Why self-disrupt? by Jay Prag

Why self-disrupt? by Jay Prag

Hundreds of the leading financial institutions in the world are now engaged in fintech.
A growing number of banks are seeing the value in being more innovative and entrepreneurial and creating their own fintech labs or initiatives. In fact, many have begun thinking about themselves as technology companies. Hear Hassem Prag share why self-disruption is critical for any financial institution to thrive in the digital era.
What is disruption? Can we explain this phenomena using parallel thinking?

The problem arises where the business thinks that disruption is more about the technology rather than the business, however, this is not so.
Now more than ever business and IT have to be aligned.

The thinking has to change and once the paradigm changes and companies start realizing that there are “technology companies that happen to sell a particular product”, and they actually believe it and actualise it in their structure and their executive committee’s, then and only then does the new become the norm.

Disruption is not only about the thinking but about the culture; as Peter Drucker says “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” and we truly believe this.

How often have we seen beautiful corporate strategies that would be the boon of any Harvard Business school case study only to find that people are unable to execute on the strategy because they lacked the right culture?

So when does disruption become the norm?

When the corporate culture, enables disruptors, enables more open thinking and enables people to grow beyond their potential, then and only then will the organisation be able to disrupt itself.

The business has to be about the customer, if customer is not the centre of the universe.

Peter Drucker says “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Thinking vs doing – Thinking regulates and energizes your thoughts into understanding different scenarios.

“Doing” = Actually implementing or to engage with real-world patterns.

There is a misconception that 10x people are the most technically competent people in the room.  10x people are those individuals who have the highest impact on the organisation.

This does not mean that the person is not technically competent, but what creates more of an impact is the ability to write readable maintainable code, to be able to work as an effective member of a team to be able to deliver on projects on time, at the correct level of quality.  It is the person who is able to communicate effectively with all stakeholders and is able to extract the value out of what has been built.

10x people are the new “Asset” in the organisation, and in future, a companies success will be determined by the number of 10x people it has in its employ.

Companies should be investing in building 10x people to ensure their success. Successful disruptive companies will see the real value of people and will make sure they have a plan to recruit and develop 10x people.

Herding cats, I think the best way to illustrate this is to relate an actual incident.  After becoming the CIO one of the key things that we needed to achieve was to put in place a light but rigorous governance framework.  The regulator was the primary driver for this initiative.  And the objective is quite simple, how do we ensure that we protect both the customer and the organisation.

So while we were trying to put in place a robust but light governance framework for which we had arranged training for and an implementation team to assist with the processes that needed to be put in place, the teams that felt it was hindering their progress but was in fact the teams that needed it most, ran of in their own direction.  Now it would have been less of an issue if they at least decided to go in the same direction, but nay, it was very much like herding a bunch of cats and every time you turned they moved in a totally different direction this despite the fact that we had been mandated to do so by the board.  I can only attribute this to a total lack of discipline and professionalism on the part of the IT teams.  On reflection over time I realised that these are two areas that we are surely lacking in.  So when we talk about software engineers and we find people who claim to be engineers it is problematic.  Engineers have a process and they value discipline and a code of conduct which they subscribe too none of which exists in the realm of software development.

So the best we can do is think if ourselves as software developers or more commonly a programmer.  Being a programmer myself I aspire to becoming an engineer but I too lack the discipline and code of conduct and until we do not have a professional body to certify us and provide a code of conduct unfortunately all we will ever be is a bunch of programmers.  This is something that is surely missing.  I am convinced that the establishment of a professional organisation for programmers will allow us not only to focus on delivering quality skills but also set the bar for becoming a 10x developer.

Insert by Mo Hassem

How are like minded people actually connected – there has to be some commonality – what is that commonality?

Blockchain is one of the most profound developments, and not because of Bitcoin and by the way Bitcoin is implemented using blockchain.  So no doubt all of you have heard of blockchain and have been looking at use-cases and some have been in the traditional areas where ledgers are used (more obvious example) and others have been in rather obscure areas such as logistics and asset management.

The thing that makes blockchain so profound is the fact that for the first time we have a business artifact that has a general software abstraction.  If you don’t believe me then think of the most common way used to describe blockchain is a distributed “ledger”.  The problem is that the term “ledger” is a rather limiting term as we immediately associate it with financial data, but in actual fact, ledger is more aptly described as a “book of final entry” which fits the blockchain perfectly.

If we then look at the blockchain via the lens of a “book of final entry” we suddenly see more possibilities for blockchain and much more interesting use cases emerge. One of the biggest advantages of the blockchain is that the authenticity of an entry is verified by the system rather than relying on an external system to make the decision.

One of the only stumbling blocks at the moment is that there is no standard and the technology is maturing and maturing rapidly.  So watch this space as blockchain starts permeating through the fabric of our day to day technology.

To blockchain or not to blockchain, that is the answer so what is the question.  And that is going to be the challenge that you face….finding the right use case.

Insert by Jay Prag

How many have seen in organizations “you’re either with me or against me”. So how do you tackle this?

Disruption also leads you to a place where you come to the conclusion that you cannot be the best at everything.  Finding the thing you best at and focusing on that is not a guarantee of success.  If you are an organisation that has been around for a while, you will notice that as time went on your products and value-added services have grown with time.

By diluting your focus over a number of products and processes the risk is that none of them are done well.  The new paradigm is to partner and collaborate with others who do these things really well and in this way deliver a delightful customer experience.

This, however, is the antithesis of the traditional business models and requires a different way of thinking about business.

Data; the new frontier … or not?

Data is king and has always been king.  In my 34 years in Banking from the earliest days as a developer, the notion that data is an asset has been around.  The problem is that from an organisational perspective data was always a second-class citizen.  While organisations understood the importance of data they did not treat it as such and most of the data care was relegated to the “WAREHOUSE” departments.

In recent years we have seen the terms BIG DATA and the hype about analytics, but the fact is that many organisations have a lot of data and a lot of the data is ‘dark’, they do not even understand what they already have.  And we can see this by the decisions they make.

One of the key things about disruption is how do I change the business processes to better match the customer base I am serving.  The second thing about disruption, and I am assuming now that the large part of the disruption process is to digitize.  This means that the organisation moves to a model where customers can interact with the organisation 24x7x365 and yet we see companies reducing the customer support centre hours in order to “reduce” costs rather than to increase hours in order to increase revenues.

So if the data you have is being used to only increase the share of the customers’ wallet and not to improve and create a more delightful customer experience you are unfortunately going to win the small battles and lose the war.