Post-Digital Innovation in Financial Services

What is really happening at retail banks and insurers in Belgium?

Changing consumer needs and expectations, combined with ‘post-digital’ technologies – such as big data, social, mobile, cloud, and cyber – are pushing the financial sector to fundamentally rethink operating and business models and to investigate new opportunities – especially mobile opportunities. A major strategic theme for the coming years will be how best to deploy one or more of these technologies to drive post-digital business innovation.

Considering the importance of the financial services industry (FSI) to the Belgian economy, Deloitte Belgium and Vlerick Business School joined hands to investigate what post-digital innovation actually means for financial services providers.

The conclusions of their study are presented in: Post-Digital Innovation in Financial Services: What is really happening at retail banks and insurers in Belgium?* The project – supported by sector organisations Febelfin and Assuralia – is part of the ‘Bringing ICT to Board Level’ Deloitte Chair at Vlerick Business School.

The research results combine many different sources of information about the state of post-digital innovation in banks and insurers in Belgium. The data – collected by means of individual face-to-face interviews with Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and business leaders, as well as via a survey of CIOs at companies active on the Belgian financial services market – cover about 85% of the Belgian insurance and banking market in terms of banking assets and insurance premiums paid annually.

The authors divide their report into 7 themed research-based sections, providing insights about tell-tale differences between innovation leaders and innovation laggards. Each theme is concluded by a personal account from a business leader.

Main conclusions

Although the direct impact of the financial and economic crisis has reduced overall ICT investment budgets, the impetus for post-digital business innovation remains strong. However, not all companies are equally strong in following through on their digital intentions. In general, the banks are leading the way, while insurers are slower to adopt post-digital investments.

There appears to be a financial premium for being a post-digital leader. Moreover, post-digital leaders are more likely to have a CIO who emphasises a strong value-oriented style of leadership towards digital innovations. This suggests that the way in which CIOs conduct their own role can have an impact on their company’s chance to take advantage of this post-digital financial premium.

CIOs from both digital leaders and laggards recognise equally that post-digital technologies can challenge their grasp on post-digital innovation. However, digital leaders seem to be more effective in dealing with this challenge. Key elements in their approach are a strong business-ICT relationship and flexible governance mechanisms. This difference is also visible in the relatively high levels of shadow ICT reported by CIOs of digitally lagging companies.

Finally, digitally lagging companies – and especially insurers – do not always seem fully aware of their own position relative to their competitors when it comes to post-digital innovation. It will be crucial for FSI companies to develop more accurate mechanisms for gauging the post-digital maturity levels of their competitors as well as their own. Failing to do so may result in a perpetuation of systematic under-investment in post-digital innovation.

Read the full report

* Post-Digital Innovation in Financial Services: What is really happening at retail banks and insurers in Belgium? by Steven De Hertogh (Senior Research Associate, Vlerick Business School), Prof Dr Stijn Viaene (Partner and Chairman Technology and Operations Management Area, Vlerick Business School & Professor KU Leuven), and Christian Combes (Partner and Leader or CIO Services, Deloitte Belgium Consulting). 




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