Jonathan Alloy, Vice President, Wholesale Banking Product Management, Wells Fargo, examined what it takes to drive innovation in the financial services segment in his keynote presentation to Argyle's CFO membership at the 2017 Financial Services Forum: Marketing & Technology Innovation in San Francisco on September 14. In his presentation, "The Ingredients of Innovation," Alloy discussed the key components to a successful innovation strategy.
According to Alloy, innovation is a crucial part of a company's success. Yet few businesses understand the true value of innovation and its impact on a company's day-to-day operations.
In some instances, companies will drive innovation without knowing how state-of-the-art technologies can help a company transform the way that it operates. However, businesses that understand the value of innovation are better equipped than others to realize its full potential.
"Being innovative only creates value only when people are willing to listen to it happening," Alloy said. "The most important step to innovation … is the focus journey that we're on to build trust."
At Wells Fargo, customers are at the forefront of innovation, Alloy indicated. The business constantly explores ways to drive innovation to improve its customer interactions, as well as drive value for its team members and shareholders.
"Our first priority is to make things right for our customers. Our commitment has never been stronger to our customers, team members and shareholders," Alloy stated.
Wells Fargo is committed to helping its customers achieve their financial goals. Meanwhile, innovation often empowers Wells Fargo to bolster its customer interactions, along with enable customers to accomplish their financial goals faster than ever before.
"We want to satisfy our customers' needs and help them succeed financially," Alloy noted. "We look to marketing and technology and innovation to make that happen."
Ultimately, innovation comes in many forms. For example, an innovative technology may work well for one company, but the technology may fail to deliver the desired results for another business.
"[Innovation is] about enabling customers with the tools they need to complete transactions across channels and get the information they need in the moment to make better informed [decisions]."
Financial services professionals are responsible for targeting innovation in their everyday activities. By doing so, these professionals can determine which innovations can help them achieve various business goals.
"Innovation isn't about any particular technology, no matter how cool it may seem," Alloy pointed out. "It's about enabling customers with the tools they need to complete transactions across channels and get the information they need in the moment to make better informed [decisions]."
Driving innovation is an ongoing process as well, Alloy said. Innovation rarely happens overnight and will not happen on its own. Instead, a company must foster innovation among employees at all levels to ensure an entire workforce can reap the benefits of innovation consistently.
For instance, Wells Fargo is using mobile technologies to further assist its customers. Thanks to the use of secure, effective mobile tools, Wells Fargo has been able to improve its customer experience.
"We are always exploring new ways to be out in the world where our customers are making financial decisions," Alloy stated. "We see mobile as a way to turn innovation loose by giving customers more choices for service."
In addition, natural language processing (NLP) technology is already making a difference for Wells Fargo and its customers. This technology helps Wells Fargo understand its customers' needs and uncover the best ways to fulfill customer requests.
"We're using natural language processing to understand what customers want to know and providing that information in the moment, in real-time," Alloy said. "Over time, the customer experience will become more conversational."
Artificial intelligence (AI) is proving to be exceedingly valuable to Wells Fargo too, Alloy indicated.
"We want to satisfy our customers' needs and help them succeed financially. We look to marketing and technology and innovation to make that happen."
With AI, Wells Fargo can serve its customers faster and more effectively that it could in the past. The technology even helps Wells Fargo streamline its operations and give employees additional opportunities to drive business growth.
"AI is not about replacing people. It's about freeing them up so that they can focus on greater value activities and higher value customers," Alloy said.
Wells Fargo is undeterred in its commitment to innovation. The company frequently targets innovation in all that it does, and this approach will continue in the foreseeable future.
"Wells Fargo is committed to exploring innovative technologies and emerging concepts that will benefit our customers," Alloy indicated.
For financial services professionals, innovation can play an important role in a company's success. If financial services professionals embrace innovation, they can experiment with assorted technologies and tools to find ways to drive meaningful business improvements. And over time, these innovations may help financial services professionals discover unique ways to differentiate their respective companies from the competition.
Jonathan Alloy is Vice President at Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco. He leads product management for wholesale customer due diligence tools, and previously crafted social media and marketing campaigns for consumer debit cards. Jonathan completed DuPont’s Marketing Leadership Development Program and served as vice chair of San Francisco’s General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee. He holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and a BS from Frostburg State University.