I was at a recent industry event with a group of comrades anxious to become more innovative.

I was particularly excited to participate in a Financial Services break out session with many of the industry leaders. A colleague who works for a premier leader in the banking industry pitched a disruptive idea that I found compelling. The opportunity swirled through my mind with many dimensions to it — so many routes to market, which would be the best?

In a room filled with the Financial Services stalwarts, someone asked, “Wow. What action is your company taking? And why are you sharing this idea with so many competitors?” The idea guy said, “We need a compelling event to shake up the market to move this.” Hmmm.

This reluctant approach can be understood in an industry that is still reeling from the loss of trust caused by the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the worst of its kind in my professional career. There is still evidence of widespread impact throughout international banking and capital markets, retail banks, mortgage banks, and insurance firms of this economic crisis a decade later. Caution is understandable as trust is re-earned.

Even so, I wondered what level of disruption would constitute an action. 

Status quo can reverberate when traditional accounting and ROI analyses are applied.  Legacy methods can make the mistake of assuming the current health of a company will continue on the same trajectory as today. Traditional business value methods may not recognize, or know how to place monetary value on, the threat of disruption until it has already been monetized by someone else.

The Venture Capital community seems to agree that a disruptive event is not needed to execute a new idea. The VC community has invested over $50B, yes billion, in FinTech start ups in the past decade. The industry is ripe for change, and ready for breakthrough ideas. 

In a digital age, the barriers to change for our customers are dramatically lower, often only a click away. While the thousands of startups that have been VC funded may often be independently shrugged off as a threat, the sum of them cannot be ignored. Some are expanding the market to non-consumers, others are working hard and fast with huge disruptive potential. More and more often we are seeing well known financial firms, with a lower appetite for risk, investing and partnering with FinTech for experimentation and prototyping work - such as exploring blockchain and distributed ledger innovation.  

Taking no action can actually be a bigger risk than taking a bold step to move an idea forward. We’re in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution with an accelerating speed of technological innovation, evident in AI and IoT. Intelligence is emerging and influencing business in all industries, changing the game. The leaders in the fourth industrial revolution will embrace this change and apply technology to transformation business capabilities.

Success is only temporary. However, if we harness innovation, experimentation, and rapid prototyping to incubate our ideas, we can become the disruptors rather than risk becoming the disrupted. Don’t wait.

The risk of doing nothing is real.

Salesforce can help you cultivate customer success to reach for sustainable innovation.

Our Dreamforce keynote presentation Financial Services: Build Loyalty by Unlocking Your Firm's Full Potential shares our point of view on how we can help. Citi: Customer Showcase features a short video clip about how a 200 year old bank is transforming to become an always-on life partner to their customers, and provides insight on how they are using Salesforce to stay innovative and nimble. 

Our Trailblazers Guide to Financial Services Cloud e-book can help you understand how to get started.  If you want to learn more about how Salesforce can help, Meet Blaze, Your Guide on the Path to Success. We’ve got this!

About the Author

Sandi Scullen (@sandi_scullen) is a Program Executive in Salesforce’s Innovation and Transformation Center, on a mission to transform business capabilities by applying technology. She is a change agent with a passion for launching new products and services, inspiring customer success, and creating and executing strategies that produce results.