Thanks to companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Waze, people have come to expect their favorite products and services to adapt intelligently to their unique behaviors and preferences. But what happens when these people get to work, sit down at their computer, and expect the same types of interactions?

Consumer technology innovation has forever changed the expectations of business users—especially when it comes to their banks. Corporate customers want the same level of personalization, simplification, intuitiveness, and usefulness they’re used to in the rest of their lives.

Most business banking applications are “static” simple resources that people extract information from. But what today’s users really need are “smart” applications that act as valuable assistants. Because most past innovation in the space has focused on driving transactional efficiency instead of improving the customer experience, the way the application works for each business is exactly the same—even if customers’ expectations, behaviors, and needs are very different. The experience is not unique or particularly insightful for the individual user.

More and more, businesses will come to expect their applications to act as a digital assistant. This means not just providing insights, but suggestions about what to do with those insights. To do so, the application must be able to understand the personal behaviors and preferences of the user, the business context of the company’s transactions, and then have the intelligence to make the right recommendations that can be turned into action. Banks will need to pivot from both legacy technology and a transaction-focused culture to provide the transformational, personalized experiences that business customers expect.

That means going beyond the custom views that some applications currently support and focusing on how the user interacts with the solution. By making the shift from transaction-oriented tools to more of a business management advisor, business applications will soon be able to automate actions and provide insights based on the individual situations faced by the business, and the way the individual user works, providing a much deeper level of engagement than what is possible today.

Another area where personal experience will drive business expectations is real-time payments. While true real-time payments aren’t supported by Venmo or Zelle today, for consumers it feels real-time enough. Business users are starting to ask, ‘If I can pay you money for lunch right now, why can’t I pay my business invoices the same way? These users expect the same level of instant gratification in all aspects of their lives.

In addition, commercial banks will soon need to replicate the contextual and conversational components of social payments in their business payment solutions. Being able to send additional detail around why payments are being made in the same application as the funds are traveling will be an important benefit.

As consumer behavior drives the expectations in business, banks that have focused on the customer experience of their consumer applications need to make sure their business applications aren’t too far behind. Banks need to start rolling out business-based, real-time payment solutions quickly. If they wait another 18 months to start thinking about it, they will have a big problem and will surely be left behind.

What Are the Experts Saying?

To find out what other industry experts think the future holds for the global payments and banking industries, download the full ebook, “Global Payments and Banking 2020: Experts Weigh-in on What’s Next”.

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Posted by Jessica Cheney

As the VP of Product Management and Strategic Solutions for Bottomline’s Banking Solutions, Jessica drives the creation of strategic solutions that facilitate financial institutions’ growth in commercial banking. Jessica has more than 25 years of cash management experience with banks and software providers, including leadership roles at S1, Clear2Pay and US Bank.