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Always On to Always There: Digital Lessons Learned Across Industries

By Pam Takahama


To be anything, must a business now be everywhere?

A close up of a sign Description generated with very high confidence

That’s a question I’ve begun to regularly ponder because heading into my local grocery store, I can now stop at my bank. When I pick up a prescription, I notice individuals at kiosks, taking their blood pressures. When I walk into a cafe, I recognize sales professionals, wealth managers, and others interacting with clients, and realize I could just as easily transact business there, too.

Always on, it seems, has become always there.



Evolution from One Into a Mega-Customer Relationship

Digital natives expect constant engagement, and to stay relevant, businesses are feeling the pressure to be everywhere. But does it mean truly prioritizing convenience as high as new product and service features?

I believe it does.



Traditional banks recognized the value of location and convenience early, and the strategy paid off for years. Nearly 80% of respondents in 2015 said they were very unlikely to switch banks in the next six months, according to a Financial Board survey. In fact, a major change in life circumstances (e.g., a move, a marriage/divorce, or job status update) was required for anyone to seriously consider another financial institution.

That’s why we still saw two or three of the same bank branches on nearby New York City streets and why people can continue to expect banking services in so many locations—from check cashing and loan services in local supermarket to ATMs in airports, hotels, and anywhere else someone might need cash fast.

That said, banks have not been immune to demographic and personal preference changes. The number of branches in the U.S. shrank by more than 1,700 in the 12 months ended in June 2017, the biggest decline on record, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data. Yet new investment is still happening with more to come, it just isn’t likely to be in traditional teller-behind-the-glass form factors. Think conveniently located bank cafes and digital service centers.




Now healthcare providers seeking to set up satellite physician offices are taking note of branch banking’s successes and failures as they deal with unprecedented change from mergers and acquisitions (M&A) across health services sectors, including behavioral care, home health care, hospitals, labs, MRI and dialysis, long-term care, managed care, physician medical groups, and rehabilitation.

Healthcare M&A deal value increased 145% in 2017, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report. CVS Health Corporation’s acquisition of health payer Aetna during the last quarter of 2017 was a megadeal with a value of $77 billion, making it the largest healthcare M&A transaction in 2017.

Where and how patient experience will be impacted (and how protected health information will stay secure) as a result of so much change is becoming clearer. Consider the rise in telemedicine—new research from HIMSS Analytics found 71% of healthcare providers use telehealth, telemedicine tools—and the recent announcement that Stanford Medicine, Scripps, Partners Ochsner Health, Vanderbilt, and Duke University hospitals are launching Apple Health Records, a feature aggregating existing patient-generated data in a user’s Health app with data from their electronic health record (EHR), if the user is a patient at a participating hospital.



Higher Education

Similarly, large academic institutions are finding campus and online expansion plans necessitate learning from what has and hasn’t worked when it comes to meeting the needs of more students where they are. The University System of Georgia, for example, completed a dizzying number of mergers between its institutions, Inside Higher Ed wrote last summer. In 2010 it had 35 institutions, including roughly 10 in parts of the state where the population of 15- to 24-year-olds was projected to decline. It expected to have just 26 last January, Chancellor Steve Wrigley told the publication. At each location, however, students can still expect to find all of the services they want and need, from healthcare clinics to banking.




Retailers have seemly faced the most dramatic changes over the years. The loss of sales at large department stores in the late 1980s signaled a change that people wanted more specialized shopping experiences. Boutiques flourished before the online revolution. Now, the resurgence of the department store concept as both an online mega-retailer and as big box stores provides evidence that people do want everything in one place, for the right price.



Modernizing the Core

Across industries, companies embracing digital transformation are successfully evolving their IT infrastructures from the data center to the cloud to the edge to support greater IT agility. With the right digital foundation, care and learning, personalized services and immersive experiences can take place everywhere. Consumers can buy and get the services they want and need, when they want and need them.

Modern IT infrastructure allows enterprises of all sizes to deliver better services with less overhead and lower TCO. Services get to market faster, driving competitive advantage and powering mega-customer experiences. Modernizing the data center and extending to public clouds is exactly what’s happening to drive innovation at organizations such as Ford and Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia.


Protecting What’s Valuable

To be everywhere, organizations need both networking and security solutions that operate seamlessly within a hyper-distributed environment, providing consistent, pervasive connectivity as well as security for all apps and data, wherever they reside. Again, the right approach and digital foundation deliver every time, everywhere. The University of New Mexico, for example, is improving data security and compliance across departments while supporting a self-service environment.


Blending Personal and Private Experiences

Across retail and learning, healthcare and banking, it’s clear that individuals want personalized access on the devices they carry. Yet, they expect it without compromise, meaning through technology that keeps company information, corporate, and personal information, private. That’s all possible with the Digital Workspace.

Empowered employees can do business and be consumers simultaneously, anytime, anywhere, experiencing deeper engagement, too. It’s already happening at ScotiaBank where Digital Ambassadors provide personalized in-branch customer service; at Mercy where caregivers are treating chronic illnesses wherever patients are through the Mercy vEngagement program, bridging gaps in care programs and cutting readmits in half; and at Rent-A-Center where customers are assured a simplified rental experience.

These companies and so many more showcase just how far we’ve come in ensuring always on is also always there.


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