Future-Proofing Banking: 4 Steps Toward a Tech-Driven Customer Experience


To remain competitive, financial institutions should enhance connectivity, security, and intelligence across their network infrastructure by implementing a cloud-first approach.

As organizations continue to experience the power and convenience of going digital, the importance of providing enhanced customer experiences has come to the forefront, especially when it comes to banking. This year alone, over 65% of Americans are using digital banking as their preferred method (Statista).

With this new wave of digitalization, financial institutions must reevaluate the role traditional banks play. Fewer customers are coming into physical branches, opting to conduct transactions, deposit checks, and open accounts online. As a result, customer experience now drives a majority of competition.

To remain competitive, financial institutions should enhance connectivity, security, and intelligence across their network infrastructure by implementing a cloud-first approach. This will enable banks to future-proof their business while delivering an elevated experience for customers.

A cloud-first approach for enhanced banking experiences

Over the next ten years, 82% of bank executives plan to move at least half of their mainframe workloads to the cloud (Accenture). This is in part due to the fact that banks are already integrating the next generation of sensors, cameras, Wi-Fi hotspots, software, and more into their physical branches to deliver best-in-class security and customer service.

With these devices and software in place, a cloud-first approach means financial institutions can easily collect data to analyze trends and quickly pivot to meet evolving customer behaviors. For banks, this allows more visibility into operations and customer flows to deliver new insights that improve customer experience and overall satisfaction. It also makes it easier to implement updates to quickly address newly detected cybersecurity threats while prioritizing the digital banking experience.

A cloud-first approach means banks can scale the business in near real time to meet customer needs by seamlessly adding new branches, features, or applications without disrupting other applications. This makes cloud migration a priority for banks as they move forward and look to integrate a digital banking experience.

See also: Financial Services “Would Benefit Most” From Cloud Disruption

Branch transformation powered by Wi-Fi and IoT

As customer expectations evolve, many banks are already bringing digital banking to life inside physical branches by leveraging Wi-Fi connectivity and IoT technology. From the moment a customer walks into a branch and checks into a digital kiosk, they receive the customization and convenience of an app-like experience. Digital tools provide staff with all the information they need to deliver an elevated, tailored experience focused on building customer relationships rather than simply completing transactions. 

Branch managers can also utilize IoT devices to streamline branch operations and ensure physical security. Cloud-enabled smart cameras can provide heatmaps and people-counting capabilities to determine queue wait times, signal when additional staff is needed, and provide physical security to maintain customer and staff safety on-site. At the same time, environmental sensors work behind the scenes to monitor critical IT infrastructure to maintain network uptime critical to keeping these IoT-enabled experiences running.

While many banks have already implemented some digital experiences in-branch, a piecemeal approach invariably means losing out to competitors who have invested in a more robust in-person digital offering. A cloud-first strategy unifies these experiences for streamlined deployment and management. 

See also: Finance Leaders Are Ready for Modern Data Strategies

Seamless experiences with artificial intelligence

Customers expect highly accurate, secure, and quick interactions during digital banking transactions. Although there are several factors that play a part in making this happen, artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML/AI) are starting to play a key role. ML looks at data points throughout a network to assess how that network is operating and behaving, and AI can make recommendations and, in some cases, automatically make changes, to better optimize a network. This creates the network efficiency and reliability needed to provide accurate and more consistent experiences for customers.

With this in place, APIs can be added to further automate routine tasks such as security updates in an effort to keep networks and customers safe. In fact, automation can slash up to 95% of the time organizations spend on housekeeping tasks like troubleshooting the network (Gartner). In essence, AI/ML and APIs can work together to help IT staff redirect their time away from repetitive, menial tasks toward more impactful strategic planning.

APIs can also be used to customize a network to provide business insights into how customers access and use digital resources. For example, a bank might leverage APIs to see that a growing number of customers are accessing services at a certain location. Banks could then use the information to enhance connectivity to that location, add more ATMs, or provide communication to customers in that area about digital banking apps they could use to alleviate traffic at that particular location. 

Cloud-managed SD-WAN provides security and protection

For financial institutions, cybersecurity attacks are on the rise. Network and endpoint security have become some of the most prominent components of cybersecurity spending, and banks are investing more than 10% of their IT budgets to maintain security (Deloitte). Customers not only expect but depend on banks to keep their most important financial information safe. Given this, banks need an approach that can scale security, resiliency, and performance across locations, devices, and technologies. A cloud-based SD-WAN architecture can provide financial institutions with the security they need to keep customer and internal data safe across regions, devices, and technologies.

The secure flow of data enables communication across the network to serve customers’ quickly evolving needs. This means that banking networks are touching more nodes than ever, making the cloud an essential tool for managing devices, flows, and policies from a common decision-making platform.

Heightening security within an organization and at the service edge while also handling constant increases in connected networks, regions, branches, applications, and devices requires a strong cloud-managed SD-WAN architecture. IT teams and network admins can segment which network an IoT device or application connects to for easier monitoring of performance, flagging anomalies that may require further investigation. Additionally, flexibility and scalability are built-in with common, cloud-managed policy deployability.

By integrating these technologies on one unified and secure platform, banks can bring a tech-driven banking experience that attracts new customers and retains existing ones. 

Juan Vela

About Juan Vela

Juan Vela is Global Head of Market Strategy at Cisco Meraki.

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