July’s Industry Innovator award goes to Aaron Ogden, our National Practice Director for Financial Services, Insurance, and Higher Education verticals. He began his career right out of college with a degree in Management Information Systems which allowed him to really look at software from a business perspective without the need to learn programming. He shares his passion for finding innovative ways to help current and existing customers effectively pursue their business objectives with his team each day.
We spoke with Aaron to discuss his passion for the Financial Services Industry, where he believes the industry is going, how COVID will affect it, and his industry advice. Here’s what he had to say:
How would you explain your job to someone who knows nothing about it?
I help customers in many industries improve their processes by learning how they do things today and finding process and software solutions to do them more efficiently and without paper.
What are the most common challenges you are helping to solve in the Financial Services industry?
We solve process problems first and foremost. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know it exists. We identify gaps and poke holes in “How we have always done it” and provide solutions to solve those gaps.
What is something you thought you knew about the Financial Services industry and later realized you were wrong?
You always believe financial institutions like Banks and Credit Unions have a lot of money. They do, but the reality is they have a hard time sometimes finding it for internal improvement. Headcount still matters, most community banks would rather keep an employee than have them replaced by technology. It’s not about replacing employees; it’s about empowering them to do more, better.
What is something you have recently learned from a client/partner about the industry?
The need for easy to use web-based communication with FI customers is more important than ever. You have to be able to have a customer apply or make a change request for accounts from any device. Branches are going to continue to decline, and the reliance on technology will continuously increase.
“It’s not about replacing employees; it’s about empowering them to do more, better.”
What are the three things that you think will shape the financial industry in the next 6-12 months?
Covid-19 has and will continue to reshape the landscape and likely accelerate the closing of FI brick and mortar branches. As those teller/banker jobs will decline, the technology will need to increase to make up for the branch traffic.
With the demand for technology to step in more for online activity, this means emphasizing a growing role that didn’t exist in banks a few years ago: The enterprise architect. There are many different platforms, solutions, and vendors’ that banks had to start hiring people to make sense of them all.
Integration technology will continue to become more critical. What most FI’s will find is that platforms many are building on like Salesforce or others aren’t as robust as you might think, and they still leave many gaps that need filling. As more solutions are deployed and tested, exposure to these gaps will become much more significant, and the demand to fill them will fall on data integrations and process tools.
What do you do to stay on top of industry trends?
I talk to people. I’ve been fortunate to work with hundreds of FI’s over the years and have built some solid friendships that I still have today that all started back when I was installing and training content management software. By listening to the different roles within FI’s, I get a good feel for the industry’s reality versus what is said by analysts who are usually paid for their comments by the software companies trying to sway the demand for their technology.
In your opinion, what makes DataBank different from other players in the space?
We are not a core provider. We don’t have any hidden agendas to get you to buy dozens of software that are supposedly “Integrated” We look at the needs and try to address those needs with a toolset that makes the most sense for the time and budget.
What technology will have the most significant impact on the financial industry?
Mobile and P2P payments. With the adoption of mobile banking and P2P payments, the reliance on being close to your bank or an ATM or reliance on checks (do people still write checks?) is no longer a factor. I knew times had changed when we started getting Venmo money from our parents instead of a check. If I want to refinance a loan today, I most likely never have to meet with an individual in person, and I can do it all from my phone. In the future, you will probably see way more RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and AI tools that ultimately replace the rep with a bot! But there will always be people that have to manage the bots.