Forrester Research has used the phrase “software-is-the-brand” to describe non-tech companies who are finding that more and more of their business value is coming from software-based products and services:
“It is the software that operates at key mobile customer touchpoints, defines the interaction with the consumer, and, ultimately, acts as the main product differentiator.”
(Forrester Research, Inc., Non-Tech Companies Become The New Market For Software Product Development Services, August 2013).
Forrester specifically names the following four industries as becoming “increasingly software-centric”:
- Information Services
- Retail and eCommerce
- Media and Entertainment
- Financial Services
For those in the financial services industry, there are several software endeavors that businesses are finding they must undertake in order to stay competitive in this modern age. Below is a highlight of Object Frontier’s software assessment of this industry:
Financial Services – Software that Defines Your Brand
- Mobile Banking has become a critical avenue for financial services companies to engage customers today. Individuals can check their personal accounts, transfer money, make a deposit, and pay their bills whenever and wherever they want. This round-the-clock access ensures banks are meeting the needs of their modern, on-the-go customers.
- Treasury Management Software that provides businesses with a mobile-friendly financial management dashboard which sources data from multiple places and presents it in one, easy-to-use dashboard, including real-time stock prices, news, and alerts, will help businesses quickly make informed strategic financial decisions, whether in the office or mobile.
- Wealth Management Software that is optimized for mobile and with an intuitive, user-friendly design allows financial services firms to better serve high net-worth individuals by providing a simplified way for these clients’ personal wealth administration staff, advisors, tax preparers, lawyers, and others to access the information they need in a secure, streamlined way and to present a real-time and complete view of their investment portfolio. Some of the more advanced tablet-based tools allow advisors to rebalance a customer’s portfolio right in front of them by simply pinching or expanding the pie slice displayed to increase or decrease a customer’s percentage of equities for example, and then generating a proposed list of rebalancing trades.
- Mobile Insurance Apps let customers easily find an agent, pay a bill, update their policies, and make a claim at any time, including photographs and maps of the incident area. All these features provide customers with hassle-free, streamlined access to the services of their insurance company at the times they need it most.
- Gamified Personal Banking Software, currently being used by some of the largest financial institutions, incents individuals to focus more on their long-term financial health and encourages investment. By applying gamification principles of motivation and mastery, and by creating software that utilizes points, levels, awards, and competition, users can feel rewarded in the short-term as they shape their long-term financial future. Through gamified experiences, businesses can encourage users to determine their risk/reward profile, choose the right financial investments, plan for retirement, buy life insurance, and educate their children on financial principles in order to positively influence their real-life financial behavior.
All of these new uses for software in the financial services industry are becoming necessary table stakes for businesses to compete in today’s digital world. Forward-thinking businesses are continually searching for new and innovative ways to use software technology to enhance their offerings, making software now an essential part of their brand. Businesses are now actually considering software like one of their products, as they are finding they must put the same innovation and design into it as they do their core products.
For financial institutions to fulfill their software aspirations, they will “need the discipline, agile processes, and technical know-how associated with PDS [Product Development Services] firms, which is separate from traditional IT services,” as Forrester emphasizes in the report mentioned above.
The product mindset of a PDS firm is essential to developing branded software, as it allows you to:
- Adopt an agile methodology to produce early and measurable results in order to keep up with the competition in the feature wars that often ensue as they copy your innovations.
- Redesign and rebuild the backend technologies to transform the total user experience and breakdown the silos of transactional processing systems.
- Create an innovative user experience (UX) that will engage your customers and redefine your brand.
- Release software in a disciplined manner to provide regular improvements that meet the changing needs of your customers.
- Adapt quickly to user feedback in order to please customers and avoid a social media nightmare that can instantly ruin your reputation.
These benefits of a product-focused approach are necessary for creating worthwhile software assets for your business. Forrester explains in the same report that any “attempts to assign these activities to internal IT departments — which have traditionally focused on maintaining and developing slower-changing environments — have led to problems and, ultimately, the creation of a separate product development/software company” within the organization.
Product development companies specialize in building innovative, revenue-driving software and they are increasingly being tapped by non-tech, “software-is-the-brand” companies to bring that same expertise to their software projects in order to engage customers and drive revenue. Those that choose to ignore this trend face the prospect of being left behind by their competition as they redefine themselves with their software.