systems. Discussing from the perspective of Aldermore bank, he looked at how shared central services, improved digital interfaces and data management can be better handled by using new, digital frameworks.

The digital experiences provided by companies like Amazon, Apple and Google can’t be replicated by banks due to their loyalty to legacy systems. The general consensus was that if banks continue with this approach, they will fall behind other industries using flexile architectures.

Increased investment still needed

Mobile is changing the customer’s path to purchase. The comfort found in face-to-face interactions has been replaced by a want for digital – and a personalised, efficient service available across all devices.

Throughout the Exchange, there was still a shared frustration at the lack of investment still seen within their industry. The common worries – like security, pace of technological change– were expressed as the main problems, but just from speaking to the event’s delegates, it’s clear that organisational culture and the effect security has on user experience were issues putting off companies.

For banking, a mobile strategy is imperative. The mobile application has replaced the bricks-and-mortar bank as the main communication point with the customer, and the consumer’s willingness to embrace digital makes a mobile strategy imperative. Most of those at the Exchange, however, were keen to accentuate that increased investment is needed to make the most of it.