Last week the Bank Innovators Council (BIC) held its second Boston workshop and networking event at Brown Brothers Harriman. Brown Brothers Harriman in many represents the ideal location to hold such a gathering, given its high-tech new offices in Post Office Square and for the firm’s robust approach to innovation under ex-Goldman Sachs banker Phil Swisher.
Joining Swisher and his team at the evening event were more than a dozen executives from banks, asset managers and leading industry service providers. While some of the bankers’ interest in innovation flowed from their backgrounds in technology and related disciplines, few carried the word “innovation” on their business cards, and none enjoyed the backing of a full-fledged innovation team like that of Brown Brothers Harriman. Most often their focus on innovation came from a realization that the challenges facing their organizations were not likely to be solved thorough traditional bank decision-making processes.
Given the disruptive and cross-functional nature of innovation, participants stressed that building organizational consensus and engaging employees throughout the innovation process is key to moving it forward. As one attendee explained, moving a concept from idea to implementation means getting individuals at all levels of the organization involved, from front-line and back-office staff to managers and executives. This can be laborious process from a logistical standpoint as many of these individuals tend to be on the move or at least, difficult to gather in one place.
To address this challenge, the Bank Innovators Council has partnered with Innovation Agency to build a virtual community that solicits, shares and evaluates ideas from across the membership community. Christoph Wertz from Innovation Agency joined the group in Boston to demonstrate the tool, known as the Innovation Café. The community allows executives, innovation champions and hands-on innovators to engage easily and on a more equal footing than otherwise possible. Staff who might be afraid to speak up in a committee setting or in front of their boss’ boss are more likely to weigh in actively in a virtual setting, noted Wertz, while time-starved executives are more likely to participate if they can do so on their own terms.
Following the demo was a reception for participants complete with an ESPN-style Interview Zone, powered by Bankers Hub, the industry leader in virtual conferencing and education. The banker interviews, as well as those conducted with presenters at the Innovation Models In Digital Banking conference also held in Boston last week, will be shared with Bank Innovator Council members as well as Bankers Hub’s 200,000 online subscribers.
The event was a particular success in that it transcended time and place by giving innovation-focused bankers a platform for their thoughts and generating broader public interest in the Council’s activities, which is important step in the run-up to the daylong Innovators Workshop BIC plans to hold at Level39 in London on February 13, 2014, immediately following Finovate Europe.