Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Discovery Keynote: How a Global Futurist Sees the World

By Eric Nelson

In preparation for the upcoming Discovery Conference 2018, Global Futurist, Innovation and Digital Media Strategist Scott Bales took some time to talk with us and share a bit about his upcoming keynote addresses to credit unions across the country.

Q: Your background sounds fascinating. Can you share a little bit about yourself? And, about your role at Innovation Labs Asia?
A: I have been lucky enough to undertake a number of roles that have meshed my fascination with people and what motivates them with my raw enthusiasm for technology. After a decade of working in the Australian banking sector, my life journey took me to India and Cambodia where I needed to develop alternative strategies to business and product development that were fit for purpose. 

At the time it seemed simple: Empathize for a market before developing a business or technology strategy, but the skill-set and experience required were amplified in these developing markets. I craved to learn more about people and how technologies interacted with them and enhanced their lives.  And, I went on to work in markets like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Colombia, and more. I am now based in Singapore where I run Innovation Labs Asia - partnering with organizations with an appetite to pivot and leading them to excel through innovation.

Q: Can you tell participants a bit more about how a Global Futurist, Innovation and Digital Strategist views the world? 
A: This is my guiding principle: As long as I feel that I am making a positive impact on humanity, I’d be happy to do it. I look for how to turn empathy into opportunity. So many of us are obsessed with technologies and buzzwords that we forget about people. Our customers are not the technologies. Our customers are people, and we need to understand their needs to uncover opportunities to serve them better. It’s about understanding your customers and sympathizing with their needs, priorities and concerns. 

If you truly empathize with people’s problems and needs, they will tell you what they want. And, from there, you can turn empathy into opportunity. I am a huge advocate for positive human impact, and innovation is just one of the means to that end. The work that I do all relates back to helping to make people’s lives better. 

Q: In our ever-evolving world, what can credit unions do to stay relevant – and thrive - in an increasingly competitive financial services landscape?
A: Credit unions have an advantage that they have yet to leverage. In the modern digitally driven world, the best organizations have a deep empathy for their customers and staff, using the insights gained from understanding to learn and adapt to evolving market needs. Companies like Airbnb, Amazon and Google hire for cultural fit, and their most aspirational attribute is customer focus. While traditional banks struggle to move beyond shareholder value and a product-centric mindset, credit unions have the opportunity to leapfrog.

Q: You’re presenting two courses at Discovery Conference 2018. Can you give us a preview of the topics and key takeaways attendees will take away from the discussions?
A:  In "Innovation Wars," we take an investigative journey through the eyes of Isaac, the digital native who embodies the generational shift of cultural, behavioral and technological changes that are shaping the expectations of the modern consumer.
     Takeaways include:
     - Learn to identify and ask the right questions of the market for signs of industry disruption
     - In-depth understanding of the realities that shape the modern consumer

In "Uncover the Competitive Innovation Edge," we examine that a decade of technology-driven progress has triggered a global shift in leadership practice. It's driving new demands on organizational capability, culture and design. Leading organizations around the world leverage the power of Customer Centric Design and Lean Startup methods, outpacing their corporate peers in the battle for future markets. 
     Key Takeaways include:
     - Investigation in the competitive battlefield that is innovation.  
     - What are the strategic lessons from those that drive success?
     - What are the frameworks, tools and key infantry you'll need to drive innovation?
     - Simple practical tools for you to implement immediately

Q: Anything else credit unions should keep in mind as they prepare for Discovery Conference 2018?
A:  Today’s leaders need new business designs, tools and frameworks to steer their organizations towards success. The success stories of just ten years ago are facing a new enemy, one equipped with newer technology, empowered consumer voices and a connected economy. These market forces have driven the power back to the consumer, creating a platform for customer-centric innovation.

Organizations that harness the power of the consumer's voice find new ways to solve old problems, unlock market frustration and optimize convenience to new levels. Embrace new methods to rethink their core purpose and value proposition. Adapt, or die.

Learn more about Scott Bales at Discovery Conference 2018, Thursday, August 16. The FREE event is available exclusively online. Register today!