For the past five years, facing growing customer expectations and disruption from savvy new entrants to the market, traditional players in the financial services (FS) industry have put significant effort into digitizing services in order to stay relevant in the digital age.

This may change in 2018, according to design and innovation consultancy Fjord, a subsidiary of Accenture Song. In its annual report, “Fjord Trends 2018,” the firm includes “Physical Fights Back” as one of the seven major trends affecting business, technology and design in the coming months and years.

Fjord predicts that customers may be reaching digital saturation, and digital may no longer be the centerpiece of the brand experience. As interactions with users evolve from periodic screen-enabled engagements to consistent connected experiences, Fjord argues that it’s time for organizations to create new services deeply integrated in the physical world.

For FS firms, the impact of this trend on the future workforce is twofold:

  1. It requires them to empower and prepare employees to respond to the changing needs of customers as a ‘liquid’ organization; and
  2. As employees expect the same personal approach that customers do, firms need to create an employee experience that combines the digital with the physical.

Our recent “Banking as a Living Business” report recommends that FS firms become more liquid. In other words, they should be able to orchestrate and call upon (in real-time) different sets of API services to address the specific needs of the niche served, both within and beyond traditional channels. The report also suggests FS organizations should engage and empower employees with the right organizational structure, digital tools and meaningful motivations to address customer needs, shifting to high-value advice and creating service distinctions.

As for creating the same personalized experiences for customers and the FS workforce, defining “Moments that Matter” is key. FS leaders need to use analytics, internal and external survey data and social listening to understand what matters most to employees across the organization. These insights can help firms determine how best to combine physical, human and digital choices that will empower the workforce to help meet productivity goals and deliver business growth.

Fjord suggests three ways organizations can further blend the physical and the digital:

  1. Stop viewing digital and physical as separate. Create experiences that fuse them.
  2. Let technology inspire you. Think laterally to create new opportunities.
  3. Sharpen your design skills. Connect physical experiences to overall digital strategy.

Successful FS firms of the future will be the ones that empower their workforce with a personalized experience for customers and employees alike.

In my next post, I will explore Fjord’s take on the growing importance of algorithms and big data and what that means for talent and organization in FS.

To learn more, read the full report: 2018 Fjord Trends.

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