Translated, “Customer-Centric” Means “Circle the Wagons.” Or does it?

In digital transformation, customer centricity offers both important defensive and offensive capabilities

Digital disruption can often make financial services firms feel like they are surrounded behind enemy lines.  Despite their best efforts to embrace digital transformation and customer centricity, waves of attacks just keep coming from all directions, and from bold new aggressors.

Thousands of years ago, if a Roman garrison found itself surrounded by an attacking enemy, but were required to hold their position on the field, their commander would call out the order, “orbem formate!”  

Upon hearing that order, troops immediately snapped into a concentric circle called the “Orbis Formation”: officers were in the center, surrounded by ring of archers, flanked by sword- and spear-wielding soldier legionaries who locked their shields together to repel any approaching enemy.  All chariots, battle wagons, etc. were steered into a tight defensive circle around them, called a carrus castellum or wagon-fortress.

Digital transformation via customer ceentricity

The Orbis Formation was a symbiotic, virtuous circle, as “circling the wagons” made it very difficult for hostile forces to approach. If the enemy could breach the wagons, archers disposed of them long before they could reach the officers and legionaries; if any did manage to get close, the legionaries cut them down before they could harm the officers and the archers. It was one of many battlefield maneuvers that helped the Roman Empire rule most of its known world for five centuries.

Modern Warfare: Digital Transformation
On the modern digital battlefield, companies are circling the wagons using “customer centricity” to protect their customer bases from invaders.  Leading industry analysts like Forrester, Gartner, and IDC – as well as top consulting firms like Accenture, Deloitte, E&Y, and McKinsey – are urging their clients to embrace customer centricity; militarily, the goal is not dissimilar from ancient battlefields: keep the enemy out, protect the customer base, consolidate and leverage assets as a force multiplier to symbiotically protect one another. 

Instead of swords and spears and slings and arrows, modern combatants like financial institutions are using bank accounts, mortgage portfolios, car loans, student loans – everything in their arsenal – to build a 360-degree fortress their around their customers that caters to their every need… ideally, before those needs even arise.   The goal?  Create a one-stop, all-inclusive financial safe haven that drives unprecedented customer loyal and retention… a digital Orbis Formation that not only keeps the enemy out, it gives customers an unprecedented sense of security and satisfaction. Why would a customer defect to a niche mortgage, car loan, or student loan provider when everything they could ever ask for seems to magically come to them before they thought to ask?

Of course, it isn’t magic; it just feels that way to the customer.  For the financial institution, insurance company, or other business, it’s a real-time centralized decisioning capability made possible through years of data, business strategy, and leverage of past investments … and the customers services and ROI are very real.  Just as Walt Disney “Imagineers” rely on cutting-edge technology to create the appearance of magic, solutions like FICO’s Centralized Decisioning rely on next-generation decisioning technology to make smarter, faster, and more profitable decisions, to the delight of their customer.

What are the building blocks of technology, processes, and customer information that make it possible?

  • It starts with a unified, scalable decision platform that enables high degrees of collaboration and efficiency across the enterprise.  The platform provides the technological foundation that harmoniously gives all IT and business units a single view of analytics, business strategies, audit and compliance, thus, enabling all facets of the enterprise to holistically to make more precise and profitable customer decisions.
  • The ability to create personalized customer treatments.  Customer engagements that used to be disconnected and inconsistent can become strategic, data-driven customer treatments and offers. New revenue opportunities at all lifecycle touchpoints can be revealed by continually analyzing decisions, actions, and outcomes against a consistent decisioning process.
  • Enabling strategies, rules and analytics to be managed by business users, empowering them to drive business decisions and make required changes quickly themselves. This lessens the burden on IT resources, while driving higher efficiency, collaboration and profitability across the enterprise, by allowing business users to directly meet changing business demands.
  • Improve the efficacy and ROI of decisions by reusing enterprise-wise connected decision assets across the customer lifecycle. This fosters transparent and collaborative insights into all decisioning assets company-wide, uniquely customizable for each stakeholder’s needs. This gives business leaders the ability to create decisioning strategies that are consistent, transparent, and expandable… while extracting newfound ROI from the company’s past investments in siloed, departmental applications.
  • Allowing companies to reduce the uncertainty of their decisioning options by simulating, optimizing, and validating decisions before putting them into production with dashboards displaying predicted and compared-to results.  By iteratively simulating, fine-tuning, and perfecting decisions prior to launch, firms are able to enjoy predictable, optimal results… as well as maximize the success rate and ROI of those decisions.
  • Solving the most elusive company challenges by enabling all of the necessary business, operations, and technology SMEs to work collaboratively on analytics projects on a win-win-win basis. Multi-disciplinary teams can work together under a common framework -- with  business empowered tools required to build and test advanced analytical models in consultation with their data scientists – resulting in technologically-advanced, business-proven solutions for previously insurmountable challenges.

While not an “Orbis Formation,” when traditional companies bring their years of customer data to bear – circling the wagons, if you will – they not only bring their greatest advantage to the competition, they squeeze digital disruptors most vulnerable pressure point: the comparatively limited age, depth, and breadth of their data assets. In the age-old competition of youth versus experience, Centralized Decisioning isn’t a fountain of youth; but it can help turn older-line companies’ years of expertise to an advantage on the digital battlefield.

To read more about Centralized Decisioning, including case studies and whitepapers (registration may be required) please visit

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