Role of Technology in BFSI Alternate Channels

This post was also featured in BFSI Vision, Dec 2014

“Branchless Banking” is a channel strategy that offers real and significant advantages to banks as well as to their customers. For banks, it means improved handling of customer transactions at reduced costs. For customers, such channels offer a vast improvement in convenience and flexibility, enabling 24×7 access to their funds. It is no wonder that a majority of today’s banking customers prefer to bank via a technology-led Alternate Channel, and avoid visiting their local branch to the extent possible.

Alternate channels like ATMs, Mobile Banking and Internet Banking have only been made possible, thanks to the underlying technology platforms they are built on. The burgeoning adoption of smartphones and increased Internet access across demographics has resulted in a significant spike in the demand for such tools. Technology provides a robust, safe and easy-to-use platform for a customer to access their funds in real-time, transfer money to and from accounts, and review dashboard reports of their portfolio. Security measures like instant SMS on usage of ATM or credit cards have only added to their peace of mind, since they are now assured of an immediate notification, in case of any misuse.

Banks planning to roll out Alternate Channels need to ensure that they focus on security and speed, above all else. Once that has been addressed, it is vital that the service offers the best User Experience possible, and one that is consistent with the brand values of the organization. Very often, organizations make the mistake of re-inventing the wheel instead of imbibing best practices. However, the reality is that today’s customer is far more attuned to international standards in design, thanks to the global canvas of apps that smartphones offer. As a result, a less-than-optimal experience in an Alternate Channel will only harm the brand in the long run.

The right technology platform, and making choices that are in the interest of your customer, ensures that Alternate Channels deliver RoI on your business objectives. Across the globe, the trends that are shaping the adoption of such channels include an ever-increasing access to Internet & smartphones, and an ever-decreasing availability of time.

The key to success in a multi-channel strategy is to prioritize Security, Speed and a Superlative user-experience for your customers, regardless of the channel they choose to interact with.

Why Flat Design Matters

UX Magazine has a great post on Why Flat Design Matters. If design concepts like skeuomorphism are unfamiliar to you, it’s time you get the low down on what ‘Flat Design’ is all about and why it’s significant for you:

Flat design can be seen as the more sophisticated and versatile cousin of minimalism. While flat designs look great when made within the restraints of minimalism, they can also handle a lot more complexity; these designs have a crispness and clarity that can only be achieved by stripping away three dimensional effects.

Flat design not only reconciles the goals of minimalism and skeuomorphism, it also is uniquely adaptable to usability considerations. By shedding unnecessary styling, it makes for speedier pages, cleaner code, and easy adaptability.

Read the entire piece, here. It’s got some great visual examples too.

In contrast, Google’s approach to Design is based on a number of principles inspired by what they call ‘Material Design‘:

A material metaphor is the unifying theory of a rationalized space and a system of motion. The material is grounded in tactile reality, inspired by the study of paper and ink, yet technologically advanced and open to imagination and magic.

Surfaces and edges of the material provide visual cues that are grounded in reality. The use of familiar tactile attributes helps users quickly understand affordances. Yet the flexibility of the material creates new affordances that supercede those in the physical world, without breaking the rules of physics.

The fundamentals of light, surface, and movement are key to conveying how objects move, interact, and exist in space and in relation to each other.

The coming months should see a lot of excitement in this arena…

Social Media Trends 2014

This post was also featured in BFSI Vision, Oct 2014

2014 has seen a number of trends emerging in the Technology arena – Big Data is getting Bigger, the Cloud is getting Personal, and everything is moving to On-Demand. A NY Times study in Jan 2014 confirmed what we may have realized intuitively – We now share more content, from more sources, with more people, more often and more quickly than ever before!

So, how does all this impact the world of Social Media?

India is already the second-largest mobile phone user in the world with over 900 million users. And, initiatives like AndroidOne are only going to help that cause further, making it extremely affordable for millions to switch to internet-enabled smartphones.

Current estimates peg active mobile Internet users in India between 167Mn and 185Mn, as compared to the total Internet active user base of about 243Mn. And, as much as 70% of all Internet traffic in India is being generated from mobile phones and tablets.

India ranks #2 on Facebook and LinkedIn worldwide. So, we have clearly come a long way from our early days on Orkut. But today, Social Media marketing is no longer about collecting “likes” – it’s about engaging with your customers in a meaningful and relevant manner. And, what better vehicle to go “Social” than a data-ready mobile device that youalways carry with you?

Indians are averaging more than 2.5 hours a day on their mobile devices, and a lot of that time is being spent on social networks and interacting with their friends via What’sApp. As marketers figure out more intelligent ways to reach this audience, we will see Digital Marketing in all its forms becoming more mobile-savvy and location-aware.

Wearable Computing is another emerging trend that is likely to impact the world of Digital Marketing and Social Media. The next few months will see a number of smartwatches and fitness trackers being launched. And, as consumers take to them in large numbers, app developers and marketers will also embrace these new technologies to make their usage more social.

The next few months may well see the beginning of a “Mobile First” thrust by marketers who are serious about staying engaged with their customers.

2014 Trends: What To Watch Out For


2013: The Year That Went By 

We have been hearing about the trends that are shaping our world… Big Data is getting Bigger, the Cloud is getting Personal, and everything is moving to On-Demand. How do such changes impact the world of marketers, advertisers, technologists, and business, in general?

In many ways, one could argue that 2013 was a lost year for Technology. A recent write-up by Quartz summed it up well when it wrote, “Mobile phones stagnated, Wearables were a letdown, Former giants continued their inglorious decline, and M&A replaced innovation.”

But 2013 was also a great year for Digital Advertising. Google’s own blogs wrote that this was the year when “new technologies took off, creative got more intelligent, campaigns spanned screens and formats, media buying went real-time, and new metrics for success emerged!”


2014: What To Watch Out For

2014 has a lot of excitement in store, and there are a few trends that marketers would do well to keep in mind…

1. Mobile Is Gaining Ground

According to a Google/Nielsen study of Nov 2013, consumers are spending more than 15 hours per week on their mobile screens, searching for the information they need, and 93% of people who use a mobile to research, go on to complete a purchase of a product or service.

2. Cross-Screen, Cross-Format

The new world order is one of cross-screen, cross-format campaigns, since the “consumer” now uses different screen combinations per day e.g. ‘smartphone + computer’ or ‘smartphone + television’ simultaneously. “Viewability” is becoming a hot topic and, as an extension, “Cost Per Engagement” is beginning to gain a foothold as the new metric for success.

3. Data Skills and Integration

The line between CMO and CIO is blurring. According to IDC, by the end of 2014, 60% of CMOs should have a formal process to onboard marketers with data skills. Consumers want a seamless experience, and it is up to CMOs to integrate media silos and provide a data- driven, multi-channel coverage to the business.

4. Email Marketing goes Mobile

If there was ever a time for email marketers to take Mobile seriously, it is now. An Oct 2013 study by Litmus confirmed that nearly one in every two emails are now opened on the mobile phone or tablet, with iPad and iPhone dominating mobile opens. The key question is: Are your emails mobile ready?

5. Social meets Business

Social Software for Business is expected to reach a new level of adoption as the importance of Social Search and Social Analytics increases. Big Data is no longer confined to large enterprise systems. More and more businesses of all size and shape feel the need to tap into the millions of daily tweets and Facebook updates, to get a real-time sense of their consumers.


So what does this mean for marketers in 2014? Well, at the very basic level, the game hasn’t changed. It is still very important for marketers to understand what their customer is doing all day, what keeps them up at night, and finally, what is the best way to keep them engaged.

That said, the future certainly looks filled with sci-fi concepts like 3D Printing, DIY Apps and the Internet of Everything. As a marketer living in the digital age, one couldn’t ask for more!