The pace of change around the world is accelerating and technology has been a prime driver behind this trend. The speed of new innovations has only grown faster with each passing day. The time it took from the introduction of the first computer built by IBM and the development of the personal computer was 21 years. It took another 17 years before the first laptops hit the marketplace. Today, the development cycle of a modern digital app can take as little as one to four weeks.
As rapidly evolving technologies fuel an ongoing digital transformation, new business models, changing customer expectations, and new payment rails and digital wallets are changing the way business is done. To keep up with these new business realities, corporate treasury is faced with the need to embrace innovation in order to best support the business.
Most corporate treasurers agree that while much hasn’t changed when it comes to treasury in the last 5-10 years, as we look ahead, most treasury teams are embarking upon multi-year transformation initiatives. Events like the recent global health crisis will serve to further accelerate these transformations.
A key challenge is knowing where to start. Successfully embracing innovation as a corporate treasurer is aided by the following five attributes.
First, there is a need to become educated on the state-of-affairs in the marketplace. Corporate treasury teams should attempt to get up to speed on the latest industry developments, so they can quickly gain a working understanding of what is fact and what is myth when it comes to emerging technologies and FinTech. Engaging with professional peers and banking colleagues is a great, often overlooked, source of valuable information.
Second, corporate treasury teams should engage with external innovators and become involved in the innovation process. Co-creating, co-designing, prototyping, becoming early adopters and providing invaluable feedback around pain-points and gaps in existing solutions will help put treasury in the front-seat of the development process. We are at a unique tipping point where forward-looking treasurers have an opportunity to influence the treasury solutions of tomorrow.
Third, one need only to look at the experience of the consumer app marketplace to see that experimentation is at the heart of successful innovation. Corporate treasury should embrace the development strategy of using Minimal Viable Products (MVP) as a means of bringing innovations to market quickly, with the understanding that some solutions will succeed and others will miss the mark, requiring a fast pivot. Taking an MVP approach makes sense because it is a low cost, low risk, minimal effort way to safely and securely test out next-generation technology solutions.
Fourth, to ensure success, treasury should leverage internal stakeholders to learn and secure buy-in from other parts of the organization. While traditional partners for treasury have been within the finance function, looking ahead, new internal partnerships might include the Chief Data Officer, Innovation and Venture teams and Centers of Excellence. Working closely with external partners will also be crucial, as treasury looks to harness expertise and proven technology platforms of banks, FinTechs and other third-party providers.
Finally, one of the keys to bringing greater innovation to corporate treasury is adopting a self-disruption mindset. Those organizations that challenge themselves, thinking outside the box, will be more likely to embrace emerging technologies than those that cling to outdated and inefficient treasury models. To that end, best-in-class organizations often appoint a Head of Treasury Innovation or Head of Treasury Transformation to drive innovative thinking and evangelize the benefits of change within the business to promote buy-in enterprise-wide.
Essential to success for treasury teams is finding a trusted partner that has a strong commitment to innovation, and has an operating model in place that is built to be nimble, flexible and can move quickly. When it comes to finding a treasury innovation collaborator, banks are uniquely qualified.
Many of the exciting emerging technologies and tools required to protect against cyber threats in a digital world require substantial budgets and leading banks have dedicated significant resources toward improving their technology offerings. Furthermore, the most innovative banks have created dedicated teams tasked with exploiting opportunities around Application Programming Interface (API) infrastructure, Open Banking regulations, blockchain, advanced data analytics, real-time payments and FinTech partnerships. These teams often include a wide range of professionals from non-banking backgrounds, such as data scientists and entrepreneurs, who bring the deep technology expertise needed to break new ground.
Forward-looking banks are collaborating with and/or investing in some of the leading FinTechs in order to leverage exciting next-generation treasury technologies. Many of these banks have also put in place their own proprietary innovation engines for rapid experimentation and new product development. These processes typically rely on critical client input from the creation phase on through prototyping and piloting, hence innovative banks are proactively engaging clients along the innovation journey. The move towards new technologies, such as APIs, is further enabling tech-savvy banks to speed up the innovation process.
As corporate treasury departments look to embrace innovation and emerging technologies, they should consider turning to a trusted bank as an invaluable resource to help maximize success. Banks can offer solutions that are both scalable, meeting client transaction volumes, and help provide data protection and cybersecurity. Savvy treasury organizations are looking to implement new technology innovations as an important means of transforming operations and better supporting vital business objectives, creating the treasury of tomorrow - today.
At J.P. Morgan, we continue to focus resources on helping to solve corporate treasury challenges. We have an annual technology budget of $12 billion and in the last 18 months have added over a hundred new team members focused on treasury innovation, exposed dozens of treasury services APIs, engaged several hundred clients on corporate treasury innovation & co-creation, and engaged over a hundred FinTechs in this space.
Examples of how we are collaborating with clients on the treasury innovation agenda:
Reach out to your J.P. Morgan banker to learn more about our innovation agenda and be part of the journey as we help our clients create the corporate treasury of tomorrow, today
Read on to learn how APIs are delivering real-time data for corporate treasurers.
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