What’s at Stake When Firms Rely on Old Technology

Delta Air Lines learned the hard way what can happen when you rely on outdated technology and legacy systems.

While taking responsibility, Delta’s CEO acknowledged that, despite the $150 million investment in technology this year alone, “It’s not clear the priorities in our investment have been in the right place.”

His comments reflect the hazards any business faces when it fails to update its workflows to more efficient and streamlined technologies. As the Harvard Business Review notes, the challenges faced by large organizations and manufacturers when implementing new technology are just as relevant to small businesses, and both large and small organizations can use the same strategies to overcome those challenges.

While a professional service provider may not face the same risks as a national airline if they continue to rely on old systems (Delta will likely lose millions of dollars in revenue and damage its reputation as a reliable airline), financial services firms face proportionally detrimental challenges. Simply by failing to embrace the new norms of digital communication, financial services firms risk losing clients to other advisors, since the top four reasons investors leave advisors are all related to poor communication.

Ralf Dreischmeier, the global leader of the Technology Advantage practice for the Boston Consulting Group, believes that “to succeed today, every business must view itself as a technology company…. Digital transformations will be successful and create value only if companies address technology change and the required organizational and behavioral changes at the same time.”

As the BCG study notes, the technologies and trends of this age are so varied and powerful that, even something as simple as a communication software, when selected correctly for a company’s needs and goals, can enable superior customer experiences and open lines to more direct and valuable relationships.

The potential is high, but the longer firms delay implementing new customer-facing digital tools, the more opportunities they sacrifice. Consumer preferences and expectations change continually as they embrace new platforms and methods of communication rapidly.

Professionals know value exists in the right technology. Among financial advisors, 36% are increasing their use of innovative techniques like social media and 26% are using mobile technology now too. Advisors who are likely to invest in strategies to attract younger investors (like relying on technology) are more likely to to earn more and have more AUM.

Though the most successful advisors invest in technology, the investments need to be made carefully to bring true impact. To make the most of the opportunities the right communication technology can bring to any business’s marketing efforts, consider the trends that BCG highlights as two of 2016’s most important:

Robotic-Process Automation. Robots have been able to replicate muscle-power-driven tasks for years. With the advent of robotic-process automation, the technology now extends into knowledge-related and back-office work, such as tasks traditionally performed by call center employees, doctors, and lawyers. The next step of robotics’ evolution could produce a code-free virtual workforce that replicates human actions and can automate any software-based process.

Self-Learning Machines. The algorithms that these machines employ provide more precise results than those that can be achieved with traditional big data. They also reveal correlations that are hidden from traditional big-data applications and can explore data even with very limited knowledge of the context. This technology has already become available to a broad audience through services such as Amazon Machine Learning, which is capable of delivering billions of forecasts per day.

The study’s authors encourage businesses to upgrade to technology based on automated processes and intelligent algorithms. Software that simply spruces up traditional communication processes or upgrades old ways of doing things with sleeker designs isn’t worth the overhaul effort.

(What BCG has so expertly phrased is what we have termed the Same Circus, Different Clowns Effect. You’ll find yourself victim of the SCDC Effect by believing that a new provider of the same technology will reduce friction in your life simply because it’s a different provider. All the work required to cancel one technology and implement a new one turns out to provide no ROI. For a financial professional, this might happen when you switch to a new email sender service, upgrade your CRM, or move your website to a new builder.)

What New Technology Does for the Customer Experience

The authors believe the most powerful benefits of upgraded technology are the “smart improvements,” which improve the efficiency of people working together, hugely impactful for any people business. The ability to share, communicate, and collaborate personally and in real-time allows professionals like financial advisors to strengthen relationships with their customers. While simplified workflows save time and nicer designs are more pleasing to users, the ROI of technology that facilitates communication can enable stronger relationships, which is more impactful to a business’s ROI.

Communicating with customers using modern technology based on advanced trends eliminates pain points in your relationships, surprises them with better service, and redefines the way they think of you. Since a successful financial services business is based on emotional satisfaction as much as it is based on achieving financial goals, the value for your business is measurable.

Robo-Process and Self-Learning in Communication Technology for Financial Professionals

The two trends the BCG study encourages us to watch are at Vestorly’s core. Financial professionals who overhaul their outdated communication systems with Vestorly’s find that it is not just a new way of doing the same thing. At MBM Wealth, they’ve found that Vestorly’s robo-processes reduce their time spent marketing by 90%, and that sharing stories chosen by an intelligent algorithm on social media doubled their reader base.

Vestorly is not a spruced up way to build and send email newsletters, or a dashboard consolidating yesterday’s technology. Since Vestorly is based off of the most advanced trends of the day, it’s worth replacing “old news” solutions with.

As the authors say, “the essence of true digital transformation is leveraging digital tools to push smart simplicity into organizations and unlock latent productivity.” Using robo-processes, Vestorly simplifies many marketing tasks others have accepted as inevitable. The tool has unlocked productivity by allowing professionals to rely on intelligent machines, instead of their own time, manual efforts, and knowledge.

And in fact: companies that use groundbreaking technology like this to lead a digital transformation are 26% more profitable than their industry average.

Overhauling old technology and implementing new daunts IT departments of any size. But on the largest levels, digital transformations can save organizations like Delta from embarrassing debacles, and on the smaller levels, can enable financial professionals to see meaningful results from their marketing efforts.

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