For regional banks and others in the fintech industry, the race is on to deliver a digital experience that matches increasing customer expectations. If your organization is seeing this need for digital experience optimization, having a clearly defined strategic roadmap is a necessary first step to gain the competitive advantage.

Common Pain Points in the Industry

Banking colleagues in a meeting

Industry insights reveal that over 70% of retail banks believe that digital engagement with customers will be essential for business in the short- and long-term. Despite this, many struggle to make meaningful progress towards modernizing the digital experience.

Time and again, we hear the primary pain point from banks is that “we don’t even know how to get started with improving the digital experience.” Another iteration of this pain point we’ve heard is “we have an idea of where we want to go, but we don’t know how to get there.”

For banks experiencing such pain points, we’re seeing that strategic roadmaps are highly effective in overcoming the issue.

When done right, strategic roadmaps can:

  • Provide clarity in understanding your current state
  • Help you achieve alignment at the executive level on where you want to go (often easier said than done)
  • Most importantly, provide a solid path for execution that clearly highlights the steps that need to be taken to achieve your objectives, in both the short- and long-term.

When Banks Act Without a Strategic Roadmap

An example of strategy building

There’s a sense of urgency for banks to act following the surge in digital engagement post-pandemic; however, taking action without a solid strategic roadmap would be a critical mistake. Oftentimes, this occurs because teams feel the pressure to show executives that they’re taking immediate action to address this need. Others mistakenly believe that their team can figure it out as they go. From what we’re seeing in the industry, taking this approach increases the risk of having to backtrack on previous actions. Doing so leads to wasted costs, as organizations then need to invest additional resources to remedy their previous errors.

Overlooking the need for a strategic roadmap can lead to a host of other issues. One example is that organizations end up with a narrow short-term focus. For instance, while a bank may recognize that a personalized experience is important to maintain a strong customer relationship, more immediate needs (such as data management) make it extremely difficult to focus on these efforts. Focusing solely on the near-term puts your short-term initiatives at risk of operating within a vacuum, where they’re unlikely to align with your overall long-term business objectives.

By overlooking the need for a strategic roadmap, teams increase the risk of having to backtrack on previous actions – leading to wasted costs as organizations invest additional resources to remedy their previous errors.

In these situations, we typically see that organizations end up adopting the wrong technology. In line with the example above, this would occur when the team invests in a certain technology for data management but bases its decision on immediate needs, rather than framing its decision in the context of the long-term objectives for digital experience. As the team progresses and their focus changes, there’s a greater risk that the newly invested technology won’t integrate well within the evolving MarTech stack (e.g. personalization platform). This results in the need for additional technology migrations down the road, leading to mounting costs and wasted time.

Another way this scenario arises is when technology is viewed as the solution rather than just a tool. Organizations that lean into strategic roadmaps understand that the solution is built organizationally and strategically, with technology serving as a tool for execution.

The issues highlighted above will likely be exacerbated, considering that many in the banking industry are dealing with an outdated infrastructure which wasn’t designed for today’s digital environment. If you’re wondering whether your team is currently experiencing this, a telling sign is when your new technology is operating as a cost center over time instead of a profit center for the business. In other words, your team struggles to leverage it in a meaningful way.

Further issues arise when an organization holds a fragmented focus on what’s the next best step. This typically occurs when teams aren’t aligned at the onset. A clear sign of this is indecisiveness; teams have differing opinions on what should be the next best step, eventually leading to stalled efforts. Banks that have different departments or teams with their own goals using disparate systems are at greater risk of experiencing this issue. Unfortunately, this tends to result in stunted growth, limited scalability, and decreased customer satisfaction.

Ultimately, It’s About Your Customers

A happy banking customer

When it comes down to it, the winners in this industry will be the banks that prioritize and protect the customer relationship. Doing so will require making big shifts in the business to keep pace with demanding customer expectations for digital engagement and privacy. The stakes are high, and a sense of urgency can lead stakeholders down the dangerous path of taking immediate action without having a solid strategic plan.

If your organization has siloed teams – each with different objectives and systems in place – in combination with an overall outdated infrastructure, taking this approach could result in significant costs. When done right, strategic roadmaps can shorten the route to where your organization wants to go, with less time and money wasted in trying to figure things out on the fly.

If you have questions or would like to talk to us about how your organization can overcome the challenges of building a modern digital experience, contact our consulting team today.