Introducing technological change into your business takes a lot more than merely acquiring some new technology. For customers to reap the benefits of new digital tools, innovation must be accompanied by profound organisational change. As Head of Customer Innovation at Siemens Financial Services (SFS), I wanted to share a few pointers for bringing about a successful technological revolution to your business and its solutions.
1. Revamp the company mindset
The starting point for any technological change comes with a shift in mindset. Delivering digitally native solutions requires a departure from the way these solutions and services were developed in the past. For true digital change to occur, customers and partners need to be able to interact with you and your services through an entirely new channel – not just an add-on to existing services.
There shouldn’t be any handoffs to the old process, or concessions to the best customer-orientated solution merely for the sake of doing things the way we have always done. The entire way we conduct business must be re-imagined around what new technology can do.
2. Change happens through small steppingstones
While the ultimate goal is to become fully digital, that does not mean it all has to happen at once. In fact, it can be beneficial to carry out change via multiple small iterations. Creating technological change through small incremental changes allows us to build and deliver solutions that are in line with customers' needs and places them in the centre of everything we do. It also helps us to stay relevant alongside rapidly evolving technology as well as customer expectations and habits.
Small iterations also allow us to push to the boundaries, be creative and take controlled risks. We need the feedback and for it to be timely, to adapt and change course if required. This means that the customer can be an integral part of the process, helping to co-create the solution.
3. Adopt a ‘product’ way of thinking
The best way to ensure we keep innovating and updating our solutions is to treat them as products in and of themselves. The tools, applications and systems that our customers and partners interact with must be viewed as products, on an equal footing to our leases and loans. This will encourage us to keep updating them, improving them and adding customer benefitting features.
A product owner must stay in touch with what the market wants and take responsibility for the solution. This role is best assumed by someone other than a typical c-suite figurehead, who is frankly too far away from the coalface and will be too slow in providing decisions.
4. Restructure decision-making
Decision-making needs a complete overhaul and to be pushed as far down as possible. For many companies, this will be terrifying. Teams closer to our customers need to be able to make decisions fast in order to capitalise on new opportunities or changes in customer demands. Long hierarchical chains only add unnecessary delay and often produce sub optimal outcomes. Accepting that some decisions will lead to failures is fundamental to pushing forward technological change. Without failures, we are not learning. It is when these failures are combined with small iterations and quick feedback loops that we can learn and pivot towards a different direction without any significant negative repercussions.
At SFS, keeping up with technological change has helped us to remain relevant and ensure our ongoing sustainability from the continuing challenge by start-ups and tech giants. By marrying our deep financial and industry knowledge with a new technological approach we can not only compete with these new entrants, but also compete in attracting the best new young talent who otherwise might not consider a boring grey leasing company. If you found these tips helpful, look out for part 2 of this series where we’ll delve into the interpersonal side of fostering technological change within your teams, while keeping a customer-centric mindset.
Ajay Patel - Head of customer innovation group - UK, Nordics & Poland
As the Head of Transformation and Digitalisation, at Siemens Financial Services I lead global and diverse teams to deliver business solutions right across the value chain from deal origination to booking. With international experience gained across 3 countries in Europe and South East Asia, I have developed an understanding for different perspectives and cultures that has taught me something can be learned from everyone I meet and work with.
I value maintaining a healthy body and mind and believe failure is a necessary step in creating growth.