The Advisory Project, a block week course in the Master of Finance, was looming over us. With an already hectic quarter in the 3rd semester, most of us were craving a nice vacation. A kick-off orientation lecture helped us acquaint ourselves with the topics we would explore. Then, for one whole week, back-to-back lectures, group work & the final presentation of our creative brainchild. As intense as that sounds, trust me, it was the most memorable academic experience for me to this date!
Soon enough, we got our pre-assignments and we started on our journey towards interacting and understanding our clients’ needs. With a few broad questions in our hands; Dennis Junakov, Friederike Falk and I started analysing our client´s expectations, which solutions are a good fit and of course, as our mentor Mr. Ulrich Linnebank says, “Learn never to promise more than what you can deliver to your client”.
I got the chance to work closely with ING DiBa AG’s Digital Payment Solutions team on “Impact of IoT on the retail sector”. For a little background – IoT means Internet of Things. A smart fridge, automatic checkout at a store, for example, are all a part of IoT. ING Groep is one of the top industry leaders pioneering in innovative technologies and sustainable finance. Our task was to put forth an IoT retail strategy that would not only help ING Groep set foot in the German IoT market but also offer our client a potential cash cow. What’s more? If our idea was truly remarkable, ING Germany would consider piloting such a project!
With our goal set in place, we started every day by attending lectures on topics such as: “How to win a pitch” and “PPT Strategies for Consultants”. We also attended guest lectures from McKinsey & Roland Berger Consultants. Feeling energised and drawing inspiration from the lectures, we would get straight to group work. Despite most of us participating virtually, the long zoom calls with group members were full of intense brainstorming, ideation and creativity.
Our biggest hurdle was, of course, convincing the client that the strategy would work well and mint money. We poured hours of research into understanding the intricacies of the local market, industry trends and analysing our clients’ competitors. When we think of banks, the last thing we think of is innovation for retail segment. It’s still unchartered territory for most banks, but times are changing. Collaboration with FinTechs is the right way ahead for banks; something other than the traditional “brick & mortar” banking.
Extensive research made us realise that ING Groep follows a “Think-Forward strategy” and has already launched many new IoT innovations in the Netherlands. Now our goal was to bring it to Germany. Capitalising on that and taking care of our client’s wishes, we designed “Scan & Go” using a White Label Solution Interface for ING Germany to make money on every retail store transaction while silently remaining in the background.
On the last day of the week, we presented an in-depth analysis on the IoT & innovation sector, competitors, our final strategy pitch and how ING could make use of our idea to establish themselves in the German market with a model on monetary potential.
And it was a great success! The client really appreciated our efforts to align our strategy with theirs and that we thought outside the box. Hopefully, we will see our idea come to life sometime later!
In the end, I would really like to tell the incoming students to have an open mind, push yourselves to the maximum innovative potential and cherish this intense week of feeling like a true big-shot consultant!