Standard Bank has launched a new innovation centre in Rosebank in Johannesburg in an attempt to, it said, “think and act like a 150-year-old start-up”.
Launching the facility on Wednesday, the bank’s head of innovation and channel design, Vuyo Mpako, said the thinking behind the 1 927sq m facility, called the PlayRoom, is to develop and test new technology ideas in a creative environment and bring them to market.
Because the facility is built upstairs from an existing Standard Bank branch, it will allow PlayRoom developers to test new ideas with clients before launching them commercially.
“Before we take anything to market, we embed customers in the journey,” said Mpako.
He said the facility is meant to help motivate and excite staff about innovation in the bank. “We think the biggest and best ideas will come from our employees.”
The idea, he said, is to allow employees to act more like entrepreneurs, still within the confines of a large organisation. It will also work closely with partners — as it did with the launch of the SnapScan mobile payments application — and solicit ideas from customers.
Standard Bank wants the PlayRoom to allow it to act like a “lean start-up” to develop new technologies and ideas and bring them to market, Mpako said.
“To be really creative you have to think differently. The idea is that this is a fun-filled environment and we want to unearth creativity.”
Not everything developed in the PlayRoom will be customer facing, said Mpako. Some of the concepts that will be created will involve changing the bank’s internal systems and processes.
He said the bank is making good progress in modernising its systems, replacing its core banking systems and building a new customer relation management platform to give it a single view of each of its clients.
That said, many of the people who will work in the PlayRoom are not bankers but young graduates from disciplines other than financial services.
Mpako said the PlayRoom is “probably the biggest step we have taken to bring us closer to our customers”.
He added that the PlayRoom has already used to put together Standard Bank’s new Internet banking site, which will be launched in the next two weeks.
“The concept, redesign, beta testing and extensive group testing sessions all took place at the PlayRoom. This experience proved not only to be valuable in terms of creating a remarkable user experience based on customers’ needs but also a learning curve for us in how we use this space.” — (c) 2015 NewsCentral Media