I’ll wrap up this blog series about the Fjord Trends 2018 report by looking at the final trend, ‘Design Outside the Lines’. According to Fjord, organizations are finding themselves challenged by three forces: the proliferation of design thinking, the demand for products to be scaled fast, and the potential of emerging technology.

These are all challenges that financial services (FS) organizations are grappling with as they become more digital and seek to keep up with the needs of a connected consumer. For banks and insurers, encumbered by bureaucratic processes, slowed down by regulation and faced with a shortage of digital skills, delivering new customer and employee experiences at speed is a major challenge.

As Fjord puts it: “We’re seeing increasing demand for products to be delivered and scaled fast, and this need for speed is crippling the creativity of the design process. The result is products being delivered to market quickly (perhaps using respected Agile processes), but that sometimes lack simplicity, elegance, personality and—ultimately—craft.”

The changing nature of FS means that banks and insurers should be looking at how they can put design skills and processes to work to the benefit of their businesses. FS organizations will need to balance a dual focus on humans and on data to design a compelling response to customers’ and employees’ future wants and needs.

As they face a new breed of fintech competitors such as Monzo and Lemonade as well as competitive threats from digital disruptors like Alibaba and Amazon, traditional banks and insurers will need to invest in new skills from data science to user experience. Design—an important problem-solving tool and market differentiator—is perhaps one of the most critical.

Banks and insurers around the world are grappling with how they can develop the skills they need to thrive in a digital economy. DBS in Singapore is making a multimillion dollar investment in digital adoption across the workforce. Good design and multidisciplinary thinking is at the heart of the initiatives in this program—from personalized, intuitive e-learning programs to an innovation lab where employees come together, and design and develop iconic customer journeys.

FS organizations should thus be looking at how they will build the multidisciplinary teams of the future. These should include designers, developers, data scientists and business people working side-by-side to bring new ideas to market at speed. Teams need to be empowered to work with autonomy, bypassing bureaucratic barriers that slow down progress and stifle creativity, while remaining aligned with sound governance and regulatory compliance.

I hope you have found this look at Fjord’s 2018 trends interesting. If you’re interested in getting deeper into them and their implications for the HR function in financial services, feel free to contact me – or download the report.

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