According to the IMF, over $11 trillion of fiscal support has been injected into the economy by governments around the world to minimise the impact of the global pandemic.
Financial institutions and technological infrastructure have been pushed to breaking point to facilitate the distribution of these funds in record time and scale.
Here in the UK, the Government has announced in its latest Spending Review that it will be injecting a further £55 billion into its COVID relief package for public services - taking the total spent to over £280 billion.
And now the roadmap out of lockdown has been laid out ahead of us, there’s a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
While some industries remain deeply in trouble, the DueDil SME Barometer indicates there was a record number of new businesses setup last year, an increase on 2019 by an astonishing 40%.
Entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, and the outlook for hiring is also showing signs of recovery.
So what does this all mean? Well, it means that if you are a commercial bank, financial services firm or insurance company, the opportunities for rapid and sustainable growth that lie ahead are tremendous.
The challenge is in choosing the right SMEs to work with, and providing them with a best in class digital experience that means they won’t be tempted to defect to a competitor.
Here are some things industry leaders understand about what it takes to accelerate growth during this time of change.
You have to think digital first
According to McKinsey, digitisation and transformation efforts have been accelerated and brought forward by several years thanks to the pandemic.
The seismic shift to digital, which has touched every segment of society, is further exaggerated by a simultaneous generational shift.
The majority of the consumer population is now millennial or younger. And they are all digital natives. It should come as no surprise then that today’s entrepreneurs are starting their businesses from home and their first thoughts will undoubtedly be digital.
While there are still advantages to traditional channels of reaching customers and the physical infrastructure required to support them, the starting point for many is increasingly online.
Incumbents that complement their existing business with best-in-class digital offerings will be able to reap the rewards of technological efficiency, greater customer intimacy and scale.
Those that don’t will likely find themselves subjected to death by a thousand cuts, as digitally enabled competitors steal their best customers away.
Mine for insight and build on it
In an increasingly digital world, there is an unbelievable volume of data created every day.
The businesses that will thrive after this pandemic will be the ones with the tools to quickly generate insights about their customers and industry and react accordingly.
Ask yourself: what do you think your industry will look like in five years’ time? Now half it.
With the pace of change and industry consolidation accelerating, if your business isn’t taking steps today to be ready for that future then you’re already too late.
And, if you’re working within and supporting the SME sector, in order to make the right decision on who to support, where to invest, or who to underwrite, you need all the information you can get your hands on in a readily digestible format.
With an accurate and validated single source of information acting as the foundation, you can create powerful ecosystems that leverage that data via APIs to create incredibly slick user and employee experiences.
Our recently published ebook explores how Santander, Newable Finance, Innovate UK, Smart Pension and Paymentsense are leveraging data to accelerate new customer onboarding, enhance risk management and highlights the benefits they are seeing.
Smart Pension, for example, has shortened its customer onboarding process from two weeks to just a few hours - an incredible saving in both time and resource.
Create integrated ecosystems
The task ahead is huge, and amounts to nothing less than a replatforming of the way consumers and small businesses access financial services.
No one organisation has the resources to do it alone, regardless of how big their budget.
Collaboration and partnerships are key. Ecosystems offer even the largest of enterprises the capacity to create compelling experiences for customers and employees alike, while continuing to focus on what they do best.
Systems are now designed to be interoperable and the future will be built on tapestries of interwoven technologies working together.
Cloud technology and open APIs have already progressed to the point organisations of all sizes can now leverage the best tools available in an affordable way.
It’s also where investment is going. Gartner recently forecast worldwide public cloud end-user spending to grow 18% in 2021.
And, when it comes to supporting the SME sector and creating the digital products or services they need, there are a broad range of processes that can and should be improved.
Be open minded as to where your struggles are in onboarding customers quickly. Understand where you’re having problems assessing risk.
Break your processes down into segments and find ways to add value and streamline processes at each point.
Invest with confidence
With the vaccine rollout progressing well, The Bank of England has upgraded its forecast for a brisk recovery for the UK economy.
The green shoots are already sprouting. Now is the time to invest in your customers of tomorrow.
Implementing the right technology and infrastructure now will provide you with a clear picture and efficient processes to move at pace and seize the moment.