Why Nokia failed - musings from Norway Fintech Festival
Also - SSF to SB1 and Morphing UI
For the last two days, I've attended Norway Fintech Festival and seen a lot of talks and panels. My main impression is that there is a specific type of person that ends up on the stage at a Fintech Festival. A person that has done everything correctly on the career ladder for years. They have balanced on a line to get where they are today and aren't going to step off that line for a talk or a panel discussion even though they disagree with their panelists.
This is why it was freeing when Kenneth Jönsson, previous General Manager at Nokia, shared how a combination of arrogance, power, and bad decisions (like creating their own operating system and then betting on the Windows operating system for their phones) made it impossible for Nokia to maintain its position in the mobile market. He also pinpointed another reason they failed: Nokia always followed their working methods and rules from regulators while their American counterparts just did things and then apologized afterward. Their competitors launched as soon as "the boat could float" and released continuous updates.
Another interesting voice was Magnus Jones, Nordic Blockchain & Innovation Lead at EY, discussing why Norwegian authorities (Brønnøysundregistrene and Skatteetaten) chose to create Worlds first Tax and Registry office in Metaverse. He talked about Decentraland (A metaverse) as a horrible shitty place with lots of idiots and stated that this is not innovation but it is play and experimentation. The same sentiment was shared by Taylor Ryan who questioned whether evaluating blockchain and cryptocurrencies solely based on their initial uses is fair, showing examples of the initial were not impressive but eventually became successful (like TV and mobile phones). Innovation is not always about being perfect from the start but rather about taking risks and continuously improving.
A recurring topic was how to innovate in existing companies. Old companies often struggle with structural and legacy inertia, so how can they position themselves to get out of this pattern? Inger Stensaker from NHH had a lot of good examples that you need to set up something structurally separate so innovation can get space next to the established without being constantly challenged. Vipps, Himla, and Bulder, were all examples of this. Torvald Kvamme, ex-CEO of Spv's Bulder Bank, also believed it essential to have a separate unit just enough outside of the main organization to get the necessary freedom to experiment and take risks but still have enough support to avoid being completely isolated.
It is easy for a conference like this to nerd out on regulations and new technologies like Blockchain or AI (and there were enough examples of this), but the main point that went through a lot of the talks was that people should always be at the center of what they do.
People are more important than capital and tech
Ultimately, the success of any technology depends on its ability to make people's lives easier, more convenient, or more enjoyable. If it fails to do so, it is unlikely to gain any traction in the marketplace. You need to prioritize the people before technology. This means understanding their needs, desires, and pain points and designing your offering with those in mind.
Back to the regular schedule:
SSF to SB1
Sparebanken Sogn og Fjordane has invested 630 million NOK to become the 14th co-owner of Norway's largest bank alliance, SpareBank 1. This investment will give the bank access to a broader range of products and greater economies of scale while maintaining its focus on the needs of customers and communities in the region. While there will be some changes to the bank's technology offerings, the bank will continue to focus on local expertise and decision-making. As a result of its investment in SpareBank 1, Sparebanken Sogn og Fjordane will be divesting its ownership in Frende Forsikring. The trend of banks merging is something we’ve talked a lot about during the last years, and probably something we’ll see more of in the years to come.
Lastly, I want to share some beautiful interactions from the coming crypto app, Family. They have created an interesting morphing UI that seamlessly transforms from one screen to another, creating a fluid user experience. It's impressive to see how they have used design as a tool to make their users' interactions more intuitive and enjoyable:
Our goal is to create the wallet you'll enjoy using every day. That’s why we pour so much time and effort into making every last detail feel delightful. Here’s a quick look at something you'll likely do quite often: sending tokens. 🌎
— Family (@family)
Jan 6, 2023
Creating your first wallet is a meaningful moment. In Family, it feels that way. During setup, personalize your wallet to your liking and watch a beautiful animation bring it to life. We guide you every step of the way to ensure you feel confident moving forward. ✨
— Family (@family)
Apr 14, 2023