Finance Leaders, It's A Time Of Opportunity, Not Just Defence

The State of CMS in the Financial Services Industry

by Darren Hitchcock, General Manager at Magnolia
May 1, 2020 | 5 MIN

There is a ‘disturbance to the status quo’ and so leaders and managers across the financial sector are in crisis-management mode with an immediate lean towards ‘defending against’.

Separate reports (from Magnolia & CBI/PwC) highlight declining numbers, whether this be the workforce or margins — but this is also a time of opportunity as well as defence.

A survey conducted by CBI/PwC, shows the outlook of the financial sector deteriorating sharply but does point to further spending in IT. Is this a reaction however, or is this now understanding the importance of the digital strategy going forward?

While the obvious reactions are still important, business leaders must carve out time for reflection. This article, by Harvard Business Review on crisis management, suggests the need for ‘imagination’ (the capacity to create, evolve and exploit mental models of things or situations that don’t yet exist) being the crucial factor in seizing and creating new opportunities and finding new paths to growth. Growth is not always a top-line focus, the lens right now should be at the operating model level and streamlining the business processes to work smarter and more efficiently. That doesn’t point to staff reductions, more to producing more output - the goose and the golden egg!!

The State of CMS in the Financial Sector Report

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Magnolia’s latest report, “The State of CMS in the Financial Sector”, points to the ongoing disconnect between IT and marketing functions that are not only slowing the business down but creating unnecessary costs. These practices have most likely been in place for some time and so have become the ‘norm,’ but the research clearly points to a wave of discontent. The report highlights that 79% of marketers are unhappy with IT’s lack of desire for collaboration, on the other side, IT are spending up to 37.9% of their time on typical marketing-led functions such as updating content and managing release cycles.

This disconnect has never been clearer, with COVID-19 and the constant need for messaging and alerts to inform customers of the ever-changing government advice. This has highlighted that the operating model is cumbersome and that there’s a clear need to simplify it and unify the teams.

If you are asking the questions of “why can’t we do that easily”, or “why is it taking so long”, then you have an opportunity and need to think outside of the ‘norm’. That’s not easy for most businesses at any time (internal facing) but especially in times like these when fight or flight beats any other form of elevated thinking.

Imagination can be outside of the obvious line of sight — look to the retail vertical, that too has been hit hard and had to overly rely on its digital strategy to continue to generate revenues. What can be done?

Here are some ideas:

  • Deepen your customer insight: knowledge of your customers has never been more valuable. Increase the cadence of your data analysis to spot new behaviours.

  • Cover the communication basics: sometimes simple touchpoints ease fears, while communicating options and pointing people directly to web content just helps.

  • Look for the digital meet and greet: there is quite clearly more activity than ever on social channels right now, what options do you have?

  • Adapting your offering to the digital world: more people are engaging in content, social activities, etc. So how can you engage at pace? (e.g. book clubs, content/articles and opinion, live streaming or video)

  • Focus on the experience: what can be done differently if it was a digital-only world?

For finance businesses, there are some clear areas that can be addressed — not just for today’s need but to be more future-proof in general. A new wave of digital transformation incorporates a best-of-breed architectural approach and moving away from the overly complex and cumbersome ‘all-in-one’ platforms. The thinking is to invest in lighter technologies that are best at what they do and plug them together through simple API’s.

Another approach is to use a content management system as the experience assembly layer and a form of visual content-hub but without the heavy integrations (no programming concepts). Whatever the model, agility and better control on costs are paramount, however removing manual practices, duplications of tools/efforts and building in automation are strong options as is building in more relevant experiences and testing everything (small steps).

The State of CMS in the Financial Sector

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Darren Hitckcock

About the Author

Industry veteran, Retail and commerce specialist and practised in many of the driving forces of today's businesses. Darren has been working for some of the largest and most innovative technologies centred around Personalisation, Data Analytics and Conversion and has spoken at many events incl. eTail, Internet Retailing and eCommerce Expo. With best-of-breed and headless now the new focus points of agility, being experienced across many disciplines helps give a constructive viewpoint around value.

See all posts by Darren Hitchcock