First off, let me just say I am not slagging off the Innotribe sessions at this year's Sibos. I love innovation. Whether it's the next hot thing or the next hot air - innovative ideas and technology gives us a glimpse at where the future is going and how
our economy is evolving.
The myriad of blogs and Tweets that inevitably follow a show like Sibos have, for the most part, contained variations of a phrase that is guaranteed to turn me off 'You just don't get it'.
When you, as an innovator, come up with a hot new strategy or bit of tech that will make every bank a seamless, automated, cost saving, customer enhancing dream firm, I do understand the tendency to bristle when someone expresses scepticism. Someone, who
may have a few more, (possibly, cynical) world-weary years of experience over yourself. The tendency to sign and say 'Oh well, another grey suited, old-fogey that 'just doesn't get it', must be hard to resist.
Someone came up to me at Sibos and said 'I'm going to change the internet!' When I rolled my eyes, there was a genuine look of hurt that came across his face 'Everyone else I've talked to about this has been very excited.' I stopped him before the '...maybe
you just don't...' came out.
I've said this before, I've been reporting on financial technology and data for 16 years. If I had a dime for every time I have heard '*This* is going to change everything' or 'If banks don't do *this* they will fail...' (Banks did fail - two years ago -
and most of them are still trudging along handing out the bonus checks, I doubt failing to automate their corporate actions is going to take down one of the global banks any time soon). Banks are concerned with making money - 'saving money' is not the same
The first person to tell me "Liz, just you wait, this is going to change everything..." did so after a front page
FT article claiming his company was going to take down Reuters because 'they just didn't *get* the internet'. That was 15 years ago and the company was Display.IT. (and the first person who actually remembers Display.IT, I will personally buy a pint)
The issue is sometimes the cynics, the old fogeys, the world wearies among us do get it, they just get it a bit too well. They can see and understand the dream, it's just that they also see Mt Everest standing between 'the way things are' and 'the way we
wish them to be'.
Stop talking about 'Why' innovation, start talking about 'How' innovation - how as it relate to core banking business. An iPhone app is not innovation unless there is a real business necessity behind it. Asking what that necessity may be, doesn't mean 'you
don't get it' it means you've had enough of the 'why' and would like a little bit more of the ‘how'.
I loved listening to people like Jackie Taylor of Flying Binary actually walk the audience through how she took a bank from 'spaghetti junction' to PSD-compliance using Google Apps (and I'm assuming some duct tape and chewing gum).
Surrounding yourself with a herd of only those who ‘get it' is never a good idea (trust me, there are volumes on the subject - groupthink is never innovative) But, please don't dismiss the world-weary cynics amongst us, innovators. When you go looking for
some gear for that Mt Everest that just appeared in front of your innovative idea - those guys tend to know where the climbing boots and pick axes are stored.