I was introduced to a lunch meeting by the Chairman of the Bank. As he made the introduction, he gave a personal account of how technology had changed the world during his lifetime. This is not his speech, but my version of his speech. I trust you like it.
So, I grew up in a world of black and white television. In fact, we were one of the first homes to get a television, and it was a massive box that sat in the lounge and we all gathered around it as a family to watch shows like Doctor Who in the evenings at the weekend, whilst eating sardines on toast.
A major step forward was the introduction of colour television, but that was years later after a man had landed on the moon. At the time, I listened to lots of music on our old Dansette record player. Vinyl had moved from 78 revolutions per minute to 45 to 33. We had rock and roll and then glam rock and then punk. The world was changing.
I remember a major moment in my life was when I wanted to record a TV programme. No one in my neighbourhood had video recorders at the time. This was the early 1980s. It ended up that I got my mum’s work colleague to record the TV broadcast of David Bowie in Baal on the BBC. I couldn’t watch it – I didn’t have a video player – but at least the colleague had recorded it on VHS, so it had a life.
Soon, just as the new romantics arrived, we started listening to our music on headsets with a Sony Walkman. The cassette became the dominant form of how we were entertained. And yet, before we knew it, the cassette morphed into the CD player and Sony were making big bets on the future being mini-discs. They were wrong.
In fact, if you look back every decade, the technology of entertainment has transformed. In the 1960s, it was vinyl; in the 1970s, it was the cassette; in the 1980s, it was a CD; in the 1990s, it was Napster; in the 2000s, it was iTunes; and today it’s Spotify.
Technology has revolutionised all of our entertainment; our lives; our businesses; our thinking. Spotify has replaced the music stores; Amazon has replaced the high street stores; Wikipedia has replaced our Encyclopaedias; and Google has replaced our libraries.
Our children grow up with all of these things and take them for granted, as read. I grew up with none of these things, and take them as magical and new.
Our digital world is a world that changes every day. It is hard to keep up. We, as a bank, believe we are keeping up but I recognise that we don’t know everything, we can’t do everything, and we cannot build everything. We, as a bank, must change to recognise the march of time and the impact of digital change and technology challenge.
In the past, we would build the Walkman, control the iTunes and distribute the cassettes. Today, we cannot build, control or distribute anything. We can build, control and distribute something but what we build, control and distribute has to come from the many, not just the few. We must work in a partnership with many firms who can stream services on demand. It is not like it was.
That is why we invited Chris Skinner to come and talk with you today. Chris coined the term Banking-as-a-Service and foresaw this on demand world we live in today a decade ago.
Ladies and gentlemen. Chris Skinner.
You can see why I liked his speech, but it made me reflect on my own life of living and working with technology. I started out as a coder and technical support person, working with COBOL, BASIC, PL/1 and JCL. Now, I work with Pythons and HTML. But it’s all about code. I guess those who could look back and realise how code would change the world would go back and code to change the world. I was just lucky that, by accident, I fell into this life way back when. It was after England won a World Cup but well before the MP3 player became the iPod.
Either way, his speech made me realise that we have and are living through magical times. Do you feel it or are you just sleep walking through it? If the latter, sit back, read his words, think about our lives and lifetimes and how things have changed. We are living in a magical world. Enjoy it.