I was honoured recently to be invited to give a speech at the Figaro Digital Financial Services Seminar. I focused on disruption and how digital was changing the financial landscape and, quite frankly, how the financial organisations need to pull their socks up before someone makes off with all their toys. The speech can be seen here - it’s only 10 minutes and packed with insight and the odd pretty slide.
Talking to delegates afterwards it was fascinating to observe how common the themes were that came from a diverse range of clients:
Fear of the Competition
There was a near universal fear of what others are up to, from start-ups to the traditional competitive set. Many delegates felt that others are being more innovative and have less constraints of their activity. Clearly not everyone can be in the bottom quartile so take heart from this.
IT departments are a hindrance not a help.
Very few organisations appear confident of turning projects around quickly. Larger clients appear to share a view that large IT investments which were meant to provide flexibility and opportunity actually provide a hindrance and barrier to innovation. I spoke about the great work that the government are achieving with the Government Digital Service. Many took heart, after all, the Civil Service was a byword for bureaucracy and red tape and if it can create a culture where digital products are brought to market quickly and efficiently then surely anyone can.
Regulation hinders innovation in larger organisations who really need to carry the fight to internal compliance teams to help them move forward. Interestingly, regulation could become a competitive advantage for smaller start-ups. Many of these operate in an area where the regulatory bodies are struggling to keep up, this potentially means that smaller organisations can set up an offer and build sufficient momentum before the regulators arrive and create a barrier to new entrants in their space. Regulation as an aide to innovation – who’d have thought?
You never win you just avoid drowning
I focused on the idea that organisations should never defend the indefensible, that the moment you think you have won is the moment that you lose your edge and your focus on the future. In a way victory is the foundation of your downfall. This idea that you never win, that you just get through to the next round resonated with many. Some took heart, some looked terrified. But let’s face it we work in digital because we like variety, change and innovation. It is an exciting sector, change can be positive or negative, and be honest, would we enjoy the highs as much if there were no risk of the lows? Of course not, so embrace the choppy waters of digital; accept that everything will change and celebrate the wins all the more – just get back to work the moment the hangover clears.