Yellowtail expands services offering with Design practice

13 November 2015

Yellowtail, a Netherlands-based financial consulting firm, has expanded its offerings with the launch of its User Experience & Design (UX) practice. The expansion allows the professional services firm to meet increases in financial services client demand for design services. Birashanth Thanabalasingam, employed since 2010 by the firm, has been named Head of the UX practice.

As digitalisation washes over the financial world, the importance of design is rising. Banks and insurance companies are under pressure to streamline their client services in a bid to stay on top of the increased expectations from customers around the quality of online engagements. Particularly, the millennial generation has high expectations about the online availability and user-friendliness of financial services. Under the design domain the need to have a well presented front-end is only a minor element, design today has become more and more about how services and products work – particularly in relation to customer service and channel-independence. To put it bluntly, good design means that financial services are made more relevant, functional and palatable to customers.

Yellowtail proven results

For Yellowtail, an agency specialised in designing and implementing new concepts in the financial sector, the launch of a dedicated User Experience & Design practice stems from two important developments. First, the organisation has in recent years carried out several UX projects, not only in the Netherlands but throughout the world. According to the consulting firm, the pooling of knowledge and experience developed in the assignments within a dedicated practice is a natural step in the further professionalisation of the firm’s proposition. One example of such work was the development of a ‘wealth management dashboard’ designed for Advicent Solutions in the US - which allows consumers to specify goals, aggregate existing accounts and actively monitor and intervene where appropriate. As part of the service, the customer is always assisted and advised by a robotic advisor.

“The design we have created simplifies the processing of information and makes making important decisions easier. We want to engage customers and generate positive emotions with them. For that, we have combined creative design and our industrial-expertise within the application of the ‘Dual-Process’ theory; the most important piece of knowledge about how people think and act,” says Birashanth Thanabalasingam, who heads the new UX practice.

Yellowtail proven results - FinFit

Standard Bank, one of the largest banks in South Africa, was recently also supported by a UX process. To better train its bank advisors for the conduct of customer services calls, the bank launched the ‘Goal Saver’ - a handy tool with which they can work with customers on site in the development of financial goals as well as in financial decision making. It took Yellowtail less than eight weeks to develop the efficient ‘funnel’, and tool is now used by the bank.

Second, Yellowtail is, with the launch of its Design Practice, responding to the rapidly growing market for design. The Financial Services segment – which accounts for about a quarter of the global advisory market – is the fastest growing sector in the consultancy market. Moreover, it is within Digital (together with Risk & Compliance), the fastest growing segment. To be successful in the field of design, a field that goes beyond the traditional spectrum management consultancy, consultancy firms see themselves forced to expand their UX expertise by starting new practices or through takeovers. Thus, to name a few examples, McKinsey & Company acquired Lunar in May of this year; Synechron took over UX specialist Usable; Accenture recently bought both Chaotic Moon and Fjord; while BCG last year bought the Australian Strategic & Creative. The Big Four are also busy expanding their design skills – PwC, as reported earlier this month on, has been quick to move toward combining digital design and consulting.

In the case of Yellowtail, Thanabalasingam indicates, the firm distinguishes itself in the market by its focus on the financial sector and the end-to-end services that it can offer its customers. “We can now develop components from A to Z that provide impetus and boost the quality of digitisation efforts within the financial services sector. Moreover, we can support clients with our expertise in the areas of strategy, experience design, implementation and optimisation. The combined package under one roof is demanded by clients, seeking to respond quickly and effectively to developments in the market,” says Thanabalasingam.

Bira Thanabalasingam Yellowtail

Thanabalasingam is based in Hilversum, and will work closely with Yellowtail's thirty-five consultants in the city and over forty developers in Cape Town.



Four ways digitalisation is transforming car brands and dealers

16 April 2019

From changing expectations from the customer to new stakeholders entering the industry, the digital transformation of global automotive industry means it is facing the wholesale transformation of its business model. In a new white paper, global consulting partnership Cordence Worldwide has highlighted four major digital trends that are transforming the relationships between car brands and dealers with consumers.

With digital transformation drives booming across the industrial spectrum, automotive groups are no different in having commenced large digital transformation programmes to improve productivity, efficiency, and ultimately profitability. Falling sales figures mean the automotive sector is facing an increasingly difficult road ahead, something which means companies in the market are even more hard pressed to find new ways to improve their bottom lines.

While it offers major opportunities, the industry’s move to digitalise is not without complications. It has triggered a series of major internal changes, which have presented automotive entities with the challenge of becoming a “customer-oriented” industry. A new report from Cordence Worldwide – a global management consulting partnership present in more than 20 countries – has explored how automotive companies are navigating the rapidly changing nature of digital business.

New business models

The level of change likely to be wrought on the automotive industry by digitalisation is hard to overstate. Automation could well lead to significant reductions in the number of accidents, higher vehicle utilisation and lower pollution levels, while leading to a $2.1 trillion change in traditional revenues, with up to $4.3 trillion in new revenue openings arising by 2030.

As a result of this colossal opportunity, it is easy to see why almost all automotive groups now have digital departments, with generally strong communication within the digital transformation and the customer approach. The changes to society which this may have are potentially distracting automotive firms from the change it is leading to in its own companies though, according to Cordence’s paper.

The automotive market is dead, long live the mobility market

Because of this, the sector’s business model is set to transform over the coming decades. With digitalisation speeding up the appearance of concepts such as car-sharing, a subscription package model will likely become more palatable. At the same time, car and ride-sharing models will cater to the sustainability criteria of millennials, who will rapidly become one of the automotive market’s leading consumer demographics in the coming years.

Antoine Glutron – a Managing Consultant with Cordence member Oresys, and the report’s author – said of the situation, “These ‘old school industries’ are now working on creating new opportunities, but in so-doing are facing challenges and threats: new jobs, new technologies, new ecosystem of partners, necessary reorganisation, different relationship with customers, and even new businesses. The customer approach topic is in fact a real challenge for car companies as it implies changing their business model and adjusting their mind-set to address the customer 4.0: from product-centric to customer-centric, from car manufacturer to service provider.”

Digital customer experience

In the hyper-competitive age of the internet, even top companies face an uphill challenge when it comes to holding onto customers through brand loyalty. Digital disruption has resulted in changes to consumer behaviour, which is forcing a range of marketing strategists to reconsider their old, possibly out-dated strategies. As modern customers wield an increasingly impressive array of digital tools and online databases, they and are now able to quickly and conveniently compare prices, check availability and read product reviews.

The automotive sector is no exception to this trend, according to the study. In order to adapt to the needs of the so-called ‘customer 4.0’, car companies will increasingly need to change their business model and move away from product-centric companies to customer-centric ones, from car manufacturers to service providers.

Glutron explained, “As an automotive company, you can no longer expect customer loyalty simply with good products; you must conquer and re-conquer a customer that “consumes” your service. The offer now has to be global, digital and personalised. Your offer has to be adapted to this customer’s needs at any given moment. A key issue related to data control is to build customer loyalty by creating a customer experience 'tailored' throughout the cycle of use of the 'car product': purchase, driving, maintenance and trade-in of the vehicle.”

One way in which the sector may be able to benefit from this desire for a tailored experience is via connectivity. Consumers are generally positive about new connective features for automobiles, and many are even willing to pay upfront for infotainment, emergency and maintenance services. Chinese consumers, where the connected car market is set to hit $216 billion, are already particularly interested in paying a little more for navigation and diagnostic features in their future new car. This can also enable automotive companies to exploit a rich vein of customer data, enabling them to rapidly tailor their offerings to consumer behaviour.

New automotive segments

Digital transformation has also brought with it the rise of completely new application areas. As mentioned earlier, the most well-known example is the autonomous or self-driving car, where the last steps forward were not taken by major automotive groups but by technology companies such as Tesla. While this may have given such firms the edge in the market briefly, a number of keystone automotive names will soon be set to take the plunge into the market themselves, leveraging their car manufacturing prowess and huge production capacities to their advantage.

Before companies rush to invest in this market, however, it is worth their while to remember that the readiness and uptake for such vehicles differs greatly geographically. For example, following a study published in 2018, 92% of Chinese would be ready to buy an autonomous car, compared with only around 35% of drivers in France, Germany and US. Meanwhile, the infrastructure of different nations will also be significantly less accommodating of the new technology.

Use digital for steering thr activity

Elsewhere, Cordence’s analysis has suggested that hooking the cars of tomorrow into the Internet of Things is also likely to see a rapid change in the business model for car maintenance, providing real-time diagnostics for problems. This presents chances for partnerships to improve the connectivity of cars, especially with tech companies; for example, PSA partnered with IBM for a global agreement on services in their vehicle. Meanwhile, data could also be sold to other parties with an interest in this data, such as the government, which could use it to manage traffic levels, or ensure that only adequately maintained vehicles take to the road.

Glutron added, “With the increase in the amount of client data and connected opportunities, the recommendation is to set up data-centric approaches. The value is now in the customer data. The general prerequisites are to rework the data model and the Enterprise Architecture and generally build up a data lake including data from all sources (internal and external, structured and unstructured).”

From automotive to mobility

Relating further to the idea of connectivity, the report claimed that automotive firms must now adjust their models in line with the provision of end-to-end mobility, rather than treating the sale of a car as an end point in their relationship with the customer. In order to realise this transformation, transformations are likely to become more and more important.

A network of partner companies means automotive firms can provide a global mobility experience. As the vehicle is increasingly connected to its environment, new partners can also be cities, governments, and other service providers within the global mobility services industry in which the car brands want to take part.

According to the study, the target is clear. Companies must look to a holistic transport service, offering to move customers from A to B in a unique and pleasant way – otherwise they might as well take public transport. At the same time, they should extend the services reachable “on-board” (especially the enhancement of the connectivity between the car and smartphones or other connected devices), and reach high standards in terms of user experience (online sales, online payment, customised experience during and after the use of the car).

Concluding the report, Glutron stated, “These mobility market transformations could be considered a threat for the car manufacturers. Quite the opposite: if they take up the challenge and review their business model so that they become the service provider – communicating no longer to a driver but to a ‘mobility customer’ – they can then take advantage of their expertise and their position as a historical player. The most convenient means of transport are cars, and building a car is highly-skilled work.”