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Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services is now generally available

Singapore city skyline at dusk.

Expectations around digital experiences in the financial services industry are increasing at an accelerated pace—bolstered by the pandemic and an onslaught of disruptive innovation. Industry leaders view modern digital experiences as the “next frontier” to gain insights, collaborate, and sustainably differentiate across customer and employee experiences. As part of our commitment to enabling this industry transformation, I am delighted to discuss the availability of the Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services at Microsoft Ignite on November 3, 2021, and as part of this blog post!

Financial institutions are often focusing on three key digital experience areas:

  • Gaining deep customer insights to ensure interactions and experiences have high relevance.
  • Determining the best ways to engage clients, meeting them where they are across channels.
  • Empowering employees with modern tools to collaborate with peers and across customers.

Our industry cloud brings together the breadth of offerings across the Microsoft Cloud to unlock capabilities in these areas—harnessing the power of Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Power Platform, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365. It is designed for industry regulatory requirements and control frameworks, including multi-layered security, compliance, and trust commitments built-in. It is upon this foundation that we have built new capabilities, data connectors, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) tailored to the financial services industry.

Virgin Money UK is a top digital bank anchored in customer experience—and understands the importance of using technology such as Microsoft’s Cloud to wow and delight their customers:

“At Virgin Money UK we are always looking at ways to innovate and deliver a world-class, digital customer experience. We see Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services accelerating that journey of digitizing our customer experience while enabling us to scale and grow. Microsoft’s technologies have a broad range of applications and meaningful insights; whether it is to help advise customers on their financial plans or service their needs under their existing portfolio of products. This transformation will also support our efforts to enhance our employee experience, empowering our frontline colleagues to deliver the best heartfelt service for our customers, working together to make money simpler and easier.”—Fraser Ingram, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Virgin Money UK.

The offering can also be augmented by an unmatched global ecosystem of trusted partners. We work with leading ISVs and System Integrators, so that organizations in every region have the comprehensive solutions and interoperability with their existing systems they need to address their unique business challenges. Let’s take a closer look at the Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services.

Unifying data for 360-degree customer insights

One of the foundational scenarios is Unified Customer Profile. This scenario helps banks unify data by breaking down silos between legacy systems and contribute to achieving a better customer understanding, gain client insights, and see a 360-view of their customers. It brings together financial, behavioral, and demographic data to tailor customer experiences with a 360-degree view of the banking customer and suggested next actions.

With the 360-degree view of customers, relationship managers can tailor customer journeys and make experiences relevant. Household data, key life moments, and upcoming events are available at their fingertips. In addition, segmentation helps banks to focus on the right customers and opportunities to increase success.

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Unlocking the power of data with Customer Churn Modelling

One of innovations within the Unified Customer Profile being implemented is around Customer Churn Modeling. This capability provides insights to client advisors about their clients’ likelihood of becoming a dormant account or worse leaving their institution. 

This churn model powered by AI is specifically tailored for retail banking and utilizes rich data sets across Financial Holdings (Accounts, Credit Lines, Loans, Long-term Savings), Financial Instruments (Cards, debits, standing orders, overdrafts), and even “life moments” such as planned graduations, home purchases, and relocation. Using a simple step-by-step wizard, customers can harness their client data to build these predictive models complete with a model performance grade (A, B, or C) to provide a sense of accuracy of the prediction.

By providing this type of churn modeling, we not only unlock insights to where a customer currently is, but also where they potentially are heading—allowing banks to proactively engage in retention activities for their highest churn risk accounts while better forecasting the future. This is just one early example of the innovation being realized with industry solutions to modernize and help digitally transform our clients through richer insights. 

Collaboration Manager

Since lending origination processes are highly collaborative in nature, we have developed Collaboration Manager for loans utilizing Microsoft Teams to enable automation and collaboration across front and back office. It helps improve business-to-consumer communications to accelerate lending processes, minimize errors, and enhance customer experience.  

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Key capabilities of Collaboration Manager include lending automation, cross-team collaboration, and communications. Lending automation helps orchestrate lending processes and streamlines automation. These capabilities aggregate data from existing systems using pre-built connectors and help partners and customers customize processes using low-code tools. Cross team collaboration are dashboards that help empower teams to collaboratively manage lending volume and centralize task and file management to enhance productivity. Lastly, communications features help support customers virtually while meeting security and compliance needs. 

Customer onboarding

Customer onboarding is one of these processes critical to customer experience. These capabilities provide customers with easy access loan apps and self-service tools, helping streamline the loan process to enhance customer experience and loyalty while increasing organizational and employee productivity. 

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Automating loan tracking via a single consistent experience helps streamline loan application monitoring and validation, which includes many documents and detailed information gathered across applicants. Furthermore, being built on top of the Power Platform, loan application tracking can be extended with data from existing tools, using pre-built connectors, and/or customized using low-code development tools to meet specific lending needs.

Banking customer engagement (preview)

This capability is designed to help personalize customer interaction with financial understanding to engage customers on their preferred channel in a meaningful way, while intelligently managing their journeys across channels, to reduce churn and time to resolution.

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Banking customer engagement utilizes Dynamics 365 Customer Service with Omnichannel to offer consistent, connected customer experiences across channels, including voice and messaging. Agents benefit from financial information that helps to personalize conversations, as well easy access to subject matter experts via integration with Microsoft Teams. This ensures customer service representatives have relevant resources at their fingertips.

Data Fabric

As financial institutions have grown over time, customer data is stored in a variety of data sources. We are investing both in industry data models and data connectors to make high-value data easily accessible to power business processes tailored for financial services as you have read earlier in my blog post. The industry data model with financial services-specific semantics and industry-specific pre-built connectors help accelerate interoperability with existing systems and ingest, unify, and enrich data to develop insights and business workflows. The industry data models are discoverable from within the Microsoft Cloud Solution Center.

Deployment Orchestration with the Microsoft Cloud Solution Center

The beauty of the Industry Cloud is that it contains a composable set of use case scenarios to meet you where you’re at. We can first start with your greatest pain points and identify how best to overcome these. Then, you can continue the journey with us to identify other areas. Our deployment orchestrator, specifically developed for the Microsoft Cloud, allows for easy consumption and updates of these use case scenarios across customer environments in regions around the world (see screenshot below).

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Find your solution easily on the Microsoft AppSource Industry Gallery

Our aim is to deliver solutions tailored to their specific needs and recognize every industry is unique. We work with leading ISVs and system integrators, so our customers in every region have comprehensive solutions they need to address their unique business challenges. For example, Mortgage365 is an end-to-end digital lending platform that helps banks meet their financial goals by leveraging Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, connecting disparate mortgage data systems, automating core processes, and providing banks with visibility into the full customer picture. Accenture and Avanade have developed specific services and solutions to address the requirements from financial institutes utilizing Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services.

“By leveraging the power of Microsoft Financial Services Cloud, Avanade and Accenture will enable banks to accelerate innovation and create a highly differentiated set of experiences to empower their employees and realize value for their customers.”—Michelle Baxter, Global Leader, Avanade Financial Services.

To improve the discovery of these industry-specific partner solutions on Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services and other industry clouds, we have now released a new AppSource Industry Gallery that features partner solutions available on the Microsoft industry cloud.

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For detailed guidance on how to deploy and use Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services in your organization, review the documentation.

I am looking forward to our collaboration on the Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services—please join us at Microsoft Ignite and get the latest on this new release. In addition, you can get more information in Bill Borden’s blog post and on our website.