By its very nature, community banking requires innovative thought and action. You operate in an extremely competitive business sector, seemingly dominated by large national and regional institutions with deep pockets. However, as a community bank, you offer advantages the big banks can’t match, enabling you to not just survive, but thrive.
As I’ve shared throughout this blog series on community banking, innovative thinking, coupled with the strategic deployment of technology, can help you cost-effectively address specific threats and opportunities:
- Preventing external and internal cybercriminal activity
- Complying with an ever-growing set of government regulations
- Meeting and exceeding customer expectations
- Creating digital experiences that attract a young, tech-savvy clientele
- Containing costs and investing strategically
- Achieving a diverse, high-quality workforce
The road ahead
Staying ahead of the competition requires continuous innovation and the smart adoption of technology. Innovation starts with insights from customer interactions, along with organizational analysis. Just as importantly, it demands action, especially the ability to quickly pivot in response to market conditions and customer expectations.
The use of current and emerging technologies will enable you to innovate more quickly. Expect to see a growing reliance on the following technologies:
Cloud computing — Keeping information technology (IT) systems up to date with the latest standards presents a major challenge to many community banks. Cloud computing, aka “software as the a service” or “platform as a service,” enables you to take advantage of the latest software solutions, while simplifying your IT infrastructure and reducing your costs.
Artificial intelligence (AI) — Within banking, AI serves multiple purposes, from identifying potential illegal activity, to anticipating the needs and of customers and recommending products that may interest them. In addition, AI can provide key organizational insights that are essential for identifying and quickly responding to new opportunities.
Robotics — Subsets of AI, robotic process automation (RPA) and intelligent process automation (IPA) have become indispensable tools for a growing number of community banks. RPA and IPA offer numerous benefits, including improved productivity, reduced costs, increased employee satisfaction, and an enhanced customer experience.
Data management — Data from everyday activities drive decision-making that affects every area of the company. The challenge is how to extract relevant nuggets of information from an ocean of data and then be able to understand what you’re seeing. The right data management tools are crucial for sourcing, consolidating, organizing, and curating data — delivering maximum value to your leaders.
Questions to consider
Sustainable success and a competitive edge depend on continuous innovation, both in your thinking and in your actions. Here are some crucial questions to consider:
- Do you understand the various ways innovative thinking and action can benefit your community bank?
- Have you adopted proven technologies to streamline operations, reduce costs, mitigate risks, and create better experiences for customers and employees?
- Have you considered how cloud computing can reduce the burden of expensive IT infrastructure upgrades while allowing you to tap into cutting-edge solutions?
- What is your strategy for integrating AI into your internal and customer-facing operations?
- Are you able to easily and quickly access the data you need to make informed decisions?
Kevin Fread serves as CIO and CFO of Ironcore, Inc. He possesses more than 40 years of banking and technology experience in a variety of settings, including a community bank, a data services firm, and a global FinTech and payments company. Kevin works closely with Ironcore clients to assist with technology, integration, and strategic planning. You can reach him at email@example.com.