Session 4: Banks, Innovate Or Die! [panel] Panellists: Brett King (@brettking) - Author, Bank 2.0 Bob Weinschenk (@SmartyPig) - CEO, SmartyPig Anna O'Brien (@AnnaOBrien) - former social lead, Citi Josh Reich (@i2pi) - CEO, BankSimple Rob Garcia (@robgarciaj) - VP of Product, LendingClub
Question - Are banks too big to fail, too big to innovate?
This was a fantastic panel with all of them passionate about their stance. It was often heated but never got nasty. Anna was a bit of a lone ranger from the banks' point of view, but judging by the response, she was a crowd favourite. Brett King was the facilitator and did a great job of moving the conversation along. The session started with the video below:
Reich/Garcia: Since deregulation in the 70s and 80s, banks have moved away from customer focused services, introduced new (innovative) ways to charge fees and business models were based around confusing customers. "Banks profit from confusion".
Most of the time, the customer just wants to know "what is my balance?".
Startups like BankSimple and LendingClub were born out of the inherent lack of trust in the banking system. They are out to disrupt the industry and seek to 'innovate' in the front end with the customer in mind.
O'Brien: Startups are not a new phenomenon in the banking industry. For years, when startups grow and become profitable, they often sell to the big banks. Citi invest in start ups. Recently they opened a flagship branch in Union Square.
Social media is also a big focus at Citi - almost 24/7 support on twitter. But when customer base is in millions, it is very difficult to have a one on one relationship with each and all of them.
King: Next big battle is not between the banks and smaller startups, but with established players Apple, Google, Facebook.
Weinschenk/Garcia: Some startups are no longer 'startups'. They are serious alternatives to banks and getting more competitive. There is a shift in that customers are now more willing to do their banking with the non-traditional banks.
When banks do acquire startups and their ideas and innovation die simply because the banks do not operate like the way smaller startups can in a more agile fashion.
King: Is there a middle ground? Smaller players are here to stay - they will have to co-exist together in the new ecosystem. Banks have the reach and prudent processes - startups have usability and faster ways to innovate.
Reich: Usability or utility is deeply tied to level of trust. Engaged customers can also help the brand grow. Appetite for innovation was shown when smartphones were first in market - Bank of America had 250,000 new customers just because they wanted to use the then new iphone app.
Products vs Services
Is better customer service 'innovation'? or is it new/better products? There is a disconnect between what banks think are important - products - and what customers think are important - services. There needs to be a re-alignment here.
Innovation could be a bank with just one product and one card (BankSimple). Current situation is such that banks are product driven - so much so that the product teams internally fight with each other.
King: The biggest disrupter in the next year or two will be mobile payments. It will come quickly and some players will not be prepared for it. Virtual currency will also play a big part. Take the QQ Coin example in China - the virtual currency of their largest social network actually devalued the Yuan. Facebook credit and other forms of social currency will play a major role in how companies innovate in the banking sector.
Session 5: Be Heard. How To Innovate At Big Companies [core conversation] Facilitated by: William Hertling (@hertling) - Web Strategist, HP Gene Kim (@realgenekim) - Visible IT Flow / former CTO of Tripwire
The core conversation format was something I did not expect. It was very much participitory and I really got a lot out of this session. First thing you notice when you walk into the room is the way the chairs are placed. It felt a little too intimate at first with all the chairs facing the centre in a small room, but it really worked. I was furiously writing down notes but luckily (for me), Ogilvy were there to do a visual note.
Some of the other things I scribbled down were the real life tips/hacks that the participants shared during the conversation.
Do it during the down times, less busy periods
Collaborative prototyping - sometimes a shared Powerpoint slide is the best tool
Articulate that if it fails, it will fail fast
Go to stakeholders far removed from your current team or situation
Can be comforting for them to know that you have thought about all the risks
Convince the people around the naysayers
The risk of NOT implementing
Too many cooks:
Be the 'hub', or nominate the hub
Go straight to the top for support and buy-in
Align with company vision
Reward them for their ideas (scratch my back..)
In meetings, write the notes/minutes, and relay back in 'your own style'
Partner with other rebels
Employ the 4 hour work week methodology - see Tim Ferriss
Lastly, the two guys - William and Gene - were brilliant. Check out their blogs:
Again, I will not write up my 6th session which was a keynote by Seth Priebatsch, the chief ninja of location based service scvngr.
He talked about how game mechanics could help improve the way we live in the real world. I may write up my notes later, but for now see the visual note on Ogilvy by Sunni Brown.
Mid afternoon, I was totally wiped. Jet lag hit me hard, and there was nothing I could do except go back to the hotel to sleep, and miss some of the later afternoon sessions I was hoping to catch. I didn't make it back out for the parties either, but it was for the better as I believe I'm back to 100% now.