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Moving to digital? Operational and customer paradigms are critical

A digital strategy is often seen translated as meaning ‘needs a CRM’ by those early in their technology journey. That is not necessarily true.

Monday, September 12th 2022, 2:00PM

by Russell Hutchinson

Obviously, meeting your record-keeping obligations is non-negotiable. A CRM is an excellent way to achieve that. But it will not meet all your technology requirements – typically this will be met by a ‘stack’ of systems. In practice, everyone operates a stack: systems that connect in more or less integrated ways. Many of the systems that you already have contain unused capability which could be deployed immediately, rather than by tracking back towards the start, buying (or more likely, subscribing) to a different system, and then trudging back along the road of building effective operational processes to make that system an effective contributor to the business.

Technologists have for some time talked about rules of thumb such as spending twice as much on implementing systems (on training, conversion, and data improvement) as is spent on the system itself. A common problem – in every sector, not just financial advice, is that buyers are sold a system and then skimp on the implementation activities necessary to realise the potential benefits. The result is sometimes unusable because of a lack of clear goals for the project and poor match to business requirements.

The lack of a clear goal is usually a consequence of a lack of alignment of the technology to the needs of customers. An extreme example – there is no point building a fully integrated system for online needs analysis, advice, and application which could increase operational capacity unless there is sufficient lead flow to justify the use of such tools.

Some adviser experiences during lockdown revealed to them where their effort should be focused: on how to create new prospects online. Only when the numbers are so great that existing systems do not work should they invest in upgrading systems that follow the initial customer engagement. Fortunately, they usually do lead to an improvement in those too.

Starting at the customer and working back towards your operations is an effective concept for ensuring alignment of systems with actual requirements.

Tags: Russell Hutchinson

« Needs analysis focus: what data do you need?Technology planning and development map – updated for advisers »

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