Redspire and Virgin Money have announced a new strategic FinTech partnership, which will support the development of the Bank’s digital proposition for the new Virgin Money Business current account.

The collaboration supports the development of new digital solutions, brought to life upon Microsoft Cloud Business Applications capabilities. It forms part of Virgin Money’s commitment to the recent £35m award from the Banking Competition Remedies (BCR) Capability and Innovation Fund.

Virgin Money has created a ‘Working Capital Health’ proposition which transforms its existing business current account offering into a financial wellness tracker for SMEs. The offer combines dynamic views across an SME’s working capital cycle, with a set of working capital solutions; all backed up by proactive relationship management and a unique ecosystem of capability partners.

Redspire is the second of the Bank’s partners to be announced, and they will also work alongside the Bank’s key strategic technology partner, Microsoft.

Billy Lyle, CEO at Redspire, and engagement lead with Virgin Money, said “We’re delighted to be announced as Virgin Money’s technology partner, alongside our own partners at Microsoft. It’s been a year like no other for all businesses in the UK, but Virgin Money have shown real adaptability and resilience, as well as commitment to delivering for their customer base. Years’ worth of digital transformation has taken place in months rather than in years in 2020. My team is excited to continue to drive meaningful change with the limitless power of the Microsoft stack.”

Gavin Opperman, Group Business Director at Virgin Money, followed: “Following our successful application to the BCR Capability and Innovation Fund, we have been moving forward with Virgin Money Business, which will be ready for launch early in 2021.

“Collaboration is key to our success and I am pleased to welcome Redspire onto our extended team. We have a strong relationship with Redspire and place great value on their agility and ability to respond to our needs. I look forward to working with them as we continue to build our Working Capital Health proposition.”

Andrew Falconer, Programme Sponsor at Virgin Money added: “Redspire typify the kind of business we aim to partner with.  Focused entirely on the customer, they bring creativity and imagination to the development of solutions, and have shown an enormous degree of flexibility and commitment to supporting Virgin Money change the landscape for SME banking in the UK.”

The launch of Virgin Money Business will mark the arrival of the Virgin brand into the business current account market for the first time. Alongside additional large-scale investment, it will enable the Group to become a true disruptor in the SME banking market and offer UK customers a meaningful alternative to the incumbent banks.

About Virgin Money

Virgin Money is the new disruptive force in UK banking. Bringing together the combined history and expertise of Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank and Virgin Money, they are the only bank outside the ‘Big 5’ that boasts a genuine full-service personal and business banking capability.

The Bank serves 6.5 million customers across the UK through a digital-first approach that offers leading online and mobile services, supported by telephone and branch banking, including a national network of branches and business banking centres.

Virgin Money are structured around three divisions – personal, mortgages and business – offering a full range of products and services for consumers and small and medium sized businesses, delivered through our leading technology platform to deliver a consistently world class experience for customers. Their overarching ambition is to disrupt the status quo in UK consumer and business banking.

About Redspire

Redspire is an IT Consultancy, based in Glasgow, specialising in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform technologies.

As part of the Microsoft account managed teams, Redspire work collaboratively to drive future-proofing digital transformation, improved processes and help businesses understand and engage with teams, customers, clients and partners. With particularly strong capabilities in Financial Services, Redspire’s client base includes the Money and Pensions Service, Beazley and Virgin Money.

Read about our previous client success with CYBG/Virgin Money.

Want to talk all things Power Platform or Dynamics 365? Get in touch with us by emailing us at info@redspire.co.uk.

The hires meet planned growth targets for the year, despite COVID-19 interruptions and challenges to mid-year on-boarding.

Expanded teams will help meet increasing demand from new and existing Financial Services clients.

Redspire, a Microsoft Gold Partner announced 18 new hires today, to support continued growth within their Financial Services business units.

The Glasgow and London based firm, led by CEO and founder Billy Lyle has secured a number of significant new client wins in Banking, Insurance and Capital Markets groups this year.

Today’s announcement comes on the tail of their year-end results which highlight 39% turnover growth on previous year.

The firm commented that strategic, on-going transformation continues to be a prime focus for their FSI clients, despite the very real challenges faced by the sector due to coronavirus.

Since March, the firm have also led a number of tactical projects to support business continuity throughout the pandemic. These include a partnership with Beazley, the specialist Insurer, to help Brokers and Underwriters stay connected when lockdown closed the Lloyd’s of London trading floor.

CEO Billy Lyle said: “It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for all businesses in the UK but our clients in Financial Services have shown real resilience. We’re very fortunate to be working through these challenges with them, making best use of the tech available and to be able to grow the team and offer employment opportunities during the pandemic, when many people are looking for work.”

He continues: “Right now, years worth of transformation is happening with every month that passes. The demand for strategic, continuous transformation is greater than ever, in addition to the at-pace projects that are helping the sector meet new and evolving challenges the pandemic poses. The Microsoft cloud and suite of business applications has risen to the challenge.”

“Now, that the market has adapted to new ways of working, we’ve turned our focus back to investing in talent in our technical, delivery and commercial teams. This ensures we have the capacity to meet the strategic requirements our clients’ like Virgin Money and Golden Charter have in 2021 and beyond.”

Services Director Steven Brown said: “Like many businesses, these past few months haven’t been without their difficulties. However, we’re working hard with our clients through times of uncertainty and shifting technology needs to support their people, customers and operations.

“Like many technology-first companies, we’re fortunate to have the infrastructure to be able to switch to remote working practically overnight and help our clients maintain service levels. Now, we can now focus our attention on growing our team and hitting the ground running with strategic projects as we head into 2021.”

Redspire is an IT Consultancy, specialising in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform technologies. As part of the Microsoft account managed teams, Redspire work collaboratively to drive future-proofing digital transformation, improve processes and help businesses understand and engage with teams, customers, clients and partners. With particularly strong capabilities in Financial Services, their client base includes the Money and Pensions Service, Beazley and Virgin Money.

When the developer team aren’t deep in Redspire client work, we’re usually found over at the Virtual Power Group (VPG) developing our technical skills and growing our network. The VPG is a Community Forum for Power Platform and Dynamics 365 users of all levels to come together to share knowledge and best practice.

This month, VPG was joined by Microsoft’s Lucy Bourne to cover the functionality and features of the Wave 2 release in the Microsoft Business Applications stack.

Staying on top of the ever changing platform and their twice yearly updates is a mammoth effort. Lucy’s session gave us a major leg up, with her run through of the features coming to the stack from October onwards.

There are two major releases of functionality to the Microsoft stack in a given year. One in April (Wave 1) and one in October (Wave 2). You can opt in to these features early, or preview in a trial instance. Though please note, once applied it cannot be removed so exercise caution. For existing implementations, it is advised to apply in a Sandbox environment and test that your solutions are not negatively affected by any conflict with new (or potentially retired) functionality. If you want support with this, reach out to a VPG Admin to discuss.

These major release waves do not launch all this new, cool shiny stuff immediately in to your environment – though there will be some. October 1st marks the beginning of the release wave and this functionality is launched – some elective – landing over the coming months up to the next release wave in the following April/October.

During her session, Lucy gave us a fantastic introduction to Power Apps for Teams and a rundown of the major highlights. Some of these were showcased in real-time alongside announcements at Ignite, adding a little extra excitement.

Here’s my highlights from across the main products:

Sales 

  • Mobile Experience Changes
  • Forecasting and Gamification
  • Usability enhancements
  • Sales Insights Updates

Marketing

  • Natural Language Segment Editor
  • Enhanced Customer Journey Canvas
  • Form Submission Enhancements
  • Improved Email Customization
  • and more…

Customer Service

  • Agent Productivity Dash (Multi Session Experience)
  • Omnichannel for Customer Service
  • Integrated Insights with Built In AI
  • Native Call Functionality in Omnichannel Framework

Field Service

  • Insights Dashboard
  • Customer Voice Survey Integration
  • Proactive Service Delivery
  • Scheduling experience improvements
  • Technician Success and mobile app enhancements

ERP/Commerce/Project Ops

  • CDS Integration improvements and various Cross App Capabilities
  • Document and Electronic reporting enhancements
  • Major updates to SCM
  • PayPal Integration for Commerce
  • And upgrade path plan for PSA to Proj Ops

Dynamics HR

  • AAD Integration enhanced
  • CDS Integration with Skills, Certificates, Performance and Benefits
  • Teams Self Service GA and further enhancements

Power Apps and Power Automate

  • Power Virtual Agents available within Power Apps Portals
  • PCF control support in Power Apps Portals
  • LOADS of RPA Capabilities in Power Automate (direct quote)
  • Power Automate Visual in Power BI

This is a session that I’ll not only watch again but be recommending to colleagues and clients to stay ahead of the tsunami of features scheduled to land this October. Watch the replay below.

As ever, I’m so excited to be working in this field where, as it was said on the call tonight, “change is the only constant”.

This article was first published on Viritual Power Group. For more information on forthcoming events, visit the website or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Power Apps is a high-productivity development platform for business apps, and has four major components:

  • Canvas apps
  • Model-driven apps
  • Portals
  • Common Data Service

Microsoft Power Apps is a suite of apps, services, connectors and data platform that provides a rapid application development environment to build custom apps for your business needs. Using Power Apps, you can quickly build custom business apps that connect to your business data stored either in the underlying data platform (Common Data Serviceor in various online and on-premises data sources (SharePoint, Excel, Office 365, Dynamics 365, SQL Server, and so on).

Apps built using Power Apps provide rich business logic and workflow capabilities to transform your manual business processes to digital, automated processes. Further, apps built using Power Apps have a responsive design, and can run seamlessly in browser or on mobile devices (phone or tablet). Power Apps democratizes the custom business app building experience by enabling users to build feature-rich, custom business apps without writing code.

What is a Model Driven App?

Model-driven app design is a component-focused approach to app development. Model-driven app design doesn’t require code and the apps you make can be simple or very complex. Unlike canvas app development where the designer has complete control over app layout, with model-driven apps much of the layout is determined for you and largely designated by the components you add to the app.

Model-driven app design provides the following benefits:

  • Rich component-focused no-code design environments
  • Create complex responsive apps with a similar UI across a variety of devices from desktop to mobile
  • Rich design capability
  • Your app can be distributed as a solution

What is a Canvas App?

Canvas apps start with your user experience, crafting a highly tailored interface with the power of a blank canvas and connecting it to your choice of more than 200 data sources. You can build canvas apps for web, mobile, and tablet applications.

Canvas apps give you the flexibility to arrange the user experience and interface the way you want it. Allow your creativity and business sense to guide how you want your apps to look and feel.

You can start to build your app from Microsoft tools where your data lives, such as:

Creating a canvas app is easy; with Power Apps, you can find or create your app in several ways:

What is Power Apps Portals?

 Portals help you create external-facing websites that allow users outside your organization to sign in with a wide variety of identities, create and view data in Common Data Service, or even browse content anonymously.

What is the Common Data Service

 The Common Data Service is the data platform that comes with Power Apps and allows you to store and model business data. It’s the platform on which Dynamics 365 apps (such as Dynamics 365 Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Marketing, and Project Service Automation) are built. If you’re a Dynamics 365 customer, your data is already in Common Data Service.

Common Data Service allows you to securely store and manage data within a set of standard and custom entities, and you can add fields to those entities when you need them.

Power Apps and Redspire

Interested in exploring new ways that processes can be engineered and how modern tools like Power Apps can be applied within your business? Get in touch today or watch the on demand Power Apps in Insurance webinar. Respire and Microsoft have partnered to provide a number of hands-on workshops to FSI organisations. For fresh ideas and access to some of the UK’s top solutions architects, get in touch with Redspire today on 0845 226 8170 or email us via info@redspire.co.uk.

As the businesses slowly recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, UK Financial Services leaders are taking stock of the strategic digital priorities that best steer resilience in the months and years ahead.

The pandemic has accelerated digital change in all areas of the sector, with focus on rapid implementations that maintain business continuity and connect people and processes. A key area for immediate investment is agent enablement, made possible by Microsoft Dynamics and the Power Platform.

The enabled agent: driving customer engagement in Financial Services

Enabled agents aren’t an especially new strategy in Financial Services. Retail banks adopted first-stage iterations of omnichannel agent enablement early, as a strategic customer experience differentiator. With the concept proven and covid-19 driving at pace adoption, business banking, insurers and investment banks are fast realising the value of connected communications and unified data infrastructures.

Eight key features of enabled, connected agents in Financial Services

  1. The human touch: live agents

Previously the frontline of customer contact, live service agents remain a precious commodity in Financial Services. Growth in automation and unified data centres makes managing their routine daily tasks easier to complete, leaving these teams free to concentrate on higher value customer interactions. Whether resolving high touch queries or assisting through difficult decision making processes, live agents can transition prospects through a sale, connect customers to compliance automations, direct to Power Apps Portals to self-serve or offer digital document sign functionality.

This human touch where required builds trust and loyalty and delivers meaningful customer experiences. Recent Accenture research indicates that 71% of respondents’ value being able to raise a complaint to a human advisor. Nearly a third of those surveyed found specialist mortgage advice important. One fifth wanted access to other specialist advisors via videoconferencing.

Constantly evolving capabilities make all of this possible. For example, Microsoft Teams and the Power Platform can connect advisors and customers in digital meeting rooms, removing the need for bricks and mortar meeting space.

  1. Bot and AI supported journeys: virtual agents

Virtual Agents are the new frontline of customer service. Where live agents are customer advocates, provide emotionally intelligent services and build loyalty in Financial Services, Virtual Agents can provide a first point of contact for low touch customer queries and 24/7 self-service, reducing pressure on the contact centre. Connected to customer data, FAQs and knowledge bases, bots and Virtual Agents can provide accurate information, report on sentiment and leverage AI insights.

Blended emotional and artificial intelligence doesn’t just provide productivity gains and cost savings, it maximises resources. It ensures customers can access the services they need, at the right time, on the platform of their choice. With people and AI utilising the same data and knowledge sources, service levels and information shared remain consistent and correct at each touchpoint.

  1. Centralised knowledge bases: authoritative agents

Unified web content, helpdesks and knowledge centres are the beating heart of agent enablement. Leverage with AI insights, self-serve and process automations to deliver outstanding service. Instead of laborious and complex financial product and service training, focus agent training on the basics first and how to curate live and compliant source materials, product information and playbooks.

This knowledgebase content can be surfaced through one unified interface, produced and version controlled between the relevant product, marketing and risk teams. Customer queries can be resolved fast by enabled agents – live or virtual – and also accessed in self-service portals or online. Live agents and managers can be confident that they’re providing accurate information in every transaction. Customers benefit from consistent experiences and 24/7 access to accurate information across all channels.

  1. Educate and inform: empowered agents, empowering customers

Access to this wealth of financial product and service information integrated with AI insights, sentiment analysis and next best action guidance educates and informs customers. Enabled agents are empowered to provide the financial information customers need, when they need it on the appropriate channel. Financial literacy, inclusion and well-being are particularly nice side-benefits of increased access to such information. Customers are empowered by the ability to research or self-serve the content they require, 24/7 and make informed financial decisions. The business benefits from a rich sales pipeline, even before the customer has spoken to a seller.

  1. Single customer view: all seeing agents

Enabled agents help service customers and facilitate a people-centric organisation. Access to unified real time data unlocks valuable insights and powers hyper-personal customer experiences. Unify these rich insights across the full range of channels to get a live, 360-degree single customer view. Predict needs and behaviours based on historical transaction data, channel preferences, product enquiries and renewal dates to maximise customer lifetime value. Augment the system to meet your needs with Power Automate and get rich reports with Power BI.

  1. Meet customers where they are: social agents

Ever-growing numbers of Banks, FinTechs and Insurers offer in-app communications on private social channels like Messenger and Whatsapp, whilst public-facing social media is an extremely valuable service tool. Microsoft Cognitive Services enables agents to monitor sentiment towards financial products, service levels and brand and respond proactively where appropriate to manage customer satisfaction or resolve small fires before they reach crisis level.

  1. Income generation: sales agents

Enabled service agents can feed the sales pipeline by identifying opportunity and following machine learning and AI-driven next best actions to meet customer live needs. Cross-departmental single customer view and connectivity allows enabled agents to make smart recommendations, complete transactions or hand over to experienced sellers to pick up the lead.

  1. Have it your way: omnichannel agents

Cross-channel customer engagement isn’t a nice to have in Financial Services 2021, it’s minimum service level. Enabled Financial Service agents are set up to transact and interact with customers across voice, email, chat, bot, in-app, social, portal and other self-serve channels. Omnichannel for Customer Service supports an always-on customer experience, treating each customer journey as a single transaction made up of a series of multi-channel interactions in the full customer environment. See the tools in action in the video below.

About Redspire and the Microsoft partnership

Redspire are a CRM Consultancy and Microsoft Gold Partner, specialising in Dynamics 365 and The Power Platform. We partner with the UK’s leading Financial Services organisations to lead them through powerful digital transformation, improved operations and process automation with CRM and Microsoft’s suite of business applications. The Redspire team of solutions architects, consultants, developers and support professionals are all Microsoft accredited with specialist knowledge on the tools and solutions limitless capabilities. We’re driven creating impactful business outcomes for our clients, not just system and embedding the technology within your teams for enhanced user adoption. For more information on Agent Enablement, watch the on-demand Customer Service webinar with Iain Kennedy or get in touch with us on 0845 226 8170 or email us at info@redspire.co.uk.