The inevitable has happened: Digital heavyweight Accenture has coined a financial industry phrase – correction: two financial industry phrases: The Bank of Things and Customer 3.0.
What the heck do these phrases mean?
Well…they’re not entirely original. The Bank of Things borrows from the term, “the Internet of Things” (also coined by Accenture). The “things” in the Internet of Things are virtually any one thing you can possibly imagine.
This all started around 2010, though some people say it really began in the ‘80’s. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), anticipating the future growth of the Internet and its applications, vastly expanded Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). This effectively enabled us to assign an IP address to “every atom on the surface of the earth, and still have enough addresses left to do another 100+ earths,” according to Steve Leibson, a high-tech marketer at Xilinx.
What this means is that any individual object, i.e. an animal, plant, bacteria, vehicle, chocolate bar, or whatever, can be electronically connected to and exchange data with the internet. That’s heavy stuff. Imagine…every single thing..?
Custom Data Means Tailored Banking Experiences
The Bank of Things is part of the Internet of Things, naturally, and it encompasses everything that pertains to the financial industry. As financial institutions diversify into new channels, apps will be developed that can glean preference and behavioral data direct from customers’ real lives that can be used to tailor their banking experience. The Bank of Things will usher in a new dimension of personal and business banking, with customers – Customer 3.0, that is – connected to their financial services in ways our grandparents couldn’t have dreamed possible.
I guess our grandparents were, like, Customer 0.01, or something. “Things” sure do move fast these days.
By capturing data from smart devices, banks and credit unions can develop a fully-custom plan for any individual.
Customer 3.0 will be connected to live tellers, financial statements, new service offers, loan statuses, cash transactions and educational info on the fly. Some of this isn’t happening yet, but if you’re a decision-maker in the financial industry, you need to be anticipating all of it, today. Like, now.
The Bank of Things waits for no-one, and Customer 3.0 was born impatient.
Customer 3.0 needs you to meet their expectations, which isn’t easy; they’re educated, mobile, and they expect the very best. They want personalized ecommerce interactions that mesh with their other mobile services, in real time. Fortunately, the Bank of Things can meet that task.
Companies are already using data from all kinds of sources to analyze for growth. Retail stores have become analytics platforms in their own right, as data from in-store cameras, point-of-sale terminals and RFID chips are increasingly being scrutinized to optimize product placement and determine consumer habits.
- Insurance companies use electronic GPS devices to track customers’ driving habits so they can customize auto insurance more accurately.
- Brick and mortar store retailers use smartphones and tablets to counter “showrooming”, i.e. customers comparing prices in the store to those online via smartphones. They find the same goods on their own devices and offer real-time price matching.
- Some retailer apps even share warehouse stock data with customers, informing them when replenishments are due for currently unavailable items.
The proliferation of smart apps that can “talk” to each other, to retailers, and to customers, is poised to accelerate us into a new age.
Embrace the Bank of Things
This is something you need to embrace, not combat. The online and offline banking services you offer should be consistent and actionable. Your services have to differentiate you from your competition. Today, convenience and personalization should be that difference. Most people think “mobile” when they hear this, but in an age of micro-branches and video tellers, it can mean anything.
The bricks-and-mortar branch will remain alive and well, so long as it adapts to consumer behavioral shifts. Customer 3.0 responds to concepts like drive-thru ATMs and branches inside hotels with movable walls that reveal inner consultation booths. They’re the consumers who anticipate many retail innovations before designers even conceive them.
The Bank of Things will be a bank-at-large. Its eyes and ears and tentacles will be everywhere. Smartphone apps will guide Customer 3.0 to the nearest ATM, or hospitals with the best ratings when in a strange town. Myriad linked and agile payment options will exist. Highly-targeted offers will land in consumers’ inboxes, based on conversational data between gadgets and real people on social media.
Think bank as boutique, but with the scalability to service millions of customers, each to their own needs. The mind boggles, but it’s coming and you need to be ready.
When The Bank of Things and Customer 3.0 are properly combined, we have Bank 3.0. This is where financial services are heading, both as brands and as an industry. It is happening, and it’s sensational.