Ages ago, I attended an international Gartner symposium where the analyst told the audience that he recently had meet the CIOs at the four biggest banks in the Nordics and had been told that they all had a “follow the leader” strategy. He got his laughs, especially from the non-Nordic participants, and a good start on his presentation. But he missed the main point that I want to make in this blog post. I will argue that we are too pre-occupied with “The Best practice” in the industry when we should look for “The Next Practice”.
The difference between the two may sound like cheap semantics. I agree that they are both as evasive. But there is strong difference that will have a profound impact on your business development and innovation processes. Where do you go to get new ideas and energy? I think that the best way to leap frog competitors and defining the “Next Practice” is to get influences from other industries.
Irrespective of industry, all B2C companies face the same challenges in servicing younger customers that cannot remember and, for that matter, imagine a life without Internet and mobile phones. Just read the following prediction from my colleagues at Avanade on the future of the retail industry:
Well-informed and empowered by digital technology, shoppers are today choosing from a variety of channel alternatives—brick-and-mortar, online, kiosk, vending, social and mobile—to make their purchase decisions. Customers are looking for control, choice, mobile access, self-service options and personalization. And, companies are turning to technology to deliver a more personalized, interactive experience. Key to achieving this is mobile computing.
I cannot imagine a CIO in the Financial Services sector that would not agree to these imperatives.
There are examples of financial institutions that already have applied innovations from other industries to improve the user experience for digital natives, e.g.:
- Skandia is providing personal advice through video as leaders do in the telecom industry
- Jyske bank is replicating the shopping experience in their flagship bank-shop
- SNS Bank has adopted digital marketing web solutions that we are used to from Amazon.
But there is no need to limit the cross-industry innovation journey to customer facing solutions. The fact that you are non-competitors gives you unique opportunities to share information on innovations that are not evident from the outside. I would advise business developers in the banking industry to start looking for influx from other industries. Why not attend a seminar for the retail industry? It may very well be that some of concepts that have been used in the retail industry for decades can be adapted to the banking industry and establish a new Best Practice, e.g.:
- Can the space Management practice, where shelf space is optimized for increased profitability, be applied to challenge the lay-out of the branch?
- Can the basket analysis concept where customers get personalized offers based on their buying habits be used to increase sales on the on-line banking channel?
- Can the sub-branding practice where stores are categorized into concepts based on size and neighborhood help banks set customer expectations on what services are provided at the branch?
To summarize, start shopping around for new ideas and the next practice that will leap frog your competitors.