I woke up this morning to a very simple and well designed email from Andy Rachleff, CEO of Wealthfront with the headline "Doing more for you".

Naturally, I was excited to receive a "personal" email from Andy and read it (quickly realizing every client gets one...but that's beside the point ;), learning that Wealthfront has evolved their product from helping people answer "How should I invest?", into addressing other areas of planning questions such as "Can I retire early?":

"Earlier this year we introduced Path, our comprehensive planning solution. It’s designed to help you reach your most important life goals through an interactive, delightful mobile experience." - Andy Rachleff, CEO of Wealthfront

On the surface, this isn't a big deal but coming out of Sibos, it kind of is...

Here's why.

"Intellectually" understanding is one thing...

Sibos is a very sophisticated Financial Services conference. Not to suggest other conferences aren't sophisticated, so maybe a better description is "serious".

"Serious" in a very good way. It's all business and is full of 4-5000 of the most "business oriented folks" in the world of Finance that are very "serious" about protecting, evolving and growing their businesses.

While there were a lot of topics discussed over the 4 days, the one key takeaway I left Toronto with is that within Financial Services, there is a significant gap between "intellectually" understanding the challenges/opportunities presented by "competing on customer experience" and the depth of understanding of "Digital Transformation" required to develop the conviction to execute and allocate investment dollars accordingly.

That's what was missing. That's the opportunity.

That's why the time for thinking, talking and debating is quickly coming to an end because the smart money is realizing that the window is closing very quickly...and the even smarter money is heads down, successfully executing their way through this transformational time.

"Think" less, "do" more + Pareto's principle.

There are many different ways to describe "Digital Transformation" and even more ways to describe all the "From --> To --> How" frameworks/scenarios etc. that will get you there (conceptually). But now that we've entered into the next phase, the one where there's "intellectual" understanding across the board, it's time to "do".

No need to overthink it, just start by focusing on the stuff that won't change and use "Pareto's Principle" to guide your initial area(s) of focus via 1-2 POCs knowing that they will be your transformational building blocks, becoming the foundation for your journey of horizontal, enterprise wide transformation over time.

For example, you could start by focusing on answering this question:

"How do I make my customers' lives easier, make them happier and more successful while simultaneously improving the productivity and profitability of my company?"

But instead of overspending on "thinking", which also dials your risk-profile up given that some of your competition have already started to figure this out, "reverse engineer" your strategy by "doing".

"APIs are like ice cream"

"Digital Transformation" and the requirement to "compete on customer experience" are macro trends which are just now settling in aka we're in first few innings of a 9-inning baseball game that will most likely go extra innings.

In order to be successful, organizations are ultimately going to have to invest in an enterprise wide mindset shift which is most definitely a process and will not happen overnight.

As one of the rockstar Sibos panelists pointed out during a session on this topic of culture change, mindset shift and the importance of an organization learning by doing, she compared APIs to ice cream:

"If I try and describe APIs to non-tech/digital folks, it's a waste of time. If I try and show them what an API is, it doesn't work. But if I immerse them in APIs, like giving someone their first taste of ice cream, they REALLY get it."

"Putting the customer at the center of everything you do"...

But what does that really mean? It means you have to commit to agreeing that having lot's of data about your customers doesn't really mean anything unless you do something about it.

If you do something with the data, now that's a different story and things will get exciting. Quickly.

For example, Brown Advisory wanted to figure out how to make life better for their clients, equip their people to provide better service and offer a seamless, intuitive experience. The result was the creation and deployment of TouchPoint and Galileo. These tools have driven substantial growth including an incremental 2000 net new portfolios per quarter as of January 2017.

"When we started this journey, the world was changing and we weren't doing enough to change with it. TouchPoint was and is the largest technology investment the firm has ever made. With its launch, we committed in a big and meaningful way. This tool, coupled with Galileo, form the backbone that makes us capable in delivering on our promise." - Michael Aldrich, Brown Advisory, Global Head of Operational Strategy

Another example is "Return on Experience" (RoX) which is a framework to evaluate the collective experience of your customers across analog, digital and hybrid touch points along with the methodology to improve your RoX score over time. Linking the improvement in your RoX score directly to tangible ROI. The kind of ROI that Wall Street loves to hear about.

"For every $1 invested in Digital Experience Optimization, RoX delivered $14 in return in year 1 and 15%+ in on-going, compound annual returns. Delivered on CMO vision for Digital's role in achieving business KPIs, leading to broader enterprise digital transformation." - One of the world's largest Telecommunications providers

Playing the long-game

Last Wednesday, I attended Yahoo's "All Market Summit" and was fortunate enough to hear Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna interviewed. Mark is an incredibly inspiring leader and his segment clearly stole the show.

When asked about his highly innovative and successful approach to business, one thing he said that really stood out and is quite relevant to the "do" phase that we're now entering tied to perspective when it comes to tech/digital/data etc:

"Tech is just a tool. It creates an experience that changes the way people buy. Customers disrupt industries. Tech doesn't." - Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna

It's time to start "thinking" less about all the tools and start "doing" more with them to create incredible experiences and of course, shifting mindsets and changing cultures along the way too...;)

E: Alec.coughlin@sapientrazorfish.com; T/IG: @Alec_Coughlin