When the CEO of JPMorgan Chase announced to shareholders that “Silicon Valley is coming,” he hit the bullseye. Financial services organizations of all types are under threat from an increasingly familiar term to people on Wall Street, the “Fintech.”
Fintechs are the disrupters of the financial services industry: small, innovative firms squeezing intermediary financial services providers to one side with new technology. Lending Club, for example, had the largest US tech IPO of 2014, and the payments startup, Stripe, has a multibillion-dollar valuation and a partnership with Apple Pay. Financial services companies like these are 100 percent digital, they don’t have branches in the street and they focus on service, speed and low cost.
According to KPMG, global Fintech financing has more than trebled in the past three years to an estimated $3 billion annually. Fintechs are releasing financial solutions at an unprecedented rate and changing the way consumers interact with their financial services providers.
All of this is just one example of the digital transformation we see all around us. It’s happening across other industries too: Airbnb in the accommodation space, Uber in private hire, or Tesla Motors, Apple and Google in the electric vehicle industry. Even the world’s most watched factual program — “Top Gear” — is moving from terrestrial TV to Amazon’s Internet-only digital broadcast service.
The business models of these digital unicorns are particularly appealing to today’s consumers’ lifestyles too. Transactions with these digital organizations are omnichannel, meaning consumers can communicate and transact through whichever channel they choose, whether it is the mobile phone, tablet or the Internet. Entering a street branch of a bank is a backward step to these individuals.
There’s one other secret sauce in their success: business agility. They are small, flexible organizations that can adapt quickly to change, innovate new services faster and roll out services at lower cost.
Business automation for digital transformation
Traditional enterprises are fighting back though. Saddled with huge infrastructure overheads and legacy software applications, they are using every tool in their armory to innovate new services at the speed of the “two guys in the garage” and offer a convenient and compelling service experience. Most banks, for example, offer banking from a mobile device, while many grocery retailers now offer a same-day online delivery service.
However, there is another crucial way that traditional, monolithic organizations can unlock business agility, combat the threat from digital disrupters and stay relevant in this Mode 2 society: business automation. This is the bedrock of digital transformation, enabling organizations to quickly transform ideas and innovations into stable, revenue generating products and services.
Business automation automates business processes, IT applications and infrastructure, regardless of complexity or location. And it doesn’t matter where those environments are: they can be in the cloud, on premises or a hybrid blend of the two.
Take the example of releasing a new or modified service online. Most organizations still rely on slow and expensive manual deployment processes. There are fewer “windows” on your IT systems when you can launch a new release or make changes. There are too many unplanned service disruptions due to application misconfigurations. IT developers frequently make unauthorized changes to production applications, putting your compliance strategy in jeopardy. And when a deployment fails, application development stops while developers are pulled in to sort out the mess.
The result? Development time that can only be measured on a calendar, errors in the service and a large overhead.
Now consider the same scenario using business automation. Fully automated application releases mean increased business agility and faster, more frequent releases. Programming code is more consistent, so services don’t need to be reconfigured. And staff are restricted from accessing production systems, for improved compliance.
Business automation delivers agility in other ways too. By providing complete, end-to-end visibility of critical business processes, automation delivers the business intelligence needed to identify, target and win customers, streamline the customer on-boarding and provisioning process, deliver a compelling multichannel digital business experience and scale operations to cope with changes in demand.
Think of automation as the difference between a vitamin pill and a pill you take to reduce pain — the former is optional, the latter isn’t. Automation is the pain pill; without it, your business might not survive. It leaves you as an also-ran versus companies that are transformational. Take it and you immediately have more time and resources to compete, innovation happens faster and customers are more satisfied with the reliable service.
Silicon Valley may be coming, but business automation has already arrived.
Todd DeLaughter is CEO of Automic. Todd has more than 25 years’ leadership experience in the software technology space including mobility, cloud and systems management. He was previously CEO of Mformation Technologies, a leader in mobility management for wireless carriers worldwide. Prior to this, he was CEO of Opalis Software, at the time the market leader in IT process automation software. Opalis was acquired by Microsoft in 2009, as a key component of its cloud automation strategy.