Omnichannel: The Road Ahead
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Omnichannel: The Road Ahead

By Alexander Zwart, Tribe Lead Digital Platform, Rabobank

Alexander Zwart, Tribe Lead Digital Platform, Rabobank

Alexander Zwart, the present tribe lead digital platform at Rabobank’s digital transformation office, has extensive experience in functional areas like strategy, product management, and IT of industries that include FMCG, energy, and banking.

When every market domain is undergoing a digital transformation, it is important for the banks to stay on the same track. Hence, omnichannel is the new strategy being leveraged by banks to improve the user experience. However, the process of transition is never easy due to the mounting challenges that create a roadblock. The transition poses different kinds of effects on the financial industry, which needs to be addressed in a meticulous manner in order to facilitate an invigorating future.

As banks make a move toward servicing clients through omnichannel strategies, how is the trend affecting the financial industry?

Omnichannel refers to the serving of clients or customers through multiple channels, and most of those channels are digital in nature. Our banking app, hosts 100 million client interactions per month. You can image that no other channel that our customers use, is visited so often. Due to this reason, the importance of our IT department in servicing our clients is growing every day. Along with IT, the customer service department has witnessed marginal progress in terms of number, since a lot of work is now done over the app, which was once handled by employees at the banks. The IT, in particular, is helping tremendously in serving the clients on a daily basis.

What are some of the current challenges that financial institutions face while implementing technology platforms to meet consumers’ digital demands?

Earlier, services provided by banks were under the control of the bank itself. However, with multiple channels being used, the bank only has a partial control on the channels through which the services are provided. For example, several channels used by clients are owned by other banks or fintechs (due to PSDII regulation other market participants can initiate transactions or get access to account information after user consent) or big techs like Apple and Google. In a scenario like this, the banks need to remain secure and constantly keep checking the authorization and authentication that needs to be functioning at a certain level as per the bank’s standard.

To make sure omnichannel functions adequately, new technology needs to be implemented, which is an uphill task to perform. Most of the tasks being performed by employees at the banks are also being simultaneously provided on the bank’s mobile app. In an environment like this, new platforms are brought in to make the transition successful. In fact, several dev-ops and business teams are operating from different parts of the world to enable the transition. Due to this, there is an utmost requirement of maintaining constant communication throughout the process.

What are the best practices to follow to deliver omnichannel CX?

The first priority should be to deliver to the clients, their desired services as quickly as possible. To ensure this happens, a strong design team must be in place. Earlier, the design team used to operate as a back-end office with externally hired workers and a manager organizing the resources. Today, the Head of Design is reporting to our managing board and has team that combines Rabo-employed designers as well as externally hired specialists.

What is the one piece of advice you would like to give aspiring CIOs?

The key to being a successful CIO is that one should be ready to take the avatar of a digital transformation officer. To become a digital transformation officer, being a very tech-savvy person is a prime requisite. The other aspect that must be looked at carefully is that the IT and the business team should work together as one team. The people who work on the business side need to understand the problems faced by the IT department. Likewise, the business team also needs to understand how much effort goes in to transform a bank into a fully digital working entity.

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