Be ready or be dead!

"If you Know Yourself and you know your enemies, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles..."

- Sun Tzu -

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Crafting the path for a real Digital Transformation for Banks

Days ago talking with friends and after a short survey, I could confirm something that I just was wondering, in the Digital Transformation (DX) adventure it's easy to find financial institutions that believe in DX and have its roadmap, others that have been watching and have some steps addressed to change things but are misunderstanding transformation with filling themselves with a bunch of systems and applications, others that are aware of this change but do not know where to start, others who have not done anything. To cut short, the scale is full of representatives at any level.

One thing that attracted my attention is the majority is talking about FinTechs, FinTechs up, FinTechs down, in the sky, at the gym, FinTechs (FTs) everywhere and do not see that the main threat are themselves.  First, Banks should learn to survive and live with those alternate "money and financial disruptors", never ever better than today to say: If you cannot defeat them, be part of them".

Let's be clear,  there's a bunch of FT flourishing everywhere,  giant technology companies like Apple or Google with humongous numbers of data form credit card holders and users, PayPal running wild on money transfers,  in Asia the social networks allow for money transfers, Facebook and WhatsApp can take the hell upside down if they provide with money transfers and personal loans. Let's face it, FinTechs are the face of simplicity, that's why they are the best alternative in disruptive solutions.

But, DX it is not just fighting against FTs, it is about simplification, it is about do more with less effort. Unfortunately, less effort means less headcount in many situations. Here, it is important to plan with people in mind. Your workforce knowledge can lead to a bright future with better business services and lines. Who can tell what is wrong or right? Your people, who else, so why do you will fire them?

The roadmap definition is not enough, there's a lot to take in account:

- Customer
- Processes
- Key Services
- Technology
- Security
- Key indicators
- Follow up dashboards
- Strategy

Nevertheless, the main pillars to define a real  DT roadmap are:

Customer on board Strategy Technology Operations Culture. Organization. People
Aquisition Brand Management Applications Agile Change Management Culture
Customer Experience Ecosystem Management Connectivity Automatic Resource Management Leadership and Governance
Behavior Knowledge Investment and Financing Data and Analytics Integrated Services Management Organizational Talent Design Management
Trust and Perception Market and customers Distribution Gonvernance Understanding and Real Time Analysis Workforce enablement
Portfolio, Concept and Innovation Networking Adaptive and Intelligent process management
Stakeholders Management Security Standards' Automation and Governance
Strategic Management Architecture

There are advices, yes of course, a lot. But every company is quite different. So, it is mandatory to have master advisors at hand. Take care when dealing with technologies like Blockchain or Kubernets implementations (to name a couple) , technical resources are scarce and you need good ones.

To finish this post, take a look at BBVA, they have an innovation pool, good to check for Apps ideas for your bank. Take a look, reinvent your services, get better ones.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Links and tips for AGILE and LEAN

Representative People to follow: 

Martin Fowler
Uncle Bob
Dan North
Kent Beck
Mike Beedle
Arie van Bennekum
Alistair Cockburn
Ward Cunningham
James Grenning
Jim Highsmith
Andrew Hunt
Ron Jeffries
Jon Kern
Brian Marick
Steve Mellor
Ken Schwaber
Jeff Sutherland
Dave Thomas
James Shore
Jurgen Apelo

Libros, hay unos que son obligatorios, esta la biblia continuous delivery:

The pragmatic programmer
Refactoring to Patterns
Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
Growing Object-Oriented Software
Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Los ultimos son muy tecnicos, como yo te he dicho ando muy enfocado a ser buen desarrollador, los buenos programadores, generan, mejores resultados, mejores aplicaciones, por eso me gusta el cuento de software craftsmanship porque es un pacto con el aprendizaje, con la calidad, con el mejoramiento continuo


The evolution from User eXperience to Service Design in the Banking Industry

UX, the upper level, the visual side, that layer where Interaction Design shares glories with Usability, both of them glued with Visual Design. That layer where Content (and content strategists command) and User Research reign. UX, the starting point for a more and more complex universe.

Certainly, you have heard terms such as UX and CX. CX a wider concept than UX. CX is something like a metamorphosis, the monkey transformed into a human. It is when the street walker attracted by a casual billboard decides to enter the store and demands high quality service. Everything in CX starts with a Brand; the Brand eventually would shine or suffer deprecation, all by the customer. But that happy or sadly end depends on Customer Service, Advertising, Sales process (E2E), delivery process, Pricing, perceived quality. In this system, the experience is digital, non-digital, emotional, and physical.

What a supreme experience for the customer who suffers from a flat tire at 2 am, stops his car, takes out his mobile phone, buys a new pair of tires (let`s suppose a full change for the flat tire and its pair) and in a matter of 30 minutes plus his car has a pair of new tires and the man is heading home. All of this because the tire dealer move as fast as the help message and the buying order was received and deliver a pair of new tires and besides its delivery service also helped to remove the old tires and installed the new ones at no cost.

The classical Customer Experience journey starts with a human in need of something, material or virtual (product or service) and ends with a big smile or a frustrated son of Adam. But for service companies such TELCOS, Insurance Companies, FinTech Start Ups, Banks and others, the Customer Journey is not just a mere journey is an entire life. Tradition is dead, those years when a Bank was like a tradition in families is no more. There`s a fierce fight in the Banks` Red Ocean, but fortunately there are chances to find blue waters through innovating services.

Now…yes, and what about Service Design. The key for success is to create seamless customer experiences that drive differentiation and long-term value. Let`s suppose UX is the Moon and CX the earth…Service Design (SD) would be something like a comet than shines into the night and affects both, the planet and the asteroid.  SD will complement the atrocities described for UX and CX.  SD deals with Consulting, Support, Education, Success, and Community.

Companies call themselves as customer centric ones; everything revolves around that tyrant, the customer. But wait, he is not the tyrant, he`s also the prey and salvation, yes! The loyal customer will let us increase revenue, gain market, develop new products among other things.  A proper design should be based on in-depth knowledge of the customer’s current and projected needs at the core; with all the activities, roles and processes aligned to enable smooth customer experience across all traceable points.  Services are the engine that power loyalty, retention, advocacy and, therefore, revenue growth.

Healthy habits include KPIs, benchmarking against competition, continuous improvement, research of the products and new ways of service selling.  The team for a successful SD becomes complex,. With marketing gurus, psychologists,  brand champions, Big Data analysts, etc.

Top advices on developing for effective User Experience in Banking

1. Practice some Design Thingking principles, think like your customer

Commonly, banks tend to design products using interfaces that are defined by bankers. They assume, wrongly, that users know about banks like professionals and also they try to mimic the obscure process in the user interface... guess what, users are common people that wants to be served fast and easy. So, keep calm and try to behave as a common mortal before designing any interface

2. Every application is different. Stop copying other interfaces' behavior and L&F.

Other misconception about applications and interfaces is to think like if a Size fits for All. Wrong! The behavior of a good application should fit the device that is managed by the user.  Some informational web sites are OK detecting how to fit in the device that is calling for them. But it is for information, period. Transactional applications need to adapt comfortably to the current device, but such automatic adaptability is far to be the best. So, there is the urgency of having a specific design for every device. And also kill the "Copycat" custom. Apply psychology and sociology principles.

If you like to mimic some other service or application from your competitors or referents, stop, think what are pros and cons, try to be original and evolutive.

3. UX is not cheap. You need specialized people in UX Banking and ... invest time!

The last move in this pasarela is being User Centric, and like in "Au Couture" you need specialized UX designers. Maybe a good UX designer can do the job, but there is also the time cost of try and error, or wireframes. Do not be afraid of using lots of resources like Brainstorming sessions, information gathering, prototypes, beta testers or users groups. Try using kids and old people for testing, go and ask your teen relatives.

4. Success do no to come just with a new User interface

Maybe this can sound rude, but nothing changes just painting that rotten car to have it running like a brand new one. The real change comes from inside your systems, new web services, security zones,  maybe some services in cloud, etc.  Think about everything. You can end up with dislikes in the App Store because your customers cannot register or the messages never arrive on time. UX is a matter of combining best of the best. I do not mean you need to invest in such top line software or hardware but to use efficiently your infrastructure and commit essential changes that make the difference of seconds to milliseconds in transaction response.

5. UX and CX is a matter of multidisciplinary teams, it is not just graphic design

Focus your mind in a new Ferrari Sport Car...very good looking outside and a real jewel inside. The jewel that moves that piece of engineering and design is not visible for the street passenger. Do you understand? You need people working on graphic design, other in user interaction, other ones in marketing research to understand which transactions are prone to error, which ones can make a difference, etc. For instance, unfortunately none of my banks have such an useful feature that allows me to interact with Siri, Cortana or Alexa and instruct the bank to execute the customary monthly money transfer to my old aunt. WOW!  Yes, a phrase can save me the torture of login, menu, etc. Do you see the difference.

You need to sum: User's opinion, bank's strategy, technical opinions, market research, innovation

6. innovative

Old approach: traditional transactions such transfers,  account statements, checks balance...should be in my service.

Stop! think about mobile payments, wire transfers,  peer's loans. Yes, why no to provide your customers with services like peer to peer loans. If you do not implement services like that, any FinTech will and your customers will be running from your bank, but that is not what you want, do you?  Think about bankarization, there are people who do not use banks for a number of factors but they need to access the payment system. What if.....

I hope your efforts in UX and CX will make a difference in the World not just in your country.

Monday, July 10, 2017

exploiting the big data

Let's visit the Marketplace, data comes from everywhere, Social Networks, Telcos,  Retail expenses,  clothing preferences, education records, Uber rides, Foursquare check ins and likes,  Airbnb reservations due leisure or work. Just to name a few and we can go further, ATM's visits than can trace the geographic area of our customer influence.

We can predict customer expenses based on consumption habits, as we can geotag we can also be like credit card cops, simply detecting the customer's current location and credit card current debit place.
Even we could predict cash usage, not difficult at all. But What can we do with this humongous-information.
The first approach to create really disruptive services that can compete with quite focused FinTech ones is to understand what the customer wants, what is he used to do.
 No matter if we deal with millenials or Baby Boomers, customers have specific behaviors, they left their tracks, and Big Data with her friends IA, Analytic engines, etc, is able to show us the right path for deploying business.

Yes, you can name other actors such Blockchain, but this in the end is a technology not a business model. In Telco´s words: We need to fight back Churn. Why out customers are leaving for FinTech services. When Uber hit the market, it was clear that a flexible payment channel should be his spine for offering its service, now Uber´s customer can use Paypal or Credit Cards. What about the unbanked? How one of them could effectively access services such Airbnb, or Online stores.

A few years back, companies were crazy about BI, deploying complex boards to check for its data, transformed in bars and curves. Then the Big Data explosion comes to scene changing some variables but the Control Panel is still here with new visualization tools. Just that the Control Panel needs fresh ideas, something to push the data mining to undiscovered universes.

We have data: Knowledge, we have the Blue Ocean ahead, the first one to hit will hit harder and will establish models and needs. The human being tends to gets  accustomed to comfort, for us any discomfort creates an obnoxious experience. That`s why Data processing should help to offer better experiences.

Once and for all, financial services should abandon the brick and  mortar and traditional web models, try to use mobile devices, IoT, explode the gray internet and obscure data, transform services such transportation to implement revolutionary services. On the other hand redefine complex processes and study new ways of securing information.

Turn to new technologies and players, yes it is fair, but getting advantage of data.

Staying ahead with the right SEO for Mobile

The use of mobile devices is, as everybody knows, in a stunning rampant growth, New devices are launched by giants as Apple, Samsung, HTC and others and users are avid buyers of fresh technology. But users want the right content displayed in their fancy and expensive mobiles, if they do not find the right content or service they are always eager to switch for the service provider that fulfill their needs.

Users are looking for information in internet before buying or signing for services, they use more and more its current location to searching for physical places or to reach services (taxis for example). Back in 2010, Google started to offer Places, by using such service local business can be present in internet even without a web page. If small business can be present and be able to be reached by thousands of web navigators, what is happening with banks? Even the Rockies can use internet tools to sell services or products at low cost,  so are doing stablished brands too. But there are some customers’ requirements that are yet to be fulfilled, for instance enable your position sharing in your mobile and ask for your bank agencies near you. What happened? Did you got a flat results page or maps with flags to identify the nearest branch?

Searching from mobiles?

Yes, you search from your mobile and what the heck!  A lot of searching comes from such devices and revenue from mobile searching is increasing.  At this point in the life, a lot of banks have changed their web sites interfaces to be mobile friendly. But there are still web pages using Flash and Jscript in ways that are not usable in mobile phones. Content is sometimes impossible to reach, other there are pages that offer a frustrating user experience and this list of problems is lengthy.
Anyway, other factor to consider when you think about mobiles and your site is the possibility that web search engines can find your mobile site formatting useful.  I am talking about SEO for mobiles, specifically for banks. No doubt that this is also applicable to other business as well.  Think that if you already have a good positioning for traditional search you should be good at mobile searches.
Have you heard about transcoding from mobile search engines, if not this one is for you. Mobile Robots are quite specifics to search “mobile sites” , such spiders do additional analysis to be sure that the found site behaves adaptively to mobile devices. If engine find that the site’s content is not very trustful at showing its content they transcode the site when users click or tap on the link. Transcoding means that the site is shown using a formatting that is “guaranteed” to be displayed at mobiles. I have included in this link the test for, using Google Mobilizer for you to see how a good transcoded page looks like, or just point to enter your web address and check to see if you like how you site looks.
Sadly, I found that a lot of banks are years behind top technical directives, they should check that their sites are “Mobile”, that is sites that are completely viewable from mobile devices.  New mobile applications like Square Cash use minimalist interfaces, but that is not always the case of institutional web sites.  There are heavy tasks to execute to assure that your mobile site is really mobile, luckily we can have a short list of them: 
1.       Try using just HTML5. Get rid of JavaScript , Flash or other proprietary formats that can be showed in mobile devices
2.       If your pages are slow at loading or have those automatic refreshing features, do extensive optimization.

You have a growing number of mobile users

Probably starting from you, you check for web content that comes from different sources, one of them is your bank.  Do you know what are looking for your mobile customers? What is the star product in your mobile world?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Big Data and customers’ retention

As any other business, banking relies heavily on its customers. Is it possible to predict if any customer is about to leave? Well, starting from the fact that keeping customers under your umbrella costs less than acquiring new ones we are in a good path. Acquiring new customers cost from 5 to 15 times more than retaining current ones.

Let´s suppose we have Loui who all Mondays goes to the ATM for his customary $100, all of a sudden Loui transactions begin to be scarce or inexistent. Loui is about to leave but we do not know why. And the worst is that we barely notice about Loui among all our customers. How important is to predict customers who move off from our bank? Which kind of data do we need to analyze?

Our mission is to predict customer’s departure before it actually happens to retain him. Data that comes to our help include: number of contracted products, savings evolution or account movement, occupation, claims, demographic data, etc.

Other source is the one that the bank has collected from lost customers, who had left the bank. Behavioral patterns are there.

Moreover, there are different kind of “break ups” to design and build maps of departure, profile of customers who leave, most common channels that originate such response from our customers, geographic zones, products, and related data.  

What do we obtain from such analysis?

1.       To   know which customers’ segment should be care and kept.

2.       Plans and strategies to respond before customer relinquishment. We can know with anticipation when, who and why.

3.       Increase customer’s satisfaction and fidelity by knowing his needs in a better way.  consumption

How to analyze
·         External Sources that have information about demographics, employment status and current personal status.
·         Social Networks
·         Fusion and analysis of structured and unstructured data
·         Interactive data visualization
·         Customer value that it is used as index of acquiring customers who potentially can leave  
·         Statistical external sources with expenditures/payments information.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Heading to the new banking applications

Innovation, and more "Innovation". This looks to be the constant when speaking about the bank of the future, but unfortunately for those that haven´t started to innovate, the future is now, something like "No Country for Old Men". I will now put some examples for applications that can make the difference in the vertical.

1. Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for banks.
The common problem to interact with systems it is the easy of use, friendliness, etc, whatever you call it. Natural Language to interact with decision making systems can allow a number of tasks and features. Combining the power of Big Data Analysis or no so big data but common data found in Core Banking glued with powerful artificial intelligence systems that allow the use of natural language for querying the system can make a real difference. For the interface the chances are: written text, voice commands or implicit alerts triggered to existing interfaces.

Customers can ask things like "How much I have been spending in clothing this year?" "What is my best investing option for home insurance?" "Please project my savings for the next 12 months".  Let´s think about the customer who can be alerted by an app in her mobile when trying to buy something that threatens her savings plan.

On the other hand banks can use this system with its task force, allow new staff to ask for advice when dealing with complex transactions or specific customers. Risk Management or Compliance can be greatly improved, safer and quicker decisions can arise from AI in this context.  The number of solutions derived from AI in banking is huge.

2. Social Networks Support
Banks can check a number of things in social, who say what about the bank or competition, what people like or dislike, and eventually answers with supporting advisory or guidelines to customers complaints or launches social campaigns. But people are gregarious, they like to met partners and doing business with each other. Sometimes are expenses shared within a group of people, so they need something to help them to split expenses, borrowing, paying and collecting money for special occasions. Families who can join forces for specific needs in a form of money savings or somebody who can prepay services and obtain discounts. Private social messaging can be useful to send alerts of invoices to overcome. Some banking services can use the security log-in from external user certification authorities like Google, Microsoft or Facebook and forget about complicated and tricky proprietary applications. Using a mobile application that complements the social support, customers can access financial advisory for savings, investments, money management.

3. Democratizing Credit Card Brands
Is it wise to use a high limit card for a low amount internet transaction? Maybe is just a matter of feeling safe.  If you have a low amount prepaid card you can use it to execute low amount internet transactions, to let your sons to use on weekends for going to amusement parks, etc. Such card is perfect for gifts. But here comes something different, a re-loadable gift card. Why you should throw away the gift card after consuming its money. In one way sounds ecological and on the other is a way to empower people that does not have banks accounts to have its own "credit card". Of course it is not a pure Credit Card but can use recognized brands such MasterCard, Visa or American Express. The business turn to complement the service  with discounts networks, and promotions.
Customers can easily load the basic card information to its mobile, card number and user id. Then customers can use its mobile instead the plastic and secure its use through a personal password and one time code when they are ready to pay for services or goods. In such application the customer can also load discount coupons instead of paper cut ones.

4. Social Inclusion
There are some initiatives to insert un-banked and under-banked in the banking system like the one partnered by FIS: :This solutions uses the same principles exposed with Remote Check Deposit, clients simply take a photo of checks and instantly receive the check amount less a low fee directly right in the mobile where the electronic wallet application resides. Really an easy piece of cake.
Other example is Kiwa they are a sort of micro credit facilitators. They manage the lending process having in one side organizations or institutions that put money available to lenders and on the other side they work with micro credit lenders, people who ask for small amounts of money to initiate or implement improvements in its business. Kiwa offers a set of analysts who are in charge of lender qualification and approval. Something like Kiwa is MrPresta, they use the same business model. but they are focused on people who sell stuff in "Mercado Libre", the auctions Latin American portal like eBay.

5. Breaking the egg

As the new born bird who needs to break its egg to be free in the nest, banks need to rethink some traditional behavior. When customers visit an on-line retail store such Amazon or eBay, they experience a comfortable environment, with a history of its recently viewed items and purchases, they receive news on new products that can be of its interest. They have offers and specialized verticals for music or videos. User can explore its shipping address or credit card information. Banks have information that can be used in the same way,  user should have chances to personalize its experience in the Bank´s portal, receive coupons or discounts from local providers, or special interest rates, be advised on investments. Banks need to think from its customers point of view and let away the baker spirit for a while. For instance one customer could make a list of projected expenditures and as soon as the month begins the internet bank system can present the available balance vs the monthly payments, as soon as the customer salary enters the account it can be divided and the customer can visualize the real status of its accounts.

I will come with other ideas in other posts, stay tuned.