Banking Dive
Prioritization is the new innovation: 3 ways the financial industry can decide on digital initiatives
September 7, 2021
By MX

The truth is that prioritization is the new innovation. It deserves much greater focus and consideration than it usually gets. 

The industry is at an inflection point: financial data has become the center of every experience. 

As financial institutions and organizations aim to evolve from intermediaries to advocates — by adapting strategies based on the evolving digital ecosystem and adopting new technologies — it's important to know what to prioritize. 

For all industries, focusing on too many initiatives at once ties up your resources and slows down innovation. How successfully you compete in the marketplace will depend on how well you can focus and invest in the areas that will make the biggest impact where it matters most. 

Simply put, prioritization is the new innovation. 

Why fix what isn't broken? 
Some things are good enough as they are. Take financial statements, for example. No one looks at their financial statements and wishes they were more aesthetically pleasing or had additional features. Most people would consider it wasteful if their bank or credit union went all out to offer the industry's best "statement viewing experience." 

Focusing resources in moot areas like this one ties up your money in the wrong places and distracts from areas that could truly set you apart. Instead, review your current resource allocation and ask questions like, "Is this good enough?" and "Are there better ways to use our time and resources that will have a bigger impact on our business and in our industry?" 

The more focused you become on what truly matters, the sooner you can double down on it. 

Prioritize the few — not the many
When it comes down to it, you're more likely to succeed at becoming the best in an area if you put all your focus and resources into it. As Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, "You can do anything you set your mind to." 

However, perhaps "anything" doesn't necessarily mean "everything." While it's possible to prioritize and invest time and money across many innovation opportunities, it's far easier and more realistic to focus on a few. The more considerations you can take out of the equation, the more you're able to strategically invest your efforts. 

Thanks to greater access to new and emerging technologies, financial institutions can pursue a wide variety of investment possibilities to elevate the customer's digital experience. Artificial intelligence could be applied to ATMs and online banking sites to enable greater fraud detection, analytic visuals could be developed for mobile apps to offer users actionable insights about their finances, and on-site bank teller transactions could be streamlined during periods of high-traffic via check-in kiosks. In theory, the list of potential investment areas could be endless. 

This is where the financial data comes in. By understanding how your audience interacts with your business, you can understand better which areas to prioritize to create the most frictionless experience possible. 

The value of feedback in identifying priorities
A good way to identify what investments will drive your business forward is by collecting and reviewing insights from multiple feedback sources, such as analytics, industry comparison of features sets, user testing, interviews, online reviews, forums and more. 

Transparent feedback from more than one source can help you to better understand what polarizes your audiences, uncover areas of opportunity for competitive innovation and identify the urgent needs for your organization. You may find that key investment areas stem from places of high sentiment — where people are interacting most with your products — and therefore have the potential for the biggest impact. 

Prioritization: How to stay focused on what matters most
As you assess what areas make sense for you to over-invest in, ask yourself these questions: 

• Do we have analytics that shows us what's currently happening and why we need to invest? 

• Do we have an urgent and acute reason to change? 

• Do we have well-established feedback loops that tell us when we're succeeding or failing? 

We ask these questions at MX all the time. The truth is that prioritization is the new innovation. It deserves much greater focus and consideration than it usually gets. By identifying areas for investment reallocation, narrowing your scope and listening to your audience, your organization will be able to more strategically prioritize efforts that will have the biggest impact for your business in your industry.