Articles & Case Studies by Industry

Financial Services

25 Corporate Innovation Hubs in London: An Annotated Map

London remains one of the world’s thriving financial centers. Explore our interactive map to see the key players in the ecosystem, from corporate innovation labs to venture capital to accelerators run by organizations like Visa, Barclays, Johnson & Johnson, and the BBC.

Podcast Episode: Innovators vs. the Rulebook. Who Wins?

Innovation can be difficult at any company. However, highly regulated industries with a thick rule book — both internally and from the government — face more roadblocks along the innovation journey. In this episode of Innovation Answered, we ask, “How do you make innovation happen in a highly regulated industry?” Guests share perspectives from Cambia Health Solutions, American Express, and Planbox.

Playing In the Startup Sandbox: Podcast

In this episode of Innovation Answered, we walk through different models for working with startups and find out “Should big companies even try to plug in to the startup ecosystem?” Podcast host Kaitlin Milliken calls Arvind Purushotham, the Head of Venture Investing at Citi Ventures, to find out how the company invests in and partners with startups. This episode also includes insights  from Northwestern Professor Mohan Sawhney and  Jenny Lawton, COO of Techstars, a startup accelerator program.

Master Class Replay: How Innovators and Risk Managers Can Work Better Together

In our most recent Master Class, Mastercard’s Bob Reany and Innovation Leader’s Scott Kirsner shared best practices for working productively with security, legal, and compliance teams. Other discussion topics included: factors that cause tension between teams, the growing importance of security in the customer’s mind, and tactics for building stronger relationships. Watch the full Master Class, read some of the highlights, or download a PDF of the slide deck.

Big Corporates Can’t Innovate — And Other Myths

“Most big corporates have traditionally had a designated R&D department, with a small team of people in charge of driving the company’s global innovation agenda,” writes Genevieve Juillard of Experian, the $4.6 billion credit reporting agency. “But can one team truly push a company forward?” Juillard writes that large companies “must change the way they approach innovation.” Here’s how…

Fidelity Investments CEO Talks Blockchain, VR, and Deflation in Financial Services

At a recent FinTech Sandbox event in Boston, Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson discussed the history of the company’s innovation unit; some of the organization’s most recent innovations; and its goals for the future. Edited highlights inside…

Why KeyBank is Investing in Digital Innovation, Acquiring Startups — and Betting on the Future of the Branch

KeyBank is one of the biggest in the US, with more than 1,100 branches, $137 billion in assets, and about 18,500 employees. And while it is steadily investing in its digital relationship with customers — in June it acquired Bolstr, a startup focused on small business lending — it remains committed to the old school, face-to-face interaction that takes place in a branch. Senior executive Dennis Devine explains…

How Fidelity Investments Used a Key Ring to Capture Project Learnings

What happens after you run the debrief on a project you’ve completed? Often, there’s a whiteboard full of learnings, or a few documents stashed away in a directory somewhere. At Fidelity Investments, the Fidelity Labs innovation team came up with a clever way to capture what they learned from a project that launched in 2016. Here’s how they did it…

The Three Roles That USAA Labs Plays

Chief Innovation Officer Zachary Gipson explains how his USAA Labs team engages employees and members; experiments with new technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence; and works to build new businesses.

Video: Robin Beers of Wells Fargo on 5 Principles of Rapid Prototyping — and Which One is the Toughest

Robin Beers heads the Customer Experience and Insight Teams for Wells Fargo’s B2B business. She explains the five principles of rapid prototyping, including “show, don’t tell,” “get customer feedback,” and “document your decisions.” Beers says one of them is harder than the others…

Video: Andres Ricaurte of American Express on Partnerships, Innovation, and the Customer-First Mindset

“Innovation in a vacuum is useless,” says Andres Ricuarte, Head of American Express’ B2B Platform and API. “You need partners, but more importantly, in conjunction with your partners, you need customers.” More advice from Ricuarte inside…

Video: Advice on Starting a Corporate Innovation Lab

With seven labs across the globe, Thomson Reuters has a larger network of innovation labs than most companies. Mona Vernon, Chief Technology Officer of Thomson Reuters Labs, discusses goals, people, governance, and the relationship between the lab and the core business. Vernon also touches on the question of where to locate an innovation lab.

Spinning Out Isn’t Simple: The Inside Story of How Eastern Bank Launched a Lending Startup

Plenty of big companies working on new business ideas talk about the potential for spinning them out. But few actually follow through and do it. Here’s the inside story of how it happened at Eastern Bank, the largest and oldest mutual bank in the US.

Audio: Advice from Piaggio, Eastern Bank, Thomson Reuters, Autodesk, and Blue Cross Blue Shield

Go where the love is… get others running experiments…and make sure you know how to pull a rabbit out of a hat. (But don’t do it over and over.) Tips and insights that senior innovation execs shared at a recent gathering in Boston.

Don’t Build an Innovation Ivory Tower: Advice from Manulife exec Jesse Bean on Delivering Impact

Bean is the Chief Experience Officer and Head of Innovation for Global Solutions Delivery at Manulife Financial, the $53.3 billion financial services group that operates as John Hancock in the US. He shares his advice about setting up a network of labs, building support among middle management, and the “DevOps” approach to bringing software development closer to IT operations folks. Includes downloadable audio…

Webcast Replay: Creating a Curriculum to Develop Innovation Leaders

Led by Stephanie Simon, the hour-long webcast covered the training program’s objectives, timeline, staffing, skills taught, external resources used, and the learnings so far. Watch the replay…

Webcast Replay: New Tools & Resources for Innovation Leaders

Recording of our May 2017 webcast, featuring Scott Kirsner and Aaron Proietti explaining how to use six of our new downloadable resources, and answering questions. Resources include progress report templates, PDF roadmaps, and RASCI matrices.

After the ‘Shark Tank’ event: How BNY Mellon is Broadening Innovation Impact

Adetola Abiade, Director of Global Innovation for the Americas at BNY Mellon, explains the nuts-and-bolts of how the oldest bank in the U.S. runs its internal “Shark Tank” event, as well as how her team is using coaching, incentives, podcasts, and metrics to extend the event’s impact.

Webcast Replay: Innovation and the Business Units

Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner shares some of the high-level data from our recent survey and research report on the ties between business units and innovation or R&D groups. He’s joined by executives from Fidelity Investments, Aon Health, GOJO Industries, and Trek Bicycle, who share their perspectives. 45 minutes of video and slides…

Photos: Inside MasterCard Labs in New York City

Photos from MasterCard’s NYC Tech Hub, opened in October 2014.

InsurTech: Execs from AIG and John Hancock talk startups, sensors, more

How can insurance companies innovate effectively — in the face of strict regulatory oversight, customer concerns about privacy, and decades of ingrained thinking about “the way things are done”? Execs from AIG and John Hancock discussed those issues at a recent event. Includes profiles of startups working in the insurance sector.

How $5B financial tech firm Fiserv is refining its startup accelerator for 2017

Five startups participated in the accelerator’s first cycle in 2016. We talk to Matthew Wilcox, SVP of Marketing Strategy and Innovation, about what is changing in the second go-round.

Amex exec Lei Chen on building new capabilities and spreading a ‘growth mindset’

In her position as VP of New Capabilities Innovation, Lei Chen was at the helm of a brand new team. She viewed the role as having three main components, and task number one was to “make sure we have the right talent in place to embrace the innovation that’s opened up by technology.” Here’s what she focused on…

How the Capital One Garage is incubating new products and ‘re-imagining the relationship with money’

“We incubate and accelerate great products,” says Gagan Kanjlia, co-founder of Capital One Garage, the incubator at the $24 billion financial services giant. “But also we’re driving this broader business transformation, which is essential for larger companies like Capital One.”

Book excerpt: How Britain’s Metro Bank created a ‘lighthouse identity’ in financial services

At branches of England’s Metro Bank, signs in the lobby and slogans on the screens of the ATMs feel like rallying cries more than product messages: LOVE YOUR BANK AT LAST! DOGS RULE! KIDS ROCK! NO MORE STUPID BANK RULES! Author Bill Taylor explains.

Joe Pine: Products and services are being commoditized. Here’s how you create experiences.

“If you look at convenience, convenience means spending less time with a customer,” Pine said on a recent conference call with Innovation Leader members. “What I’m talking about is spending more time with a customer, where customers actually value the time they spend with you. Instead of time well-saved — a commoditized service — they view it as time well-spent. We spoke with Pine about how social media and virtual reality are changing the nature of experiences; Uber, Hilton, and Capital One; and more. 30 minutes of audio inside…

‘Learn fast’: At Wells Fargo, using prototypes to go beyond just talking about products

“Rapid prototyping makes something physical and tangible, so everyone can align their understanding of what it is, versus just talking about it,” says Wells Fargo SVP Robin Beers. Inside, she shares how the company uses the approach, along with a slide highlighting some guiding principles…

How MasterCard adapted the Adobe Kickbox innovation kit to its culture

Participating individuals and teams receive an Orange Box containing a $1,000 pre-paid card and tools to help them explore an idea and develop a pitch in 60 days. If the pitch is approved, the team receives a Red Box, which contains $25,000 and 90 days to develop their project further. We talk to Senior VP John Sheldon about how the program works.

Why insurance firm Assurant designed a strategy game for employees to play

Among the goals behind the company’s Strategy Learning Game: helping employees understand the direction the company is going and “how they fit in,” and driving a cultural shift to urgency, adaptive thinking, agility, and accountability. SVP Melissa Kivett explains how it worked…

Advice on running a global startup competition from Spanish bank BBVA

If you’re considering a competition or challenge to help your company get to know startups in your industry, read this advice from Scarlet Sieber of BBVA, the Spanish banking giant. Sieber explains how to attract the best startups and make sure business unit leaders are ready to work with them. Includes slides and audio…

Visa explores future of buying without plastic at innovation center

When most people talk about connected products or the “Internet of Things,” they mean a new generation of devices that can communicate with one another wirelessly. But what if devices could buy stuff, rather than just conveying status or the need for maintenance? Here’s what Visa is experimenting with …

Audio: Nondini Naqui on hiring for MassMutual’s Society of Grownups

Nondini Naqui, CEO of Society of Grownups, a “learning initiative” of the insurer MassMutual, talks a bit about how the new venture’s separate culture and separate office space has helped her attract the talent she needs — including software developers.

How U.S. Bank is pushing the edge on voice biometrics

The bank’s mobile app already allowed customers to use spoken commands to check their balance, available interest rates, and make payments. Could it allow them to speak a phrase that would replace their password, too?

How Royal Bank of Canada moved fast to deploy mobile payments

Staying ahead of a technological shift in your industry can be tough when you’re not a tech leader like Google or Apple. Should you marshal the internal resources necessary to do cutting-edge development on your own, or simply wait for one of the tech giants to make their move, join them as a partner — and risk letting them come between you and your customers? Here’s how Linda Mantia tackled that question…

What Manulife’s senior tech execs want from new LOFT initiative

Executives at Manulife Financial knew they needed to play more offense when it came to exploring and experimenting with new technologies. To speed up the company’s tech metabolism, Manulife last month launched the Lab of Forward Thinking, or LOFT. We’ve got slides on their strategy, and their first big event…

Transamerica’s Aaron Proietti on what’s working — and what didn’t

On our latest Innovation Leader Live call, we spoke with Aaron Proietti of Transamerica about the evolution of the insurance company’s innovation program — including approaches that have worked, and those that haven’t.

How USAA moved fast to launch drone program

Last month, innovators at USAA were among the first in their industry to get federal approval to test unmanned aircraft. Their objective? Speeding up the claims process for USAA members after a natural disaster strikes.

Allstate exec on strategic alignment, metrics, innovation team survival

In our latest Innovation Leader Live call, we talked with Allstate’s Moises Norena about how the $34 billion insurer is measuring innovation impact; why innovation can sometimes be a tough sell in a services business; and how innovation teams can survive corporate shake-ups and management changes. Includes 30-minutes of audio…

Inside the entrepreneur-led innovation group at Eastern Bank

Dan O’Malley had tried to disrupt the banking industry from outside. Now, he’s working within it, as the founder of Eastern Labs, an innovation group at Eastern Bank, the country’s biggest and oldest mutual bank. Includes slides…

MasterCard exec talks Whirlpool collaboration, startup accelerator

Group Head of Innovation Management John Sheldon shares the strategic objectives behind MasterCard’s Start Path accelerator program, and explains how his MasterCard Labs group collaborated with Whirlpool to rethink laundry.

Co-creation: Vodafone, Thomson Reuters share lessons learned

How can two companies productively innovate together to address an opportunity that matters to them both? Shannon Lucas of Vodafone Global Enterprise and Saidah Nash Carter of Thomson Reuters share a document that addresses that question.

Inside MassMutual’s radical new learning initiative

Organizing supper clubs and offering classes on how to plan for the zombie apocalypse, a spin-out from $27 billion MassMutual tries to target the future consumer. Here’s how it works…

Changing culture at French insurer BNP Paribas Cardif

Héloïse Lauret, Head of Innovation at BNP Paribas Cardif, discusses the three main culture-change initiatives the French insurance firm has launched — and the importance of building trust.

Webcast replay: Fidelity VP on tools for innovation teams

“If you just talk a lot about innovation and make a lot of noise, it can backfire,” says Rick Smyers, VP of the Center for Accelerated Innovation at Fidelity Investments. “People can hear a lot about it and think, ‘It’s just another management fad. It’ll go away.'” Smyers explains in this webcast how you can put the right strategy, tools, and people in place to make a real impact — and details some of his team’s successful projects.

Why Visa set up new innovation lab focused on digital payments

As more consumers look to pay for things without whipping out a credit card or carrying cash, Visa exec Bill Gajda explains the $12.6 billion company’s thinking behind a new 500-person innovation center in San Francisco.

Why Wells Fargo says diversity of thought is essential to innovation

Without the rights kinds of people on a project team, says Mike Duke, the Chief Innovation Architect at Wells Fargo, progress can stall. “Diversity of thought is critical,” Duke says. “If you have the same minds in the room, you’ll get the same ideas.” He offers an overview of innovation initiatives at the $21 billion financial services company.

Innovation matures at Transamerica from skunkworks to true partner

Chief Innovation Officer Aaron Proietti explains how his group’s mission has evolved, shifting from an isolated “skunkworks” responsible for developing its own projects to more of a consultancy to the business units. Here’s why that happened…

Fidelity VP: Pick the right innovation tools for your trip

Rick Smyers, who runs the Center for Accelerated Innovation at Fidelity Investments, likens running a successful innovation program to planning a mountaineering expedition: you don’t want to leave base camp without a plan of attack, the right people, and the proper equipment. Details, slides, and video inside…

Dear Boss: Here’s how to manage our innovation team

Phil Swisher, Head of Innovation at the private bank Brown Brothers Harriman, shares the one-page guide he put together for the partner who was taking over management of his team in 2013.

Chubb global innovation VP: ‘Stop the innovation carnival’

At too many companies, employees interact with the innovation team during sporadic “Innovation Days,” idea challenges, or off-site meetings. Chubb global innovation VP Gerry Myers explains how the insurer created a “social layer” for innovation and collaboration, to help weave innovation into employees’ daily activity. Includes slides.

Dominic Venturo: Making innovation pay at U.S. Bank

Being a bank is no longer just about branches and vaults full of cash, says Dominic Venturo, chief innovation officer of the $4.75 billion payment services business at U.S. Bank. Venturo explains how his 13-person innovation team interacts with the lines of business to make sure the organization stays ahead of trends like mobile payments, telepresence, and biometric security.

Scoring ideas: How one financial services firm does it

The head of innovation at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., the oldest and biggest private bank in the U.S., shares their internal 0-21 point scale for scoring ideas that could have a big impact on BBH’s operations and its customers. Among the criteria they consider: How much would the idea rely on high-cost technology and infrastructure?