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The platformification ramification

25th April 2018

Kevin Claypoole-McCloskey

Managing Director

Platformification is no longer an emerging trend. It’s happening now. And FS CMOs need to take note.

Platformification is an ugly word. Defined by IT analyst Ron Shevlin as “a plug-and-play business model that allows multiple participants (producers and consumers) to connect to it, interact with each other, and create and exchange value”, platformification might be a tongue-twister but it needn’t be a head-scratcher.

Platformification matters because, unlike its disruptive cousin blockchain, it’s a tangible technology that offers benefits to its three main stakeholders: banks, fintech start-ups and consumers.

“Platformification isn’t a tech story, it’s a customer experience story.”

For consumers, platformification offers more integrated banking options. For fintech start-ups, the focus is on achieving scale. And for the traditional banking players, the opportunity lies in creating new revenue streams.

And for the FS CMO? It’s about managing the double challenge of customer expectation and experience that platformification brings.

Upstart start-ups

The emergence of fintech start-ups has shaken the FS industry to the core. It’s these entrepreneurial financial trailblazers who all offer specific products, features or functions that question the need for the traditional banks of today.

But instead of drawing battle lines with banking Goliaths, the fintech Davids have instead realised the value in shared-risk partnerships. Why? The consumer. Without the numbers, achieving scale is but a dream for any budding fintech business.

So, what are these numbers? And why are they so important? To answer that question, we first need to ask who they are.

Concerned consumers

In ‘Beyond Digital: How Can Banks Meet Customer Demands’[1], Accenture divide banking customers into three distinct groups:

  1. The Quality Seekers – The largest, and most loyal group, they value brand integrity and service excellence.
  2. The Nomads – A digitally active group looking for a personalised service, they are comfortable with the idea of non-traditional providers.
  3. The Hunters – The smallest group of the three, they search for the best price and value providers which offer a one-on-one service.

While all three expect different things from their bank, a clear pattern emerges of a certain set of values, which all groups demand as mandatory.

Trust and a minimum level of customer service rank high with all three segments. Put simply, those banks who are unable or unwilling to offer differentiated, digital offerings with some of the more basic services offered on a low-cost basis will see their market share dwindle and their customers flock to non-bank competitors.

For banks, the answer to this multi-pronged attack lies in an old Scottish proverb: better bend, than break. And through platformification banks are doing this today. Many legacy institutions are joining forces, or bending, with fintech start-ups as a way of capitalising on their momentum and providing their customers with a better, more frictionless service fit for the 21st century. 

Why does this matter to CMOs?

At a bank, anything that resembles technology tends to find its way onto the desk of the CTO. It’s understandable. However, it’s time the CMO started to take note. Why? Platformification isn’t a tech story, it’s a customer experience story.

CMOs and their teams need to reach out to the Quality Seekers, Nomads and Hunters with their differentiated stories about their value offering. Sure, content has a role in how you tell that story. But no less important is where you tell that story. And why.

The where refers to the brand touchpoints and inflexion moments in your customer’s journey; the why, to what drives consumers in their decision-making process.

As explained above, the battlefield of platformification isn’t defined by tech. It’s about the customer experience. And this fight will be won by those who emphasise customer experience, that is knowing what to give your customers when, where and how. The financial institutions which will survive and thrive are the ones that understand this challenge and react accordingly.

Building brand trust

When it comes to banking, trust is made of up two parts: reliability and regard. Reliability refers to a consumer’s belief that a provider looks after their money and data and won’t treat them unfairly Legacy banks score well in this area.

Regard is about being held in high esteem, either through the products offered or values shown. This is where fintech start-ups have the edge. However, this is also where the incumbents, and their CMOs, have a golden opportunity.

By using content to engender trust at specific moments along the customer journey, big banks can do battle on the start-ups’ patch. With a focus on timely, relevant and compelling content, this challenge is made much easier.

In Decoded[2], an examination of the science behind decision-making, Phil Barden highlights six categories that implicitly inspire consumers to buy products and solutions.

  • Security: care, trust, closeness, security, warmth
  • Enjoyment: relaxation, light-heartedness, openness, pleasure
  • Excitement: vitality, fun, curiosity, creativity
  • Adventure: freedom, courage, rebellion, discovery, risk
  • Autonomy: pride, success, power, superiority, recognition
  • Discipline: precision, order, logic, reason

Here, content has a role to play as well. By ensuring content assets answer at least one of these ‘motivational territories’ marketers can increase their chances of success in proving differentiated value.

For all but a few in Accenture’s consumer segments, the digital revolution is still viewed with suspicion. Platformification will help allay those fears but only if CMOs sit up and act. If 2017 was the year where disruption became tangible, then 2018 is the year it becomes the norm. And no CMO wants to be left behind.

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About the author

Kevin Claypoole-McCloskey

Managing Director

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