Sustaining growth requires rethinking digital transformation partnerships

By Mike Smith, Director of Large Business and Public Sector, Virgin Media O2 Business

The pandemic accelerated digital progress in businesses by three years, according to our study with the Center for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

The organization’s IT spending – from cloud solutions to collaboration technology suited for hybrid working – increased by 18%.

In many areas, this has improved productivity and internal processes, led to greater customer and employee satisfaction, and helped financial services organizations survive, stabilize, and bounce back from Covid-19.

Banking and finance leaders must now focus on maintaining their momentum.

As businesses face many challenges, from inflation to employee retention, they should consider changing their approach to technological change and management.

It is possible to think innovatively about the role of digital transformation and demand more from technology partners to make this vision a reality.

Think innovatively about digital transformation

Creative thinking about digital transformation is so important because it can address fundamental business challenges, such as sustainability and Covid-induced behavior change.

64% of decision makers surveyed by McKinsey in 2021 agreed that their companies need to create new digital businesses to remain economically viable by 2023.

Promisingly, many organizations are already taking action in this direction.

In the financial services sector, JP Morgan recently launched a new mobile app, Chase UK, which is designed to tap into consumers’ growing appetite for seamless digital journeys since Covid-19. The aim is to offer a personalized, data-driven service, replicating the success of other online banks such as Monzo and Revolut.

And Bank of America has stepped up its investments in robotics to help protect the bank and better serve its customers.

It has deployed 22 bots in its front, middle and back offices designed to help respond to customer requests faster and bring new products to market faster and more efficiently. This has resulted in significant cost savings and improved consistency and accuracy of automation processes.

Outside of financial services, British Sugar is also showing bold ambition when it comes to digitally transforming its operations.

It announced a seven-year connectivity partnership, activating its own private mobile network, designed to prepare its factories for 5G connected manufacturing, revolutionize production processes with IoT and use AI to monitor live operations and predict maintenance needs. This will help reduce disruption and save costs and energy.

For companies in all sectors, this innovative thinking has two effects. It helps staff do their jobs faster and more efficiently. And that helps with customer retention and acquisition.

For this type of creative thinking to flourish, organizations need the right technology partners.

Demand more from technology partners

While it’s important to think innovatively, digital transformation can be a massive undertaking.

Financial services organizations need the right partner to walk them through this process because it’s not just about selling technology. It’s about achieving success.

The term “partner” is used a lot by service providers. But few truly live up to the name. Only 31% of senior IT leaders believe their technology partner regularly offers strategic advice on business issues, according to our recent study with Censuswide.

Partnership is about investing in the achievement of the end goal, sharing the risks as well as the rewards, and going beyond what is expected. When goals are not met, a true partner must roll up their sleeves and work alongside a business to get it back on track.

In a fast-paced and ever-changing landscape, we need to move beyond traditional Service Level Agreements (SLAs), based solely on generic product/service performance metrics.

Companies should expect more.

Digital change can only be successful if it helps businesses realize their unique ambitions.

That’s why it’s important that organizations and partners agree from the start on a set of tailored goals that align with the overall business strategy. We want to judge progress based on supplier experience, not just service delivery.

Take the chance

Our research with the Center for Economics and Business Research found that continued digital investment could boost the national economy by £236 billion by 2040.

To seize this opportunity, banking and finance leaders must continue to be innovative and ambitious in digital transformation.

It means expecting more from technology partners so they can deliver bold visions.