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Payment Horizons

October 21, 2016

The More Things Change, The More They Cannot Stay The Same – Part One


Two years ago, Klaus Enzenhaufer, Director of Technology at Dynatrace and formerly at Compuware, suggested there are five major pitfalls that financial services organizations encounter especially as they extend their services to digital channels: quality, speed, user experience, control, and running in place.

Now in 2016, what Enzenhaufer said still applies to much of the industry in the United States. The fact, in and of itself, is not particularly surprising as many of the companies that make up the backbone of the industry are the most risk adverse and slowest moving organizations in the world, other than governmental agencies. This is reasonable given the part these financial services providers play in our economy. 

Their role is to provide services to businesses and consumers that enhance success and quality of life while protecting these same stakeholders and our society from excess. That is not an easy balance and, certainly, we have seen the results of what happens when the players are allowed to become too freewheeling; e.g. The Great Depression of the 1930s and The 2007 Great Recession.

But those organizations consistently successful a fulfilling this mission are finding ways to utilize the digital world to do so while avoiding the pitfalls Enzenhaufer identified. Over the next two blogs, we will look at these pitfalls and offer some options for navigating around or through them successfully.

Quality in the Midst of Chaos

According to Enzenhaufer, consumers worldwide use more than 150 different browser/device combinations. To optimize the user experience for their customers across this dizzying array of configurations, financial services providers must consider deploying technical solutions that can decrease the complexity and costs associated with maintaining an "app for that" - and that and that.

A sign of progress toward this is the fact that Responsive Web Design (RWD) has finally become table stakes for the financial services offerings within the browser. However, too many organizations still do not have a viable strategy for how to efficiently and effectively build and maintain apps for mobile devices.

Initially, the focus was on creating and maintaining “native” apps; i.e., apps designed to maximize the capabilities of the latest Android and Apple operating systems. Since new OS releases appear up to twice a year with sometimes several updates in between, the overhead involved in this approach is substantial. To decrease this overhead, some companies started utilizing hybrid apps that standardize certain aspects of the app while still allowing for access to a select set of native feature. Now, the pendulum has started to swing back the other way as the operating systems offer more features consumers want that the hybrid approach cannot render in as rich a fashion as desired.

More change in this area is almost certain as clever engineers create new ways to balance between the need for less complexity and more features. To best accommodate the continuing evolution in this area, one of the single best strategies is to approach the digital channels via a platform strategy that features an underlying administrative tool that allows an organization to control its own destiny with configurable parameters for everything from the functions exposed in each channel (e.g., online, mobile, tablet, wearable) to branding, permissions, etc.

The Need for Speed

Consumers who use digital channels to access financial services do so primarily out of a desire for convenience. Convenience, by definition, implies speed. At the time Enzenhaufer wrote the article for Mobile Marketer, he stated that 89% of tablet users and 83% of desktop users expect sites to download in three seconds or less. Klaus also noted that though only 59% of smartphone users in the study expect a site to download in three seconds or less that number is slowly creeping up. 

This trend has not and will not abate.

Which is why some financial institutions have sought out digital banking solutions' intuitive design principles and the use of contextual action options that can help keep the digital banking customer moving along happily. However, a lack of consistency in the user experience and dependencies on single sign-on strategies remain common on the digital banking landscape and are a recipe for increasing frustration levels for many end users who want what they want now!

Three more elements highlighted by Klaus remain. The next posting will address these three to will complete the set.