Retail Banking is in the middle of a digital revolution, with mobile technology heralding the biggest change for consumers in the industry since the credit card.

This we know – the majority of the population has a smart phone. Customers make mobile payments without a thought and everyone wants to use an app.

It’s about connecting with your customers wherever they are and putting them in control. So yes, we know about mobile – it’s the digital future.

But how much do you really know about the truly disruptive technology that is about to change the way almost every organisation does business and what are you doing about it?

To put it in perspective, this is not just another tweak in the evolving story of digital – we are talking about an important change, that is approaching fast, and will have a significant impact on your business. In order to ensure that impact is positive you need to start working out now how best to place your business for maximum advantage.

Let’s recap on how we got here

First there were the bricks – the physical shops on the high street where we did all our shopping. Then came the clicks – as the e-commerce boom swept all before it and turned Google into our new shopping centre. Apart from a few web only super brands like Amazon, we now believe that both bricks and clicks are necessary to thrive in today’s marketplace.

For most companies, the way this developed meant that the web was treated as something of an add-on. Now with the explosion in smart phones the temptation is to carry on much as before by tacking on another add-on.

Treating mobile as an add-on would be a mistake…and here’s why

The digital revolution is bigger than you think it is.

In the banking world we have seen a steady evolution. From a handful of data clerks inputting information into computers, activity moved to the branches where staff were able to enter data directly online themselves. Now customers do it, from home, via desktop or mobile. But that is only a fraction of the story.

Customers have come to want to be able to do much more than this and mobile is now capable of delivering – in theory. But to have access to account information all the time, to make payments and check balances, the old patch and add on mentality is not going to cut it.

Having 5 or 6 million customers online all the time will be putting demands on a system that was never designed to meet that. Add to this the coming explosion in banking apps that allow peer to peer financial exchanges and you can see the scale of what we are facing.

The fact is that in the next 10 years demand will exceed anything we can even begin to predict. And it is not just in banking – it’s everywhere.

And that’s not all, customers also want flexibility and a seamless experience as they move from mobile, to tablet to desk top and back. They might start filling in a form on their phone on the train but want to finish it off at home on a bigger screen before sending – so we need to be able to meet the demand for those seamless omni-channel customer experiences. Make no mistake, customer expectation is very high.

To meet these expectations will involve a total reconstruction of our “digital high street”, and where once there were shops, then websites, now there will be Apps or APIs – and with them comes the potential to meet customer needs in ways limited only by our imaginations. It is a huge new opportunity which calls for a new strategy.

We could call it Mobile First, but it is actually Customer First and to get it right we need to throw out the idea of patching up and adding on in favour of a total re-calibration of the way we do things.

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    Richard Whyte

    Richard Whyte

    Richard Whyte has been building enterprise IT solutions for over 20 years. He is known for creating innovative practical solutions that provide a strong foundation for future development, whilst solving immediate problems. Previously the European CTO and Principal Architect for IBM Systems Middleware at IBM, he has an MBA, a degree in Statistics and Computing, is a Chartered Engineer, a Chartered IT Professional, and Fellow of both the Institute of Technology and the British Computer Society.