If Banks Could Do It Like Nike !

17. November 2017.

When most sports apparel brands were losing out on differentiation and everybody had pretty much nailed the sneaker business and were losing precious business to cheap counterfeits, Nike decided to do things their way . They created an alternate market of data driven innovation, fostered a digital connect with its end consumers through apps and most importantly created a community that lives and breathes the Nike brand through its wearables , apps , apparels and sports equipment leaving its competition way behind .

As it gets harder to innovate and create differentiation in banking, it is interesting to sit back and observe how Nike changed the game to retain relevance.

Creating that ‘core digital’ organization

Consistently, over the years we have heard Trevor Edwards, President , Nike Brand speak about ‘digital’ being core to its growth strategy . Nike restructured successfully over almost two years to create a digital organization within, bringing the Nike+ digital products, Nike.com and direct-to-consumer retail stores under one leadership, that of Adam Sussman’s . Also, remarkable to note , is that the fitness megabrand chose to put someone from the interactive gaming and entertainment industry in charge of the change rather than someone with a background in consumer retail!

Swearing by an aggressive Innovation Strategy

Nike’s ‘Triple Double Strategy: 2X Innovation, 2X Direct and 2X Speed’ has a clear strategic focus on keeping customer interaction direct to the brand and keeping operations cost minimal .However , product innovation is top on its cards. The brand invests heavily in research and innovation of components that go into building sportswear apparel and shoes such as fabric

Adopting Platform Strategy

If you look at the Nike Fuel Band or its connected running shoes, they are continuously capturing and relaying data to a connected platform. These things are continuously feeding data into the platform and continuously self-learning from this source of connected data.

If Nike were to monetize this data platform, Nike could well be the entry point for others including banks to unlock new engagements or drive deeper insights for individuals , communities and even enterprises.

Creating a ‘United by Brand’ Community

With the mobile apps that Nike has created, and its IoT enabled wearables , combined with very powerful branding , it created the Nike community. The multiple apps cater to diverse and yet niche users. Nike+ Running for example helps one stay motivated , share run statistics with friends located across the world and also compete .

Powerful analytics that help one understand their style of running , heat maps etc all add up to helping one improve their running skills and stay motivated. Nike+ Training on the other hand coaches one for a healthy lifestyle while the goal here is personalization of workouts to one’s individual body type , goals and fitness levels. There is also a strong offline community angle with Nike+ Running and the Soccer App where you can find and meet and play together.

Nike nailed ‘social sharing’ through its own apps and therefore re-inforced the brand in the minds of all – professional athletes , lifestyle runners , young skateboarders even senior golfers through its dedicated golf app.

Customer-Experience driven collaborations

When adopting the platform strategy , collaborations and end customer-experience driven partnerships become huge differentiators. Integrating Spotify and iTunes into Nike+ and allowing the users to create Powertunes etc. improve the way users interact with the brand , or engage with artists on these apps. The apps also come embedded in iPods and certain wearables too.

Also , social sharing helps create a lot of content and increase engagement for Nike. In doing so , it indirectly creates traction and desirability its products which are also sold online on these apps.

What’s in it for the Banks ?

While it is important to adopt a ‘digital-to-core’ culture, it is also important to experiment with the organization structure and leadership to steer the bank of tomorrow. While most banks have consciously restructured to create a digital organization within, it is also important to empower the CDO to create a compelling end state brand vision that transcends beyond digital engagement and digital sales execution.

Gearing up for ‘platform strategy’ is inevitable. Tomorrow’s innovation is based on today’s foundation and what the digital bank of today must work on today is foundational building blocks –(read microservices built on open API architectural standards ) for tomorrow’s bank as a platform.

Just as the connected running shoe feeds information into the platform and gives valuable insights about the customer right from his fitness levels , GPS data , music choices , friends and personality insights such as competitive streaks etc. making it a great source for data driven innovation within Nike and its partners , banks can use account behavior to tap into the customer’s lifestyle.

The bank as a platform can ultimately stand to hold all financial and non financial data . With a stack of APIs that allow enrichment and consumption of this data for other lifestyle services/apps , it can become a powerhouse of recommendations and services around individual lifestyles .

The bank that seems to be getting the basics right like Nike is Fidor. Fidor focusses to build an external community of businesses that use its core banking services. In March 2015, it launched its open application programming interface (API), a set of technical services which lets third-party developers create apps and services that make use of Fidor’s core banking features. Fidor already has several customers using the live API with 100 more in the pipeline, building everything from applications for buying precious metals to trading currencies.

Finally , creating a community has oft been ignored by banks . Again, Fidor came along and showed everyone the power of community based insights and crowdlending where friends and community users can recommend services or offer funds .

While every bank has set out to chart its own journey towards the bank of tomorrow , the three things that will hold key value is the strategy behind – innovation , ecosystem enablement and branding . Its going to be interesting to wait and watch who nails the game.

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