The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) has already delivered a number of seismic technological advances, from cloud computing and robotics, to big data and artificial intelligence.

And these advances have dramatically changed what customers, shareholders, and employees expect of financial services organisations.

But while some organisations are already rising to meet – and exceed – those expectations, others are lagging behind.

And, in many cases, the difference is a question of mindset.

Our own Aaron Tunesi and Omar Shabka explored this phenomenon at Salesforce World Tour London 2019. But if you weren’t there, never fear – now’s your chance to get-up-to-speed. 


In this blog post, we’ll examine:

  • The two mindsets we’ve observed in our customers
  • The third mindset you may well need to develop
  • The four disciplines that will make that mindset a reality


Two common mindsets in the Fourth Industrial Revolution 

In addition to supporting 150,000+ amazing customers, we’ve delivered over 400 Ignite engagements in the last two years, helping CEOs and their teams to transform. 

And we’ve learned that most business leaders are either looking to renovate – or transcend.


Mindset #1: Renovate

Some leaders see the influx of 4IR technologies as the latest wave in a regular flow of incremental innovation, an extension of the 3IR digitisation they very likely went through not so long ago.

They believe they can simply optimise their existing business – using these new technologies to drive productivity and efficiency – and then everything will be 'back to normal'.

We call this the ‘Renovate’ mindset.

It can lead to isolated successes, but the benefits these bring don’t typically scale across the company. And unless the resulting cost savings are reinvested in more ambitious transformation initiatives, it remains a purely defensive strategy.


Mindset #2: Transcend

On the other hand, there’s the mindset we see in almost every disruptor or start-up entrepreneur. 

These leaders and their companies are imagining new ways to create customer value. They’re moving beyond existing definitions of their competitors and markets, and focusing instead on their customers. They’re leveraging 4IR technologies – and a broader ecosystem – to take bold and ambitious steps.

We call this the ‘Transcend’ mindset.

It’s a mindset that any leader who wants their company to be successful 10 years from now should embrace. Fast. 

But for leaders at long-established financial services companies, leaping straight to a transcend mindset isn’t an option. If they’re going to deliver customer-centric innovations, they first need to transform the cultures, capabilities, and business processes that have been honed into muscle memory over decades – and the technology stack that underlies it all.

And that’s a whole different challenge. One that requires a whole different mindset…


The third mindset: Evolve

When companies decisively commit to move out of the Renovate mindset – while absolutely recognising the reality of where they are today – that’s what we call the ‘Evolve’ mindset.

It sees the CEO and executive team put the customer at the centre of the business – above all. 

Of course, a company with an ‘Evolve’ mindset can – and should – also have Transcend-type initiatives on the go. 

And since everything can’t change at once, some aspects of the business may well continue to operate in a Renovate-type fashion for some time – driving efficiency, and creating savings that can be put towards transcendent projects.


So how do you get from ‘Renovate’ to ‘Evolve’?

The answer is in adopting four business disciplines.


1. Customer-centric Business Processes

Many financial services businesses grew in an era when success meant creating new product brands, advertising through broadcast media, and then distributing those products to customers. The only way to achieve scale was through standardisation, and given the limits of what was possible with data, the focus was purely on transaction volumes.

Today, companies must reconfigure their core processes to focus on customer demand rather than supply. And if they’re to deliver personalised and connected experiences at scale, they must move beyond transactions to develop a holistic, contextual and actionable view of the customer.

One bank nailing this discipline is BBVA. They’ve designed 170 different customer journeys to engage people in personalised one-to-one conversations – and deliver a unified operational view of the customer to their employees across all physical and digital channels. 

It’s helped them shift from a high-touch, branch-based delivery model to a digital-first model. Digital channels now account for >80% of their customer interactions.



2. One Team Aligned Around the Customer

This discipline is all about breaking down silos and enablng teams to deliver the full power of your company to the customer.

It means abandoning inherited organisational divisions between Sales, Marketing and Service – and instead adopting more flexible and flatter team structures. 

Huntington Bank is blazing a trail in this discipline. The mid-sized, regional bank is one of few financial services organisations to have so far successfully executed a unified banking strategy.

In just five months, it connected all its bankers on the same front-office application and a 360-degree view of the customer. It also ran a cultural campaign ('treat your customer as a human, not an account') to build a new, customer-centric mindset, and achieved a bank-wide redesign of operational processes and front-office technology – giving staff a platform to share work and insights irrespective of their LOB.

The bank’s revenue has jumped by 25%, sales/advice conversations have seen >40% lift, and customer sentiment, NPS and loyalty metrics have doubled.


3. The Leanest Possible Technology Stack

Innovation takes money. And one way to free up IT budget is to reduce the complexity of your IT footprint – and the expertise required to integrate the different parts of your stack, with modern approaches like APIs and low-code.

If you need inspiration on this front, look to Capital One. Their CIO, Rob Alexander, is on a 20-year journey to transform Capital One not just into a digital bank, but into a technology company that just happens to deliver financial services to its 70 million customers.

Their architecture vision is the definition of lean: they are all-in on public cloud, and on track to have zero infrastructure in data centres by 2020. They are also big champions of open source and API-enabled micro services to optimise, re-use and reduce code complexity.

This lean and agile approach drives their competitive advantage: faster innovation. It’s no surprise they’re the first major bank to go beyond mobile and introduce voice – so customers can ask Alexa for their balance.


4.  Sense and Respond

Put these three disciplines into place, and your financial services company will have gained an incredible foundation for customer-centricity. But there’s one more task.

Customer needs, expectations and behaviours are changing faster than ever before; unless you build the capacity to sense and respond to those changes in near real-time, you risk falling behind more agile competitors.  

That means ensuring everyone – from the CEO, to the customer-facing service agent – has transparent, up-to-date, and actionable customer insights. 


A great example of a company that’s constantly listening to its customers is AXA. 

AXA’s decade-long #1 ranking among global insurance brands (Interbrand) has been driven by their customer-centric transformation. Feeling pressure from Amazon, Google, and other disruptors to innovate faster, AXA invested more than €1B from 2015-2018 to explore emerging technologies and accompanying shifts in consumer behaviour.

Earlier this year, they also established AXANext, a new unit with centralised incubation, investment, and go-to-market capabilities to “build new services and business models beyond insurance.”


Let’s put all this into practice…

As you get into the ‘Evolve’ mindset, and build out your key disciplines, we can help you every step of the way.

Many of our most successful customers are making our CRM platform the foundation of their transformation towards customer-centricity. 

All are at different points in their journey – whether that’s assessing the opportunities, setting their vision and roadmap, or implementing, celebrating and optimising.

See how you can deliver agile, personalised, digital-first Financial Services witth these helpful resources