5 min read

New Year resolutions: in 2019 digitalise on purpose

Dr Leda Glyptis

One of our core values here at 11:FS is ‘everything on purpose and with purpose’. We even have a porpoise sticker (the puns keep coming) to celebrate it. It is what enables us to deliver fast, without waste and with relentless focus on outcomes. That and a kick-ass team. They often go together.

That’s what enables us to help clients move forward, transform and become the kind of organisation they aspire to be. That and kick ass clients. Those also often go together.

It is also what presents the greatest challenge when bringing banking clients on this journey. Because purpose, in a bank, is the domain of executives and boards. They debate it, they set it, usually with a great degree of horse-trading and concessions. Some passion may be lost to corporate sobriety. That’s ok. It’s responsible. It works.

But then the vision and the purpose get translated into projects, programmes and deliverables and some of the greater narrative is lost. Some of the ‘why are we doing this’ is left to the big boys in the big offices, because battling to get on the next release cycle and aligning with InfoSec and retaining talent and debugging takes up enough time without getting bogged down with philosophy. And although everyone is working hard, bad habits set in.

The old ways of working.

The old ways of measuring value.

Feuds of old, politics and playground dynamics with immense destructive potential and no purpose.

It’s common. It’s normal.

But it is not helpful.

So as the new year begins and the stakes are getting higher... and higher... and the work gets more complicated, as you begin to really engage with your digital future, making hard decisions, building, transforming... don’t lose sight of your purpose. Don’t lose sight of the reasons why we do this.

Make this your new year’s resolution.

What goes round comes round

I stand by my statement that money is not a dirty word. That we are here to make it and without profit the banking system can’t run: we can’t offer pensions, mortgages, savings accounts or power global trade and finance infrastructure projects. Making money is a necessary part of this business. Be unapologetic about it.

But don’t be blind to the fact that how we make money is changing. Not just how we charge, although also that. Not just how much the market (customers and regulators alike) will allow us to charge, although also that.

But how value needs to flow for profitability to come your way.

We digitalise to make your bank more valuable to the customer so that the customer will be prepared to be valuable to you. Remember that order, you will need it later when, in the fray, your old ways of working will threaten to kick in. Forget the direction value travels in the digital era, and your slickest digital interfaces will fail to move the needle and you will be wondering why.

This is why.

Do not mechanise the human

This is a new world, with new aesthetic and moral imperatives. New economic models and new tools for achieving them. Focus on the tools at your own peril. Reduce the advent of a new era to a fresh App at your own risk.

Although everyone likes to hate on millennials and the isolating effects of our hyped-connected era, it is undoubtedly true that the mighty machine we all carry in our pockets, digital services and the people who live and breathe them have softened the way we interact. Things have become less rigid, less formal, less distant. It’s nice. Admit it. It’s really nice. Let’s hold onto that.

So when you look at your serious and rigid machine (it’s not a criticism, banks were built in a time when seriousness and professionalism were thought of as one and the same), remember that you are not just trying to spruce things up. Remember that an interactive layer on top of your old stuff is not aligned to your purpose (just don’t say gamification ever again, let’s make that our pact for 2019). Remember that the point is to humanise the machine. And to do that on the glass, you need to re-wire your service. You need to really rethink and overhaul the ‘how’ that delivers the ‘what’.

And yes that means your very expensive, very dated, very inflexible mainframes too.

We have forced humans to work to the shape of the systems’ inadequacies long enough. We no longer need to and, in this glorious digital era of ours, we no longer want to. This is part of the intention you set. This is what digitising on purpose looks like. Hold onto that.

The world is different from what you thought

That is why we are here. Transforming. Digitising, building brave new stuff. Because the world took a sharp left and we are now in uncharted waters. Some assumptions turned out not to hold. Long established truths turned out to be time-limited. The world is brand new and we are all learning new tricks. That is why we do this. Forgetting it puts your organisation’s very survival at risk. Forget it and a lot of time and money will be wasted on moving not very far at all, building solutions firmly rooted in what used to be true and wondering why they are not helping us understand what is true now or move forward towards capitalising on our new assets.

You are not alone in this and that should be some comfort.

All your peers are on the same boat. The competition will be fierce but the race is far from over. Digital banking is 1% finished and there are no winners, yet. No losers. Everyone is trying to work it out. You are not alone.

There is a way forward and it is worth it. At the end of this road lies a new purpose for your business, new ways of creating value and by bringing value to your customers, extracting value for your shareholders. There is a new way of delivering that value, that is radically different to what you had before and that is the point.

There is a lot of hard work ahead and your new year’s resolution is the simplest and hardest one of all: don’t lose sight of why you are doing this. Do everything on purpose. And with purpose.

We are here to help.

Want to stick to your new year’s resolution? Get in touch with us at hello@11fs.com.

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Dr Leda Glyptis
About the author

Dr Leda Glyptis

Leda is responsible for the 11:FS revenue generating businesses and leading the growth of 11:FS Foundry, our modular core banking offering.

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