Technology developments impact the banking industry without ceasing. Some of these developments are obvious to anyone who has owned a deposit account for the last 10 years or more. Online banking, mobile banking, electronic payments, and even the way tellers work in branches are all examples of how the customer’s experience has changed dramatically compared to just 20 years ago. Clearly, technological improvements are welcome, are necessary, and will continue to occur at a rapid pace, but the media generally focuses solely upon how technology makes banking more efficient and more convenient for customers.
However, the bank’s customers are not the only group experiencing change. The bank’s employees also experience far more change and demands than ever before. How so? First, banking has become inherently about data and technology. What is the data? It is account balances, loan balances, transaction lists, etc. Banks are not merely secure physical structures that deal in checks, cash, and coins, although such services are still required of banks.
Banks deal in information and data points today. How do banks service their customers? Bank employees access customer data by means of technology. PC’s, handheld devices, and other digital media are how bank employees perform tasks on the behalf of customers. Even traditional transactions at the teller window involving cash now require interaction with a computer program and even “smart” physical devices such as cash dispensers. Customer-service employees often are required to assist customers in how to use the new technology offerings at the customers’ disposal, and they are also required to track customer interactions in systems such as Salesforce.com, for example. There is really no time in the workday when a customer-facing bank employee does not engage technology and data interactions while serving customers or while performing follow-up operational tasks.
Historically, banks live by their most current reports. These reports provided point-in-time information regarding asset/liability conditions, profitability, account details, etc. Such reports were often required by auditors and regulators, and they became the reporting staples for the bank, as a result. Thanks to the systems that service customers, decision makers in the bank are now awash in a massive pool of data that far exceeds the standard reports by which historical bank leaders made decisions. Programs and technology do not simply create and update the same set of data regarding deposits and loans in a bank. These systems also create new information that contributes to the picture of customer behaviors and relationships. For example, new information such as the transaction channel (e.g., digital or branch) and expenditure categories are now known through the systems that feed and interact with older bank information such as account numbers and balances. Such pictures either did not exist in years past or were not discernible until modern computing power and new capabilities arrived. These systems create additional data that become extremely powerful for bank decision makers when combined with external data available in the marketplace.
All of these technology development changes within the bank pose a major new challenge. In addition to the traditional bank employee requirements of being a detail oriented, accurate, customer-service oriented, and financially astute person, the modern bank employee must understand how to wield the technology and leverage the vast amount of information present in their work. Each and every bank employee of all levels will encounter more new technology capabilities and more information that can be leveraged for the customer’s and the bank’s benefit. The challenge is this: Are most banks ready to think differently about their hiring practices, their employee candidates, their educational requirements, etc. in order to realize the benefits that technology and data provide?