Karl has been with financial services firm Aviva for 11 years. Karl oversees the ecommerce function at Aviva across all their products and services in pensions, investments and savings. This includes B2B services to financial advisors and B2C services provided direct to consumers. Karl has a team of 10 that assist in delivering the ecommerce strategy. We asked Karl four questions about the impact of technology developments in his role at Aviva.
What has been the biggest change in technology in the last 5 years?
Without sounding clichéd I would have to say it’s the prevalence of mobile technology. If I think back 7 years ago, when I wanted to do anything online I’d get the laptop out from under the sofa and wait 10 minutes while it powered up. The advent of mobile technology means that this is no longer the case, I can access the internet immediately from my phone the vast majority of the time. This immediacy has had a real impact on our direct to consumer products.
A potential customer may see one of our ads on the TV and start browsing and researching on their phones before the ads even finished. It was much harder to engage with the consumer in this way 5 years ago, when consumers would have needed to make an appointment or a phone call to talk about their investment choices. Now consumers can research online with no commitment and no fear of looking foolish or wasting someone’s time with the wrong questions.
When I was asked to take part in this interview and I knew you’d be asking about the changes over the last 5 years I looked up which iphone was available then, because the iphone is what we typically look to when analysing consumer mobile habits. It was the iphone 5, which coincided with a real shift in the way consumers use their mobiles to browse the internet.
What issue can tech now solve that it couldn’t when you started out?
There are two areas really, that are linked. Firstly the interoperability of different systems, platforms and data sources. The ease at which disparate systems can now integrate to provide a much more complete picture of the consumer has given us access to consumer data insights that we didn’t have when I started out.
The other area which links to this, is the availability of data. Upcoming legislation around “open banking” will take this even further as banks will be encouraged to open-up access to the data they hold on customers, to other businesses, to encourage innovation and boost competition in the sector.
This will also pave the way for consumers to make more informed choices around their finances, as they will have access to tools to analyse their own financial situation and habits.
What do you wish you could solve with new technology?
Technology still can’t provide the reassurance consumers need to “push the red button”. I don’t necessarily mean make a purchase, sometimes it might not be the right decision for them to invest in a financial service but presently there is no way of helping them make that decision if they don’t push the button.
Brands like amazon do use email marketing and other conversion techniques to help solve this, but a financial investment decision is usually more complex, so it would be great if there was an algorithm that could look at the customer and work out the right way to reassure the customer while letting us know when to interact with the customer to provide help and assistance.
What is the most useful bit of tech that you regularly use in your business?
Well, it’s not the most exciting bit of technology so this answer might be a bit boring, but I have to say Skype is probably the most useful on a day to day basis. It’s brilliant for bringing together groups across different locations, holding virtual meetings and sharing information instantly.
We’ll be catching up with Karl at our event later in the year where we’ll bring together leaders in technology and marketing from some of the most well-known names in retail and finance to share ideas and experience. Attendees will learn from one another on topics around using technology to drive business performance, over lunch in a beautiful setting. This is an invite only event for industry experts, and we'll soon be including more details about how to register.