“It is no longer about digitization of the banking business, but about banking in a digitized world.”
Mirjam Puetz, Head of Disruptive & Strategic Programs at the Deutsche Bank
Innoboard: There is no consistent definition of innovation. Every industry and every department perceive it differently. How do you define innovation?
Mirjam Puetz: For me personally, innovation is more than the development of new products and services, it is the lifeblood of all our efforts and has been a major driver of human development over the millennia. It is the materialisation of a creative spark, conceived in the most complex of all machines we know of today, our brain, and turned into reality by the efforts of multiple individuals that join forces to create something bigger than themselves. In this respect, innovation is not just something new and “disruptive”, it is the instantiation of the creative genius we all carry within us.
In banking, however, our focus in the last few decades has been on efficiency, creating more and more standardisation and a lack of creativity to build a new banking world. From our customers’ perspective, innovation is also a lifestyle, an attitude of constant questioning and improving of the status quo, a never-ending quest to change a product, a service or a whole society for the better. In this respect, the banking industry has embarked on a new journey, meeting and surpassing our customers’ expectations, improving our own innovation capabilities and the speed with which we are implementing changes in our own organisation and our offerings.
The banking industry is going through a lot of changes due to digitalization. How are these digital changes affecting the banking industry?
We are in the midst of a profound transformation from an analog to a digital world. Banks are currently experiencing what other industries, such as the music or the publishing industry, have already gone through. It is clear that the future of our business is not more of the same, but requires a new way of thinking. It is no longer about digitization of the banking business, but about banking in a digitized world. The customers themselves are setting the pace and are demanding not only new personalized offers, but a whole new relationship with their bank. Other industries do have R&D departments to cope with new developments and which work on future related topics. The same holds true for banks if they desire to master these upcoming challenges. When R&D is prioritized as an essential part of the future of banking, digitization can be a driving force behind innovation to develop new business models in banking and beyond. We are committed to consequently take this chance as Deutsche Bank going forward.
FinTechs are one of the strongest disruptors. How are the FinTechs going to affect the more traditional banking system?
FinTechs can be both competitors and partners. When FinTechs aim for the direct relationship with clients, they are and will remain competitors that banks have to deal with by going on the offensive. However, when FinTechs help traditional banks to launch innovations more quickly and with greater focus on specific target groups, then these young technology firms serve as important partners. Many of the new companies are more “tech” than “fin”, meaning that they provide innovative technologies and clever solutions while we as a bank can grant them access to a huge customer base. Furthermore, FinTechs have adapted their business models in many cases from B2C to B2B and are therefore looking forward to working with established banks. Deutsche Bank is already cooperating closely with ten FinTechs in our private and commercial banking business division, and additional collaborations are in the pipeline.
What other disruptors can be a threat to the traditional banking industry?
In recent years, the banking industry has concentrated on FinTechs as potential disruptors. We strongly believe that FinTechs are becoming more and more valuable partners, creating a “win – win – win” situation for customers, FinTechs and the bank. The real disruption, however, will not come from FinTechs but from huge ecosystems like the GAFAs (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple). These companies have a customer base varying from several hundred million up to two billion; and most of their clients have an affinity for digital solutions. If these ecosystems decide to launch new (financial) products, this would have immediate global reach and could be a real game changer for the banking industry.
What is Disruptive & Strategic Programs’ purpose and role within the Chief Digital Office of Deutsche Bank?
Our department is strongly focusing on future operating models for a bank in the next decade. Our core method is ‘screen, develop, share.’ Through our network, we screen the market and evaluate trends for the bank. These inclinations help us to analyze shifts in our own and other industries as well as in changing customer behavior, which we then translate into concrete actions for the bank. We develop new business models by delivering mostly near banking and beyond banking impulses into the organization and support cross-divisional projects with our know-how aiming to re-invent banking. By sharing our knowledge in- and outside the bank, we offer a platform for exchange of ideas and knowledge in order to grow continuously.
As Deutsche Bank we have been constantly growing our digital ecosystem over the past year. Our internal and external partners, such as Deutsche Bank Labs (technology screening), Quartier Zukunft (customer experience store), Axel Springer Plug’n’Play (early stage start-up accelerator), Tech Quartier and Factory Berlin (co-working spaces for start-ups and corporates) and of course our Digital Factory (development of new digital products & services) serve as important pillars to execute on our digital transformation journey.
About the interviewee
Mirjam Puetz is head of Disruptive & Strategic Programs at the Deutsche Bank. Her 15 years of experience in international retail banking started with a classic banking education, having worked in various departments since then. In addition to the academic studies completed at INSEAD, EBS and other universities, she also studied organizational psychology. Previously Mirjam Puetz held various senior positions at Deutsche Bank in Turkey, Singapore and China and currently holds two board positions in the banking and medical environment.
As head of Disruptive & Strategic Programs she has built Quartier Zukunft in Berlin, a customer experience store concept for Deutsche Bank. Her focus on positive disruptive developments within the bank revolve around screening markets and trends, gaining customer insights, developing beyond banking ideas and finally sharing understandings inside and outside the bank.