Talk about ‘access’ rather than ‘channel’

Instead, of channels, let's use the word access. Image: Kaboompics
Written by Chris Skinner

Many banks talk about Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google as aspirational heroes. Do they have channels? Not at all. They have a single digital approach to service. Story by Chris Skinner.

I’ve written quite a lot about my disdain for the use of the word channel, multichannel and omni-channel, and some people have asked me what it should be called instead. I’ve written about this too, and to be exact we should call it access – augmented access, proximate access, intelligent access, or whatever phrase you want, but it’s purely about access to services, information and support in a digital form.

This could be access to the banks’ digital platforms via any form factor I choose: my mobile, watch, desktop, tablet, car, television, or any other, such as access via Skype to a human, via phone to a human or via branch to a human – humans who are also being provided access to digital services through the banks’ platforms. In other words, the whole bank sits on a digital foundation, a digital core, a digital ecosystem.

In this world, no one thinks about segregated systems, silo structures or channels. We don’t think, ‘oh today I’m using my mobile channel, but tonight I will switch to my call center channel for service’. We simply think, ‘I’m using my banks’ services’. In this world, the bank doesn’t think about deploying layers of separated systems and then try to work out how to stitch them all together. The bank just adds new services and access for new form factors to their digital foundation.

Yet, access is key. Consistent access to a reliable, resilient, real-time digital service. It’s for this reason that I’ve persisted with the call to replace core systems, because then you can build a reliable structure with data in the cloud, and processors for provision of access to the digital core from the ground up. What I mean by this is that we add channels to old infrastructure and therefore keep adding legacy to legacy. What we should be doing is replacing the old infrastructure such that it is cleansed and ready for providing access to reliable, resilient, real-time digital services. Then the future will be adding further access and leveraged service to that digital core; adding digital to digital rather than legacy to legacy, if you prefer.

I mentioned augmented, proximate and intelligent access because when you have a digital core platform, the information that derives from that platform can be fed to all access points and all form factors. The intelligent digital bank uses the information from its platforms to populate all access points and all form factors with differentiated service and support.

Many banks talk about the likes of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google as their aspirational heroes. What is it about these big internet giants? Do they have channels? Do they have segregated structures? Not at all. They have a single digital approach to service. They don’t consider mobile, tablet, internet and telephone as separated systems and channels. They just see access through form factors to their digital services.

This is the transition banks will go through in the next five years (if they haven’t gone through this change process already). Banks will move from adding legacy to legacy, cementing their back-end systems further into place through front-end systems lock-in, to building a clean core digital foundation for the bank that can then feed service to any digital or physical form factor where service is needed. It will not be an easy transition, but it’s a transition demanded if banks are going to be fit for purpose in the digital age.

This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. You can read the original article here. Image: Kaboompics

About the author

Chris Skinner

Chris Skinner is an independent commentator on the financial markets through the Finanser, and chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club, which he founded in 2004. He is an author of numerous books covering everything from European regulations in banking through to the credit crisis, to the future of banking.

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