Written by Stuart Berwick, CEO and Co-Founder, Single Track
Digitization is becoming critical, and while capital market firms that have already digitized to some extent are seeing increased internal efficiency and productivity gains as a result, there is a lot that can be done.
There are familiar and valuable selling-side notions of, “Who do I contact to get the deal?” or “Which of my clients is at risk?”. However, the answers are usually only found either in a one-time spreadsheet that took a week to compile, or in a quarterly report. In the age of artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is remarkable that outdated customer relationship tools have not kept pace with the times.
Imagine what companies could achieve, however, if they pushed the limits of possibilities? Not only by enabling employees to be more efficient, productive and more informed (which will ultimately lead to increased revenue and retention, and increased profitability), but also by providing a better customer experience. In times of uncertainty like these, fast, data-driven decisions can have a positive impact on customer retention and acquisition.
Today, legacy CRM systems plagued by poor user experience and unreliability stand in the way of enabling employee productivity. Lacking investment, these old tools have not progressed. It is also very inflexible, which means that it cannot be configured to meet the needs of a rapidly changing and volatile market.
Moreover, a growing number of younger “digital natives” are emerging through the industry, and with them a more sophisticated expectation of technological tools that aid in their daily work.
Introducing ‘surrounded’ and ‘guided’ systems
However, changes are underway with the introduction of new AI & ML driven tools for CRM systems. Two important concepts in this field are ambient data collection and directed actions.
Ambient data collection is based on the concept of ambient zero. This means that the user can sit in the business IT system and simply do their day to day work, without having to store or copy the information on another system. In other words, the system can collect information automatically or ‘peripherically’ from the environment around it.
An example of a CRM surrounding feature is Data Capture. A utopian circle is created where the system can intelligently identify, categorize, and capture data from the surrounding environment (such as Bloomberg IB chat, email, phone conversations, calendar events, etc.). The score is used to direct the system to move forward. By executing feeds from financial markets messaging systems (eg IB Chat), texts can be extracted using AI to identify high-value conversations (eg mentioned index/sector or steering comment). The user will confirm whether the relevant piece of data is actually valuable, which in turn will teach the system to better recognize useful data. In this regard, the system will eventually become fully automated.
On the other hand, directed actions relate to where the system directs the user to certain actions or outcomes to achieve a benefit, for example, to increase and maintain revenue and profitability. It achieves this using a wide data set and knowledge of past results.
Guided actions not only tell users what the problem is, they tell them what to do about it using a combination of data points and algorithms to form a prediction. For example, the system can tell an investment bank about its institutional clients who may be at risk of termination of their relationship or a significant decrease in activity (such as attendance at events) and revenue over the next six to twelve months. Another example of a directed feature is the “Call Manager” application, where enterprise salespeople and research analysts have dynamic customer lists that can be organized and prioritized by segment, buy-side customer, or other segmentation. These lists are then easily prioritized, in seconds, by who to call and when, depending on what’s happening in the market, how traders react, and even statistically when people are most likely to respond and pick up on the call.
Competitive advantage through thick and thin
The ability to ingest interaction data across all channels, identify meaningful interactions through natural language processing, and capture customer data in the periphery that would otherwise be laborious and expensive to process, gives companies an unquestionable advantage.
In today’s fast-moving and unpredictable world, modernizing a CRM system simply isn’t good enough – the only option now is to move to at least a data-driven consulting system, as this is what will give the necessary insights to excel in all market conditions. By thinking bigger and more ambitious than current systems allow, new technology can break down barriers and for the first time automate the customer strategy and organization process.