Building products in Fintech – Deepika Adusumilli on The Product Experience "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs April 04 2022 False Fintech, Podcasts, The Product Experience, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 6432 Product Management 25.728

Building products in Fintech – Deepika Adusumilli on The Product Experience

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Since January 2020, Fintech growth has been off the charts. The industry has seen a 337% increase in active users and is only predicted to grow further. We spoke with Deepika Adusumilli, Senior Vice President, Product Management at King to hear more about what it’s like to have a product role in this fast-growing sector.

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Featured Links: Follow Deepika on LinkedIn and Twitter | King Games | The Definitive Guide to Fintech Ecosystems | Forbes ’10 Ways Fintechs are Using Experience Design to Outcompete Banking’ 

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Episode transcript

Randy Silver: 

Hey, Lily, you know, what’s a fun industry to work in? Finance?

Lily Smith: 

Randy, are you feeling okay? I mean, it’s interesting and necessary and it’s definitely lucrative, but fun.

Randy Silver: 

Oh, come on what’s not to go have, you know, the regulation and the institutional inertia? They’re just a barrel of laughs, which is why our guest today sounds like she’s having such a great time.

Lily Smith: 

Okay, I think you were something. It’s true that Deepika at a simile was in finance and for a long time, but she’s now SVP of product at King games, which is probably a bit more fun. Though I do admit she does make the challenges she faced while in that finance world sound pretty interesting.

Randy Silver: 

I wish I’d heard this conversation back when I worked in the sector, you know, she’s got a refreshing attitude and tonnes of great advice. So let’s just cut the jibber jabber and get right into it.

Lily Smith: 

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Lily Smith: 

mining product also offers free product tank meetups in more than 200 cities, and less probably one day you. Hi, Deepika, it’s so lovely to be talking to you on the podcast today. And before we get stuck into our topic, which is mainly about finance, but we’re gonna have a quick chat about games as well, which will be interesting. It would be fab, if you could give us a quick intro into who you are your background and how you got into product and also kind of what you’re up to today.

Unknown: 

First of all, thank you so much really, for having me in and, you know, giving me the opportunity to talk about my background and what I think about product and stuff. So, you know, I got into product quite early on into my career in different forms. It was not called product back then, you know, there’s traces of getting programme management things where you made decisions about, you know, how, what is the kind of investment you make on technology investments you make to get the business moving forward sort of thing. So that is how I initially started into product. And then I started getting into very early stages of how do we do product? And how do we start? Very early stages, you know, where product was, you know, more technical than it is today? And then how do you then understand the beauty of doing product decisions, making presentations, and all of that. So that’s how I got into product. I’ve seen different kinds of product, different ways of doing product, waterfall, agile, Scrum, all sorts of things. And how do you make decision making data led opinion led, all of that got into this. So today, I am the Vice President of King, head of product for the platform that supports all the game studios and all of the technology check that we supply to this game studios to go fly and do what they need to be able to do. I’ve had a lot of experience, as you said, within finance industry. I’ve worked for several banks, insurance, regulated markets and stuff. That is in UK, when I moved here 10 years ago, before that I did my masters in engineering that I’ve worked for Nokia in the US. So there’s an General Electric. So there’s a lot of different types of industries that I’ve worked with. But last 10 years have been in highly regulated finance and insurance markets. And then now into gaming.

Lily Smith: 

I know it’s amazing. And it’s such a kind of broad spread that you’ve had. And but one of the topics we wanted to cover today was working in that highly regulated market and working in FinTech. And like you say you’ve worked in a few different organisations tackling some of those challenges, and I’m sure you’ve kind of found ways to overcome some of the additional work that you have to do in order to work in a regulated market. But before we kind of go into those, what are those those challenges? What are the kind of the big differences of working in a FinTech space?

Deepika Adusumilli: 

Um, so, I mean, before I joined financial tech, I worked for a startup which was You know, just to compare things, it’s how you work with bags, large organisations, and regulated organisations and stuff. So then you could have an idea, you could run with it, you could test it with the customers, you could see what you know how much you want to play with, where do you want to go, and it does seem a lot more easier, right? With an idea, you can see you can test it, you can see if the customer likes it, then when you come into financial tech, there’s a lot of responsibility, it is a lot of people’s money, it is a lot of the future, it is a lot of the things that affect their life, as opposed to any consumer LED product that you want to put out there in the market. So there is a lot of responsibility. And the responsibility, unfortunately, has been defined ages ago. So there is you know, it needs to be there. It’s highly regulated, it needs to be there, it is essential to protect the customer, or people using certain products, even b2b or b2c space. However, some of these regulations had come into play. A lot of time ago, there’s been all these digital transformations and everything happening. But maybe the rules hadn’t been changing at the same pace, the regulations hadn’t taken into effect a lot of that. Earlier, that was the case when I got into fintech. And it was, I would say, quite frustrating to understand how much you’ve been stretched the breadth of your product, how much you could use data towards what you could use data towards making decisioning and how much contact ability you had with the customer. And you know, that also refrained from the customers having the experiences, they could, you know, given what, you know, your financial institution, or your you know, your insurance company could do for you. So that learning was quite tough. Like, you know, you need to be able to see what can I actually sell back to the customer. But what we had

Randy Silver: 

curious, you you talked about the move into banking from from another space from a startup? How did you learn to overcome the barriers or the knowledge gap around all the regulation and how specific it is? And further to that, when you were hiring people? Did you look for people who had come in from who had previous banking experience? Or were you open to people who also needed to make that leap?

Deepika Adusumilli: 

Would you talk about hiring Randy, I’m going to start there, right. So when I came from, I moved from San Diego, California to London, you know, I, when I moved to London, the most of the product roles were around financial tech, or inshore tech or whatever, right. So then I was looking for roles, I moved out here as looking for all sides, looking to where to work and all of that stuff. There were hardly anyone hiring someone like me, they wanted to have people back in, we’re talking about 2011 2012 ish, they would want they wanted to have people who had banking experience, who had already looked at the regulated space, who had experience understanding the financial, you know, controls that you had, what you could do what you couldn’t do, so I could not even break into the market. So I went the other route, I said, I’m going to work for startups, I’m going to do other things. Then it came organically, I worked with someone who worked with me, and you know, later worked with the bank, they recommended me so I got in. So I do not think that is necessary. You know, if I do not, you know, with the value propositions that you want to sell for product, need to be product lead, need to be data lead, and all of that the additional things about an industry that we need to be able to learn, need to be taught with intent, learned with intent. And as you learn about your customer, you learn about what you could serve up to the customer as well. Yes, although it is frustrating, right? When you when you go into something that you can actually serve, you know, you could actually use what you have, you know, your real estate, you know, of products to be able to serve something up to the customer. But then you come back into financial services where you could do very few things because it could lead to risk. So now, that was, how did I go about it? You know, it was in I would not, I’d be lying if I say it wasn’t incredibly frustrating. As I said the most, the biggest thing that really hurt us is hurt me and the kind of products and we were building was how we could use the data, how much we could use the data for and what kind of use cases we could generate by using certain data and all of that. So that was incredibly frustrating. And how did I go about it? It was it was a steep learning curve, you know, you know, banks, we have to do things at a certain pace. You have to get things out there. But it was a steep learning curve. But again, once you start understanding Why do they value the data so much? What kinds of restrictions you have? And how do you build products around it? It is valuable. But then we started understanding how can we take risk on our side? So we started going back to finite viable products, where we went back and said, within, you know, few organisations, we’ve gone back to Financial Conduct Authority, FCA? And we’ve said, how can we change it? How can we let own more risk? How can we change the pattern of that, you know, there’s innovation departments out there, right now within those FCA or other things you have, or the Bank of New Zealand, so you have loads of things that you can actually have a conversation about. So we started building those products serving little bit more of use cases to the customer. So it was a lot of learning curve. It was a steep learning curve. But once you understand why they do it, the conversation gets easier.

Lily Smith: 

And I suppose like you say, it’s having those connections, you know, out like, presumably within the bank itself, or the institution itself, in regulatory with the regulatory teams, and then also any other bodies that might be able to help support you like the FCA. But do you think that that’s, you kind of talked a lot about like in your early career in that initial time that you spent in finance? Do you think that’s changed a lot now, because we have seen like, say, a lot of transformation in finance businesses, and the understanding that they need to innovate, and they need to be much more customer focused. So do you think it’s very different now to how it was 10 years ago? And do you think there are now different challenges with that market?

Deepika Adusumilli: 

Absolutely. I think the disruptors given. Yeah, I mean, quite heavy and hard. You had a huge ship sitting there, but send it over the oceans, right, then all these other, you know, your carers, and we’re taking, you know, smaller use cases on you’re going to use, we’re going to disrupt it, we’re going to take this cardboard. And there’s two different things that I always saw with large financial institutions. They were not tech based companies, they built products and protect around it, they print financial products, and they use pieces of technology to organise delivery for the customer. So when they wanted to scale, when they wanted to serve anything that the disruptors were able to do much faster they were able to because the disruptors build technology, and they build technical products to solve customer problems. So there was a very big difference in how, you know, the technology was spelled how the products were, how they could deliver use cases back to the customers. So that’s when the transformation started. They all said, Oh, maybe if we become a tech lead org, and we start products, we sell products back to the customer in a certain way we can transform to we can scale to we can serve up these experiences back to the customers. So that’s when the the whole transformation started with the disruption and everything going on Cloud, we have banking coming into space and all of that. But it has been a very slow, risk averse approaches that had been still going on, you know?

Randy Silver: 

How do you marry risk averse with you know, you’ve worked in innovation in some of these organisations? So how do you marry risk averse with experimentation and and iterative and agile? Or can you

Deepika Adusumilli: 

So, if you space that into a financial organisation, right, they’re very slow to change some of this is futilely how this organisations have been built. If you take at the regulatory, legal compliance organisations into these large financial banks or insurance agencies, they’re very feudal, they have interpreted certain, they interpret the laws that they say comes up with they look at all of those things and they bill last protect the organisation and can anything called risk they lay, you know, the steps they lay 10 steps out, because because they want to be able to protect the org, they want to be able to say that you know, we have seen certain things happen. So, we want to be able to build these 10 Steps whereas disruptors on the other side, have been three steps, they want to be able to be innovative, right. So, the conversation to how to be discovers starts with those teams started with those teams with for me, you know, to build products or to take you know, could we be more cloudlet? Can we say this amount of data out there? Can we do more machine learning led activities on these use cases? Can we not have people monitor certain use cases can we have all automated data cases to be built in these situations, even simple things like that had to be approved by risk averse organisations in the company, which means that, you know, you can be as risk averse, but I think companies to going back to answering your question. Within innovation teams, you can have many things running landed for them to be able to go back to actual customer to for those realistic use cases to be picked up. It takes ages, it takes a lot of conversations, it takes a lot of agreeing to. And sometimes it got so diluted, of where it started, and what the customer got, it got lost in transition quite a lot.

Randy Silver: 

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Lily Smith: 

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Randy Silver: 

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Lily Smith: 

Get tickets now at mine the product.com. So it sounds like with working in products or in innovation and finance. It’s a huge struggle. I’m curious to know like, is that just kind of the norm? Like do you just build up her a way of working, which is just all about kind of communicating through all of these different channels? In order to get things done and accepting the additional timelines? Or? Or did you find ways to circumvent any of the processes in order to speed up your process?

Deepika Adusumilli: 

All of those other items is really, to be honest, this so many different things that need to be done when you want to be able to build certain experiences back to the customer. And there’s not one way to do it. Right. So initially, when I started within the financial organisation is called bull in a china shop. Because that question everything I would want, everything can go a certain way. I was like, Why is this not happening? How come this is not happening? This needs to be out there you have the data for it? Why are we not putting all this data into a certain Cloud Platform? Why am I not testing it? Why we’re not putting out there? So I was that, you know, there was incredible amount of frustration on my part, right? But then you understand you grow, you get there. Some of them, you know, some of the men some of the ways to, you know, get products out there is to be able to understand, what can I do within the buttons, certain set of fruits that I have? How quickly do I want to get it out there? Right? So what are the things that I could do to be able to serve up this? And then if I, then you could also have things if I serve this information, maybe I can prove that customer needs more, you know, maybe then I can go back to the compliance teams internally and have this and say, maybe we can do a little bit more, you know? And what are the risk or, you know, what are the things that we can build in the product to start proving start a B testing to start showing that we can take this risk, and it will give you ROI, you know, customers would be happy, whatever the outcome could be revenue, you know, NPS, whatever that version, you know, so we need to be able to have this conversation. The second thing is, as you said, this disruption that can happen, right? To have, you know, to be able to go back and say I want to be able to build a product that actually changes how things are working right now, I want to be able to build a product that changes the norm of how these things work, then that’s a much bigger conversation. That is a POC that is changing everything in the backend, that is going back to the regulatory boards, that is convincing the regulatory boards that things can be done differently, that is sitting for months and weeks and you know, certain T riding theses for them presenting to them all of that. So fortunately, I’ve had all of those experiences, to be able to say small disruptions, small changes, proving building a B testing, you know, layering one Lego piece on top of the other to build the whole set, also saying that we have to build something completely different. So where do we start? What do we build, let’s disrupt it completely. Which meant, again, a lot of work, but the conversation different Got mucheasier. Because other if you if you look at various forms of financial organisations we have right now there’s so many kinds out that, you know, they’re disruptors like Klarna, just just go, and you know, ticket to the look at your little credit rating and then give you, you know, let you take take on debt take on a lot of risk of where you go, they have monsoons and all of these good things, you have interpreted regulatory, but they have caught their licences, they’ve worked very differently with the customer. And their bigger banks, which are still getting there about providing basic sort of customer experiences out there. So you choose your battles, wisely, you understand where you’re going on, you, when you start developing a product, you absolutely understand how much you can push the needle, and you want to push the needle for,

Lily Smith: 

I think that’s a really, a really good point. And when that’s been made a couple of times, actually, not in the context of finance, but just in the context of when you start a new role in a big organisation, in order to gain trust within that organisation, like tackling some of the smaller challenges first and proving that you you know what you’re doing, and also that you can deliver value. And then you can kind of take on those bigger and bigger challenges as like a really good point. So when it comes to experimenting, because experimenting is like one of the cornerstones, I suppose of a good product management process. How did that work? When you were working in financial services? Were you able to AB test things? Were you were you actually able to run experiments?

Deepika Adusumilli: 

Absolutely. Like, a lot. You know, fortunately, I have, as you can see, at my adventures, I don’t have a career, I keep saying this to people, I have loads of adventures. And in those adventures that I have been able to rev up brand new products, invest in products, products that redid realignment, you know that those are the tougher ones for me than actually taking an idea and flying with it and proving something, you know, always building something that’s broken in building up a new idea. People are looking for conversations, people are looking to experiment, people are looking to have voice come into safety, but say what do we build? How do we build it? You know, so I’ve got a varied throughout product range that have worked with and nothing could have been built without experimentation, understanding what could I do? You know, what are the sets of products that we could deliver? If you delve into certain user base, what do we do for them versus other user bases? So many conversations in the in the product? But coming back to how do we do that? You know, starting with like if if you’re realigning a process, right? If you realigning a particular product, and it’s already running quite well, then the needle of experimentation needs to be what is the delta? What can you fix, right? So then the conversation of the AV test you want to be able to run, or the changes you want to make, be able to make need a lot more of data to come in as well. Because you want to be able to show if you make this, you’ll get that you’re not breaking anything and all of those things. When you’re building a new idea, it is the absolute most amazing thing to do. The main thing, you know, you draw up a hypothesis, you draw up, you know, this is what I meant to do. And this is how I’m going to do it will it work sort of thing. And then you start talking to your users, you start getting feedback, there’s so many brilliant ways to get feedback, you know, we used to do for building a new product you could do by the masses, you can do ask questions out, you get 10,000 responses, sometimes if you put it in the right model, if you get you know, you could do you know, a closed group search in a user feedback sessions, you can do qualitative user feedback sessions. You can take those ideas back in implement a B versus and build this product. There’s so many ways to do it.

Randy Silver: 

Can we I want to ask you about the qualitative feedback and talking to customers business and finance, you know, a highly regulated can be really challenging. And then on top of that, just talking to people about money can be really sensitive as well. And they you know, there’s one trick I learned when I was in the space, which was a can be difficult to talk to your customers, but it doesn’t talk to somebody else’s customers. But I’m curious what else any other tips or tricks about for people in this space?

Deepika Adusumilli: 

So many times, Randy, we didn’t even tell them who we were. You know, so many times when you start building, you want to launch something right? You always try to get you know, you say you start talking about a fictional company, which will want to launch a particular financial product out there. And back to your point, Randy, when you have a highly regulated thing is which kind of banking system you’re working for. If it’s a highly reputable bank, you do not want to talk about it quite early on, you do not want to put a face to say, this is what we are trying to test. And if it’s quite sensitive, then you want to be able to understand what would good customers accept it. So there are so many products that we’ve tested without the name without telling people that they could be, you know, anonymously, going out there and getting a feedback for that particular financial product, and see how we could put that, get that information back and put it back into what we want to be able to build. However, working innovation teams, as you can see, you can be a lot more bolder, when you call yourself an innovation team. And you can get out there you can like test a lot more things from a POC perspective, or you know, ideation perspective, concepting perspective, then you can, you know, you do not have to, quite quickly put that into a product, you could simply just say, we want to be able to see how far we could go. And then you can get all the data back. And then you can see how much can we trade it for? And again, then you go back to the approach of how much do I want to do in the first step to prove back to the regulators, the products, you know, the financial product, people, as well as the customers that they could there’s adoptability towards?

Lily Smith: 

And how, as in your role in innovation? How did you then work with the product teams? Did you qualify some something and then hand it over to them? Or if it was a new thing? Did you kind of deliver it from from concept through to completion?

Deepika Adusumilli: 

I think there’s several ways of innovation, ways that people do they go into the market, they find something new, and they get it back and see if there’s acceptance within the company. But when I was in the innovation teams, you know, we were in a point that we were actually solving problems that existed within the banks, right. So we would pick the key problems that the banks, like the product teams in within products, you would have mortgages, cards, you know, the different set of products that you’d have. And then you’d pick those up and you say, what are the top problems that you’d want to fix? Then you take those in, and then you would start working with the product people in those organisations to say, what do you want to solve for? What do you have currently, with your data? What, you know, what’s the experience look like? In a UX experience look like? What other technology stacks? Do you need to make these decisions and things like that? Then you take this, then we took those problem sets, we went back to the market and see who’s doing this better? What can we adopt towards? How can we solve for this, then you get into a test base with them to say, you know, which companies can come into this? And what how can we test it out? So there’s a bit of that. But if there was a brilliant idea out there that could actually help something, you bring that in, like, you know, when I was doing this, it was the variables thing, right? How can variables help finance? How can wearables help customers keep track of where they’re spending sort of thing? There’s a new tech out there, and you bring it back and say, how do we adopted back into bank? A few ways to do it. But we did both ways. Okay. And

Lily Smith: 

then you are now doing a very different role at King are not very different role, but a very different sector that you’re working in. And so you’re in gaming, which I can imagine it must be very different. So tell us a bit about this new role. And what’s been the biggest surprise from making the move and also like what inspired you to make that move into gaming.

Deepika Adusumilli: 

So as I, so I have, I had by them by the time King contacted me being in the financial sector insurance sector for a while. And I also built platforms by this time, either insurance platform or platforms and trading platforms and stuff. So while we built a valuable p2p to see, there was a lot of b2b element happening as well, then I started to realise quite a lot about how you can actually give a lot of power to platforms by actually building it on the basis of value proposition. Sometimes it is so hard to explain technology and platforms as a product in a b2c product is quite easy to be able to say customer adoptability How do you go through it, but you know, the backend experience the platforms that actually fire these experiences in the front end, if they do not have value proposition and lead winning, they do not have product, lead understanding of what you build first, what to build next, and what are the key experiences that you want to be able to unlock? Then how do you fire up the other stuff? So I found I started finding that quite interesting. In about two three years ago. And then when King came around and said, we have this beautiful platform, it’s an alias of all the gym studios that we have. So what do you think about that so, and all the data experiences, you can serve up all the unsung. So that was quite quite intriguing, very interesting for me. And I’ve been in several industries, as you’ve already seen. So the industry barrier for me was not that high. I did not, you know, I love learning, I’m always constantly learning. And to go back to learn new industry, a new market, a new audience, a new way of building product, a new data set was extremely interesting and intriguing for me. And that I think that keeps me going. So that’s where I came into King, what do I find? Most, what did I find, right? There’s data, the standard bits of data sitting in there, there’s so much technology to build, the magnitude of things that you could build is huge, the users are huge 250 million users, I mean, you know, to be able to serve them up to be able to hold those systems to hold the data attention, to be able to serve experiences to hold their attention for 10 years at a time. So that sort of thing is quite inspiring. And I was just telling that before. So I work in the platform team, I’m head of product platform, I think that is quite innovative, to have product, lead data lead platform built to be what strategy to be built into technology, core technology, that we can fire up and help our end customers, and our customers then become b2b within the company, all of our studios that we help. So that’s been quite empowering. There’s so much to do. It’s an ocean of technology, there’s so many beautiful things out there,

Randy Silver: 

you know, I was going to ask you about moving from a highly regulated space to a less regulated space. But then I started thinking, wait, you actually still have to deal with payments, and now you have to deal with safety and kids and things like that. So what has it been like to move? I mean, banking, you’ve got a huge responsibility to your customers, but you’re not hopefully dealing with minors and things like that. It’s it’s got to be different, but really interesting, I’m guessing.

Deepika Adusumilli: 

It’s still, how do I say this, it is not regulated, but it has to be very responsible. You know, so we, yes, we do have to deal with payments, again, that’s quite highly regulated, you have to keep a close eye on that. We partner with Facebook, and the kind, you know, an Apple pays and everything, again, those systems are quite highly regulated, then are also so many laws with it. And the scope of what we could do is quite small in that space. Still, there’s still laws on how much we could actually do with what you could sell and all of those things. Right. So there is so much of regulation already. And I think it is regulation by choice, as well. What are the experiences we want to be able to sell? What are the kinds of ads we want to put forward? What are the kinds of marketing things we want to be able to do? How do we, how are we responsible for our customers? You know, I think studios put a lot of that on themselves, they want to be very responsible. And all of the kind of games we build. And coming back to that the platform itself, it is regulated. It is to a certain extent regulated, but we have to do certain amount of things to be able to play in that field. All of that. But again, it is not like I’ve got a free field. Even in the gaming industry, right? There is so much that responsibility that we have to take on and so much of responsibility that we take on as a company, ourselves. So there is outside regulation, and there’s in regulation that we put on ourselves to serve. So we are responsible and stuff.

Randy Silver: 

Deepika, it’s been fantastic to talk to you. I think we’re about to hit the witching hour in terms of recording time. But I wanted to ask one last question, if that’s all right. Just to in general, do you have any top tips for people that you work with? You know, what’s one thing that you see that most products people could just really stand to learn?

Deepika Adusumilli: 

I think what really turned the lights on for me when data came into play, it has made my product decisioning it has made my product you know journey quite easy. So, I would suggest I would strongly strongly strongly recommend to all the product people to start understanding the data that the you know, what, where are they going use the data to follow path, use the data To make certain decisions, and there’s always data in one form of the or the other. So that has really, really helped me in my career in my journey and any of the products I’ve bet

Lily Smith: 

tificate thank you so much for joining us. It’s been great chatting to you today.

Deepika Adusumilli: 

And it was so great chatting to you Randy, and Lily. Thank you for giving me the time to speak today.

Lily Smith: 

The product experience is the first

Randy Silver: 

and the best

Lily Smith: 

podcast from mine the product. Our hosts are me, Lily Smith, and me Randy silver. Louron Pratt is our producer and Luke Smith is our editor.

Randy Silver: 

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Lily Smith: 

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Since January 2020, Fintech growth has been off the charts. The industry has seen a 337% increase in active users and is only predicted to grow further. We spoke with Deepika Adusumilli, Senior Vice President, Product Management at King to hear more about what it's like to have a product role in this fast-growing sector. Listener of The Product Experience? We need your help! Fill out this short survey to help us improve the overall experience of our community-led podcast. 
Featured Links: Follow Deepika on LinkedIn and Twitter | King Games | The Definitive Guide to Fintech Ecosystems | Forbes '10 Ways Fintechs are Using Experience Design to Outcompete Banking'  Listen to more episodes…

Episode transcript

Randy Silver:  Hey, Lily, you know, what's a fun industry to work in? Finance? Lily Smith:  Randy, are you feeling okay? I mean, it's interesting and necessary and it's definitely lucrative, but fun. Randy Silver:  Oh, come on what's not to go have, you know, the regulation and the institutional inertia? They're just a barrel of laughs, which is why our guest today sounds like she's having such a great time. Lily Smith:  Okay, I think you were something. It's true that Deepika at a simile was in finance and for a long time, but she's now SVP of product at King games, which is probably a bit more fun. Though I do admit she does make the challenges she faced while in that finance world sound pretty interesting. Randy Silver:  I wish I'd heard this conversation back when I worked in the sector, you know, she's got a refreshing attitude and tonnes of great advice. So let's just cut the jibber jabber and get right into it. Lily Smith:  The product experience is brought to you by mind the product. Randy Silver:  Every week, we talk to the best product people from around the globe about how we can improve our practice, and build products that people love Lily Smith:  it mind the product calm to catch up on past episodes, and to discover an extensive library of great content and videos, Randy Silver:  browse for free, or become a mind the product member to unlock premium articles, unseen videos, AMA's roundtables, discounts to our conferences around the world training opportunities. Lily Smith:  mining product also offers free product tank meetups in more than 200 cities, and less probably one day you. Hi, Deepika, it's so lovely to be talking to you on the podcast today. And before we get stuck into our topic, which is mainly about finance, but we're gonna have a quick chat about games as well, which will be interesting. It would be fab, if you could give us a quick intro into who you are your background and how you got into product and also kind of what you're up to today. Unknown:  First of all, thank you so much really, for having me in and, you know, giving me the opportunity to talk about my background and what I think about product and stuff. So, you know, I got into product quite early on into my career in different forms. It was not called product back then, you know, there's traces of getting programme management things where you made decisions about, you know, how, what is the kind of investment you make on technology investments you make to get the business moving forward sort of thing. So that is how I initially started into product. And then I started getting into very early stages of how do we do product? And how do we start? Very early stages, you know, where product was, you know, more technical than it is today? And then how do you then understand the beauty of doing product decisions, making presentations, and all of that. So that's how I got into product. I've seen different kinds of product, different ways of doing product, waterfall, agile, Scrum, all sorts of things. And how do you make decision making data led opinion led, all of that got into this. So today, I am the Vice President of King, head of product for the platform that supports all the game studios and all of the technology check that we supply to this game studios to go fly and do what they need to be able to do. I've had a lot of experience, as you said, within finance industry. I've worked for several banks, insurance, regulated markets and stuff. That is in UK, when I moved here 10 years ago, before that I did my masters in engineering that I've worked for Nokia in the US. So there's an General Electric. So there's a lot of different types of industries that I've worked with. But last 10 years have been in highly regulated finance and insurance markets. And then now into gaming. Lily Smith:  I know it's amazing. And it's such a kind of broad spread that you've had. And but one of the topics we wanted to cover today was working in that highly regulated market and working in FinTech. And like you say you've worked in a few different organisations tackling some of those challenges, and I'm sure you've kind of found ways to overcome some of the additional work that you have to do in order to work in a regulated market. But before we kind of go into those, what are those those challenges? What are the kind of the big differences of working in a FinTech space? Deepika Adusumilli:  Um, so, I mean, before I joined financial tech, I worked for a startup which was You know, just to compare things, it's how you work with bags, large organisations, and regulated organisations and stuff. So then you could have an idea, you could run with it, you could test it with the customers, you could see what you know how much you want to play with, where do you want to go, and it does seem a lot more easier, right? With an idea, you can see you can test it, you can see if the customer likes it, then when you come into financial tech, there's a lot of responsibility, it is a lot of people's money, it is a lot of the future, it is a lot of the things that affect their life, as opposed to any consumer LED product that you want to put out there in the market. So there is a lot of responsibility. And the responsibility, unfortunately, has been defined ages ago. So there is you know, it needs to be there. It's highly regulated, it needs to be there, it is essential to protect the customer, or people using certain products, even b2b or b2c space. However, some of these regulations had come into play. A lot of time ago, there's been all these digital transformations and everything happening. But maybe the rules hadn't been changing at the same pace, the regulations hadn't taken into effect a lot of that. Earlier, that was the case when I got into fintech. And it was, I would say, quite frustrating to understand how much you've been stretched the breadth of your product, how much you could use data towards what you could use data towards making decisioning and how much contact ability you had with the customer. And you know, that also refrained from the customers having the experiences, they could, you know, given what, you know, your financial institution, or your you know, your insurance company could do for you. So that learning was quite tough. Like, you know, you need to be able to see what can I actually sell back to the customer. But what we had Randy Silver:  curious, you you talked about the move into banking from from another space from a startup? How did you learn to overcome the barriers or the knowledge gap around all the regulation and how specific it is? And further to that, when you were hiring people? Did you look for people who had come in from who had previous banking experience? Or were you open to people who also needed to make that leap? Deepika Adusumilli:  Would you talk about hiring Randy, I'm going to start there, right. So when I came from, I moved from San Diego, California to London, you know, I, when I moved to London, the most of the product roles were around financial tech, or inshore tech or whatever, right. So then I was looking for roles, I moved out here as looking for all sides, looking to where to work and all of that stuff. There were hardly anyone hiring someone like me, they wanted to have people back in, we're talking about 2011 2012 ish, they would want they wanted to have people who had banking experience, who had already looked at the regulated space, who had experience understanding the financial, you know, controls that you had, what you could do what you couldn't do, so I could not even break into the market. So I went the other route, I said, I'm going to work for startups, I'm going to do other things. Then it came organically, I worked with someone who worked with me, and you know, later worked with the bank, they recommended me so I got in. So I do not think that is necessary. You know, if I do not, you know, with the value propositions that you want to sell for product, need to be product lead, need to be data lead, and all of that the additional things about an industry that we need to be able to learn, need to be taught with intent, learned with intent. And as you learn about your customer, you learn about what you could serve up to the customer as well. Yes, although it is frustrating, right? When you when you go into something that you can actually serve, you know, you could actually use what you have, you know, your real estate, you know, of products to be able to serve something up to the customer. But then you come back into financial services where you could do very few things because it could lead to risk. So now, that was, how did I go about it? You know, it was in I would not, I'd be lying if I say it wasn't incredibly frustrating. As I said the most, the biggest thing that really hurt us is hurt me and the kind of products and we were building was how we could use the data, how much we could use the data for and what kind of use cases we could generate by using certain data and all of that. So that was incredibly frustrating. And how did I go about it? It was it was a steep learning curve, you know, you know, banks, we have to do things at a certain pace. You have to get things out there. But it was a steep learning curve. But again, once you start understanding Why do they value the data so much? What kinds of restrictions you have? And how do you build products around it? It is valuable. But then we started understanding how can we take risk on our side? So we started going back to finite viable products, where we went back and said, within, you know, few organisations, we've gone back to Financial Conduct Authority, FCA? And we've said, how can we change it? How can we let own more risk? How can we change the pattern of that, you know, there's innovation departments out there, right now within those FCA or other things you have, or the Bank of New Zealand, so you have loads of things that you can actually have a conversation about. So we started building those products serving little bit more of use cases to the customer. So it was a lot of learning curve. It was a steep learning curve. But once you understand why they do it, the conversation gets easier. Lily Smith:  And I suppose like you say, it's having those connections, you know, out like, presumably within the bank itself, or the institution itself, in regulatory with the regulatory teams, and then also any other bodies that might be able to help support you like the FCA. But do you think that that's, you kind of talked a lot about like in your early career in that initial time that you spent in finance? Do you think that's changed a lot now, because we have seen like, say, a lot of transformation in finance businesses, and the understanding that they need to innovate, and they need to be much more customer focused. So do you think it's very different now to how it was 10 years ago? And do you think there are now different challenges with that market? Deepika Adusumilli:  Absolutely. I think the disruptors given. Yeah, I mean, quite heavy and hard. You had a huge ship sitting there, but send it over the oceans, right, then all these other, you know, your carers, and we're taking, you know, smaller use cases on you're going to use, we're going to disrupt it, we're going to take this cardboard. And there's two different things that I always saw with large financial institutions. They were not tech based companies, they built products and protect around it, they print financial products, and they use pieces of technology to organise delivery for the customer. So when they wanted to scale, when they wanted to serve anything that the disruptors were able to do much faster they were able to because the disruptors build technology, and they build technical products to solve customer problems. So there was a very big difference in how, you know, the technology was spelled how the products were, how they could deliver use cases back to the customers. So that's when the transformation started. They all said, Oh, maybe if we become a tech lead org, and we start products, we sell products back to the customer in a certain way we can transform to we can scale to we can serve up these experiences back to the customers. So that's when the the whole transformation started with the disruption and everything going on Cloud, we have banking coming into space and all of that. But it has been a very slow, risk averse approaches that had been still going on, you know? Randy Silver:  How do you marry risk averse with you know, you've worked in innovation in some of these organisations? So how do you marry risk averse with experimentation and and iterative and agile? Or can you Deepika Adusumilli:  So, if you space that into a financial organisation, right, they're very slow to change some of this is futilely how this organisations have been built. If you take at the regulatory, legal compliance organisations into these large financial banks or insurance agencies, they're very feudal, they have interpreted certain, they interpret the laws that they say comes up with they look at all of those things and they bill last protect the organisation and can anything called risk they lay, you know, the steps they lay 10 steps out, because because they want to be able to protect the org, they want to be able to say that you know, we have seen certain things happen. So, we want to be able to build these 10 Steps whereas disruptors on the other side, have been three steps, they want to be able to be innovative, right. So, the conversation to how to be discovers starts with those teams started with those teams with for me, you know, to build products or to take you know, could we be more cloudlet? Can we say this amount of data out there? Can we do more machine learning led activities on these use cases? Can we not have people monitor certain use cases can we have all automated data cases to be built in these situations, even simple things like that had to be approved by risk averse organisations in the company, which means that, you know, you can be as risk averse, but I think companies to going back to answering your question. Within innovation teams, you can have many things running landed for them to be able to go back to actual customer to for those realistic use cases to be picked up. It takes ages, it takes a lot of conversations, it takes a lot of agreeing to. And sometimes it got so diluted, of where it started, and what the customer got, it got lost in transition quite a lot. Randy Silver:  If 2022 is the year you're looking to advance your career, expand your network, get inspired, and bring the best products to market, then join mind the product for their next conference this May Lily Smith:  at MTP con, San Francisco plus Americas, you'll soak up invaluable insights from an epic lineup of the best in product, covering a range of topics that will challenge and inspire you to step up as a product manager, you've Randy Silver:  got the option to go fully digital for both days, or get the best of both worlds with a hybrid ticket. Digital on day one and in person at the SF jazz in San Francisco on day two, I was at the most recent edition of this event in London last year, and it was just awesome. Lily Smith:  Get tickets now at mine the product.com. So it sounds like with working in products or in innovation and finance. It's a huge struggle. I'm curious to know like, is that just kind of the norm? Like do you just build up her a way of working, which is just all about kind of communicating through all of these different channels? In order to get things done and accepting the additional timelines? Or? Or did you find ways to circumvent any of the processes in order to speed up your process? Deepika Adusumilli:  All of those other items is really, to be honest, this so many different things that need to be done when you want to be able to build certain experiences back to the customer. And there's not one way to do it. Right. So initially, when I started within the financial organisation is called bull in a china shop. Because that question everything I would want, everything can go a certain way. I was like, Why is this not happening? How come this is not happening? This needs to be out there you have the data for it? Why are we not putting all this data into a certain Cloud Platform? Why am I not testing it? Why we're not putting out there? So I was that, you know, there was incredible amount of frustration on my part, right? But then you understand you grow, you get there. Some of them, you know, some of the men some of the ways to, you know, get products out there is to be able to understand, what can I do within the buttons, certain set of fruits that I have? How quickly do I want to get it out there? Right? So what are the things that I could do to be able to serve up this? And then if I, then you could also have things if I serve this information, maybe I can prove that customer needs more, you know, maybe then I can go back to the compliance teams internally and have this and say, maybe we can do a little bit more, you know? And what are the risk or, you know, what are the things that we can build in the product to start proving start a B testing to start showing that we can take this risk, and it will give you ROI, you know, customers would be happy, whatever the outcome could be revenue, you know, NPS, whatever that version, you know, so we need to be able to have this conversation. The second thing is, as you said, this disruption that can happen, right? To have, you know, to be able to go back and say I want to be able to build a product that actually changes how things are working right now, I want to be able to build a product that changes the norm of how these things work, then that's a much bigger conversation. That is a POC that is changing everything in the backend, that is going back to the regulatory boards, that is convincing the regulatory boards that things can be done differently, that is sitting for months and weeks and you know, certain T riding theses for them presenting to them all of that. So fortunately, I've had all of those experiences, to be able to say small disruptions, small changes, proving building a B testing, you know, layering one Lego piece on top of the other to build the whole set, also saying that we have to build something completely different. So where do we start? What do we build, let's disrupt it completely. Which meant, again, a lot of work, but the conversation different Got mucheasier. Because other if you if you look at various forms of financial organisations we have right now there's so many kinds out that, you know, they're disruptors like Klarna, just just go, and you know, ticket to the look at your little credit rating and then give you, you know, let you take take on debt take on a lot of risk of where you go, they have monsoons and all of these good things, you have interpreted regulatory, but they have caught their licences, they've worked very differently with the customer. And their bigger banks, which are still getting there about providing basic sort of customer experiences out there. So you choose your battles, wisely, you understand where you're going on, you, when you start developing a product, you absolutely understand how much you can push the needle, and you want to push the needle for, Lily Smith:  I think that's a really, a really good point. And when that's been made a couple of times, actually, not in the context of finance, but just in the context of when you start a new role in a big organisation, in order to gain trust within that organisation, like tackling some of the smaller challenges first and proving that you you know what you're doing, and also that you can deliver value. And then you can kind of take on those bigger and bigger challenges as like a really good point. So when it comes to experimenting, because experimenting is like one of the cornerstones, I suppose of a good product management process. How did that work? When you were working in financial services? Were you able to AB test things? Were you were you actually able to run experiments? Deepika Adusumilli:  Absolutely. Like, a lot. You know, fortunately, I have, as you can see, at my adventures, I don't have a career, I keep saying this to people, I have loads of adventures. And in those adventures that I have been able to rev up brand new products, invest in products, products that redid realignment, you know that those are the tougher ones for me than actually taking an idea and flying with it and proving something, you know, always building something that's broken in building up a new idea. People are looking for conversations, people are looking to experiment, people are looking to have voice come into safety, but say what do we build? How do we build it? You know, so I've got a varied throughout product range that have worked with and nothing could have been built without experimentation, understanding what could I do? You know, what are the sets of products that we could deliver? If you delve into certain user base, what do we do for them versus other user bases? So many conversations in the in the product? But coming back to how do we do that? You know, starting with like if if you're realigning a process, right? If you realigning a particular product, and it's already running quite well, then the needle of experimentation needs to be what is the delta? What can you fix, right? So then the conversation of the AV test you want to be able to run, or the changes you want to make, be able to make need a lot more of data to come in as well. Because you want to be able to show if you make this, you'll get that you're not breaking anything and all of those things. When you're building a new idea, it is the absolute most amazing thing to do. The main thing, you know, you draw up a hypothesis, you draw up, you know, this is what I meant to do. And this is how I'm going to do it will it work sort of thing. And then you start talking to your users, you start getting feedback, there's so many brilliant ways to get feedback, you know, we used to do for building a new product you could do by the masses, you can do ask questions out, you get 10,000 responses, sometimes if you put it in the right model, if you get you know, you could do you know, a closed group search in a user feedback sessions, you can do qualitative user feedback sessions. You can take those ideas back in implement a B versus and build this product. There's so many ways to do it. Randy Silver:  Can we I want to ask you about the qualitative feedback and talking to customers business and finance, you know, a highly regulated can be really challenging. And then on top of that, just talking to people about money can be really sensitive as well. And they you know, there's one trick I learned when I was in the space, which was a can be difficult to talk to your customers, but it doesn't talk to somebody else's customers. But I'm curious what else any other tips or tricks about for people in this space? Deepika Adusumilli:  So many times, Randy, we didn't even tell them who we were. You know, so many times when you start building, you want to launch something right? You always try to get you know, you say you start talking about a fictional company, which will want to launch a particular financial product out there. And back to your point, Randy, when you have a highly regulated thing is which kind of banking system you're working for. If it's a highly reputable bank, you do not want to talk about it quite early on, you do not want to put a face to say, this is what we are trying to test. And if it's quite sensitive, then you want to be able to understand what would good customers accept it. So there are so many products that we've tested without the name without telling people that they could be, you know, anonymously, going out there and getting a feedback for that particular financial product, and see how we could put that, get that information back and put it back into what we want to be able to build. However, working innovation teams, as you can see, you can be a lot more bolder, when you call yourself an innovation team. And you can get out there you can like test a lot more things from a POC perspective, or you know, ideation perspective, concepting perspective, then you can, you know, you do not have to, quite quickly put that into a product, you could simply just say, we want to be able to see how far we could go. And then you can get all the data back. And then you can see how much can we trade it for? And again, then you go back to the approach of how much do I want to do in the first step to prove back to the regulators, the products, you know, the financial product, people, as well as the customers that they could there's adoptability towards? Lily Smith:  And how, as in your role in innovation? How did you then work with the product teams? Did you qualify some something and then hand it over to them? Or if it was a new thing? Did you kind of deliver it from from concept through to completion? Deepika Adusumilli:  I think there's several ways of innovation, ways that people do they go into the market, they find something new, and they get it back and see if there's acceptance within the company. But when I was in the innovation teams, you know, we were in a point that we were actually solving problems that existed within the banks, right. So we would pick the key problems that the banks, like the product teams in within products, you would have mortgages, cards, you know, the different set of products that you'd have. And then you'd pick those up and you say, what are the top problems that you'd want to fix? Then you take those in, and then you would start working with the product people in those organisations to say, what do you want to solve for? What do you have currently, with your data? What, you know, what's the experience look like? In a UX experience look like? What other technology stacks? Do you need to make these decisions and things like that? Then you take this, then we took those problem sets, we went back to the market and see who's doing this better? What can we adopt towards? How can we solve for this, then you get into a test base with them to say, you know, which companies can come into this? And what how can we test it out? So there's a bit of that. But if there was a brilliant idea out there that could actually help something, you bring that in, like, you know, when I was doing this, it was the variables thing, right? How can variables help finance? How can wearables help customers keep track of where they're spending sort of thing? There's a new tech out there, and you bring it back and say, how do we adopted back into bank? A few ways to do it. But we did both ways. Okay. And Lily Smith:  then you are now doing a very different role at King are not very different role, but a very different sector that you're working in. And so you're in gaming, which I can imagine it must be very different. So tell us a bit about this new role. And what's been the biggest surprise from making the move and also like what inspired you to make that move into gaming. Deepika Adusumilli:  So as I, so I have, I had by them by the time King contacted me being in the financial sector insurance sector for a while. And I also built platforms by this time, either insurance platform or platforms and trading platforms and stuff. So while we built a valuable p2p to see, there was a lot of b2b element happening as well, then I started to realise quite a lot about how you can actually give a lot of power to platforms by actually building it on the basis of value proposition. Sometimes it is so hard to explain technology and platforms as a product in a b2c product is quite easy to be able to say customer adoptability How do you go through it, but you know, the backend experience the platforms that actually fire these experiences in the front end, if they do not have value proposition and lead winning, they do not have product, lead understanding of what you build first, what to build next, and what are the key experiences that you want to be able to unlock? Then how do you fire up the other stuff? So I found I started finding that quite interesting. In about two three years ago. And then when King came around and said, we have this beautiful platform, it's an alias of all the gym studios that we have. So what do you think about that so, and all the data experiences, you can serve up all the unsung. So that was quite quite intriguing, very interesting for me. And I've been in several industries, as you've already seen. So the industry barrier for me was not that high. I did not, you know, I love learning, I'm always constantly learning. And to go back to learn new industry, a new market, a new audience, a new way of building product, a new data set was extremely interesting and intriguing for me. And that I think that keeps me going. So that's where I came into King, what do I find? Most, what did I find, right? There's data, the standard bits of data sitting in there, there's so much technology to build, the magnitude of things that you could build is huge, the users are huge 250 million users, I mean, you know, to be able to serve them up to be able to hold those systems to hold the data attention, to be able to serve experiences to hold their attention for 10 years at a time. So that sort of thing is quite inspiring. And I was just telling that before. So I work in the platform team, I'm head of product platform, I think that is quite innovative, to have product, lead data lead platform built to be what strategy to be built into technology, core technology, that we can fire up and help our end customers, and our customers then become b2b within the company, all of our studios that we help. So that's been quite empowering. There's so much to do. It's an ocean of technology, there's so many beautiful things out there, Randy Silver:  you know, I was going to ask you about moving from a highly regulated space to a less regulated space. But then I started thinking, wait, you actually still have to deal with payments, and now you have to deal with safety and kids and things like that. So what has it been like to move? I mean, banking, you've got a huge responsibility to your customers, but you're not hopefully dealing with minors and things like that. It's it's got to be different, but really interesting, I'm guessing. Deepika Adusumilli:  It's still, how do I say this, it is not regulated, but it has to be very responsible. You know, so we, yes, we do have to deal with payments, again, that's quite highly regulated, you have to keep a close eye on that. We partner with Facebook, and the kind, you know, an Apple pays and everything, again, those systems are quite highly regulated, then are also so many laws with it. And the scope of what we could do is quite small in that space. Still, there's still laws on how much we could actually do with what you could sell and all of those things. Right. So there is so much of regulation already. And I think it is regulation by choice, as well. What are the experiences we want to be able to sell? What are the kinds of ads we want to put forward? What are the kinds of marketing things we want to be able to do? How do we, how are we responsible for our customers? You know, I think studios put a lot of that on themselves, they want to be very responsible. And all of the kind of games we build. And coming back to that the platform itself, it is regulated. It is to a certain extent regulated, but we have to do certain amount of things to be able to play in that field. All of that. But again, it is not like I've got a free field. Even in the gaming industry, right? There is so much that responsibility that we have to take on and so much of responsibility that we take on as a company, ourselves. So there is outside regulation, and there's in regulation that we put on ourselves to serve. So we are responsible and stuff. Randy Silver:  Deepika, it's been fantastic to talk to you. I think we're about to hit the witching hour in terms of recording time. But I wanted to ask one last question, if that's all right. Just to in general, do you have any top tips for people that you work with? You know, what's one thing that you see that most products people could just really stand to learn? Deepika Adusumilli:  I think what really turned the lights on for me when data came into play, it has made my product decisioning it has made my product you know journey quite easy. So, I would suggest I would strongly strongly strongly recommend to all the product people to start understanding the data that the you know, what, where are they going use the data to follow path, use the data To make certain decisions, and there's always data in one form of the or the other. So that has really, really helped me in my career in my journey and any of the products I've bet Lily Smith:  tificate thank you so much for joining us. It's been great chatting to you today. Deepika Adusumilli:  And it was so great chatting to you Randy, and Lily. Thank you for giving me the time to speak today. Lily Smith:  The product experience is the first Randy Silver:  and the best Lily Smith:  podcast from mine the product. Our hosts are me, Lily Smith, and me Randy silver. Louron Pratt is our producer and Luke Smith is our editor. Randy Silver:  Our theme music is from humbard baseband power. That's Pau. Thanks to Arnie Cutler who curates both product tank and MTP engage in Hamburg and who also plays bass in the band for letting us use their music. You can connect with your local product community via product tank regular free meetups in over 200 cities worldwide. Lily Smith:  If there's not one near you, maybe you should think about starting one. To find out more go to mind the product.com forward slash product tank

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