It’s no longer right to talk about digital banking – just banking

Technology is a small part of digital maturity, says Simon Cadbury. There’s more to transformation than simply embracing ‘digital’.

It’s no longer right to talk about digital banking – just banking. Image by Bulat Silvia,

Forrester recently published a blog called ‘Digital Myth No. 4 – Your Company Needs a Digital Strategy’. I wonder if it was inspired by an article earlier this year in Sloan Management ReviewYour Company Doesn’t Need a Digital Strategy – in which MIT’s George Westerman argues that, “as sexy as it is to speculate about new technologies such as AI and the internet of things, the focus on technology can steer the conversation in a dangerous direction”.

He argues: “In the digital world, a strategic focus on digital sends the wrong message. Creating a ‘digital strategy’ can focus the organization in ways that don’t capture the true value of digital transformation. You don’t need a digital strategy. You need a better strategy, enabled by digital.”

In the world of financial services, the term ‘digital transformation’ has been bandied about so much that it’s lost its proper meaning. It could also probably do with dropping the word digital.

True transformation is about helping you do business differently. It isn’t technology focused; it leverages the right technology for the right job. It doesn’t use the latest and shiniest tech when a low-tech solution can do the job.

As I’ve argued in previous articles, technology is a small party of digital maturity. The other components of a digitally mature organization being:

  1. Strategy/business model: They possess a strong vision as to how customers can create and derive value from their business.
  2. Culture: They are customer-centric, obsessing about solutions to the problems customers are facing before the customer even considers them, rather than technology.
  3. Organizational structure: They are aligned to the needs of their customer base, with an emphasis on customer journeys over product silos.
  4. Talent: They tap into anthropology, sociology and psychology to understand how their offering is used in the hands of customers. As data experts, they understand the value of data and have the toolsets to identify additional value and to layer data together.

So if you don’t need a digital strategy, then you probably don’t need ‘digital’ in your job title. If you do, you may want to think about migrating to a world where digital is more noted by its absence rather than its presence. As Westerman argues: “When technology is done right, it can help a company launch wave after wave of business innovation — innovation that becomes possible as new technologies become real!”

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