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As an on-going celebration of growth, innovation, and acceleration across the finance industry, this year’s  Money Management Institute Summit focused on The Value-Add Imperative — how financial service providers can go beyond their traditional services to positively impact the lives of their customers. In this time of COVID-19 Summit’s core goal of empowering attendees with ideas and resources for continuing to add value to their customers couldn’t have been timelier.

Right now, organizations around the world are reassessing their operating strategies for 2020 and beyond. We’re in a unique situation. No one truly knows what to expect in the future, but uncertainty urges action. The best we can do to move forward is to continue to support each other and add value through our shared pursuits of innovation and achievement.

Operating through disruption

Today’s world is in a constant state of disruption. The traditional finance disruptors — fraud, evolving business models, evolving customer expectations, etc. — are nothing compared to the upheaval we’re experiencing at a global level. Yet, that ability to deliver people-centric strategy and truly valuable guidance and support has become more valuable than ever.

At Microsoft, we believe that value creation begins with a people-first strategy that shapes your resources and operations around a specific purpose. Technology that adapts to the needs and circumstances of the user enables and empowers future innovation. The 21st century has been marked by industries disrupted by technology—transportation transformed by Uber, broadcast networks challenged by Netflix — and never have the needs of technology users been so dramatically altered in such a short period and so uniformly on a global scale as they have been by societal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

AI for improved value-added opportunities

Technology is proving to be the foundation of this new environment. AI, in particular, presents a leading opportunity to mutually empower our colleagues and customers through improved experiences, insights, and opportunities.

Recently, we’ve seen firms use AI to amplify their KYC activity to predict needs and provide more personalized services, such as relevant product offerings or tailored investment guidance. VeriPark, for example, is using Microsoft Azure-drive algorithms and analytics to power its Next Best Action (NBA) platform—a leading customer-centric technology that considers all likely actions during a customer interaction and recommends the next best action to elicit a positive response. This ability for AI to empower finance professionals with insights, data analysis, and automation is actively driving productivity and eliminating redundant low-value tasks.

In a world where attentive and productive hours are at a premium, this ability to deliver the exact need while eliminating employee distractions has huge implications on our ability to meet and delight our customers.

Sustained Tech Intensity

Right now, businesses worldwide are experiencing an unprecedented transformation as we move to a digital-first work environment. The challenge for these organizations is to not only harness new technologies but to maintain an ongoing tech intensity as they continue to plan beyond these current circumstances.

Tech intensity goes beyond an organization’s tech adoptions and into its ability to create custom solutions for their unique challenges. Finance, industry, healthcare—as next-generation technologies continue to shape our capabilities every organization will become a technology company.

The organizations that can apply their tech intensity into new processes and orient them around the human experience to support their teams and create value will see the most sustainable success as we move forward, but not all organizations are ready to make that leap.

This experience is a journey for us, our partners, and customers. More than ever, we’re seeing the capabilities and characteristics at the core of each organization. This raw exposure of culture highlights the unique personalities, passions, hopes, and dreams of every organizational leader for better or worse. There is a desperate need for a strong culture to best manage this time. Consistent communication, a clear vision and purpose, and an authentic commitment to those values are just the surface of how organizations can better fortify their culture to manage the current challenges.

It’s our responsibility to guide these unready operations through this experience with the resources we have. Whether that means extending financing options to provide extended credit throughout this crisis or showing less sophisticated customers how to onboard their video conferencing resources, we have an opportunity to provide security to a vulnerable audience in a highly uncertain era. That’s how you add value, by showing up and supporting the uncertain and afraid and empowering them to achieve their goals.

In the coming months, I’m excited to see the delude of innovations that will pour out of this time, and even more so to discover how those innovations will be applied once we can return to our offices. There’s a new world of ideas and applications right around the corner. Until then, I encourage all of you to pursue opportunities to make an impact on your newly remote customers. Our Microsoft Financial Services Industry Blog, offers several resources, solutions and best practices from Microsoft that can help support the financial services industry’s immediate priorities and needs during these challenging times. Finally, the Microsoft AI Business School offers industry-leading resources for adopting and developing your own AI solutions to deliver added value to your customers. Visit the AI in Finance hub and see how you can bring tech intensity into your organization.