December 4, 2017

Make Meaning - Not Money

Charlotta Wark

Head of Financial Digital Channels, Tieto

There's a lot going on right now. And it's all happening with the speed of lightning! Looking at the Financial sector, it's easy to start to panic trying to just keep up with all the ongoing external pressures, such as the new technology trends, the regulatory constraints, the "new customer" whom is no longer loyal to a brand, but is looking for functionality and added value. I'm sometimes asked to advice on what to prioritize and how to set up the organization to become highly innovative. How to seize these new business opportunities and potential new revenue streams.

This sounds very complicated, so let's make it easy - stop looking at it to make money - look at it with the lens, "how to create the maximum amount of meaning, for our customers". To make meaning for your customers, you need to be innovative, otherwise you will not be competitive. Easy, right? I have some concrete advice and steps to follow. If you do, you'll be one step closer to be a modern innovative customer centric financial institution.

  • Bruce Dickinson once told me (and a few hundreds more), ”If you have a problem with the plumbing - call an artist”. It sounds silly but if you think about it, it's brilliant! If you want true innovation, invite an artist in to the mix, or, any unexpected participant for that matter. You will be able to tap in to new inspiration not yet limited by old decisions and the company wide truths.  Why not go all the way and invite the customers?
  • Design ONLY with the customer journey in mind! Forget about pretty flashy logos and slick boarders. The customer wants to go from point A to point B in the easiest, quickest and the least complicated manner possible.  Everything else is an irritation and distraction even if you think it looks good. Often the best innovations are the most simple.
  • We've all heard about "Minimum viable product" and "Keep it simple", especially when talking about design thinking and innovation. All of this is good, on paper, but as a Financial institution, it's not ok to "just get it out there and fix the errors as we go along". The Banking customers are simply not OK with getting the correct balance of the account presented "sometimes"! For that reason, my advice is: Use the FinTech companies!! In the Nordics, we live in FinTech heaven. During 2014 alone, $266 million new investments were made in Stockholm-based FinTech companies. There is only one other area on this planet that has more investments in FinTech start-ups than Stockholm, and that is Silicon Valley. USE this fact, team up with FinTech and let them "fail fast" (..psst.. did I mention that Tieto is recognized as the 3d leading Fintech company in Europe and 23d worldwide? ;)(IDC report 2017)). To be fair, acting as a bank's R&D or MVP lab is not the end game, it's the entry ticket. To thrive as a partner, the Fintech must also now be able to maintain its product flexibility while recognizing it has a partner with zero tolerance for customer error or regulatory error. This is a tricky balance - but a successful Fintech partner will be able to manage it - and will thrive as a result.
  • "In an innovative process you need to fail in order to succeed".  Well, that might be true but my advice is: Don't give up!! Remember that the electric car was already invented in 1842 and it isn't until now that there's a growing market for the invention since the new battery power can take us the same distance as gas. So, be patient!
  •  Embrace the ecosystem! In the times of PSD2 opening up the door for completely new players in the market, the future innovation will no longer be limited to what you can provide yourself, but it will be extended in to what ecosystem you belong to. If you go back to my second advice, and only design your new services with the customer journey in mind - also open up to the fact that sometimes, that customer journey will be enriched by other type of companies out there, so partner up - in your customers best interest.
  • Embrace the haters and the sceptics! There are countless examples of true innovation being faced with huge campaigns against their products. Just look at Spotify or an example closer to the financial industry, the Blockchain technology. When you have true innovation in your hands, you will stir emotion. Do not despair, once the innovation is out there, there's no turning back! Someone used the example of the refrigerator. After the ice closet was invented, there was no turning back, nobody will go down to the lake in the spring time and drag ice back home. So embrace the haters and the sceptics, the more emotion you stir, the better the invention – you have jumped the curve! :)
  • Albert Einstein once said "Strive not to be a success, but rather, to be of value". Another way of saying the same thing - set out to make MEANING - not MONEY. If you provide something truly valuable to your customers, the money will come.

I honestly believe that we can't even imagine what the world will look like in let's say five years from now with all the ongoing and quick pace changes. But I do know one thing; In the Nordics, we are one of the drivers behind the development, we have the platform, we can continue to be a leading force behind for example FinTech and we can take the global leadership and be in the driver's seat of Innovation - especially if we do it together, cross country boarder and cross industry limits. 

Welcome 2018, welcome tomorrow! :)

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