The COVID-19 pandemic has made digital transformation more relevant and urgent than before for everyone from governments to companies—and banking is no exception.

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Opportunities for which banks expected to have years to prepare are quickly approaching and previously slow-growing pain points are more obviously visible than ever before. To meet these challenges, banks are having to innovate, reinvent and redefine themselves. The pandemic has not slowed innovation in banking—on the contrary, it is amplifying it to historic levels.

Of the 670 banking executives we surveyed for this year’s Technology Vision report:

  • 79 percent agreed there is a need to dramatically reengineer the experiences that bring technology and people together in a more human-centric manner
  • 84 percent said banks needed to elevate their relationships with customers as partners
  • 77 percent said their organization’s connected products and services would have more or significantly more updates over the next three years
  • 60 percent said their bank would invest in artificial intelligence (AI) over the next year

Already in the first half of 2020, banks have had to improvise and accelerate their digital innovation efforts in many areas—encouraging the adoption of contactless payments, shifting branch banking services, digitizing refinancing, etc.

Banks also rapidly had to enable their employees to work from home. Deutsche Bank deployed 50,000 videoconferencing sets globally within two weeks in February, while 70 percent of Standard Chartered’s 86,000 employees worked from home during the height of the pandemic.

When faced with a spike in support call volumes, one global bank implemented an Amazon Connect solution in less than a week to support basic inbound/outbound call handling for 20,000 agents working remotely.

Citizens Bank in the US launched its first AI-driven chatbot to assist customers with routine queries such as password resets, balance queries and money transfers. The chatbot can also seamlessly transfer the customer to a live agent or branch staffer when a deeper discussion is needed.

Truist Financial implemented a similar AI-powered chatbot to answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) during the pandemic to deflect calls from its contact center. The chatbot has surpassed the basic functionality to answer FAQs and now allows customers to phrase questions in their own words and can even interpret misspelled words.

The pandemic will continue to change the way we live, work and do business—and it is important for banks to keep a long-term vision of the needs and behaviors of employees, customers and other stakeholders, while continuing to amplify their innovation efforts.

In my next post, I’ll share the four key technology trends for banks that will shape the post-COVID future.

To learn more, read the full report.

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