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Three Takeaways From This Year’s Exciting Finovate Fall Gathering

Finovate Fall Blog

Transforming customer experience was top of mind, as investments in A.I. and machine learning

By Steve Butler, Founder & GM, AI Foundry

Another excellent Finovate Fall gathering has come and gone, and it was tremendous to see how many people were in attendance, and how fired up they are about innovation and technology in the banking, insurance and lending sectors of the economy. The amount of innovation and out-of-the-box thinking was truly staggering.

As I reflected on what I saw and heard at Finovate, three clear trends have stuck with me.

The first one is that funky socks are the hot ticket item for corporate gifting. If your company is not designing and sharing funky socks in 2018, then…. well, that needs to change. 

The second trend I noted is that the exuberance over blockchain technology may have dulled a little this year. A few years ago, the incredible potential of this technology was all anyone could talk about. And of course, it’s still very much a hot topic, but in the absence of any breakthrough blockchain projects at scale, and question marks around digital identity, it was no longer setting the agenda at the conference.

Thirdly, it’s safe to say that Finovate was dominated by talk of customer experience. How people interact with their money and their financial service providers is going to change radically over the next few years, particularly for a generation who have come to expect world-class service at the touch of a button.

So, for example, we saw the work of an ‘empathy engine’ from Bond.AI that can help banks better understand their consumer behavior. Last year’s ‘Best of Show’ winners, Finn AI showcased a virtual assistant that aims to ‘put a personal banker in every customer’s pocket’, with some impressive results. Their AI made use of simple, natural language to engage in conversations with customers about their finances that can deepen a relationship between the bank and the customer.

One of the highlights of the week was a presentation by Golden, a company targeting a particular niche - baby boomers who are looking after aging parents, many of whom are struggling with today’s complex financial landscape. Their app and website helps people manage their parent’s finances, and was deservedly named as a Best in Show winner.

Golden also illustrates the wide scope of customer experience needs that are being addressed in 2018. 

Steven Ramirez, the CEO of analytics firm Beyond The Arc noted that “Five years ago no one was talking about customer experience, this year everyone’s talking about it, and increasingly they are of the view that data is the lifeblood to fuel the insights” in the quest to provide better customer experiences.

Over the course of three days, we saw many examples of the use of AI and machine-learning and ideas around leveraging data science to improve processes and profitability. ‘’When we think about data, a lot of what we are able to do [today] is enabled by the big data revolution of a couple years back,” said Mary Jane Ajodah, VP of strategy at BNY Mellon. “Now we’re at the point where we can do real-time streaming of analytics, we can have real-time business insights that weren’t available before.”

The prestigious gathering was the perfect opportunity for us to showcase the new Digital One Office that we have been working on for so long. Our vision is to break down the walls between front- and back-end processes with new robot technology that dramatically reduces business process times and increases margins for our customers. This new product delivers a single, agile solution that can classify and extract data from documents, alert customers to any discrepancies, and so much more. With all the talk of better customer experience, the presentation aligned perfectly with the themes of better customer experience at Finovate Fall, and was very warmly received by the industry.

You can watch a video here where we demonstrated the power of the Digital One Office.

On a final note, it was wonderful to see that the tension and mistrust between fintech startups and larger financial institutions seems to have disappeared almost entirely. Both sides are realizing how much they can benefit from what the others bring to the table, and there were many good discussions around the way forward. As Rod Sayegh of Wells Fargo noted, “Finovate provides the platform for these groups to gather, discuss candidly with one another in a collaborative manner.”

It’s truly a remarkable time to be working in the financial sector. The platforms for radical transformation are being laid, there is massive potential for growth….and you never have to buy your own socks ever again.

About the Author

Steve Butler

Founder & President

Steve leads AI Foundry, which automates and streamlines enterprise business operations. Under his leadership, AI Foundry creates software solutions that makes data “actionable”. Steve’s leadership includes CEO positions for high-performance data analysis, enterprise software, system management and CAE companies.

Connect with Steve on LinkedIn