As consumers, we want everything and we want it now. We are an instant gratification society, where we want to be able to order a takeaway at the push of a button, buy a film with a click of a mouse or pay for a coffee with a wave of a mobile phone.

This on-demand lifestyle is creating a world that puts cloud computing and other internet based technologies at the very heart of business models. It’s the only way organisations can truly offer customers, partners and even employees instant access to their goods and services, 24/7 and from anywhere in the world.

New “digital by DNA” companies have helped drive us to this point. The likes of Uber, Atom Bank and Deliveroo are all examples of tech-savvy companies that have based their entire business models on digital industrialisation – and it’s working! Sit around any boardroom table in a traditional organisation now and no doubt you’ll hear “how do we Uberise our offerings?” dropped into the conversation.

So, if you are a 100+ year old organisation with not only legacy IT systems, but legacy values, branding and customers to consider, how do you “Uberise?”

One industry finding itself progressing rapidly above all others is the banking sector. This industry is proving to be the poster child of how to take a legacy based model in every sense of the word and turn it into a tech-savvy, innovative – and even trendy – organisation.

Always think one step ahead

Consider the ‘tap and pay’ system. Do you think your Average Joe or Joanne woke up thinking “I wish I could simply place my debit card on a machine and pay that way”? No. But now, most Average Joes/Joannes couldn’t live without the innovative technology.

Banks have excelled in taking the concept of innovation and truly putting it into practise. Just look at the likes of Apple Pay, selfie biometric passwords or the fact that even Barclays is trialling Bitcoin.

But this is because banks know it is a vital necessity to innovate or die. Consumers are demanding the convenience that digital brings to their personal lives from all service providers, including banks. And they are prepared to leave the institutions that don’t provide it, with more than a third ready to leave their bank and insurer if they don’t offer up to date technology, according to Fujitsu’s New Pace of Change study.

Then there’s the threat of the “challenger” banks – new entrant, digital natives that have zero legacy baggage to worry about. Worrying for retail banks may be the fact that consumers recognise the clear advantages that digitally-native companies have in meeting their needs. A fifth of people would buy banking from potential disrupters like Google, Amazon or Facebook.  And with the Government announcing this week that it needs to introduce more competition into the sector, it has turned to digitally enabled-apps as the way to do this.

So if on paper consumers are demanding this from their banks, you can bet they are looking for the same convenience from other service providers. Yet organisations have admitted they are bewildered by the shifting digital landscape and slow to adopt new technologies. Even now, business leaders aren’t confident in their digital direction. Fujitsu’s Digital Tightrope study found that for 71% of businesses, the success of digital projects is a gamble. This often sees the digitalisation of organisations slow to happen, if they do at all.

The gamble that will pay off

Other than just keeping the 21st century consumer happy, digitalisation offers organisations across all sectors a massive opportunity to expand their portfolios. Digital technologies mean it is no longer about selling the product, but the wrap around services that come with it.

This means an organisation that was considered to be a one-stop-shop for a single offering doesn’t need to limit itself in this way. Why don’t we look at Uber? Uber, once considered an on-demand taxi firm, now delivers takeaways. Or Amazon: an online aggregator of goods will deliver fresh groceries to your door.

Even banks now have the opportunity to expand and upsell in verticals considered as new frontiers. The Fujitsu research showed that 31% of European consumers would consider buying energy for their home from their bank; the same figure agreed on personal data storage, and 30% said they would purchase broadband.

This is a significant step, particularly in an industry that has existed for hundreds of years, and highlights the opportunities digital innovation offers even the oldest of institutions.

Innovate or pay the price

“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” Margaret Heffernan.

Few in business would disagree with this – in the digital age, every business has to innovate and digital technologies are enabling this.  Both to create new opportunities for your business, but also to defend against new entrants stealing your cheese.

The key is that digital has reduced the barriers of entry for everyone – it has made it commercially viable to trial new things on a small scale, whilst rapidly decreasing the new product development cycle to bring new ideas to market. Therefore instead of seeing digitalisation as a gamble, organisations across all industries are starting to realise not only the necessity of innovation, but the opportunity too.

Simon Carter

Simon Carter


Executive Director of Marketing in UK & Ireland at Fujitsu.