A personal account of Dorsum’s third victory at the most prestigious fintech conference in Europe.
Time flies fast. Another Spring, another Fall, another Christmas, another New Year, …and another FinovateEurope. It’s been exactly one year since Dorsum won the Best of Show award in London, for its My Wealth application, down by the East Side wharf, at the Tobacco Docs. This year, the location changed to the Intercontinental Hotel in Berlin, but the goal remained the same: show the international market that Dorsum is a leader in the Wealth Management software business.
Preparation for success
Preparations were a bit different this year. Right from the start, we decided to concentrate our developer and innovation teams’ efforts on a product that every banking client needs and wants, regardless of how “cool” it looks on stage. We weren’t thinking about showing off flashy features, or sexy but unnecessary UI elements. Our primary goal was to have a market viable product boxed, ready to be shipped in three months. Showing it off in a 7-minute demo to a crowd of hundreds of industry specialists came second in our mind.
The product we developed is an integrated, real-time customer engagement tool, called the Wealth Management Communication HUB. The HUB aims to help financial advisors with building functional trust, by helping advisors to remain accessible, respond promptly to enquiries and learn to respect the extent of a client’s desired involvement in decision-making. The Communication Hub’s main function is to provide a secure, direct and instant method of communication between advisors and clients (click here to learn more about the product itself).
Development proceeded smoothly according to the project schedule, so by the beginning of January, it was time to brainstorm a couple of show elements. Dorsum never shied away from going bold at Finovate. No one will forget the time we flew a drone onto the stage to deliver a chatbot-ordered credit card, nor our loving little procreating bunnies, representing compound interest. Not to mention the time our presenter started to sing ABBA on stage…
So, the bar was set high. How do we top that? What would be a perfectly memorable visual element, that could capture the imagination of the crowd and make us stand out? We wanted to have something humorous to win over a crowd, but nothing cringeworthy. Our marketing, innovation and development teams started brainstorming ideas, but most went a little too over the top. It’s important to remember that Finovate is a serious trade show for industry professionals. We want to have fun, but also display the expertise of our colleagues, as well as the complexity of our products.
The main question we wanted to demonstrate at the show was simple: who is our main demographic? We knew that an integrated communication tool would be a great help to any advisor at any financial institution. But what about the clients? Who would use it the most? Private banking customers with years of experience? Premium banking customers who want to be treated better? The mass affluent segment, looking into investment opportunities? Young influencers who came into a massive amount of money they don’t know what to do with? The answer of course is all of them.
Since the Communication HUB’s chat and notification features are equally convenient for VIP customers, as well as less experienced investors, how do we show this duality on stage? The best suggestion came from our marketing team: let’s make a custom customer suit for one of our presenters, where the left side is elegant, and the right side is casual. By switching sides during the show, we would be able to show that the Communication HUB services everyone, and at the same time, we would have a memorable show element to stand out from the crowd.
Execution in style
So, the problem was stated, and a solution was presented. Next, while the script for the show was written to take advantage of the dual-personality of our customer (played by Ákos Szalay, banking innovation expert), we found the perfect tailor to prepare the suit: the wife of our Development Director. By the time we started rehearsals, the schizophrenic personality of our customer started to take shape. We invited colleagues from every department to give us unbiased feedback, and they always wanted to see more of this double-sided character, so we knew we were on the right track.
Cut to Berlin.
With the smell of the city’s signature street food, Currywurst in the air, we are on our way to the Intercontinental Hotel. On our way we pass the Berlin Zoo, and I think to myself that the people going to see exotic animals like pandas, gorillas and giraffes are somewhat similar to the attendees of Finovate: everyone is expecting to see something new, something out of the ordinary, something unexpected. We hope to give them just that.
The first day of the conference is dedicated to lectures and presentations about the state of the industry, but we’re unable to attend, as we have to have a final rehearsal on stage before the big show. Everything goes smoothly, but we still go to bed with nervous dreams about everything that could go wrong… what if the wi-fi on stage goes out? What if we mess up our lines? What if the costume gets torn in half following a sudden turn or gesture?
Fortunately, none of that came to pass. The next day, in the first demo session of the afternoon, our team goes out on stage with full confidence, and the months of preparation and intense development work pays off in spades (check back at the end of February for the official demo video).
Everything went smoothly, and the audience loved our show. Our marketing team was also on-hand to livecast the demo on Facebook, so the whole development team watched and cheered back home, in the company common room. In the end, the response was so positive, that Ákos decided to stay in costume for all the networking sessions throughout the day. By the time happy hour started, we had many successful meetings with a variety of interested parties, so we celebrated at dinner with some VIP partners. But would that enthusiasm translate into actual votes for our company?
And the winner is…
The winners would not be announced until the end of the next day. Our team could now relax and simply watch as part of the audience while another 30+ companies demonstrated their latest developments on stage. Some were innovative, some were convincing, and some ran out of time, before we could get a complete picture. These were the times when we were glad for all the preparation that went into our product and the show. However, the end of the day was approaching fast, and tensions were rising higher and higher. We had high hopes, but I was trying to keep everyone’s expectations in check, to avoid a potential let-down…
I shouldn’t have worried.
Dorsum was announced right away, as the first Best of Show winner of this year’s event. The team let out a loud cheer as we hopped up on stage and smiled for the cameras. We also gave interviews to Finovate, and other news outlets, while swimming in the happy relief of having done it once again.
All in all, the recipe we put together last year as the winning formula proved to work again: come up with a great idea, make it look good, implement it well, explain it clearly in 7 minutes, and throw in a memorable show element, or two. This is Dorsum’s recipe for success, and we keep to it in our development projects as well, even if those (usually) take more than 7 minutes. 😊
Good-bye Berlin, good-bye Finovate.
See you in 2021!