The outlook for financial services in 2014 – How can organizations achieve transformational change in a limited budgetary reality?

As economists have recently revised global economic growth prospects downward, the expectation for 2014 is that interest rates will remain low. If global economies are slated to grow sluggishly, logically, the prospects for IT spending in the banking and financial services sector would also remain slow.

This uncertain outlook is supported in the US by a few factors. The stock market, which is at record highs, needs firms to continue to provide stellar results, which unfortunately becomes more difficult as year-over-year comparisons are no longer being done on the lower post-crisis results. This could motivate firms to begin investing to generate new and improved sources of revenues but to date there is little empirical evidence of this and expectations remain muted. Merger and acquisition activity, a big driver of investment bank revenue, may also be dampened since stock share prices have reached these new heights. Housing, the traditional driver of economic growth and major source of banking revenue through mortgage lending, may be losing steam as supply and demand has driven prices higher in many regions. Growth in new construction will need to gain momentum in order to increase supply and help drive sales and ultimately the economy. Continue reading

Are we ready for Agile? Demystifying Agile (Part-2)

In the 1st part of this blog, we emphasized the importance of adopting Agile implementation to move towards seeing its advantages vis a vis the traditional methods. In this blog, we will delve into the measures required to achieving holistic Agile adoption throughout the organization.

Agile mindset
As competition becomes more intense, there is a burgeoning need among organizations to explore ways to broaden their horizons. To achieve growth they need innovation, which in turn needs an Agile mindset. The Agile manifesto exhorts organizations to inculcate a growth mindset among its teams to align with the long term growth objectives of the organization. The following are some of the salient features of Agile Organizations Continue reading

Are we ready for Agile? Demystifying Agile (Part-1)

Agile development has been in existence for almost 13 years and has been delivering immense value to organizations. It continuously accentuates on the rapid delivery of customer’s business value and provides the “best bang for the buck”. We witness a lot of frenzy for Agile Implementation. The interest towards the traditional waterfall and iterative models continues to dwindle. But, are all projects suited for Agile development? Is there no future for traditional methods of software development? Are all software organizations capable of steering the Agile way of development? What does it take to implement projects successfully the Agile way? This article seeks to address these questions. Continue reading

The real benefits of IT Outsourcing and how to achieve them

IT Outsourcing and especially offshoring was originally conceived as a way to save cost through the labour arbitrage offered by low cost economies such as India. Fast forward to today, those low cost geographies have seen costs increase, while at the same time ITO suppliers have built up real capability and expertise. The calibre and maturity of staff working for ITOs has increased, while the extensive experiences those ITOs have coupled with their evolution of highly sophisticated delivery management processes, has resulted in organisations that are more competent than many of their customers. So as either a new entrant into the IT Outsourcing space, or as business that already uses IT Outsourcing, what are the key benefits available? Continue reading

Opportunity lies all around: Two key tips to help you use Level 2 to improve your overall IT Service Management processes

A brief overview of terminology – when we refer to Level 1, we mean “the first level of support” – typically a service or helpdesk of some kind, designed to be the first point of contact a user can have with IT support. Often when organizations decide that they are going to “do” ITIL (a set of practices for IT service management – ITSM – that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business) or implement similar best practices methodologies or related improvements, they will start with Level 1 services and work their way up. While this can certainly be a successful approach, we would like to discuss some of the benefits of a more “middle-outward” approach, starting at Level 2. We believe that with the proper team and approach, a strong Level 2 group can become an engine, capable of moving your whole support organization forward. Continue reading

Improving customer experience and the need for customer data management in the utilities sector

In the UK the Water industry operates on a geographic basis. If you live in a water company’s supply area, then that company bills you for the supply of fresh water and treatment of waste water. In the electricity and gas industry the retail market is more open and non-geographic, so you can have a billing relationship with a company from a wider range of energy suppliers even though your local network is owned by only one.

This is one of the reasons why the water regulator Ofwat imposed its Service Incentive Mechanism on water companies, where they are assessed on a number of customer satisfaction metrics, ranked and rated accordingly, with lower ranked suppliers mandated to improve their customer service rather than raising their pricing. In a non-competitive market the regulator, who has consumers’ interests at heart, has ensured that water companies have a strong incentive to improve customer service. Continue reading

Migrating to EMV standard: A boon in disguise

History has shown that financial industry is fraught with stories of fraudulent transactions that have resulted in billions of dollars of losses. According to the Nilson’s November 2011 Report, in 2010 the U.S. credit card and debit card losses totaled roughly $3.56 billion – 47% of the worldwide payment card fraud losses globally that year. Nilson’s August 2013 report claims Global Card Fraud in 2012 to be at $11.27 billion. If I were to wear a statistician’s hat and do the math – 40% of $11.27 billion, then the U.S. credit card and debit card losses would total to roughly $ 4.5 billion in 2012. An alarming increase of 26.4% over a period of 1 year! If even 50% of this growth continues then the U.S. credit and debit card losses will be in double digits (billions) in 2016. Continue reading

Re-inventing banking: Geospatial adoption drives “New World” business models

The pride and joy of every business is a loyal customer; one who believes in you, and trusts that he/she will get the best possible value every time he/she uses your services. “Trust” is a very strong and intangible emotion, which eventually translates into long term “Loyalty”; therefore every business has a responsibility to proactively care for and continuously improve to help build and maintain trust. In terms of business metrics – selling to a loyal and existing customer also means lower costs than acquiring a new one. Continue reading

10 key considerations for an Enterprise Gamification initiative

Enterprises today face a new kind of challenge. A disengaged workforce and a transactional customer base has resulted in productivity loss as well as higher customer churn. Not surprisingly, the Gallup Survey 2013 found that 70% of the workforces is not engaged, which leads to the loss of between $450 and $550 billion per year.

The ‘Millennial generation’ is the single largest contributor to this, as they are more transactional in nature than compared to the loyal ‘Gen X’ or ‘Baby Boomers’. Millennials (~25% of US workforce today) are impacted the most from the ‘Sunday-Monday disconnect,’ i.e. switching between a highly inter-connected, real-time, device dependent and collaborative social world to a monotonous enterprise landscape. They have a harder time disconnecting, and expect work to be an extension of their normal routine.

Turning transactional millennials into loyal customers isn’t a onetime effort, but rather is achieved over a period of time. Tapping into ‘motivators’ and identifying fundamental employee ‘motivators’ enables stronger engagement and true loyalty! Continue reading

Quality really did rock and even rolled at Starwest

One of the most fascinating aspects about attending Starwest this year was seeing people from all over the world coming together to discuss quality, not just ‘testing’. I have witnessed this momentum building while interacting with many of the organizations that I work with and was not surprised to see the interest that people have in emerging QA technologies, mobile QA and new tools, etc.

Some of my key takeaways include Continue reading