There are five main themes driving where we are today and tomorrow:
- digital transformation;
- inequality and inclusion;
- having a clear purpose;
- stakeholder capitalism; and
- digital transparency.
The network is connecting us all. This is a digital revolution. We are breaking from the past centuries of industrialising everything to the next centuries of digitalising everything. It is a completely different world, with different constructs and different needs. It also means different business models, different products and different services. It also means different societies and different ways of governing that are nothing like the past.
The digitalisation of everything from governance to finance to commerce to relationships is the driving force behind building a purpose-driven focus. Stand for something, or you will fall. Purpose cannot just be some marketing or PR thing, in the same way that digital transformation can’t be a project and a function, it needs to be something intrinsic as to where the company wants to go as a direction, not as an objective, but as a reason why the company exists.
If you stand for something you will succeed, if you don’t stand for something you will fail and I think within all of this, and my final point, is that data is driving everything that is going on today.
For industrial era firms – many of those in the banking community who I deal with, in particular – the gold in the wardrobe is the data they currently own. This is where successful firms in the future really have leverage and yet, many of those industrial firms don’t use data well. In fact, most traditional firms use data very badly due to legacy systems, which are fragmented and aligned to lines of business and product. These need to be redesigned with digital at the core and geared toward holistic views of the customer. Then the customer data can be leverage in a way that is customer supportive, rather than customer negative, through customer intelligent servicing; and yes, you guessed it, the data can be leveraged for more sales through customer-intelligent marketing.
The data that every business has today, as an incumbent, is the gold that will keep them in existence in the future because so many new companies and start-ups want to replace the incumbent companies by using data as their leverage point.
We have seen this specifically with Amazon versus Walmart. The fact that Amazon has the customer data, analyses it, views the customer holistically, makes logical links and recommendations through those analytics, is their magic sauce. If you have the data to analyse customers holistically, it provides huge leverage to attack the weak underbelly of the industrial era firms of the world.
When I look at the Fintech companies, who have become hot with valuations of billions of dollars for this reason, it is because they can see that banks are not only weak with digital but, of more concern, weak with data. When you look at a Stripe or an Adyen or a PayPal, what they are doing is just playing on this weakness. Equally, we have seen this in media; we have seen this in travel; we have seen it in entertainment; we have seen it in commerce; we have seen it in retail; and now we are seeing it in financial services.
In conclusion, all of the things that I have covered are important: digital transformation, climate emergency, inequality, diversity, inclusion, purpose, stakeholder capitalism, digital transparency, but the most important thing is get a grip on your data and as long as you have a grip on your data then you have got air. Air will enable you to breathe in the next decade but, if you don’t have a grip on your data, you will suffocate.