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Digital technology with a human touch

Michael GorrizIs technology destroying the quality of human interaction?

When thinking about technology, some worry that it could mean a dehumanizing experience where our clients are not able to speak to a human being if they needed to.

This is a valid concern. More fundamentally, we need to ask whether individuals and institutions will hand over their money to banks without knowing the people behind the brand.

Looking at the world around us today, many things which were not here 10 years ago are fully ingrained in our daily lives. A day without Google, FaceTime or WhatsApp would be quite an experience for me. I use WhatsApp to stay in touch with my family and thanks to FaceTime my kids can see their dad every day even if I am on the other side of the planet. Although I have never met any of the makers of the software, I trust these brands because their products work seamlessly. So instead of trusting the people behind the brand, I have built trust in the brand because their product continuously satisfies my expectations.

Obviously, banking is richer than a simple messaging service. Our spectrum ranges from a basic transaction to a complex corporate financing deal. The latter cannot be acknowledged by just ‘two blue ticks’ as is the case for a WhatsApp message.

But within banking, there are many steps which are (or should be) simple and straightforward to digitize. I just want to get the simple things done immediately. For more complicated questions, I prefer to talk to an individual who can guide me through the matter. In turn, that person must have all the necessary information about me and the product at his or her fingertips for us to have an informed discussion.

This person, being accustomed to how quickly we can access information in today’s world, also expects to access the information immediately without logging into various systems, downloading information from multiple places and integrating them into a spreadsheet. This is a perfect example of how advancement in technology and human interaction can transform the way we serve our clients.

We live in a time where people just expect the things to be easy and to work – always. That is what technology has to be – simple and reliable. It has to cater for this very essential modern human need.

Or in other words, technology and human interaction are two sides of the same coin – although they seem different, they are actually closely linked.

Michael Gorriz is group CIO at Standard Chartered Bank.



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