It's now clear the pandemic will have a long-term effect on the British high street. Back in April high street retailers, shop owners, and bank branch employees were wondering: 'How many weeks will this last?' By July, 'weeks' were swapped for 'months'. Now it's clear that life on the high street will be affected for longer than initially expected. Many brands have previously shut numerous stores or are looking at the prospect of administration. Bank branches, too, are experiencing the brute force of the pandemic's impact.
For a while, temporary measures in response to lockdown restrictions appeared to suffice. Flimsy plastic barriers and paper signs were printed and tacked up on the walls. But with the long-term impact now clear and also the prospect of another year of social distancing, bank branches must transition to more permanent solutions. This means less people and more machines – contactless services, new cash deposit systems, and digital signage.
Digitisation is not an option for banks to make sure a continuous flow of new customers. This is an imperative. In this article, we explore how wireless technologies are going to help them facilitate that change.
Relying on connectivity for optimal service
Traditional banks now face their biggest challenge in history: digital-only banking. Over two-thirds of participants in a 2021 study planned to transition to a digital-only bank in the future. It's therefore vital that traditional banks running physical branches update in-branch customer experience to contend with the new pack on the prairie. Reliability plays a big part. So does trust.
The future of in-branch experience lies in technologies such as IoT, VR/AR, and AI, which are highly data-intensive. Reliable connectivity thus remains critical, and banks ought to be shooting for zero-downtime connectivity, allowing no room for gaps operating.
To do this, banks can deploy Gigabit-class 4G LTE (LTE Advanced) or 5G adapters that bridge to a traditional ethernet connection, providing a wireless option to the wired-line router. Then, within the rare scenario where wireless connectivity is down, a minumum of one of the WAN connections is always certain to be live. The router has the autonomy to determine when failover is necessary.
Better still, the reliability of modern Gigabit 4G LTE and 5G connectivity now implies that failover is often unnecessary. A branch can, therefore, run its network separate from a wired-line connection and take advantage of the security and agility of a resilient wireless network, while still providing enterprise-grade connectivity.
Branch network reliability, in this way, will support the bank's reliability in general. In turn, this will fuel the higher standards of customer experience required to compete with more agile digital-only banks.
IoT bridging gaps in communication
The first organised reaction to stop the spread of the virus all over the world was social distancing. While transparent screens may be used to block transmission, the overarching effect of those measures has been a loss of communication capabilities. This will affect banks like it has everywhere else, if not more as a space where interaction is really important.
IoT technology will be core to overcoming these barriers. Digital signage, kiosks, and surveillance cameras will all bring about improved communication and security, along with a better customer banking experience. But to allow such extensive use of IoT devices operating on a single network, banks must ensure they can accommodate such high amounts of data transfer. Using Gigabit 4G LTE connectivity to increase its services beyond traditional network infrastructure, banks will achieve the required levels of bandwidth.
Cloud management simplifying in-branch communications
With high volumes of information being transferred across the network, security and availability ought to be at the top of the agenda when digitising bank branches. But these are not always easy to implement, especially in an environment with several complex networks of endpoints.
For example, marketing teams have to push personalised content to customers on digital signs and IT teams need to set visitors on a guest WiFi network. These operations require guarantee of security and availability, with trust and the customer experience at the core.
Wireless networks succeed in this aspect as they can employ the advantages of a cloud-based management system. Cloud-based systems make it easier for bank staff working from home, who can access the same assets and applications using their sofa as they would otherwise have in-branch. The services are the same.
Cloud management systems offer improved network visibility, passing on teams endpoint information from across the network as it happens. With security patches being updated on devices simultaneously, leaving reduced here we are at opportunistic attacks to exploit known vulnerabilities.
Equally, using a hybrid Gigabit 4G LTE network in tandem having a wired connection, businesses can achieve simplicity from an otherwise complex challenge. The primary wired network can be used to transmit any sensitive information securely, while another network using the Gigabit 4G LTE connection runs other in-branch operations.
The branch's network, in this way, is 'air-gapped'. The secure data being processed by the operations team runs on an essentially separate network to that of the marketing team's content. The network will even increase its ability to process more details, with its workload spread out.
The simplest solutions in many cases are the best. In this case, exploiting a hybrid network can address the complexities of security and availability when employing enterprise-grade connectivity.
Good things arrived at those who prepare
As the pandemic continues, banks must be flexible in their approach to branch management. But in the long run, it's clear that digital investment will be one aspect they cannot neglect. How they approach this challenge is also important. But with an inherent reliability, flexibility and security of enterprise-grade wireless edge solutions, branch services is going to be on their way to sustainable digital development.
As with most things, good things come to people who prepare, not wait. Those banks that adopt innovative technology early can come out on top.