How to advance your digital banking strategy with design thinking and cognitive technology

By James Cammarata, on | Banking

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Banks need a digital banking strategy as their customers go digital and mobile. A banking preferences survey from The Wall Street Journal showed that 80 percent of global respondents said online and mobile functions are important to them. In major growth markets, banking is largely mobile and new entrants are stepping into the market. Ant Financial, a subsidiary of Alibaba, reported that 450 million annual active users for its Alipay platform. Digital upstarts are taking a share in the bank market as well, with CIO reporting that half of global banking customers now use FinTech services.

Feel, understand, reason and learn

In an environment where you must be digital, how are banks humanizing service without detracting from efficiency? Design thinking is a powerful way to humanize and create meaningful digital experiences. Phil Gilbert, the general manager of design at IBM, sees empathy for the end user as a powerful guiding principle for design. How do you create empathy? Empathy is achieved by immersing yourself in the user’s world to understand his or her end goals and needs. Teams collaborate to reflect and converge on a point of view. Integrating into digital design the human capacity to understand deeply about another is a significant and challenging ideal.

Cognitive capabilities that understand, reason and learn will amplify human empathy. Cognitive technology enhances a digital banking strategy by enabling highly responsive interactions while maintaining efficiency. Banks will anticipate needs by learning about and acting upon individual preferences. The following are two examples of innovators with powerful digital banking strategies:

  1. Create compelling engagements
    Tangerine bank is a mobile pioneer. In an IBM MobileFirst video, Charaka Kithulegoda, the bank’s CIO, said Tangerine was the first Canadian bank to launch a mobile app in 2010, and it has been recognized as a leader with one of the few four-star apps in the Apple App Store. The bank is now aiming for a single click to create compelling engagement. You can use a photo of your driver’s license bar code to preload new account information. If you need to speak with the call center, the app lets the call center know about your problem — there’s no need to explain. The bank is also piloting chat with cognitive capabilities to answer questions based on context.
  2. Design your app as a lifestyle product
    ICICI Bank in India, the largest private bank in the market, wanted to compete for younger customers. ICICI understood that its customers wanted ease and convenience to match their active lives. The company launched India’s first digital bank with its Pockets app. In the words of Abonty Banerjee, general manager and head of digital channels, the mobile app is really a lifestyle product for youth. The app goes beyond banking functions with the ability to shop at retail stores, order food, send gift coupons and book movie tickets.

Use design thinking to deeply understand and empathize with your customers. Accelerate this process by adding cognitive capabilities. By creating apps with empathy in mind, you can advance your digital banking strategy.

About The Author

James Cammarata

Mobile Enterprise Marketing Strategy Leader, IBM

James is an experienced Mobile Enterprise Marketing Strategy Leader at IBM. He has led strategy and marketing initiatives for a diverse group of IT businesses at IBM over the past 20 years. Currently he manages marketing strategy for IBM's mobile enterprise portfolio of software and services. He started his career in the advertising business developing advertising programs for major consumer businesses in the US and Europe.

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