Most Banks Still Not Ready For AI, Robotics: Study
Technology investments in the banking sector will revolve around ‘topical’ areas such as information security, advanced analytics and open banking APIs, as opposed to ‘future-looking’ areas such as conversational AI, robotic process automation, the Internet of Things, augmented reality or virtual reality. However, 70% of organizations planned to support a conversational AI solution, with close to 25% having made investments in AI, according to Infosys Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys, and Efma that launched the ninth annual study of Innovation in Retail Banking.
The study reveals digitizing products and services, customer journey and security as top focus areas for innovation and transformation. According to the report, retail banks continue their thrust on innovation in all functional areas, with customer experience and channels (both at 78%) being at the forefront. Other segments that have witnessed higher spends in innovation include products (67%), process improvement (64%) and marketing (57%).
The research, in which over 300 bankers globally participated, found that retail banks consider large technology companies, challenger banks, and smaller fintech start-ups as threats to their growth. Similar to 2016, the greatest impact of transformation is expected to be in the areas of payments and mobile wallets.
The study however points out that the top three innovation challenges include systems integration, legacy technology, and the time and cost required to move from concept to reality. Likewise, small and mid-size banks are falling behind in virtually all levels of innovation, reflecting an inability to invest, the impact of competing priorities, the need to focus on cutting costs and respond to compliance requirements. More than 50% of respondents expect to see a measurable ROI from their investment in innovation in 1-3 years; more than 30% expect to see results in less than a year, the study said, even though only 10% of respondents have a robotic process automation solution.
The study finds a vast distribution on the level of maturity within organizations leveraging data-driven insights. Nearly 37% of banks believed they were able to provide only descriptive analytics based on what had already happened. Nearly 20% of banks (usually larger firms) stated they have sound predictive capabilities and can help customers understand what will happen in the future. Interestingly, only 15% of banks were able to provide advisory or prescriptive capabilities around what the customer could do in the future given the insight known.
The challenge of acquiring the right skills and expertise in innovation led areas such as AI, blockchain and digital banking is a major concern across the industry. Vincent Bastid, CEO, Efma said, “Nowadays so many new technologies are reaching maturity and a growing number of new entrants are offering alternative customer experiences and transaction interfaces. The study provides a roadmap to help organizations of all sizes prioritize their strategic choices and investments. We also believe the insights from this report will help incumbents strengthen their innovation initiatives and be more successful in their deployment.”
Sanat Rao, Chief Business Officer and Global Head of Finacle agreed, “The 9th edition of the Innovation in Retail Banking report clearly reflects the sentiment we are witnessing globally. The case for investing in digital transformation and innovation has never been stronger, with changing customer preferences, technology upsurge and competition from the non-banking sector.
Jim Marous, Owner and Publisher of the Digital Banking Report and author of Study mentioned, “As we expanded the scope of organizations included in this year’s study, we find a significant difference in the innovation maturity and commitment to technology investment between the largest and smaller organizations, with smaller firms appearing to fall further behind market leaders. We also see a continued focus on iterative innovation as opposed to disruptive innovation, limiting the potential benefits of big data, advanced analytics and digital technologies. The winners in the future will be defined by those organizations that can leverage these three pillars in the delivery of a better customer experience.”
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