Innovation Leaders Club event about the future economic trends

The Innovation Leaders Club organised a joint event together with the SEB growth programme on the topic of future economic trends to address the question “How can we strategically manage the development of new services, business models and processes?” 

Find event gallery HERE.

SEB presented a picture at the event of the directions in the digital revolution and of economic trends. The innovative companies Helmes, Astro Baltics and MyDello discussed digital developments in the financial sector, giving insights into innovation projects and sharing practical examples and opportunities for cooperation.

Executive MBAs from Wharton Business School also attended the event to learn about the broader transformation of the economy, developments in digital culture, and the background of the e-government in Estonia. They wanted to analyse how the nation became a leader in virtual citizenship and social services, how this is different to the experience in the United States, and what synergies this creates for local business. They were further interested in cross-sectoral cooperation and the various initiatives through which the country has supported entrepreneurship, and in technological innovation and the startup culture. Thirdly they plan to analyse some case studies of globally significant Estonian enterprises and offer solutions to various challenges. This also gave a great opportunity for Estonian companies to network and connect with stakeholders in US so that they could analyse the opportunities in that country and find ways to collaborate with US partners and expand there.

The event was opened by Edward Rebane, Head of SEB Digital Banking, who began by saying that we have come to a perfect place to discuss innovation, before introducing the day’s agenda. He was followed by opening words from Martin Goroško, Head of Business Development at Tehnopol Science and Business Park. “We have held events for the Innovation Leaders Club for at least two years and this is by far the largest event that we’ve had”, he said.

“Not only do we have a really vibrant startup ecosystem in Estonia, but there are still very many large corporations and public organisations that are striving for innovation”, he said, noting that “this is why we brought together large private and public companies, corporations and sectors, since when we have become one of the largest communities striving towards innovation. It’s all about learning from each other, communicating with each other, taking the best practices and implementing them; it’s about making smart investments, investing in the future, working together with startups and so on. And this is something that the Innovation Leaders Club represents”.

Going digital but staying personal 

Edward Rebane and Märten Liinat, the Head of Digital Sales and Automation at SEB, presented the history of SEB and talked about the digital transformation of the bank. Their goal has been to double their digital sales, but how can an old and quite conservative bank do that without achieving the opposite result? The answer is by “using legacy as our force”.

Edward and Märten covered many points about what was done to digitalise the bank. They explained proactive customer activation, modern digital channels and digital products like straight-through processing (STP). But maybe the most important aspect of digitalising is people, explained Edward.

“A good plan does not always mean you will have smooth sailing”, Märten said as he started to unveil “the nine circles of hell”. Whatever your company, he said, everybody has their nine circles of hell and their own struggles, like the conservative history carried by an old bank. He explained that they have had lots of ideas over the years but most of them have hit the walls of IT and business development resources.

Eventually they managed to make a really simple “needs tree” by asking the customers what bottlenecks and other problems they have encountered, and after doing that research they had the data with which they could:

  • personalise offers and communication;
  • automate tasks and content;
  • orchestrate between channels.

Wine drinkers and beer drinkers

Peeter Koppel, a strategist in SEB private banking, gave a great presentation about economic trends and future directions. “I will try to explain to you my understanding of what’s happening in the world today – it’s not good. The biggest trouble we have is inflation”, he began his presentation, after which he explained the whole process of how we have arrived here.

“The biggest problem in the global economy is that we have huge amounts of debt, especially on the government side. When interest rates increase, those debtors are not going to be feeling so good. If you look at Europe, everyone, or all the countries, who is drinking beer, is basically fine, but everyone who is drinking red wine, they are, well, practically insolvent. So this means that you have inflation, you don’t know where it’s going and you have interest rates which should be higher considering all the other factors.”

“When you don’t know the level of inflation, when you don’t know how interest rates will develop, then you don’t know what is going to happen to economic growth. So everything is in a fog. This morning was quite foggy – the situation is quite similar”.

Peeter talked about how the price of money is going up. In the long term too, but it is difficult to say by how much. The situation today will reward those taking risks, but those risks have to be thought through. As for startups – “the valuations of startups have also come down and you are not going to be raising any millions with happy faces anymore.”

To a question from the audience about the euro area, Peeter answered that the beer drinkers in the euro area will eventually pay for the lifestyles of the wine drinkers. That is because there are considerable differences in their productivity levels, and if you put them together in the same currency zone without transfer mechanisms, you’re going to have trouble, and that trouble is already here.

Read the whole blog post here:

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