June 16, 2015

From digital immigrants to digital natives

I was leading Tieto Bankdagen last week in Stockholm. It was a great day with the biggest influencers of the Swedish banking sector. I participated in interesting discussions and heard inspiring stories how the banking business is changing they ways of working.

CEO of Universal Music Per Sundin stated industries need to disrupt or die. He spoke about the painful austerity in the music industry. It began after the turn of the millennium when piracy spread like wildfire thanks to companies like Napster and Pirate Bay. I think the change is inevitable also in the finance, but it´s rather how we work that the change will happen.

We need to transfer digital immigrants to digital natives, and change from closed factories to welcoming labs. I see important, that finance organizations inject companies with new kind of competence, digital natives but that alone doesn't make culture change and develop.

Next big change takes place within the banking sector

Sundin also mentioned that the next industry to go through a disruption is the Banking sector. I have noticed the same. Ever since I was developing one of the first internet banks in the mid-nineties banking business has been changing and it has been in the forefront of digitalization. Nevertheless my perception is that the need for speed of change has increased again.

I think now it´s is time to act.

Customers behavior has changed, and it is driving the disruption. There are innovations and venture money pouring into the financial sector. Both innovators and venture capitalists believe in the future of banking. Big global players from different industries, like Google and Apple, are also entering the banking business. So are retailers. There´s definitely something intriguing in the business.

Of course disruption might happen exponentially, and it is not easy to foresee, but we can prepare ourselves to it by developing and building our ways of working and business models so agile, that we are able to adapt to what is still unknown.

Encouraging culture is the basis for innovation

One of the speakers of the event was former Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. "Change may sound like something fun and cool, but change is hard work. I'm speaking from experience."

He must be right. The change is only possible if the culture supports it. It is not about IT nor even about innovation. They cannot flourish if the right kind of culture is missing.

We all should look further in the future than to try to gain short term wins, but to develop a long term profitable societies where businesses and banks can flourish, and people can develop their skills. This is the way we maintain the competitiveness of the society.

Of course companies also need new kind of competence and skills: Diginatives, young talents who can drive the change. Some of our guest speakers brought up that the young talents should be brought to key positions and leadership roles, they should be given responsibility. Diversity is that sense is very important too. New perspectives, different approaches are needed in all industries in the era of digitalization.

Digitalization offers huge opportunities

One of the speakers a serial entrepreneur Ola Ahlvarsson warned the banking industry that digitalization enables "the death of a thousand cuts", meaning that many new actors competes with smaller parts of the portfolio rather than the whole. Many small competitors that focus on small parts of the portfolio, and slowly wins marketshares can be as much of a threat as a big player.

He said that change and disruption can come quickly and can hurt. "For instance, when YouTube arrived in 2005, the TV channels thought it was a novelty for individuals to upload their videos to. YouTube now has over a billion viewers and is used in many different ways. Many hardly watch television any more. The banking and finance sectors actually have the perfect opportunity to profit from digitalization, but success depends on challenging old truths and new thinking."

His advice was to focus on intrapreneurship, emphasising the media conglomerate Schibsted as a role model. "They have a very clear vision and view change as opportunity."

Jeanette Jäger, VP Marketing and Communication Tieto Financial Services and organiser of the event, concluded that she hoped that the participants had been suitably inspired, and that this day would make a real difference to their businesses.

Watch a film from the bubble session about the opportunity of change, Beyond Disruptiveness.


  • Elisabet Gréarsdóttir, Head of Marketing Live Services EA Games, Arion Bank
  • Robin Teigland, Associate Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics
  • Jeanette Jäger, VP Marketing and Communication at Tieto
  • Presenter: Ola Ahlvarsson, serial entrepreneur

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