Q: What’s special about the way you work with clients? What unique strength sets you apart and adds to the Kony DBX brand?
A: I live by 2 main principles when working with clients, namely “empathy” and “transparency.” Empathy, because I know where our clients are coming from. I have spent almost my entire career serving the Financial Services industry and am aware of the market challenges and increased regulatory pressures faced by them. In addition, these key decision makers must weigh the risks/rewards in a way that have a major impact on how they do their business. With transparency, I believe, the main asset a financial institution must protect is trust. Once there is a loss of trust, it is a very hard path back to the starting point. I saw and lived this during the financial crisis of 2008. It’s this reason why transparency plays a key role in my dealings with our clients. I do present our offerings in the best possible light and partner with our clients to deliver successful outcomes. I, and for that matter everyone at Kony, will avoid situations where the sales teams will promise the sky while fully aware that it is not something we can deliver on.
For me, it helps build credibility and longterm relationships that always bear fruit.
Sid's favorite quote:
Simplicity is not the goal. It is the by-product of a good idea and modest expectations.
Q: Talk about a highlight in your career or a project that was particularly successful. How do you bring that to bear on Kony DBX customers?
A: My approach to problem solving changed profoundly after I completed a design course. I came to understand that good design extended way past the UX and visual interactions. It is the core of what a product is, and design is really the only way to execute.
I applied this immediately at an in-flight initiative to roll out a multi asset analytics platform for the Investment Management and Product Control groups at one of the largest investment banks in the world. We ditched the standard packaged products from the big box financial software vendors. With the end user as the primary focal point, we worked on a platform using open standards and best of breed approach. The initial reaction was met with resistance but as soon as a workable prototype was shown to the stakeholders, everyone was on board. The legacy software vendors attempted to condition our clients with a very feature focused view, while entirely missing the end user perspective.
I challenge our clients to think about the end user, i.e. a persona-based approach. A good design aims to draw the attention of the end user to only what they need and immediately melts into the background when they are interacting with the application.
Q: Why does the market today need Kony DBX?
A: Many of the regional banks and credit unions are facing a very real existential threat due to the impending erosion of their current customer base. We have all read comparisons that nobody wants to be the Sears when Amazon or Google enter the financial industry. This threat is real. However, in my mind this applies to some of the larger banks. I have seen boutique coffee shops and corner stores thrive in Chicago in a neighborhood with larger name brand stores like Whole Foods and Starbucks on the same block. The reason these boutiques are thriving is because they can re-connect with their target customer’s behaviors and preferences, while retaining the personal nature of the services they offer.
In an era where we are experiencing all physical interactions manifest themselves into various digital touchpoints, Kony DBX’s approach is to customize those digital experiences and make them personal for the end user.
Q: What’s your advice to someone looking for a partner in their digital banking transformation? What core attributes should they seek – and what potholes should they avoid?
A: Don’t focus solely on feature/ functionality, but rather analyze how quickly can your partner help you adapt to changing market needs and bring new features to market. Most importantly focus on you, i.e. the Bank. Your customers like to bank with you because of you and how it feels doing business with you. You will attract new customers and retain loyalty with existing ones if you are able to extend your personal branch-based brand to the digital brand. Just the other day I was walking down a street in Chicago and saw 2 neighborhood banks offer the same high yield savings product across the street from each other. While the interest rates are largely controlled by the Fed, Banks have an opportunity to differentiate with an enhanced digital experience that speaks to their customers.
Q: Based on your observation, how does collaboration occur on a practical basis at Kony?
A: Since the day I joined, I have never heard the phrase “It’s not my job” at Kony. This infuses positivity into the day to day workings and how we feel at the end of the day. People genuinely take on personal responsibility of tasks and are committed to completing them. I don’t verbalize this enough, but Kony’s culture has motivated me to continually perform at higher levels than I thought was capable.
The Kony DBXpert Profile Series introduces you to our team and provides insight into how we think and work. See Sid's complete work history on LinkedIn by clicking here.