By Craig Dunham
Earlier this year, Linedata and Aite released a joint report on the drivers and disruptors of financial services. The study found that one of the top challenges for North American firms in 2017, particularly asset managers, is operational efficiency, garnering a 44 percent response.
One area firms are focusing on to try and offset this operational crisis is IT. According to Linedata’s respondents, improving technology performance and efficiency rank at the top of their investment priorities over the next 12 months. As any pursuit of a tech stack overhaul involves the outsourcing of certain functions, deferring platform design and maintenance to a vendor enables firms to both reduce operating costs and achieve scale at a higher pace than otherwise possible.
But exactly how are these goals accomplished? The answer is an integrated technology stack.
One example of such a stack is already present within the marketing and client-facing practices of many financial services firms. It consists of a customer relationship management (CRM) system, a marketing automation platform (MAP) and a sales enablement solution. By placing an emphasis on platform integrations, each individual technology generates a better ROI for three main reasons: unimpeded data flows, higher rates of adoption and tighter organizational alignment.
Integrating these technologies allows a clearer look at what content and activities spur the best, most effective conversations. This makes data the lifeblood of a successful tech stack and true driver of value. For example, teams can view usage by day, week, month, distribution channel, sales group or other user groups, individual wholesaler, advisor or other staff. Typically offering real-time tracking and reporting analytics at both the summary and detail levels, this stack enables marketing to garner insights on clients and sales to refine the client experience, resulting in a more efficient and effective client acquisition cycle.
Simply put, an unimpeded flow of data between technologies provides a more holistic picture of lead activity and progression. For marketers, this allows for increased bandwidth in terms of automating repetitive tasks and streamlining processes, more precise lead nurturing and segmentation capabilities and more quantitative metrics to measure success. Integration helps wholesalers and advisors better prepare for client interactions with increased lead data from MAPs, such as emails opened, links clicked and forms submitted. Marketers, meanwhile, have more confidence that wholesalers and advisors can access what they need to be successful.
A new platform inherently means a new change in behavior and a time investment by users to become acclimated. Integrated tech stacks can help alleviate this issue. When it comes to the marketing technology stack, there are a few concrete examples of how integration drives adoption. Surfacing relevant content from a sales enablement tool right within the CRM helps drive those in client-facing roles toward that platform on a more consistent basis. Centralizing client-facing content within one of the tools, such as the sales enablement platform, means that marketers know where to go at all times to find collateral they may wish to use for lead-generation activities. Ultimately, integration means adoption, and it is essential to look for tools that not only complement each other, but offer ways to boost the adoption of other technologies in a stack.
Finally, by having multiple departments work within the same integrated tech stack, organizational barriers fall, communication increases and strategic priorities align. Fully integrated stacks produce a real-time feedback loop; marketers can create, adjust or eliminate poorly performing collateral; advisors and wholesalers, based on peer usage, can learn which materials work best at each stage of a client’s journey; compliance can document the dissemination and viewing of all necessary documents and disclosures; and distribution can confirm that all content has successfully reached its intended user, regardless of location or device.
Integrated marketing solutions are empowering firm stakeholders with more intelligent and efficient client engagement models and tech stacks, connecting all teams in a unified, end-to-end process that spans five key areas: dynamic content creation, automated content updating, systematic regulatory compliance, optimized delivery and usage analytics. Such platform capabilities positively impact not just the day-to-day operations of IT, marketing, sales, compliance and distribution, but also the manner in which a firm conducts business in today’s rapidly evolving market. When it comes to developing your technology stack to ensure that operational efficiency goals are met, integration needs to be a top priority.
Craig Dunham is the vice president and general manager of financial services at Seismic.