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It’s hard to predict the future, but with 2020 right around the corner it’s important to be strategic and prepare to be successful for the dawn of a new decade.

The pace of change in the business world is faster than ever these days thanks to globalisation and digital technology. Customers have expectations for better services and seamless experiences, and the demand for this is even higher in the finance industry.

The financial services industry in particular has seen some drastic technology-led changes over the past few years. Many executives look to their IT departments for them to improve efficiency and facilitate game-changing innovation – while also lowering costs and continuing to support legacy systems. And with the finance industry looking more than likely to flourish in 2020, companies need to ensure they devise a clear strategy to move forward and keep up with their competition. Below are some of the key tips from IT leaders on what to do to keep ahead of the game:

Get your data right

Businesses are already laying the foundation for better digital experiences in 2020 and beyond – even if they don’t realise it. The modern customer journey generates a constant stream of information about what works and what doesn’t.

Some financial experts are bringing big data to the financial services sectors to transform the landscape to be more forward-thinking and make smarter business decisions to better their services and customer experience. The value of customer data analysis cannot be overstated, the sector is becoming highly competitive, and only outsourcing big data analytics solutions will keep FinTech enterprises “in the game”.

Having the right data to model and forecast is key. Modelling and forecasting allows Fintech companies to use their own data sets to identify and anticipate client retention flags sooner, protecting relationships, and profits. But as technology advances, CTOs in the finance sector will need to integrate new digital touch points, consider the next-generation tools for fast and scalable processing, and reevaluate their storage strategy. The challenge isn’t just crunching numbers; it’s making sense of them, and gaining useful insights that can be translated into a business edge.

Keep your customers as your main priority

Today we live in a world where people are engaging with brands in more ways than ever before, using a widening array of platforms and digital technologies. Customer expectations are now at an all time high, and with such a pressure on businesses to create an enjoyable experience, their success will be based on offering a high level of personalisation to all of their services.

Financial firms are already using artificial intelligence (AI) to experiment with service that is far more personalised. We expect AI, machine learning, and customer analytics to become the driver of client engagement over the next decade – so finance businesses really need to step up their game.

AI and machine learning technologies are also able to alleviate some of the pressure that enterprise businesses now face to keep data and networks secure to ensure their customers are safe. Embracing these technologies are critical aspects of improving efficiency, productivity and security as predictive analytics can leverage network anomaly detection to not only identify potential security concerns but performance issues like latency.

Embrace AI and Machine Learning disruption

Now, this is where the year 2020 will look as futuristic as it sounds. This is the year when the market for machine learning and AI will reach $5 billion, up from $420 million in 2014, Research and Markets predicts.

Finance CTOs are racing to adopt these powerful technologies, especially as they are just growing and getting smarter as time goes on.

AI and machine learning can help individuals to manage their finances better, and apps can give precise answers about their historical incomings and outgoings, assess how the monthly budget is looking, and even let customers know whether or not they can afford to take that holiday they’ve had their eye on. As well as this, AI can also sort through investment opportunities to match them with a customers’ profile, including their risk and any long term goal they might have in mind. Its ability to assess the financial climate means that it can make accurate predictions about the markets.

Make IT the department of yes

Traditional corporate IT departments are famous for their bad reputations due to constant slow approvals, long-winded processes, access restrictions and more. They’re often seen as frustrating blockers to productivity and collaboration within teams in the business. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Finance CTOs have the power to make IT fast, seamless and empowering.

By 2020, the finance operating model is probably going to look quite stale, even if it is serving well today. There will soon be requirements to make important changes across and around the entire IT stack. You may need different hardware, software, or storage technology. CTOs may choose to provide cloud-based tools that enable all staff to quickly build time-saving internal apps, sometimes without a single line of code, removing the need to wait for someone from IT to address their issues.

Obviously, in finance, it isn’t as easy and there are many struggles and difficulties before jumping into the deep-end, however the overriding principle is that financial institutions and their IT organisations must be prepared for a world where change is constant – and where digital comes first.

This allows new flexibility in how financial institutions interact beyond their traditional borders, and it is a key part of updating the operating model.

It’s all about the public cloud

The adoption of public cloud has been consistently growing within all industries across the world. It’s a disruptive technology, and extremely appealing to the finance industry in particular due to its many benefits, including; scalability, agility, time to market and on-demand provisioning – to name just a few.

Finance is a business with high risk, and therefore have genuine concerns with moving to public cloud, and cloud providers are dedicated to meet its challenges to the industry.

Financial service firms have been using the private cloud to take advantage of the many benefits of cloud technology. However, a public cloud takes the competitive edge when it comes to fully utilising cloud technology due to the availability of pay as you go cost models, better resilience, and the constant upgrading of new features.

The security and trust concerns of public cloud computing are diminishing, and it is just a matter of time until finance approve and embrace the ‘cloud-first approach’ for public cloud services – we’re betting on the year 2020.

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