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Jan 15, 2019

In this episode we'll discuss how organizations can keep up, and what is expected in order to stay ahead of their competition.

LinkedIn: Steve Gotz

Twitter: @stevegotz

COMMERCE NOW (Diebold Nixdorf Podcast)

Amy Lombardo:                00:00                    

Hello again. This is Amy Lombardo, your host for this episode of COMMERCE NOW. This year we've seen some significant technology trends, and we know the knowing your audience and increasing the level of personalization is key to the success to this ever changing digital world. But this can be easier said than done, right? So, in this episode we'll discuss how organizations can keep up, and what is expected in order to stay ahead of their competition. So, listeners I've got a real treat for you today. I'm joined by Steve Gotz who is an expert in working with executives to create impactful corporate innovation strategies. He has over a 20 year background working with a range of global organizations such as AT&T, General Electric, and Symantec, and one thing that you'll be most interested in is his recent work with Umpqua Bank, which we'll touch on a little bit in this discussion. So Steve, thanks for joining me today.

Steve Gotz:                        00:49                    

Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

Amy Lombardo:                00:50                    

Wonderful. So let's start a little bit with your background, and just really what keeps you up at night.

Steve Gotz:                        00:57                    

I think what keeps me up at night is relevance. So, my background. Quick intro. So, 20 years working with big companies like you said in industries that are undergoing change, and a really interesting thing is it doesn't matter what the industry is. Corporations are really in a race for relevance, and whether you're an entertainment company, whether you're a movie studio, whether you're a bank you have to think about ways to be relevant to your customers today and into the future.

Amy Lombardo:                01:23                    

So, that's an interesting comment. Okay. Race for relevance. Could you dive into that just a little bit more for me, or maybe give me an example of some recent work you've seen on how someone has caught up or stayed ahead maybe of the race for relevance?

Steve Gotz:                        01:35                    

Yeah. So, I think a really interesting one that I can point to is AAA. The automobile club, right? So AAA is an American institution, and their business model up until now has been predicated on your car breaking down on the side of the road, you're picking up the phone, you're calling them, and them sending somebody there to help you. Now, a couple of years ago they recognized that they're sitting on a dinosaur. That business model isn't going to exist 10, 20, 30 years from now. We have autonomous vehicles, when we have cars that don't break down with us behind the wheel, their business model needs to change.

Steve Gotz:                        02:11                    

So, what I think they've done is really interesting, right? So they're investing in infrastructure and thinking about how can AAA be relevant inside of the home, and I think that's a great example of an incumbent corporation that's saying, "You know what? We're going to face this head on, and we're going to drive this change. We're going to drive this disruption rather than waiting for us to be disrupted by the market."

Amy Lombardo:                02:32                    

That's such a great example because AAA is something that I just rely on so heavily in my own life, but I haven't thought about yeah what would be next for a business like that, or thinking back to the stories of like Kodak or Blockbuster or something. Why it did or did not work for them because their business models needed to change with the rate of pace of change here.

Steve Gotz:                        02:53                    

Yeah. So, the last couple of months for me I've spoken to maybe 200 executives. So these are CEOs, Chief Digital Officers, Chief Technology Officers, entrepreneurs about what's changing in their business, and what's really interesting is we've kind of gotten through this first era of innovation. So, every corporation talks about innovation being one of the most five, one of the most 10 important things that they're focused on. But if you look at the number of ideas that have come from an innovation lab that have found their way to production inside of big corporate, that number is pretty small. But I see happening now and with people are talking about is this second wave of innovation. This more impactful, this more intentional strategy to say, "We are going to build things that are going to change our business."

Steve Gotz:                        03:41                    

And change our business in a way that is going to make us relevant into and beyond the 21st century, and this is different, right? So I think you said at the beginning. When I started my career, I started at AT&T labs in the music industry, and this was at the beginning of the rise of digital distribution before we had iTunes. When we took this, basically AT&T invented something underlying technology to iTunes, right? Secure digital distribution. And when we took it to the labels, the music labels at that point, their response was really telling. The response was, "We're not interested in this. We sell things. We sell things that spin. We're never going to sell our music over the internet."

Steve Gotz:                        04:20                    

So, this was in the late 90s, and that was your classic Kodak response from an incumbent. Fast forward 20 years, and when I talked to bank CEO's, they don't talk like that anymore. What they talk about is, "Yes, absolutely. We need to change. We need to create new experiences, and here's how we're going to do that, and here's where we are doing it." Right? So, this idea that the banking industry is facing a Kodak moment, I'm not an advocate of that line of thinking, right? I think the banking industry is responding very differently than some of those other traditional industries that have been disrupted.

Amy Lombardo:                04:54                    

Right, okay. No, that makes sense. So, in some of my research on you, the work you've done, you've talked about this idea of the innovation theater, and is that what you were speaking to earlier, which is kind of this innovation 2.0?

Steve Gotz:                        05:08                    

Yeah, that's exactly it. So, if you look at kind of the last 10 to 15 years of innovation, it's very clear that companies are recognized they need to be more innovative. However, the tools, methodologies, and frameworks they've deployed, they resulted in what some people call innovation theater, right? It's really pretty, you go into the innovation lab, you see an interesting application. But then when you pull back the curtain to say, "Well, what's the path to production?" Right? How many customers are using this? That's where you tend to realize there's not much substance there. I think a lot of people have recognized that, and now they're thinking about, "All right. How do we do that?"

Steve Gotz:                        05:45                    

Right? So, we're seeing this kind of growing kind of drive. An increasing number of corporations that are sending out new company builders, new organizations designed to create things, and scale things up, right? Don't just show me something in the lab, show me how you take what's in the lab, and get it in front of all of our customers, and make us more relevant.

Amy Lombardo:                06:08                    

Right, right. So, the example Steve you're giving about this innovation theater, almost like the innovation smoke and mirrors, I'm also kind of thinking in banking terms now of what Chase has done with the everyday express branch, and Capital One with the café branch, I mean these are realistic examples of innovation-

Steve Gotz:                        06:30                    


Amy Lombardo:                06:30                    

That has now been brought to life, and the results and at least the studies show that consumers are gravitating quite well to these concepts.

Steve Gotz:                        06:38                    

Absolutely, and especially around banking. The Capital One café, it's a really interesting idea, and I think it kind of gets to this point that physical is still important, right? Being able to bridge digital experiences with physical experiences, that's kind of the next competitive battleground. And I think Capital One, Umpqua Bank, I think we ... And even Amazon with Whole Foods. I think we see an increasing number of organizations getting much more sophisticated at spanning the omni channel experience.

Amy Lombardo:                07:10                    

Right, right. So you mentioned Umpqua, and that is such an interesting case study here. So, tell us a little bit about the work that you did with that bank.

Steve Gotz:                        07:18                    

Right. So, Umpqua is really interesting. I got connected up with Ray Davis in 2015, and Ray is kind of an iconic figure in the banking world. He grew Umpqua from $100 million in assets to about $24 billion in assets, and he was really driving the industry, and created a unique customer experience, right? So, for Ray they're not called branches, they're called stores. In those stores, there's a very unique experience when you go in. A store are part of the community, a store holds coffee hours. People could use the store as a co-working space. So, Ray and Umpqua is really kind of the leading edge of the ideas that we're talking about today, and so much so the now Capital One is kind of borrowing some of the ideas that Umpqua pioneered a historic concept.

Steve Gotz:                        08:04                    

So, I got connected up with Ray in 2015, and in the first conversation he was like, "Look, the bank I built for the last 20 years isn't the bank that I need for the next 20 years, and I need some help to figure out what that new bank is." So, the mandate was figure out how to pivot the bank, right? Ray is a gentleman who likes to name things what they do, so it wasn't a digital adventures lab, it was Pivot us. Easier to pivot the bank. So, we started down this path, and what we got to fairly quickly was the banking relationship is a unique relationship. Money is such a loaded topic for people, for consumers, and 20 years ago the banker was your neighbor.

Steve Gotz:                        08:41                    

The banker knew your first name, they knew your kids, they gave them a lollipop when they walked into the store, right? There was an experience attached to that, and when we fast forwarded today, and we the state of digital he said, "It's impossible to create that really personalized digital experience right now with the technologies that were available." So, the question was how do we engineer the human in? How do we create that personalized experience through a digital channel? And that's what we set out to build from.

Amy Lombardo:                09:11                    

I think that's so interesting that you say that because a few years back we had this interesting study, that was how consumers could differentiate their toilet paper brand over their bank brand, and I say that. And of course, the source is escaping me, but-

Steve Gotz:                        09:29                    


Amy Lombardo:                09:30                    

But it was all around the fact that banking had become this emotionless interaction. No, really it was more the transaction. You need to move into an interaction here, and your examples here of putting the human element bank in is a perfect way for banks to be thinking about this. Can you give our listeners some specific technology examples if those are relevant and okay to [inaudible 00:10:00] out here?

Steve Gotz:                        09:59                    

Yeah. So, before I do that going back to your idea of kind of toilet paper brand and banks.

Amy Lombardo:                10:07                    

I know you didn't think that what was going to come out of my mouth.

Steve Gotz:                        10:12                    

If you kind of step back a little bit, and you kind of look at how the industry go to where it is today, what you see is in the pursuit of cost efficiencies, the customer experience has been lowered significantly. In the last 20 years, the industry has done what it should have done, right? Which is use technology to be more efficient. But in the active being more efficient, they've created a customer experience that's not that great, and by lowering that bar so far it's now become really easy for two kids in a garage in Palo Alto to create a new mobile banking experience that can run circles around most of the existing incumbents, right?

Steve Gotz:                        10:55                    

Now, the opportunity is to change that. There's no reason that two kinds in a garage in Palo Alto should be able to create a better experience. Incumbents can do that, which is where we get to this idea of, "All right. How do we create new teams? How do we create new environments to build these things?" And that's kind of really what we did at Umpqua. Ray's mandate to us was don't go give us some prototypes. It was figure out how to keep us relevant. So, that started with the customer relationship. We said, "How do we take that in-store experience that we have today that really personalized experience when you walk into the store, and create that, and then catalyze the experience in an additional channel."

Steve Gotz:                        11:35                     So, when we looked at the technical landscape, what we said is, "The future of the industry is chat based. It's dialog based systems." So, let's think about how we engineer the human in, and do that at scale. Let's think about how we can deliver a chat interaction, a highly personalized chat interaction with a human. So, what we started building is eventually we started using WhatsApp, and some of the existing chat platforms. But very quickly we ended up building our own application primarily for security and privacy reasons, right? So, if you're using Facebook Messenger as a bank to service your customers, if you're using WhatsApp there are potential privacy implications that come along with that, that we were uncomfortable making. So, we ended up building our own technology stack.

Steve Gotz:                        12:24                    

And essentially what we did was we put a device in the hands of our employees, of our associates in the store, and said, "You now have the opportunity to chat with customers." So rather than make this a call center initiative, we pushed it out to the edge, and the response was phenomenal both from customers, and from our employees.

Amy Lombardo:                12:44                    

Now, was that a cross-channel application to where that chat feature was available both on mobile, and online?

Steve Gotz:                        12:52                    

Yeah exactly, and the idea of it. So everybody talks about getting customers to come into branches, and the question is we can't get customers to come into branches now. I don't think we're going to get them to come into the branch in the future. One interesting kind of dynamic that we observed is if the customer knows who they're going to see in the branch, who they're going to interact with, there's a higher tendency to come in. So, the idea was we can use the chat, right? We can use the online interaction with the customer to pull them into a physical experience. So, if the customer needs to have a more in-depth conversation. Maybe the retirement planning, 401k, 529 plan.

Steve Gotz:                        13:30                    

We can say, "All right. Maybe it makes sense just to sit down and have this conversation in the store, and we can get something scheduled." So, the human interaction becomes a really interesting way to pull people into the store for more engaged conversation.

Amy Lombardo:                13:43                    

I love the example you just gave me because it speaks so much to what we believe and strive to deliver to bankers, and retailers here at Diebold Nixodrf by delivering connected commerce. This idea that you have this seamless journey throughout various touchpoints that it doesn't have to seem like, "Oh, I'm only engaging in the branch. Oh I'm only engaging on my mobile phone." It's the same experience, and you're giving a perfect example of it right there.

Steve Gotz:                        14:09                    

Yeah, and I think the idea behind connected commerce is really powerful, right? It's the bank ... The bank almost becomes an orchestrator on the behalf of the consumer, right? The bank captures the intention, the bank understands what the consumer needs to do regardless of the channel, then it helps them do that, right? This is the core of what we saw a couple of years ago. This is what banking used to be. Now we have technology to deliver that experience in new and different ways at scale with efficiency.

Amy Lombardo:                14:39                    

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay, so you just touched efficiency, and that was this one question I was writing down here. So, I've been looking in all these reports as to what are going to be these top pain points for bankers in 2019 and beyond, and what seems to be the top three of all those lists is around creating better operation efficiencies, back end transformation, etc., etc. Can any of your line of work? Do you see that holding true? Is that something that bankers are talking to you about as well? Are there some strategies in place that you can comment on to accomplish that, but still now lose that personalization aspect?

Steve Gotz:                        15:13                    

Yeah, yeah. So, I think there's ... A lot of people focus on kind of consumer facing, kind of innovations and efficiencies because that tends to be where a lot of the top line growth is. So, sometimes I think back offices operations doesn't get as much attention as it should, but I think there's an equally large if not more number of opportunities in the back office to do things better, faster, and cheaper while you maintain that front office customer experience. And I think ... Again, the idea of what we're talking about here, which is companies can create structures. Companies can create new types of environments to solve our problems. We can look for places where this happened, and I think one of those places would be with Liquid Labs, and the auto group in Germany.

Steve Gotz:                        15:59                    

So, the auto group is one of the world's largest retail conglomerates, they own a lot of properties. Six years ago they set up an organization called Liquid Labs, which is really designed to solve hard problems for the organization, and the model there was Liquid Labs would have a budget, they would go to a business unit and say, "Oh we see you're losing $150 million." And these numbers are hypothetical. "We see you're losing $100 million dollars a year on return shipments because we've had issues with the address. We can fix that problem for you, we can fix it in a discoverative way, and if we succeed you now have a new capability that improves your efficiencies." And in fact that's exactly what Liquid Labs did for the auto group, and they drove significant efficiency improvements just with the very strategic application of technology.

Steve Gotz:                        16:47                    

So, banks have those kinds of opportunities in spade. When we arrived at Umpqua, the number of operational efficiencies the word technology brought to bear was substantial. So, the question is what's the right portfolio, right? What's the right portfolio mix between kind of front facing, consumer applications, and back office? Let's make this engine as efficient as we can make it.

Amy Lombardo:                17:12                    

So, do you have a thought on that of what is that perfect balance? Is that the next project for people to turn to you on?

Steve Gotz:                        17:19                    

Well yeah. This is I think why kind of proclamations are dangerous. I think this is one of those places where I think it really depends on the organization, and the state of the organization. When we got to Umpqua, they have just been through a core transition, starting to think about other projects that need to get done. So, there were some strategy decisions and said, "You know what? We're going to really focus on that customer experience while we give the organization time to figure out what's going to be the internal digital transformation strategy." So, that was the right mix for Umpqua. I think you have other organizations that are fairly sophisticated on the front end where they could use focus on the back end efficiency. So, that's a long way of saying it depends.

Amy Lombardo:                18:05                    

Okay. Fair enough. All right. I'm going to throw this one out to you Steve.

Steve Gotz:                        18:08                    


Amy Lombardo:                18:08                    

So, we talk a lot about this idea of retailing banking. It's not just banking, it's retail banking, and really these two industries converge together. Would you agree with that statement? Have any thought around is banking really retail banking?

Steve Gotz:                        18:23                    

Absolutely, absolutely. It's retail, and in my view the bank has a role in that, right? Today and into the future. The bank is an orchestrator of commerce, the bank is at the center of that experience. That's a powerful idea that I think is just coming to.

Amy Lombardo:                18:38                    

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right. In any of the work that you do, do you find executives challenged with branch closings, and just trying to find that optimal footprint here, and just some of those challenges that are keeping them up at night around branch locations, and branch size?

Steve Gotz:                        18:54                    

Yeah, so this is a perennial problem, right? And the problem of a branch is a catch 22. Everybody knows this. The branch density is very high in America. That's for a reason. You ask Americans kind of how they choose their bank. At least up until a year or two ago, branch location, branch convenience-

Amy Lombardo:                19:12                    

Okay. Yeah, exactly.

Steve Gotz:                        19:14                    

Was one of the top choices, right? Now what's interesting is it's often the top choice, but when you look at the stats about how often do people go to the branch, they tend not to go in. So, they say it's important, but they don't go into the branch. So, this is the catch 22. You start shutting down your branches, you start kind of reducing your branch density, you start losing those deposits because customers have a fixation with the branch. The way we thought about tackling this was, "Okay. They say they want it, but they don't really go in all the time. So, what do they really want?" And what they wanted was a lifeline. What they wanted was a safety net, a connection.

Steve Gotz:                        19:54                    

So, we're like, "Okay. If we can give them that same kind of feeling with a dedicated digital banker, maybe the physical doesn't matter as much. Maybe we can reduce the density of the branch network, move to a destination branch strategy, take all of that OPEX off the books while keeping the people, right? And the people are important because they're really key to creating this personalized experience of that digital channel. And if we can do that, we can start right sizing the branch network while deepening the relationship with the customer at the same time.

Amy Lombardo:                20:24                    

Right. Oh my gosh. I have the perfect example just in my home life. Several years ago, my husband and I, we were going through some sort of refinancing, and we had to have a check physically signed by this particular ... The institution that was through our loan. I'm looking online and I was like, "Okay, I live in Ohio, and the closest is in New Jersey." And there was no options other than take this check physically to New Jersey. Nowadays I'm like, "Well, now we have check box features, and video tellers that I could have made that work." But several years ago luckily we just ironically we have a family member that lived there, and we happen to be visiting, and we went out of our way to go to this bank branch.

Amy Lombardo:                21:09                    

But it was such a hassle, and just to think how technology has come and crossing those channels, that had been no problem today. But that seems like eons ago, yet it was maybe only like two, three years ago.

Steve Gotz:                        21:25                    

I mean we've trained consumers to kind of have this unnatural connection to the branch.

Amy Lombardo:                21:31                    


Steve Gotz:                        21:32                    

Actually, that's not entirely accurate because at a certain point it was natural. Before a lot of the digital technologies we have today, that branch network was really valuable. We're getting to this point now where it's not so valuable we can right-size it, but the burden is on the industry to weening customers off that expectation, to show customers that we can deliver you the exact same experience through our digital channel, and it doesn't matter if the branch that you normally go to around the corner isn't there anymore because you're not going into it that often anymore.

Amy Lombardo:                22:02                    

Right. But of course it's just finding that balance of how often do you still need that physical interaction to potential create that emotional connection versus, "I just need the quick, easy transaction here."

Steve Gotz:                        22:14                    

Yeah. So the idea behind Pivotus Engage, which was the platform that we've built as over time if a customer can chat with the same person over, and over again they're going to develop a relationship, right? A professional relationship, and they're going to start trusting this person. And this is important because bankers used to be trusted. Over the last decade though, that trust has waned. So we're like, "How do we get back to that?" It's the same person, same conversation, interacting with the customer over time, and at a certain point the customer is like, "Yes, I need help here. I need help there." Right?

Steve Gotz:                        22:47                    

You can almost see the switch flip in the relationship where the customer starts to trust the banker on the other side, and that's when magic can happen because when you're in that trust space relationship with the customer, you can then advise, you can then recommend, you can then orchestrate commerce, right? Which is what we're talking about.

Amy Lombardo:                23:07                    


Steve Gotz:                        23:07                    

Then you can be able to play with that relationship, and if you can get there, that's where I think exciting things happen in the industry.

Amy Lombardo:                23:14                    

Okay. So, Umpqua came up with this or you helped with this engagement platform, and really the idea in general around experience platforms. Of course, there's obviously the personalization aspect, but what also is necessary to enable them?

Steve Gotz:                        23:32                    

I think you'd be from the top down of the organization. So technology is easy, right? I mean building the underlying tools to create new experiences. That's easy. Our experience is most people that are working in the bank, they want to do more. They want to help their customers. The want to support them. I think the critical element is the will, the drive, and the impetus from the top of the organization. From the board and the CEO to say, "We're going to do this." Right? "We're going to make an investment in creating new experiences for our customers. We're going to make an investment in retrofitting our technology organization so that we can create these new experiences."

Steve Gotz:                        24:11                    

I think without that kind of top down commitment, you end up with what we were talking about at the beginning, which is innovation theater.

Amy Lombardo:                24:19                    


Steve Gotz:                        24:19                    

Because the kind of change we're talking about, it takes time, it takes commitment, it hurts sometimes, right? Because people have to change. That only happens if that commitment is there within the C-Suite.

Amy Lombardo:                24:31                    

Got it. So, and maybe that's a good closing point here, and just getting that buy-in from the highest level. Is there anything else maybe you'd want to share with our listeners here on ways to think about how they're transforming their business?

Steve Gotz:                        24:48                     

Yeah. So, I think what I would leave people with is there's this emerging zeitgeist in Silicon Valley, which is we're entering the age of the big company, right? We're entering the age where having a good idea isn't enough. To actualize that good idea you need data, you need distribution, you need customers, you have capital. All of those things live within the four walls of every company out there, every bank in America who has these things, and I think the opportunity is to find creative ways to leverage those assets in new and different ways, right? I think it's somewhat presumptuous to suggest that the banking industry is facing its Kodak moment because I don't think it is.

Steve Gotz:                        25:28                    

I think the banking industry has never been better positioned to control its own future, and that's what I'm excited about, and that's what your listeners should be excited about.

Amy Lombardo:                25:36                    

Very good. Well Steve, this was an awesome conversation. I got a lot out of it, I hope our listeners do as well, and thank you of course for taking the time to be with us, and to our listeners for tuning into this episode of COMMERCE NOW. To learn more about this topic, log onto Until next time, keep checking back on iTunes or your podcast listening channel for new topics on COMMERCE NOW.