A brave new world of digital innovation

16 July 2020

Oliver CookeChief Digital Officer

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5 minute read

As the world emerges from lockdown, Digital Officer Oliver Cooke explores five trends transforming businesses and financial markets.

Dramatic shifts in society and business often happen when unexpected events force us to experiment with new ideas. In the post-coronavirus era, the rate at which we’re all adopting new technologies and ways of working is on fast-forward and catapulting us headfirst into the future.

As the global economy begins its recovery from coronavirus, companies that continue to adapt to the evolving environment are best-placed to succeed, and digital transformation will go from buzzword to an essential element of management agendas.

Here are five digital innovation trends we think will be shaping the market landscape in the coming months and beyond.

Ecommerce has grown steadily over the past decade but in a world demanding physical distance, online purchasing and finance management has gone from option to necessity for households across the globe. 

According to UK cash machine network Link, the number of cash machine withdrawals dropped by 60% during the pandemic[1]. Contactless payment technologies are now being used not just because they’re quick, but as a way to minimise the risk of spreading the virus through touch. 

While physical presence will remain important for most businesses, one of the lasting impacts of lockdown will be a shift in buying habits, so we’re expecting to see a surge in digital payments globally.  In the UK alone, ecommerce retail sales are projected to hit 27.5% of total retail sales in 2020, up from 21.8% in 2019[2].

[1] Link, ‘Coronavirus Crisis means cash use down but UK still withdrawing £1 billion from ATMs each week’, 28 April 2020 (www.link.co.uk/about/news/coronavirus-cash-usage-data/)

[2]UK Ecommerce 2020, Emarketer, 15 June 2020

In an environment marked by fluid demand, disrupted supply chains and fast-moving markets, there has never been a greater need for visibility of cash flow, live FX exposure management and streamlined payment processes.

As a result, we’re seeing increased adoption of e-trading services amongst our corporate client base.  In today’s turbulent environment, finance teams need the transparency and agility offered by this channel. Now the question from our clients is less should I use these tools, but how do I make the most from them.

The ongoing shift from physical to virtual is likely to continue in other areas too. Both cloud-based treasury management systems and digital payment providers will have vital roles in the finance ecosystem. Embedded market access and FX services within those systems is a key focus area for us.

Read this related article on the evolution of fixed income trading in the digital innovation era.

The ability to effectively capture, store and analyse data on a mass scale will be even more important as the next wave of digitalisation sweeps through the business world and markets. Businesses will need to be able to quickly extract real-time, insightful analytics from multiple pools of live streaming data – anytime, anywhere.

In our view the key to becoming a data-enabled organisation lies in both effectively employing sophisticated data science tools and making them widely available throughout an organisation. This enables employees across all functions to make informed decisions and optimise the customer experience.   

The rise of data-as-a-service (DaaS) led solutions will also be an important trend. Through dedicated software and cloud services, corporates can leverage their external partners and support providers as sources of useful information. As an example, we’re partnering with software provider iPushPull to provide real-time market data directly to our clients’ systems. We can do this seamlessly using a DaaS-based solution with minimal effort on the part of our clients, whereas previously it would have involved a complex technology project to create this kind of connectivity.

Hand-in-hand with the expansion of big data is the need to harness machine learning and AI. Using these technologies on a more widespread basis will unlock a mass of digital transformation potential in the coming years.  

In particular, intelligent robotic processing of large data volumes could become the backbone of businesses’ ability to anticipate needs, provide useful information and deliver services as quickly as possible. The value here is not just speed, but how it frees up human time for collaborative dialogue and complex decision-making.

For example, last year we released a digital sales chatbot called ‘Scout’ so that our clients can receive lightning-quick responses to their requests for bond pricing. As a result, our customer-facing teams can focus more on trade ideas and other support solutions for clients. 

As machine learning and AI become more embedded in management systems and operational processes, it will turbocharge companies’ ability to inform decisions with real-time intelligence and provide a responsive service to their customers.

In the virtual working era, businesses are even more reliant on their digital and tech infrastructure.  During the lockdown, software and hardware companies scrambled to shield home workers from security risks. A fresh crop of IT firms has also been monitoring suspicious activity in deserted workplaces.

But what if the next virus is digital? Cybersecurity is a well-established topic but faced with a digitally dependent future, companies will be looking at much broader digital risk management and governance programmes.

A robust digital resilience plan will also have to focus on how quickly digital infrastructure can be adapted or new processes deployed in the face of new disruptions or major business changes. 

Today’s experiences are tomorrow’s opportunity

Digital transformation is a journey that’s only just started. We’ve all learned valuable lessons during lockdown, and have seen that organisations can move faster than they ever thought possible. For those that continue to adapt and embrace digital developments even further, the possibilities could be endless.

Digital Innovation
Artificial Intelligence
Big Data
Digital Resiliency

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