All eyes turned toward Las Vegas recently for the much-anticipated Financial Brand Forum 2019. The digital banking industry recognizes this annual conference as the world’s most elite gathering of thought leaders on marketing, customer experience, data analytics, and digital transformation for the banking industry.
Kony DBX Executive Vice President and General Manager Jeffery Kendall was interviewed there by Jim Marous. Jim is consistently rated as one of the top 5 most influential people in banking and one of the most sought-after keynote speakers for industry and corporate events. He is the co-publisher of The Financial Brand, and owner and publisher of the Digital Banking Report.
During the interview, Jeffery highlighted three top trends that banks and credit unions should consider when executing on their digital banking strategy.
1. Iteration: With digital banking, it’s okay to “smallify”
Mention an upgrade to an organization’s digital banking platform, and panic sets in. You can see it in their eyes. They remember past vendors – especially if things didn’t go well – and the resulting upheaval to their daily workload.
To these organizations, I say you don’t have to rip and replace your core. You don’t have to rip and replace your entire digital platform. What you need is to focus on incremental changes that, over time, lead to disruption.
Think about Uber. It was around for years and years before anyone ever put the words “disruption” and “Uber” together. Back then, Uber was locally known for black car services at San Francisco Airport. That was its only market. They didn’t make the leap from San Francisco business to international disrupter overnight. They made incremental changes to their application until they hit a tipping point.
Today’s challenge in the banking industry follows this same analogy. People only see the Uber of today; they don’t realize how many small, interim steps they took in the journey. What I remind customers is that I’m not here to create the Uber of today out of the Uber of San Francisco in one giant step. I’m here to help guide those many strategic, incremental changes in the path to true disruption.
What’s more, it’s not just the digital banking upgrade to the system, but what comes afterwards. Most organizations don’t know what’s on the other side of disruption. They are going to an unknown place. The beauty is that Kony DBX has been there before. We know the way. We’ve gone through it, and that’s something we bring to the table.
2. Collaboration: There’s room for many players on fintech’s long runway
I’m continually surprised at the power, capacity, and capability of what’s out there in the digital market, hidden in different places. It can be difficult for people to dig down into it, pull it out, and truly understand what emerging technology is there and how it can help the customer.
Digital is endless. It’s so expansive and so important that it actually requires the community to work together while also competing. No one has the full solution. Certain vendors are especially good at one piece, but can’t provide a holistic solution without bringing in the best in class from other fintechs.
At Kony DBX, we partner with other fintechs because we know they can strengthen the value proposition of what we deliver. We’re developing a best-in-class ecosystem, which is obvious when you look at the Kony DBX platform and the many partners we’ve brought together under one roof.
The mistake that a company can make is to think they can go this alone – that they will be the smartest and only organization that’s out there. Our job is to watch for new entrants and new capabilities in the market and then understand how we can work together to create that sort of proverbial magic where two plus two equals five.
3. Humanization: It’s not all about the code and bots
In an age when traditional banks are buying up fintechs, Kony recently reversed that model. We bought the assets from a traditional bank, Pivotus, Inc., the innovation subsidiary of Umpqua Holdings Corporation, which is the parent company of Umpqua Bank. We then deployed their innovation across multiple financial institutions. The Pivotus solution – called Engage – is a unique personalization platform that actually includes humans to the digital banking equation.
This idea builds on my last point: even if you’re a fintech or a sole provider of digital services, you’ve got to look everywhere for solutions that make sense for the end user. Oftentimes, those solutions are hiding in unexpected places. We’re big believers that some of the best ideas come out of credit unions and banks, not just the fintechs. That’s why we recognized the value of this acquisition, and it’s paying dividends.
We fell in love with the idea of bringing humans back into banking – and, in particular, back into digital banking. We’ve been very carefully tracking the results experienced by our customers – including Umpqua, Credit Union of Australia, Hills Bank and Trust, and others. They’re creating truly deep relationships that also drive new product sales to get to the intended outcome.
In the end, digital banking is not an option. Every financial institution will undergo digital transformation, if not already. The art of this process is in uncovering the strategic and authentic route forward for each organization. There are many ways to arrive at digital transformation as long as organizations have a trusted guide – a true partner, not just a vendor – to shine light on the path and guide them there effectively.