Contributed by AT&T
Written by Scott Miller, Director Channel Marketing

The finance industry is experiencing rapid transformations with payment options, financial product recommendations, customer empowerment, and availability of services. These transformations are enabling accessibility and the sharing of data. It is the evolution of applied context that will unleash the power of data in the coming years. Applying context through data allows institutions and end users to make highly informed decisions, with more options, and at an accelerated pace. It is Digital Transformation that enables the accessibility of data in the first place.

Digital Transformation has been in motion for at least three entire decades. It’s hard to truly appreciate its impact without taking some time to reflect or observe in media. There are moments in movies where our progress in technology becomes apparent. Perhaps it’s a scene where a credit card is swiped with a mechanical device or observing how telephones are stationary and tethered. Aspects of our lives continue to become digital in ways that can be difficult to grasp or recognize and information that makes sense to a person does not make sense to a machine.

Common sense is difficult to engineer. There are endless conclusions and actions naturally occurring when people interact. The simple act of explaining a situation to another human being is easily accomplished by the detailing of steps taken. A similar interaction with a virtual assistant tends to require a spoken keyword or specific order of operations. However, these interactions are rapidly progressing due to advancements in computation and availability of new data. Chatbots and Robo-Advisors can understand common language using Conversational Artificial Intelligence (CAI). Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems have improved dramatically by introducing Natural Language and Automated Speech Recognition technologies. These technologies enable conversations with machines while using normal speech in many languages or dialects.

Data introduces context such as previous interactions or user sentiment, while analytics drive the next best action. We are entering the era of the API (Application Programing Interface), which is connecting data driven platforms across the globe. Contact center platforms enable the flow of interactions by connecting at the software level with many channels of communication. New capabilities will appear as data is created, connected, analyzed, and put in motion with automation. The fascinating aspect of these interactive, iterative, and data driven platforms is how they naturally improve one another.

People don’t always notice when new functions are added to services or applications. People do tend to notice when functions are absent or do not work correctly. It can be hard to appreciate when an automated system understands your normal speech patterns or anticipates the next logical step. The end-user expectation is to have meaningful and dynamic discussions with virtual assistants. On-demand financial advice that applies real-time data, such as weather or local and global events, are the expected evolutions. Financial customers will gravitate towards the services which help enable goals and on their schedule. It will take data from various sources and applied at the right time to achieve true context.

The possibilities of connected and contextual data are both exciting and intimidating. Automating actions can introduce great operational efficiencies, however, validation of automated actions could become very complex. A continuous stream of innovation will be required to help address the growth of automation and the data generated.

Financial institutions are primed to take advantage of the current landscape as Open Finance/Banking set the stage for their customers. We see the initial benefits of sharing financial data for the purposes of portfolio management and collaboration with advisors. The simple fact that data can be accessible on a shared platform has tremendous impact for advisement purposes alone. Connecting data to additional platforms will drive financial services into aspects of our lives that are hard to imagine today but will be hard to live without once they emerge and mature.

Scott Miller
Director – Channel Marketing

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