A digital convergence: Where BofA, Disney and Old Spice overlap

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AUSTIN, Tex. — On its face, how Disney and Bank of America approach the digital experience of customers would appear to vary greatly.

One is primarily an entertainment company, with multiple movie and television studios as well as several theme parks worldwide. The other is a large financial firm.

But Nikki Katz, the senior vice president of digital strategy at BofA and a former Disney technology executive, said the differences aren’t as great as they once were because of customer demands on both firms.

“Consumers expect a certain level of quality in their digital experience, regardless of industry,” Katz said during a chat at American Banker’s Digital Banking conference here. “Those expectations carry over from the other experiences they’ve had. So, expectations are no different from a bank than they are at Disney.”

Katz spent almost seven years at the Walt Disney Co. as the vice president of technology before joining Bank of America in August. She worked on various projects for Disney, including retail technology for its physical stores and the online store for the Star Wars website.

Katz said that Disney is a “guest-centric” experience, and that it’s a mindset that applies to multiple industries, including banking.

“When you think about digital, you have to think about that holistic experience that a customer has with you at every turn,” she said. “It also means for us that the bank understands digital as part of a broader ecosystem.”

Joel Kashuba is seeing much of the same in his role as head of innovation and design for Fifth Third Bank. Like Katz, Kashuba worked outside the industry before joining the bank two years ago.

Kashuba worked in various roles for Procter & Gamble between 2003 and 2012, and was involved in the creation of Old Spice commercials during his time at the firm. He also spent almost four years working for SC Johnson as a global design director.

One of the key tenets Kashuba brought from his previous roles to Fifth Third is the idea of empathy in banking, which he said is lacking from the industry.

He sees his role at Fifth Third as a “ripe opportunity” to bring empathy to banking through product design.

“I feel like in this industry, more than any other industry in America, really needs to have a sense of empathy for the customer and clients that we serve each and every days,” Kashuba said. “And that’s very much at the heart of design.”

The way Kashuba and Katz view banking through the lens of their prior work is something the industry isn’t accustomed to, but it is refreshing, said Jacob Jegher, senior vice president of banking and head of strategy at Javelin Strategy & Research.

“It’s a much needed addition to the industry,” Jegher said in an interview after hosting the fireside chat between the two bankers. He said it’s important for banks "to bring in fresh blood and fresh thinking into the processes that they have.”

Jegher noted that the addition of executives such as Kashuba and Katz to their respective companies comes at a time when the industry is seeking new ways to marry “the digital with the physical.”

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Digital banking Customer-centricity Customer experience Bank of America Walt Disney Fifth Third Digital Banking 2019 Women in Banking