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Product development engages every part of the bank and requires effective collaboration with huge volumes of information being exchanged between departments, partners, regulators and customers. “Product development is the core of the innovation process at banks,” says Peter Hazou, director, worldwide financial services industry at Microsoft. “In today’s client centric world it is imperative for banks to collaborate with all stakeholders throughout the product innovation process. Orchestrating this collaboration efficiently and in real time is essential for banks to create products that are highly relevant to customers, are scalable and optimize market impact and profitability.”

Banks are now transcending departmental processes collaboratively to achieve the speed, accuracy and efficiency they need in product development. “Traditionally, banks have had to rely on a series of two-way exchanges by phone or email, with one person collating all the feedback from multiple stakeholders,” says Hazou. “This process often can’t keep pace with changes in the market and digital competitors. By the time a bank developed and launched a new product the opportunity would have been missed. Now, the process is being transformed by powerful collaboration, visualization and analytics technologies that enable a concerted thread involving all stakeholders.”

Shared tools, information and ideas are the key to achieving such transformation. “A platform that facilitates simultaneous collaboration will empower bankers to shorten the cycle dramatically,” says Jean Acosta, director, worldwide financial services industry at Microsoft. “For example if the banker can conduct group video chats with shared product development materials and specialists to validate ideas and demonstrate the product to customers it will save money, time and effort as well as improving feedback. In addition, a shared document that enables everyone to provide input concurrently means that challenges like repetition, incongruence and version control are taken care of.”

An agile development environment is also key to transforming the way bankers ideate, develop and create products, providing a virtual space where teams can collaborate to define technology requirements. “Microsoft Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server allow bankers to simulate the product solution in a controlled environment and is a game-changer,” says Acosta. “Teams can collaborate simultaneously to prototype the product while making any necessary changes along the way. They can demonstrate the product to internal and external stakeholders to identify and address any issues early on, giving the product the best chance of approval for production. Modern workplace collaboration and development tools empower bankers to string together and steer through the coding, deployment, operation rollout and usage of the product.”

Increasing use of artificial intelligence and advanced analytics will enable banks to gain detailed stakeholder and customer insight into how products perform against expectations – and to build an accurate, detailed business case for future innovations. “In the next few years market data will have a growing impact on the product development process as new technologies like machine learning provide more customer insight and predictive capabilities regarding client habits, issues and needs,” says Hazou.

“Machine learning and predictive analytics can greatly enhance the development of the business plan for a product,” says Acosta. “Richer, more productive collaboration with customers and other stakeholders can provide valuable insights that help the bank anticipate product performance and viability. In addition to generating insightful ideas and more accurate predictions about the revenue, margins and costs the product will generate, bankers will be able to spin off third-party data into reports about market conditions and competitors’ activities.”

As a core competency that involves the orchestration of multiple voices from inside and outside the bank, creative product ideation and development illustrates the transformative impact of digital collaboration and productivity tools across the industry. “Product ideation and development provides a vision of what banks can achieve by tapping collaboration technologies to get input from clients, the market and colleagues,” says Hazou. “We’re starting to see that transformation today as banks use powerful tools to generate customer insight and collaborate in real time.”

Other industries are innovating at digital speed, and raising customer expectations for a continual flow of new products. “A flurry of digital innovations is compelling banks to speed up the product ideation and development process,” says Guillermo Kopp, director, worldwide financial services industry at Microsoft. “Digital technologies are transforming traditional banking products, unlocking creativity and creating opportunities to introduce a new breed of intelligent digital services. Besides the customer demands, a surge in cyber threats, privacy considerations, and regulatory mandates call for a digital, more collaborative, simpler, and trusted product development approach.”

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