October 27, 2020
Joseph J. Lebel III
Our lives have been changed in so many ways as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, including dramatic challenges in how we conduct business. Companies both large and small have had to adapt to new societal and economic realities. Business leaders are learning how to engage with customers who now avoid physical contact, coach and guide employees working remotely and use data to make decisions in a marketplace that is being reshaped by new forces.
Many companies have addressed these challenges by stepping up the pace of their transition to digital business practices. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently noted, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” While no one should downplay the human cost of the pandemic, companies are ramping up their digital capabilities to operate in ways that are both safer and more efficient.
As companies continue to accelerate their digital transformations, leaders need to answer some critical questions. Which digital initiatives will make the biggest positive impact on the viability of the business, not only during the Covid-19 crisis but over the long-term? How do you prioritize investments that may produce greater customer engagement, satisfaction and transaction volume, versus those that may enhance the operational and financial performance of the company?
In particular, the pandemic and related lockdowns have created a surge in demand for digital banking solutions from both consumers and businesses. At OceanFirst Bank, mobile deposits have increased 78% in dollar volume during the pandemic, online account openings are up 144% and new activations of our mobile app have grown 159%.
Looking at business clients specifically, we see more small and mid-sized enterprises that are interested in digitizing their entire payment stream. Since many companies, as well as their vendors and suppliers, are working remotely, digital treasury services are a safe, secure and convenient solution. In particular, these customers are conducting their corporate cash management either online or on mobile devices.
As they proceed along the path to digital dexterity, many businesses are relying on their bankers as trusted financial partners who can offer guidance and support. One of the most common requests received by our Customer Care and Treasury Client Services teams is: “How can I digitize my financial management functions?” And those companies that already have transitioned key functions to digital mode expect their banks to offer the technology and know-how to stay ahead of their changing needs.
That’s why at OceanFirst we’re continuing to invest in solutions to accelerate our customers’ digital transformation. The safety of our clients and their financial information is also at the forefront in this digital transformation age. For example, we are expanding our cybersecurity resources and are dedicating an area at our administrative headquarters entirely to that function, aptly known as our Security Operations Center.
Continued training for staff is paramount to success as digital solutions evolve and improve. Our Certified Digital Banker program continues to adapt to new technology and train OceanFirst team members to assist customers in adopting and optimizing the latest digital services.
As more consumers go digital – and workplaces, retailers and service providers do the same – financial institutions must continue to align with their customers’ emerging and changing needs. While it is tempting for both providers and users of digital services to make short-term decisions based on the immediate needs of the Covid-19 economy, true digital transformation is a process with long-term implications for every business and should be approached with the long view in mind.