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Why a fast-changing environment requires quick decisions for success?
Why is it so important for banks to collect rapid feedback from customers?
It is imperative because customers are defining whether the bank is successful or not. I do believe that the famous quote “if to fail then fail fast” is more than valid and not only in banking. We are living in a fast-changing environment. This means that if you want to be successful you have to be able to make quick decisions. Some of the decisions will not be the best ones and you have to find out as quickly as possible that this was the case. The best product on paper does not mean that it will be the best from the customer perspective. This is why we also have to verify that our understanding is the same as the understanding and needs of our customers. The times of complicated products and conditions are over and we have to adapt to it.
What are the current key product development challenges in the banking sector?
Products in banking became a commodity. In retail daily banking services especially. It is really hard to find uniqueness there. Customers have usually significantly more than one option on how to fulfil their needs. This means that the bank has to deliver more than a fully functional product with fair conditions. Aside from a proper placement (space and time of the offer), a customer has to identify with the bank´s offer. I do believe that this can be done through their main emotion/need we want to address. This emotion/need has to be properly identified, verified and consistent throughout the product set up and communication. The quickness of the environment might imply that bank should focus on continuously delivering new things, but this might be misleading and really dangerous. Recently, the main challenge, from my perspective, has been the adoption of delivered solution/product.
What are the impacts of new products on enhancing technological capabilities in banking services?
Digitalization became a buzz word. Everybody wants to digitalize everything, but this is not the way. During my career, I have seen several digitalization projects which failed. The main reason of failure is that the teams want to digitalize or automate current processes/products in a way that they mirror the manual ones. I do believe that new technologies are bringing new possibilities, but banks and the product teams have to grow with it in order to be successful. The only way to achieve success is to continuously change bank´s culture and approach to service delivery alongside with the technologies, to create a certain flexible environment adaptable to technological changes, not just simply updating the current way of working with them. I do believe that the technologies are erasing the borders between banking and the other industries. This means that a bank will have to be able to open its environment to become a “hub” or “market place” delivering the customer more value than only finance management.
Martin PODOLÁK is the Head of Business Lines and Product Development for the Czech Republic and Slovakia at mBank. During a more than 15-year long journey in banking, Martin has gathered experience from different positions from credit risk management to product management and development. After having spent first half of his career in the risk department where, besides others, Martin was managing credit analysis of both secured as unsecured loans, he moved to the business side of the bank where he further extended his skills and experience. Recently, he is, as the Head of department, responsible for all products and processes within the wide range of mBank´s offer in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, starting with clients acquisitions through daily banking and loans to investments, insurances, e-commerce and other.