It’s clear retail banks need to adapt to emerging trends to stay relevant in today’s market. What isn’t always so clear, however, is what trends matter most and where banks should focus their attention to stay head of the curve. We’ve identified the top 4 trends that banks can’t ignore in 2019.

#1. Consumers crave a customized experience

Mobile-first banking is an immediate driver of digital strategy. While banks work to build the right customer experience across channels, emerging technologies like voice-first banking and intelligent chat bots gain footing. It’s clear intelligent assistants will begin to play a significant role in consumer digital banking transactions. How can firms provide rich customer experiences in an ever-changing environment without sacrificing security along the way?

To meet consumer expectations head on, banks must take a progressive approach. Building the foundation for a branch environment responsive to customer needs ensures consumers are met at the “door,” whether physical or virtual, with personalized engagements built on actionable insights.

Learn more:

1. Transforming Financial Services E-Book

2. Thriving in a World of Darwinian Disruption (Connected Futures)

3. How Chatbots and Voice are Shaping the Future of Banking (The Financial Brand)

4. Insights in Conversational Banking (Accenture)

#2. More applications = more cybersecurity vulnerabilities

Cyber security is more than just “top of mind.” When was the last time you paid with cash (and no, parking at sporting events doesn’t count)? Visited a local retail branch? With the “new normal” of mobile applications, web-based portals, and declining branch visits, cyber security vulnerabilities continue to grow in both number and complexity. A recent study by Accenture reported on 30 major banking applications. All 30 had at least one known security risk identified, and 25% included at least one “high risk security flaw.”

Vulnerabilities abound due to the ever-increasing complexity of today’s retail branch network. Far more than “just” the network or the components that sit on it, a truly secure environment must encompass more than just hardware. Failures in implementation, process, operations, or incident response all contribute to the potential for major incidents.

Cisco uniquely provides the retail branch with the opportunity to build an end-to-end secure, efficient, reliable environment, from plumbing to devices, and everything in between.

What we’re reading on Cyber Security:

1. See how Cisco protects Heritage Bank endpoints with Cisco AMP

2. Consumers Crave More Mobile Banking Features Despite Security Concerns (The Financial Brand)

3. Cybersecurity and Banking: 3 Trends to Watch in 2019

#3. Big Data is your mountain and your goldmine

Real-time, intelligent data integration will prove to be a key differentiator for banks of all shapes and sizes. That said, the prevalence of legacy systems can make managing the ever-increasing mountain of data challenging at best. And big data isn’t just for the “big” players anymore. According to Joe Sullivan, CEO of Market Insights, Inc., “We will see more smaller financial institutions embrace data/analytics to better understand their customers and create complimentary digital platforms to attract deposits and extend their geographic reach.”

Whether optimizing processes, detecting fraud, or gleaning invaluable customer insights, applying intelligence to data will keep banks one step ahead. According to McKinsey, “For more than half of the banks surveyed, analytics is a strategic theme, but the majority struggle to connect the high-level analytics strategy to a targeted selection and prioritization of use cases, and to implement them in an orchestrated way.” That strategic implementation is exactly what banks can use to deliver those personalized customer experiences that today’s consumer really wants.

How to deal with Big Data:

1. Be smart about what data is collected and stored.

2. Use edge analytics to take the load off data processing.

3. Triage legacy systems.

4. Move to edge computing. Whenever possible, reduce the amount of data going over the wire, especially in geographically diverse environments.

What we’re reading on Big Data/AI:

1. Smarter Analytics for Banks (McKinsey)

2. Big Data in the Banking Industry: The Main Challenges and Use Cases

3. Top 7 Digital Transformation Trends in Financial Services (Forbes)

#4. Cloud strategy counts

A November 2018 Accenture study shows that 43% of leading global banks have no cloud strategy or have only started implementing basic cloud practices. On top of building a comprehensive plan, banks must also determine how best to leverage cloud data to provide additional value to customers and increase brand loyalty.

Essentially, the right cloud strategy really matters. Whether public, private, hybrid, or multi-cloud, banks must accelerate to the cloud and create a comprehensive, scalable plan to succeed. In addition, moving to the cloud enforces best practices down to the business, both in security and process. When the cloud strategy is future-oriented, both banks and customers win.

What we’re reading on cloud:

1. Cisco Cloud Solutions

2. Accelerate to Cloud (Accenture)

3. Cloud Computing and AI Transform the Banking Sector (CIO Review)