Financial Services and Insurance Organizations Must Improve the Digital Experience to Reduce Risk, Cut Costs and Retain Young Talent
January 03, 2024

Mike Marks

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Financial services and insurance (FSI) leaders are nearly unanimous in seeing improved digital employee experience (DEX) as essential to future success. The question is how organizations can best implement DEX improvements while beset with other IT and budget challenges.

The quality of DEX is vitally important to the new generation of digital natives in the workforce, as Riverbed Technology found in a recent global survey. And FSI leaders are keenly aware of it, with 98% of leaders saying delivering a seamless DEX is important — and 62% describing it as "critically important" — to remain competitive. Ninety-two percent say they must improve DEX to meet the needs of their employees.

The Riverbed Global Digital Experience (DEX) Survey 2023 polled 1,800 IT decision makers (ITDMs) and business decision makers (BDMs) across 10 countries and seven industries around the world, including nearly 300 FSI leaders. The independent study, conducted by Sapio Research in May 2023, explored generational expectations, hybrid work, the evolving role of IT, the challenges to delivering an exceptional DEX and strategies for delivering a better experience.

Key results from the survey include:

■ 92% of FSI leaders surveyed believe they’ll need to provide more advanced digital experiences as new generations of employees enter the workforce.

■ The same percentage, 92%, also say that changing staff and customer expectations will increase pressure on IT resources.

■ 88% say slow-running systems and applications, plus outdated technology, are directly impacting the growth and performance of their organization.

■ 98% agree that delivering an exceptional DEX is important to remain competitive, with 62% describing it as "critically important."

■ 94% say they need greater investment in unified observability solutions that provide actionable insights for better employees and customer digital experiences.

The path to improved DEX can seem difficult. IT teams working within tight budgets are already overburdened, tasked with upgrading infrastructure and outdated architectures, and providing omnichannel interactions while taking a more proactive role in the business. But Riverbed’s research also found that by implementing the right tools, FSI institutions can meet the shifting demands for DEX while alleviating their current IT pressures.

Inadequate DEX Will Cause Disruptions

More than most industries, financial institutions rely on the institutional knowledge of their employees, counting on staff members of long standing to share the knowledge they’ve accumulated over years or decades in the business. Amid a changing economy and a growing wave of baby boomer retirements, one of the biggest challenges facing FSI organizations is the significant loss of knowledge and skills when experienced, talented people leave or retire.

The potential fallout from a transitioning workforce underscores the importance of ensuring that robust DEX solutions are in place. Reputation, after all, is everything in financial services. Dissatisfied staff, hindered by inadequate tools and IT skills shortages, can put that reputation at risk. FSI leaders surveyed believe 69% of employees would consider leaving a company because of poor DEX. Almost the same number, 68%, say failing to meet digital expectations would be disruptive, impacting reputation, productivity or organizational performance.

In addition to a changing workforce, the workplace itself is changing. The survey found that more than half (53%) of FSI employees work in a hybrid model, a rate higher than in any other industry surveyed. And although hybrid work has clear benefits—with 98% saying it enhances their ability to attract and retain talent — it also puts added pressure on IT resources.

Organizations need effective solutions to help millennial and Gen Z employees be productive, for example, using automated processes such as runbooks (built by tapping into the knowledge of experienced employees) to ensure the efficiency of financial transactions. Observability and DEX tools also help avoid risk and, importantly, enable a firm’s top talent to work more strategically, which can increase their motivation to remain with the organization.

Amid heightened digital expectations from workers and customers, along with talent shortages and other factors that put productivity and competitiveness in jeopardy, FSI leaders recognize the need for better tools. Ninety-three percent say investing in DEX is among their top priorities for the next five years.

The Challenges of Delivering a Digital Experience

The need for first-rate DEX is clear, but the path to getting there can be challenging. In fact, delivering a great digital experience today is getting harder, not easier. 94% of FSI ITDMs and BDMs surveyed cited at least one major obstacle or gap to delivering a seamless DEX. The obstacles most cited included:

■ 36% – lack of sufficient observability tools

■ 34% – budget constraints

■ 34% – too much data

■ 29% – lack of appropriate SaaS or cloud services

■ 28% – lack of IT talent/skills

Fortunately, most FSI leaders are taking proactive steps toward improving DEX, investing in technologies such as artificial intelligence and unified observability, which can boost both staff and customer loyalty. 85% have budgeted money to retrain staff, for example, and 86% say they believe that unified observability technology with greater automation will help close the skills gap. And overall, 93% of FSI IT and business leaders plan to accelerate implementation of DEX tools, a rate 4% higher than the global consensus.

FSI business and IT leaders see a range of established and emerging tools becoming increasingly business-critical over the next 18 months, including AI (50%), cloud (50%), application and network acceleration technology (37%), digital experience management (DEM) solutions (35%) and automation (35%).

Unified Observability Enhances the Digital Experience

As complex hybrid and cloud-based work environments have grown, FSI leaders have come to recognize the importance of IT, with 94% saying that IT is more responsible for driving business innovation than it was three years ago. As a result, more IT and business decision makers are entering the C-suite and can help push for DEX improvements. In fact, 78% of ITDMs in the survey said they already have a seat in the C-suite.

These leaders say technologies such as AI and unified observability are critical to providing exemplary DEX, with 95% of FSI leaders agreeing that unified observability is important (55% said critically important), and 94% calling for greater investment in unified observability solutions.

Ultimately, the survey found, those tools are essential to boosting productivity, retaining staff, allowing employees to share and build knowledge and skills, and stay competitive in today’s FSI environment.

Mike Marks is VP of Product Marketing at Riverbed
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