Harvard Business review

How Today’s More Agile Financial Services Sector Is Helping Employers Maintain a Competitive Edge

Any organization that kicked off 2020 with a carefully drawn 10-year plan for operations, transformation, and growth had to tear up its blueprint within months. The pandemic catalyzed and accelerated business transformation with dizzying speed and intensity.

With all the chaos the pandemic brought, it has also handed organizations an unprecedented opportunity to rethink their plans—to embrace, champion, and execute transformation for their workforces, partnerships, products, and customers.

The risks of conducting business as usual, with the wishful thinking that life would somehow get back to normal, are far greater than embracing change. Today and in the coming years, for any customer-focused business, change is the only way forward.

Introducing product and agile transformation is not a quick or easy fix. It means having tough conversations and tearing up well-thumbed playbooks. It means sustained focus over multiple years. And in the finance sector, adopting a startup mindset has become critical for businesses to attract and retain talent whose next-gen ideas are essential to transformation and future-proofing.

“Even large global organizations need to think and act as innovative underdogs to serve their customers,” says Gill Haus, chief information officer at Chase. “So a company of our size needs to offer some pretty compelling reasons why any rising technology, product, data and analytics, or design professional should give a career in finance a serious look.”

Agile Transformation, Product Transformation

Two critical and distinct types of change work in concert to future-proof business and improve customer-centricity: agile and product transformation.

Agile transformation means changing operations and processes to enable product transformation so an organization can build and distribute tools and services that serve its customers’ needs in real time.

“The key to agile transformation that leads to product transformation is building cross-functional teams that have clear accountability and rapid decision-making autonomy,” says Rohan Amin, chief product officer at Chase. “In contrast to traditional work models that isolate each team to tackle challenges in silos, the agile process connects teams,” he says, “so our engineers always know the optimal ways—and reasons—to build, test, and manage solution-oriented software.”

“Most organizations don’t set out to isolate their teams,” Haus says. “Silos emerge when different teams aren’t speaking the same language. But applying rigorous agile methods to our technology, product, data and analytics, and design teams brings these practices together with the business.”

Agile gives business strategists a full awareness of emerging technology, and it empowers engineers and designers by providing a full view of the organization’s customers. It moves more decision making closer to the owning teams, giving technology, product, data and analytics, and design teams more autonomy to rapidly solve customers’ problems.

How Agile Serves Customers and Businesses

“It’s hard to overstate how fast agile and product transformation is changing our culture and preparing us for the future—and what that means for our customers,” Amin says.

The improvement of the customer experience—and the volume and frequency with which an organization can introduce capabilities that help customers—is the direct result of agile and product transformation.

“Credit Journey is a tool we developed through agile and product transformation,” Amin says, “to help our customers understand their credit score and the actions they can take to improve it, so they can prepare for significant life purchases like a home or car.”

Product and business teams working in silos might have trouble exchanging ideas on what customers need and how to build software that best meets those needs. But Credit Journey’s agile product team not only understands customers in the abstract but also interacts directly with its users, incorporating real-time public feedback to make software changes whose value is tangible to them. Credit Journey’s product teams enjoy a degree of purpose, accomplishment, and fulfillment far beyond what even the most agile startup can offer.

A Global Bank’s Agile and Product Revolution

What draws rising talent to join the agile and product revolution at a large global financial company?

Scale is one attraction. JPMorgan Chase spends $14 billion on technology (nearly $5 billion of it dedicated to Chase), employs 55,000 technologists, and connects its incoming talent with more than 60 million digitally active Chase customers from day one. Pairing this level of investment with a scrappy mentality helps Chase’s workforce work smarter and serve customers better.

Another advantage is career mobility. “The diversity of experience within our organization speaks to the truly unlimited opportunities we offer to dream up innovations and work with the newest technology, to discover significant insights in big data, and to explore a variety of career paths unavailable at smaller organizations,” Haus says.

Fintech is starting to gain traction as an attractive option for next-generation talent in technology, product, data and analytics, and design. For the financial services sector to shed its outdated image of traditional company cultures and conservative innovation, it takes the leadership on agile and product transformation of a future-forward global organization to draw the next-gen insights and talent that will help customers most.

As customer needs constantly evolve, it’s critical for any organization of any size and scale to embark upon product and agility transformation. It’s more urgent now than ever for any future-focused organization to connect its operations, bridge its practices, share its intelligence, spread its insights—and above all—recruit a workforce with a next-gen mindset.

Learn more about Chase’s open product, data and analytics, design, and technology roles.

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