By Johann Digue
The impact of COVID-19 has set us on the path of a global recession and the far-reaching effects on the financial services industry are yet to be imagined.
These are telling times, and institutions without the proper digital infrastructure to support this influx of uncertain customers will fall short, and fast.
Yet in the face of the crisis, businesses may look to delay investment in digital transformation when in fact this is the time that they need it most to survive.
There is strain on especially online banking systems, helplines and social media channels, with calls from consumers frantically trying to assess the impact of job losses, vanishing income, and default on loans and mortgages.
Digital is the new normal, you need only look at the new online office and shift to remote working conditions to realise that the way we work has been fundamentally transformed, and this is likely to spill over into the way we transact.
Banks need to reassure and respond in a way that continues to build and keep the trust of their customers if they want to hold on to them.
The need for rapid adaptation on all levels is becoming more critical as the financial services sector adjusts to a post COVID-19 economic climate.
While we are unsure of what this climate will look like, we know that for companies to survive they will need to operate smarter.
Amidst the uncertainty there is a rise in cyber fraud with reports of phishing attacks taking advantage of already vulnerable people.
The need for systems that are robust and intelligent enough to mitigate these fraudulent activities is critical.
For large companies, executing their digital transformation roadmap is often hindered by siloed thinking and hampered by a struggle to reset company culture.
For digital natives, or businesses whose infrastructure naturally enables them to pivot as needed, transformation happens from the onset.
These companies are usually built on modern platforms with tailor made embedded security which may provide an opportunity for them to offer new products and services swiftly as we shift to a future of business unusual.
As businesses acclimatize it is likely that they will need an increased online presence, supported by secure and seamless payment systems to support a potential uptick in e-commerce.
This will need to be supported by employees with the requisite digital skills – analysts who can assess the need to pivot at a whim, software developers who can build products to deliver in new paradigms, call centre staff who can harness smart AI to make their jobs much easier.
In the short term the focus for many will be how to stay afloat, but this may also be the perfect time to shift to long-term thinking as we brace for what looks to be a lasting impact from this wave of digitalisation as consumers form new habits built on digital services.
Now is the perfect time for companies to revisit their digital transformation strategies to plan for the need for new skill sets and upscaling digital infrastructure if they want to remain competitive in the years to come.