Speaking at a recent conference about the Bank of 2020, I started to get a little edgy.
The moderator was asking repeatedly about The Next Big Thing, and that mobile devices seemed to be about it.
Where’s the next major technology revolution going to come from? she asked. Isn’t there anything on the horizon we should be talking about now?
The panellists started to touch on the internet of things, Google Glass, wearables, drones and such like, but the whole thing was misguided as THERE IS NO NEXT BIG THING.
Of course, wearables and IoT are big news, and then there’ll be stuff immediately after that like the semantic web and sentient intelligence and robots and biometric DNA analysis and more, but it’s not what we should be tracking.
Too often these days we are tracking the technology and looking for the NEXT BIG THING but, if you are doing that, you are on a road to nowhere.
We should instead be maintaining sensors for what is working, liked, differentiated and dynamic.
What would this mean for our products, services and markets?
Will the customer see this as useful and does it help the bank reduce cost or increase revenue?
Most important of all, if it ticks those boxes, is how to design this and deploy it.
I liken it to the good old iPod that recently celebrated its twelfth birthday.
The iPod laid the way for the iPhone, the iPad and all the other “i’s” in Apple’s regeneration over the last decade.
When it was designed and deployed, it wasn’t anything new.
There were MP3 players out there by the truckload and Creative was leading the way.
But Apple got a few things just right: design, customer experience and timing.
Design was all about creating something that was engaging and cool.
Cool consumer technology is Apple’s mantra and got it just right with the iPod.
Customer experience was also key, in creating something that was intuitive and easy. It didn’t need a manual and people immediately ‘got it’.
And most important of all was timing.
In 2002, most people were just getting early broadband but most internet access was via slow dial-up lines.
Sure, there was an advantage of using an iPod or MP3 player, as it was smaller, but it wasn’t’ the thing.
Then Apple got two technology changes just at the cusp of the moment: flash drives and broadband.
Flash drives meant you could carry a whole roomful of CD’s around in your pocket.
Broadband meant that you could get internet on demand, music on demand and one of the first cloud-based services: iTunes.
It all just came together perfectly.
But this wasn’t luck: it was design.
Designing the experience based upon the technology evolutions that made the most sense.
That’s what banks need to learn from the digital geniuses like Google, Amazon and Facebook and, to a lesser extent since Jobs passed, Apple.
Focus upon the customer engagement.
Design the customer experience.
Track the technologies, but don’t get seduced by them.
And don’t keep focusing upon the NEXT BIG THING, but create it.