Martech Interview with Stephen Baker, Chief Executive Officer of Kinective

Discover how Kinective stays ahead in banking technology with its strategic approach to technology analysis and application.

Stephen, would you kindly give us a brief outline of your professional journey that has brought you to your current position as CEO at Kinective?

My career really began as an engineer for Motorola, where I had the opportunity to work on the infrastructure for mobile devices and eventually migrated over to location services. This was all brand new to the market at the time so much of my work involved me traveling the world to educate people on this new technology. Eventually, I left Motorola to join a couple of co-founders in starting ShortTrack, a provider of integration and middleware services for the title industry.

A few years later, I joined MRI Software in the Property Technology space, and was a part of the executive leadership team focusing my efforts on our international business. I then went to InsightSoftware where I handled a number of M&A transactions. Most recently, I was president of Zego, the largest provider of rental and HOA payments for the real estate market. I started as the Chief Product Technology Officer and was asked to become President when we were acquired by Global Payments.

Today my newest role is CEO of Kinective. It’s been an exciting few months helping bring the legacy businesses together and beginning to chart the path for an even more exciting phase of this company.

You have a background in product management. How do you approach product innovation and ensuring a strong return on investment for product development?

I’ve spent a lot of time on the product side of business. One of the biggest things companies run into is finding a balance between driving a strategy that’s bold and innovative without going too far out and not serving a real need, while being practical but not leaning so far back that you get out-innovated. It’s really a balancing act!

I also am a firm believer in customer advisory boards. This allows you to be extremely close to the market and get constructive input on the strategy. Pair that with an equation that looks at the amount of investment, risk involved, the potential upside, and market needs, and you have a really powerful combination.

Mergers and acquisitions play a significant role in Kinective’s formation. Can you elaborate on your experience in driving M&A strategy and executing successful integrations?

One important key to a successful M&A strategy is understanding the direction you’re taking the company and understanding that market space really well. This helps you identify things (solutions?) that are highly valued and easy to build, as well as those that are highly valued but hard to build or will take a long time to bring to the market (those tend to be the great acquisitions).

Don’t get so distracted with great tech that you forget to determine how it all fits into the rest of your product ecosystem. You want to be able to tell a story post-merger that makes sense to everyone, but my litmus test is sales, because if they don’t get the story, clients won’t get the story. Everyone in the business needs to grasp the story for it to be a truly integrated acquisition.

Kinective is known for delivering a comprehensive technology ecosystem for banking. Could you explain how this ecosystem benefits financial institutions and their clients?

All the elements of Kinective enable financial institutions (FIs) in one way or another, and a lot of that is through connectivity (the inspiration behind our brand). We connect technology elements that financial institutions want to use- both in branch and in the digital world. We have connectivity to more than 40 core banking systems and over 80 fintech solution providers, so we really have a comprehensive perspective on the market. We also have just about every piece of relevant hardware on the market, which enables us to cover all the bases.

International market development is listed as one of your areas of expertise. How do you approach expanding into new markets while maintaining a strong foothold in existing ones?

I’ve always enjoyed growing businesses into international markets. It’s exciting and really gives the business a sense of pride, and the market tends to take the business more seriously. As exciting as it is, it is also challenging. Entering a market with no presence requires perseverance and persistence, and it can be a a great deal of work to get those first few customer success stories.

This is ultimately where my M&A experience comes into play and these two often go hand-in-hand for my long-term strategy. It becomes easier to grow internationally when you can establish a presence via an acquisition. There’s no doubt that it accelerates the entire process, and market knowledge and local awareness comes built-in with the acquisition. To succeed with this strategy it needs to be founded on thoughtful strategic alignment and a well-executed post-merger integration plan.

You’ve successfully driven M&A from planning to integration. How do you approach aligning the product strategies of acquired companies with your own while maintaining innovation and customer satisfaction?

A robust roadmap process is key. Especially with new acquisitions, you might have to break apart existing roadmaps and determine how they all go together, and how the combination benefits the customer. With a company like Kinective where all the constituent components were very well-liked by our client base, a lot of our roadmapping and communication is ensuring that we aren’t changing the things they love most about us and breaking what has made us successful in the past. And then on top of that, bringing the unified product suite forward in a way they understand.

In the rapidly evolving tech landscape, how does Kinective’s approach to technology analysis, application, and overall strategic planning all it to stay ahead in the banking technology sector?

Having a solid foundation to make key decisions is paramount. We pay attention to a number of things:

  • The fact set of our customer base, the broader market and wallet share by solution
  • Market dynamics and trends; what are the biggest points of focus and need?
  • What are our competitors doing?
  • What new technologies are emerging in the wild, as well as in our “4-walls”?

This ends up being a great conversation between product and technology leaders where we balance the art of the possible with where the market is and what competitors are doing. Then we gauge this with our customer advisory board who helps validate the ideas and possibilities.

Stephen, could you explain how you ensure the integration of principles into Kinective’s operations to achieve improved outcomes and sustain a competitive advantage within the industry?

A healthy organization is one that has its own unique identity, core principles, and a vision for the future. Trying to bring three of those together presents its own set of challenges; however, I was pleased to discover there were many core principles shared by all three companies. They were all very focused on customer outcomes, supporting customers, and genuinely being easy with which to do business. When I interviewed customers from each of the companies, they had similar stories and experiences to share. I was delighted to find out how many people really liked these businesses.

Knowing this customer-centric value was shared by all three companies made this integration feel powerful because we all care deeply about the same things, and we want to ensure that comes across as we go forward.

What upcoming trends or developments do you foresee in the banking technology industry, and how is Kinective positioning itself to adapt to these changes?

Financial institutions are actively seeking digital transformation. Every year we conduct a market survey, and this was one of the top focus points for more than 300 banks and credit unions. So of course, more and more fintechs and technical solutions are entering the market to help these FIs better serve customers, and then the real question is, “How do all of these new solutions work with the plethora of core banking systems?” Kinective is the enabler for that ecosystem, to help FIs build the platform they want to build. We connect the dots which empower them to do exactly what they want with whatever technology they want to use. I think that’s exciting for our partners.

Lastly, could you share a notable accomplishment or milestone that you’re particularly proud of during your tenure as CEO at Kinective?

One of the initial things I wanted to get right was a consolidated executive team to lead Kinective. We were able to assemble that team in July, and it’s comprised of a powerful combination of existing executives from the legacy constituent businesses which formed Kinective and who have deep expertise in the market and our products, as well as some individuals from other industries that have an abundance of enterprise software experience. I have complete confidence in this leadership team, and they are already achieving incredible things for Kinective.

Stephen Baker, Chief Executive Officer of Kinective

Stephen Baker is the CEO of Kinective, a leading provider of connectivity, workflow, and analytics software for the banking sector. He leads Kinective’s world-class team in delivering greater connectivity and choice to the world of banking, helping clients drive transformation on their own terms. By supporting clients in expanding the technology options financial institutions offer, Kinective clients can in turn can delight their customers and improve revenue. As a multi-faceted executive with an excellent track record of creating and executing winning strategies across a range of industries, Stephen brings deep expertise to Kinective in building value and driving innovation for clients and partners alike. With a background in operations and quality improvement, Stephen has proven product management leadership, delivering compelling innovation and strong returns on product investment. Under his leadership, he has demonstrated success driving M&A from planning, through integration and synergy execution. Prior to Kinective, he was the former President of Zego, the leading provider of property management automation, and he held executive roles at MRI Software, insightsoftware, and ShortTrack. Stephen holds an MBA in Strategy, Economics, Entreprenuership from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering/Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. LinkedIn.
Previous ArticleNext Article

Copyright © 2024 Martech Cube. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy