Some of the most exciting innovations have been occurring in the Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa and South America. Beyond unique mobile and online banking applications, banks in these regions have developed entirely new ways to structure a businesses and experiences to deliver services to customers in exciting new ways and it’s working. Unlike before, when businessmen looked West for inspiration, I am seeing the reverse happening. American Banks are looking beyond the 50 states for inspiration and innovation, learning from overseas organisations that in some cases are far ahead of their domestic offerings.
In this region, India, Nigeria, UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kenya, we are seeing banks lead the way with fabulous, innovative ways of conducting business. The old excuse, from more ‘developed’ markets was that ‘innovation is challenging because of legacy issues’. If Banks are going to win, managers must realise that with the advent of new technologies, they are no longer competing on a domestic stage, they are competing globally and unless they have a seat at this table, they will burn.
It was only last week that I exchanged emails with a good friend of mine who proudly told me that his bank, Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) have just opened the first Facebook Branch by a bank in the Middle East and only the third in the world. From a business and customer experience perspective, this blew my mind. Now, customers can can manage their daily banking needs, make transactions and monitor their account through social media. Not only that, it is possible to connect to a video advisor through the service too. Hats off to the bank’s CEO Peter Baltussen and his team for the vision and fearless innovation shown by this bank.
This kind of thinking is needed more - breaking the old habits - and forging new and relevant retail experiences in different shop windows. By thinking about customers, convenience and simplicity, banks such as CDB will vault the traditional players. Don’t get me wrong, not everything will work, but it was Steve Jobs who said ‘those who win, ship’. By listening, ‘doing’, iterating and moving to opportunity at speed these young orgnaisations will teach the traditional leaders how to operate. The culture of rapid, pro-active and responsive innovation will see the banking landscape change - and boy does it need to. So here is my challenge, if you are in banking, try something new, be first and fearless and remember, nothing stays the same for long in the modern world.
10 trends I am seeing
Banks in the U.S. need to raise the periscope and take a broader look for inspiration
Banks in the developing world are hungry for new customers and are leveraging technology to get to them in ever more innovative ways
There is some great innovation going on all over the globe, and too many banks in the United States are only focused on the incremental moves of local competitors
Banks all over the world are building engaging experiences and are becoming far better at holding relationships with customers
The office is in the palm of your hand in the developing world
Managers are out learning from their customers and using this to come up with great new ways to innovate in service and brand
Dynamic, high energy banks are doing away with process and duplication
Retail environments are being reworked, shrunk or shared
There is a focus on consistent customer experience through all platforms
Iteration and innovation are cultural, not something that is worked out on a spread sheet. That comes later