Wait and See or Wait and Miss Out?
How next-gen mobility may shake the industry to its core
Posted by Jim Eckenrode, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, Deloitte Services LP, on June 18, 2013
I was part of an interesting discussion recently with a number of our most senior advisors to the Deloitte Center for Financial Services. The conversation centered on mobility in financial services, which seems to be generating an equal amount of fervor and caution amongst industry executives. There was strong agreement that the issue is one that potentially has huge implications for firms, and as a result, many senior executives are trying to sort out the myth from the reality. However, although many leaders may be taking a “wait-and-see” attitude, others are pushing forward along many fronts around mobility. In essence, there is a great deal of uncertainty on where we are going.
What may be more certain is that mobility, as a broad approach, will have a transformative impact on the delivery of products, services, and experiences within the industry. When I say “broad approach,” I mean that mobility is not limited to “phone-first” handsets; it also applies to the plethora of other technologies available today, and those coming tomorrow – from tablets to mobile devices to cloud computing and data storage.
In thinking about this topic, it’s useful to consider how technology adoption changes the ways that we interact with information. Because if we look back at just one example, we may be surprised how broadly and deeply mobility can change things.
This example is the printed word. Thousands of years ago, information was shared between individuals using “the oral tradition.” That is, verbally and face to face. When writing emerged as a viable competitor, many were unconvinced. Socrates himself regarded writing with a great deal of suspicion: “(Writing enables students) to hear many things without being properly taught, and they will imagine that they have come to know much while for the most part they will know nothing.”
Nevertheless, writing took off. But in the earliest examples of the written word found on stone tablets and papyrus rolls, we find a faithful yet hard-to-decipher reproduction of information that was shared via spoken word: no punctuation, even no word separation. Even after the invention of the hard copy book, tables of content, indexes, and chapters were invented to ease access to information and make it all understandable. As information migrates from one technology to another, it is first dutifully replicated in form and function onto the new form factor. Only with time can we truly adapt to the new technology so form and function work hand-in-hand.
So it is with mobility. Whether we’re looking at how a traditional book is not that much different when rendered on an e-reader, or how an online banking experience is duplicated onto a mobile device, we’re seeing only the first stage of development of the mobile form factor. In the not-too-distant future, new technologies will likely be added to the mobile platform that take advantage of its ability to know where it is, see what is around it, communicate with other local devices, and connect with information sources that have yet to be deployed. And for those who are monitoring progress for the “right time” to initiate mobility programs, keep in mind that technology developments are accelerating: Moore’s Law (which states that the performance of integrated circuits doubles every 18-24 months) is likely to apply here.
It seems that mobility will transform the industry – challenging us to build function into form, and to do it fast. We may not be replicating information or experiences, but instead changing the presentation of information altogether. Do you think those executives who are taking the “wait and see” approach are ready for the next generation of technology and its impacts on financial services? I would welcome your insights and feedback.