Investing in more and more advanced data analytics, user experience, voicebots and agile work - all this is ahead of entrepreneurs if they want to keep pace with the competition in terms of IT investments. 2019 has a chance to become the year of actual, not just declared digital transformation of Polish businesses. A true revolution is coming for the banking sector. Marcin Dąbrowski, Chief Innovation Officer at ITMAGINATION is forecasting the most important trends in the IT industry, to affect businesses over the next 12 months.
Founded in 2008, ITMAGINATION is one of the fastest growing technology companies in Central and Eastern Europe, included in rankings Deloitte Fast 50 CE and FT1000: Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies by the Financial Times. It specializes in services and solutions for banks, financial institutions and international companies in the commerce, construction, energy and technology sectors. It has completed hundreds of projects for close to 90 medium-sized and large enterprises from across the globe.
TREND 1: Speech to text, text to speech, or voicebots before chatbots
With the increasingly dynamic development of voice assistants, or voicebots, such as Siri, Alexa and Google Now, soon to be fully available in Polish, users will get used to chatting with a bot. Expectations of such a chat will grow – we would like it to be as natural as possible, close to talking to a live human being. For businesses, this is the next stage of development after text automation. So far, they used less technologically advanced chatbots on their websites and Facebook instant messengers. To improve their competitiveness on the market and be perceived as innovative, businesses need to offer more and more new solutions utilising artificial intelligence and NLP. This allows them to, most importantly, optimize their call-centre costs and further streamline the work of their customer service teams. The first good example on the Polish market is Milla, a voice assistant in Millennium Bank’s mobile app launched in December 2018. It allows the user to ask about account balance and history, and to make transfers.
TREND 2: Open banking with PSD2, or your finances beyond recognition
EU directive PSD2, which finally came into force at the end of last year, opens up the market of banking services. Payments will now be offered not only by banks, but also financial institutions and fintechs. The directive introduces a new category of independent service providers known as TPP, or Third Party Provider. In Poland, they will be represented by MIPs, or small payment institutions, through which it will be easier to become an intermediary in making payments, eg. in e-commerce. AIS (account information) and PIS (payment initialization) services that all banks will have to make available as part of a unified PolishAPI will allow businesses and fintechs to integrate with banks. For customers, this means more efficient financial management, regardless of where they have an account. Banks will gradually provide access to application programming interfaces (APIs) as part of their sandboxes starting from March 2019.
TREND 3: A practical test in digital transformation
The digital transformation in Polish companies, although not a new thing, is only now beginning to gain real momentum. Enterprises have understood they need to evolve to keep up with the changing market. They have introduced digital variants of their business models, and they have already started making money from them. However, they are still learning how to collect as much data as possible at every stage of their business. Such data about processes, customers or products can be creatively utilised, say with Big Data systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Expert systems that use these tools will increasingly help employees by reducing the number of tasks and decisions to take.
TREND 4: Bet on user experience and product design or die
It is clear that the quality of applications offered by software vendors is constantly growing. Users, particularly of mobile devices, are already accustomed to good looking, easy to use applications that do not require a user manual. Therefore, the friendliness of applications for the consumer is an increasingly important factor in the area of product design. It is currently one of the key features building the competitive advantage of suppliers. This feature is also increasingly desirable in companies’ internal systems, which employees have to use on a daily basis. Workshops, A/B testing and prototyping are just some of the tools which can significantly improve the quality and usability of applications, so that they meet users’ expectations.
TREND 5: There is no turning back from agile
Programmers were the first to suggest and promote agile methodologies (usually Scrum) as a way of working on IT projects. Today, it would be hard to persuade them to use a different working method. Both software providers and customers must therefore be prepared for a new way of working on projects, slowly moving away from the existing models of collaboration, common practices and mutual expectations. The agile working model is no longer solely the domain of start-ups – it is gradually also affecting larger companies, which need to become more agile as a whole. This is because it is very difficult to be flexible in implementing a project when the rest of the organisation is not keeping pace with this way of working. To sum up, in a world that has become much faster not only the IT departments, but whole companies need to become more agile to faster react to the changing market situation and the evolving customers' expectations.