The Institute for Innovation Development interview series will be inviting top innovation specialists from around the world to talk to our readers about global, cross-industry innovation activities and how to apply these innovation best practices to financial services businesses.

For this interview, we have two financial services veterans from the Immersion Group -- Greg Smith and Jeff Harrison. Each have 30 years of industry experience. Their mission is not just to make your firm incrementally more successful but to help you transform it into an agile, future-ready organization that can keep adapting to and leading change in the increasingly competitive financial services business environment. 

Hortz: Thank you gentlemen for your time today. Let’s get right into it! As business transformation specialists, what exactly is a “transformation facilitator” and why is one necessary in today’s financial services business environment?

Smith: We believe that current traditional financial services’ business models will soon go the way of the Sony Walkman and become obsolete. Whether due to cultural changes, shifting generational preferences, ethnic diversification and/or a desire to impact society, the financial services client is changing … and we must change with them! When we talk about business “transformation,” it is not just about an incremental change that involves the addition of new technology to the organization. We are talking about a foundational alteration in the “why” and “how” we do business. It is about developing an organization that is able to continually address change and reinvent itself.

Bill, do you remember the Kodak Instamatic and the Xerox printer?

Hortz: I do, but don’t we still have Xerox printers?

Smith: Yes, but today’s Xerox machine copies, scans, prints, routes images to your network, e-mails, faxes and more. What a great example of maintaining product relevance! More important to this discussion, though, is that Xerox has remained a viable entity because it has continuously challenged and reinvented itself.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is the example of Kodak. Kodak thought they were in the camera and film business even as demand for film was waning in light of the digital revolution. Ironically, Kodak actually invented the first digital camera in 1975. As recently as 1996, Kodak was a $28 billion company and employed around 140,000 people. Sixteen years later, the firm declared bankruptcy with about a 10th of its previous workforce. They are no longer the blue chip household name they once were.

Xerox, on the other hand, remains a large, relevant company with over $1 billion is annual income and almost 150,000 employees. Realizing they are in a broader business -- business services -- Xerox keeps reinventing itself by embracing an “agile business model” to help consistently and systematically transform their “business thinking and projects.”

These are just two quick glaring examples of the need to constantly transform and innovate as the world changes rapidly around you.