Financial Services Modernisation: A Priority for Asia-Pacific in 2024

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Banks, insurers, and other financial services organisations in Asia Pacific have plenty of tech challenges and opportunities including cybersecurity and data privacy management; adapting to tech and customer demands, AI and ML integration; use of big data for personalisation; and regulatory compliance across business functions and transformation journeys.

Modernisation Projects are Back on the Table

An emerging tech challenge lies in modernising, replacing, or retiring legacy platforms and systems. Many banks still rely on outdated core systems, hindering agility, innovation, and personalised customer experiences. Migrating to modern, cloud-based systems presents challenges due to complexity, cost, and potential disruptions. Insurers are evaluating key platforms amid evolving customer needs and business models; ERP and HCM systems are up for renewal; data warehouses are transforming for the AI era; even CRM and other CX platforms are being modernised as older customer data stores and models become obsolete.

For the past five years, many financial services organisations in the region have sidelined large legacy modernisation projects, opting instead to make incremental transformations around their core systems. However, it is becoming critical for them to take action to secure their long-term survival and success.

Benefits of legacy modernisation include:

  • Improved operational efficiency and agility
  • Enhanced customer experience and satisfaction
  • Increased innovation and competitive advantage
  • Reduced security risks and compliance costs
  • Preparation for future technologies

However, legacy modernisation and migration initiatives carry significant risks.  For instance, TSB faced a USD 62M fine due to a failed mainframe migration, resulting in severe disruptions to branch operations and core banking functions like telephone, online, and mobile banking. The migration failure led to 225,492 complaints between 2018 and 2019, affecting all 550 branches and required TSB to pay more than USD 25M to customers through a redress program.

Modernisation Options

  • Rip and Replace. Replacing the entire legacy system with a modern, cloud-based solution. While offering a clean slate and faster time to value, it’s expensive, disruptive, and carries migration risks.
  • Refactoring. Rewriting key components of the legacy system with modern languages and architectures. It’s less disruptive than rip-and-replace but requires skilled developers and can still be time-consuming.
  • Encapsulation. Wrapping the legacy system with a modern API layer, allowing integration with newer applications and tools. It’s quicker and cheaper than other options but doesn’t fully address underlying limitations.
  • Microservices-based Modernisation. Breaking down the legacy system into smaller, independent services that can be individually modernised over time. It offers flexibility and agility but requires careful planning and execution.

Financial Systems on the Block for Legacy Modernisation

Data Analytics Platforms. Harnessing customer data for insights and targeted offerings is vital. Legacy data warehouses often struggle with real-time data processing and advanced analytics.

CRM Systems. Effective customer interactions require integrated CRM platforms. Outdated systems might hinder communication, personalisation, and cross-selling opportunities.

Payment Processing Systems. Legacy systems might lack support for real-time secure transactions, mobile payments, and cross-border transactions.

Core Banking Systems (CBS). The central nervous system of any bank, handling account management, transactions, and loan processing. Many Asia Pacific banks rely on aging, monolithic CBS with limited digital capabilities.

Digital Banking Platforms. While several Asia Pacific banks provide basic online banking, genuine digital transformation requires mobile-first apps with features such as instant payments, personalised financial management tools, and seamless third-party service integration.

Modernising Technical Approaches and Architectures

Numerous technical factors need to be addressed during modernisation, with decisions needing to be made upfront. Questions around data migration, testing and QA, change management, data security and development methodology (agile, waterfall or hybrid) need consideration.

Best practices in legacy migration have taught some lessons.

Adopt a data fabric platform. Many organisations find that centralising all data into a single warehouse or platform rarely justifies the time and effort invested. Businesses continually generate new data, adding sources, and updating systems. Managing data where it resides might seem complex initially. However, in the mid to longer term, this approach offers clearer benefits as it reduces the likelihood of data discrepancies, obsolescence, and governance challenges.

Focus modernisation on the customer metrics and journeys that matter. Legacy modernisation need not be an all-or-nothing initiative. While systems like mainframes may require complete replacement, even some mainframe-based software can be partially modernised to enable services for external applications and processes. Assess the potential of modernising components of existing systems rather than opting for a complete overhaul of legacy applications.

Embrace the cloud and SaaS. With the growing network of hyperscaler cloud locations and data centres, there’s likely to be a solution that enables organisations to operate in the cloud while meeting data residency requirements. Even if not available now, it could align with the timeline of a multi-year legacy modernisation project. Whenever feasible, prioritise SaaS over cloud-hosted applications to streamline management, reduce overhead, and mitigate risk.

Build for customisation for local and regional needs. Many legacy applications are highly customised, leading to inflexibility, high management costs, and complexity in integration. Today, software providers advocate minimising configuration and customisation, opting for “out-of-the-box” solutions with room for localisation. The operations in different countries may require reconfiguration due to varying regulations and competitive pressures. Architecting applications to isolate these configurations simplifies system management, facilitating continuous improvement as new services are introduced by platform providers or ISV partners.

Explore the opportunity for emerging technologies. Emerging technologies, notably AI, can significantly enhance the speed and value of new systems. In the near future, AI will automate much of the work in data migration and systems integration, reducing the need for human involvement. When humans are required, low-code or no-code tools can expedite development. Private 5G services may eliminate the need for new network builds in branches or offices. AIOps and Observability can improve system uptime at lower costs. Considering these capabilities in platform decisions and understanding the ecosystem of partners and providers can accelerate modernisation journeys and deliver value faster.

Don’t Let Analysis Paralysis Slow Down Your Journey!

Yes, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made; and yes, there is much at stake if things go wrong! However, there’s a greater risk in not taking action. Maintaining a laser-focus on the customer and business outcomes that need to be achieved will help align many decisions. Keeping the customer experience as the guiding light ensures organisations are always moving in the right direction.

The Future of Industries
Future of the Experience Economy:​ Top 5 CX Trends in 2024​

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In recent years, organisations have had to swiftly transition to providing digital experiences due to limitations on physical interactions; competed fiercely based on the customer experiences offered; and invested significantly in the latest CX technologies. However, in 2024, organisations will pivot their competitive efforts towards product innovation rather than solely focusing on enhancing the CX. ​

Top 5 CX Trends in 2024​: Shifts in Business Priorities

This does not mean that organisations will not focus on CX – they will just be smarter about it! 

Ecosystm analysts Audrey William, Melanie Disse, and Tim Sheedy present the top 5 Customer Experience trends in 2024. 

Click here to download ‘Ecosystm Predicts: Top 5 CX Trends in 2024’ as a PDF.​

#1 Customer Experience is Due for a Reset

Organisations aiming to improve customer experience are seeing diminishing returns, moving away from the significant gains before and during the pandemic to incremental improvements. Many organisations experience stagnant or declining CX and NPS scores as they prioritise profit over customer growth and face a convergence of undifferentiated digital experiences. The evolving digital landscape has also heightened baseline customer expectations. ​

In 2024, CX programs will be focused and measurable – with greater involvement of Sales, Marketing, Brand, and Customer Service to ensure CX initiatives are unified across the entire customer journey. 

Organisations will reassess CX strategies, choosing impactful initiatives and aligning with brand values. This recalibration, unique to each organisation, may include reinvesting in human channels, improving digital experiences, or reimagining customer ecosystems. ​

Top 5 CX Trends in 2024​: Customer Experience is Due for a Reset

#2 Sentiment Analysis Will Fuel CX Improvement 

Organisations strive to design seamless customer journeys – yet they often miss the mark in crafting truly memorable experiences that forge emotional connections and turn customers into brand advocates. ​

Customers want on-demand information and service; failure to meet these expectations often leads to discontent and frustration. This is further heightened when organisations fail to recognise and respond to these emotions. ​

Sentiment analysis will shape CX improvements – and technological advancements such as in neural network, promise higher accuracy in sentiment analysis by detecting intricate relationships between emotions, phrases, and words. 

These models explore multiple permutations, delving deeper to interpret the meaning behind different sentiment clusters. ​

Top 5 CX Trends in 2024​: Sentiment Analysis Will Fuel CX Improvement

#3 AI Will Elevate VoC from Surveys to Experience Improvement  

In 2024, AI technologies will transform Voice of Customer (VoC) programs from measurement practices into the engine room of the experience improvement function. ​

The focus will move from measurement to action – backed by AI. AI is already playing a pivotal role in analysing vast volumes of data, including unstructured and unsolicited feedback. In 2024, VoC programs will shift gear to focus on driving a customer centric culture and business change. AI will augment insight interpretation, recommend actions, and predict customer behaviour, sentiment, and churn to elevate customer experiences (CX).  ​

Organisations that don’t embrace an AI-driven paradigm will get left behind as they fail to showcase and deliver ROI to the business.

Top 5 CX Trends in 2024​: AI Will Elevate VoC from Surveys to Experience Improvement

#4 Generative AI Platforms Will Replace Knowledge Management Tools

Most organisations have more customer knowledge management tools and platforms than they should. They exist in the contact centre, on the website, the mobile app, in-store, at branches, and within customer service. There are two challenges that this creates:​

  • Inconsistent knowledge. The information in the different knowledge bases is different and sometimes conflicting.​
  • Difficult to extract answers. The knowledge contained in these platforms is often in PDFs and long form documents.​

Generative AI tools will consolidate organisational knowledge, enhancing searchability.

Customers and contact centre agents will be able to get actual answers to questions and they will be consistent across touchpoints (assuming they are comprehensive, customer-journey and organisation-wide initiatives).​

Top 5 CX Trends in 2024​: Generative AI Platforms Will Replace Knowledge Management Tools

​#5 Experience Orchestration Will 

Despite the ongoing effort to streamline and simplify the CX, organisations often implement new technologies, such as conversational AI, digital and social channels, as independent projects. This fragmented approach, driven by the desire for quick wins using best-in-class point solutions results in a complex CX technology architecture. ​

With the proliferation of point solution vendors, it is becoming critical to eliminate the silos. The fragmentation hampers CX teams from achieving their goals, leading to increased costs, limited insights, a weak understanding of customer journeys, and inconsistent services. ​

Embracing CX unification through an orchestration platform enables organisations to enhance the CX rapidly, with reduced concerns about tech debt and legacy issues.

Top 5 CX Trends in 2024​: Experience Orchestration Will ​
Ecosystm Predicts 2024