Prioritizing tech to boost momentum

Technology advances have always moved quickly, but now they are accelerating so rapidly that it seems nearly impossible for even well informed, strategically sophisticated companies to keep up. The financial services sector is coping with an especially dizzying pace of change.

The process of choosing where to invest your technology budget involves a systematic and strategic look at every facet of your operation, asking questions like:

  • What kinds of new technologies make sense for our specific business?
  • What are our customers asking for?
  • What will our customers likely ask for in the future?
  • Which technologies would give us a competitive edge?

For example, through this kind of analysis State National determined that while a branded app would be trendy and nice to have, the better option was an investment in artificial intelligence to speed up insurance tracking and claims payment processes. In the case of a financial institution, however, an app might be a critical part of the overall technology innovation plan.

The key to figuring this all out is dedicating the resources, time, energy, money and thought to these vital questions — with a singular focus on your business, not someone else’s. The one thing you can’t afford to do is sit back and wait to see what happens before making these tough decisions — because when it comes to technology, if you’re not ahead of the curve, it won’t take long before you’re in the rearview mirror.

Just think of the changes in these areas in the past few years alone:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning
  • Automated loan origination and underwriting
  • Data analytics and predictive modeling
  • Mobile banking and mobile payment apps
  • Communication methods (mail, phone, email, text, live chat, virtual chatbot)
  • Payment-settlement systems
  • Cloud computing and software-as-a-service (Saas)
  • Digital-only banks
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Data security, fraud prevention and blockchain

In this kind of environment, it’s more important than ever to move beyond reactivity and take a proactive approach when deciding which technology investments will lead you where you want to be — and which will lead to a better overall experience for your customers. As we all know, money is a finite resource, and every dollar spent on one tech investment is unavailable for another initiative.

David Crawford has been with State National Companies for 20 years and currently serves as vice president of strategy and innovation, where he is responsible for researching, selecting and implementing technology based solutions to further enhance service delivery to SNC clients. State National Companies, a division of Markel Corp., is the Customer Experience partner of Auto Finance Excellence (AutoFinanceExcellence.org), a sister service of Auto Finance News.

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