The banking industry hasn’t always been a pioneer of tech innovation. Restricted by regulations and siloed organizational structures, banks have often seen innovation in traditional service offerings as too complex or risky. But the world’s most tech-savvy generation is all grown up, and they demand smarter, faster, and easier experiences — especially when it comes to their money. This, combined with a slew of fintech competitors, has driven banks to revamp their business strategies for a digital era. No one department plays a greater role in this banking revolution than IT.

In recent years, we’ve seen new advancements in banking tech, ranging from mobile banking apps and customer service chatbots to digital banking providers without physical locations. But it’s still not enough. As mobile, artificial intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT) consolidate consumers in a digital space, IT is increasingly central to banking’s business performance.

In Salesforce’s new research report, “The Role of IT in Banking’s Digital Transformation,” more than 130 IT banking leaders worldwide share insights on how emerging tech is transforming the banking industry — and what IT leaders should do to adapt.

Here are three things CIOs need to know about the future of IT in banking.


1. Banks Must Live Up to High Digital Expectations


Banks have traditionally centered their focus around the branch and in-person customer experiences. But today’s customers want faster, more accessible banking experiences that are just as personalized in the digital realm as they are in the physical world. The industry has a lot to gain if they adapt — and a lot to lose if they don’t. While technology makes it easier than ever for customers to take their business elsewhere, 72% of Millennial consumers are optimistic about tech advancements in banking, saying they will positively impact their relationships with banks by 2020.

Banking IT leaders’ central function has become enabling these 1-to-1 experiences by supporting their partners across sales, service, and marketing. But despite the fact that IT banking leaders have prioritized the creation of a single customer view (perhaps due to demand from their business unit partners), only 32% of IT banking leaders say they’ve integrated 75% or more of their data sources. Unless banks can invest in new data solutions, lack of visibility into customers and their needs will prohibit them from meeting customers’ increased expectations for connected experiences.


2. Banking IT Leaders Focus on Speed and Innovation

While the pace of change within banking as a whole traditionally has been slow, banking IT teams are taking a more ambitious approach to transforming the customer experience. Over the next 12–18 months, 72% of banking IT leaders say transforming customer-facing tech is a critical or high priority.

To meet demand for these projects, speed is crucial as a key performance indicator among the majority of banking IT leaders. To speed up their development cycles, teams are turning to low-code development (point-and-click or visual tools suitable for non-technical users) to help them share the app development workload with partner business units. It’s clear the low-code revolution is in full swing, as 91% of banking IT leaders use or plan to use low-code development in the next 12–18 months.


3. Emerging Tech Will Transform Banking


Banking IT leaders have their sights set on three up-and-coming technologies to have a transformational impact on their business by 2020:

  • Cloud computing
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Mobile technologies for customers

While banking IT leaders admit they’re still in the early stages of AI planning, their current use of AI exceeds other industries. Seventy-two percent of banking IT leaders have already adopted AI in some capacity, whereas only 60% of IT leaders in other industries have.

But these aren’t the only technologies that banking IT leaders have come to value. From business intelligence/analytics to chatbots, banking IT leaders are more likely than any other IT leaders to classify six different big-bet technologies as critical or high priorities.


The report also explores other IT trends in the banking industry, including:

  • The changing role of IT in a customer-driven era
  • Which big-bet technologies (beyond AI) will have near-universal adoption
  • Which strategies and applications banking IT leaders are using to quickly transform the industry to meet the needs of digitally-savvy customers

Download the full report for a deeper look at trends impacting the banking industry and how CIOs and other IT leaders are adapting.