Being radical is FNB’s new normal

FNB re-energises innovation with a new Head of Innovation

Johannesburg – “Creating game-changing innovations at FNB has been the norm for years and we have a history of rewarding our staff for being radical. Looking forward, the programme will expand to be much more than just an internal staff competition. FNB’s customers are at the heart of why we innovate, and our future innovation strategy will be focused on customer-focused products and services,” explains newly appointed Head of FNB Innovators, Yolande Steyn. 

Radical innovation is nothing new to Steyn who previously led FNB’s mobile money solution, eWallet, to become one of the largest bank-led mobile money solutions on the continent.

“Simply defined, a radical or disruptive innovation needs to have a significant impact on the market and on the economic activity of organisations within that market,” says Steyn. The concept highlights the impact of innovation in the market as opposed to it just being developed for novelty purposes. “Radical Innovation serves as a guide for us to become and remain top of mind to our customers when it comes to any financial services value propositions or solutions.”

”We need to be responsive to the shifting economy and create innovation best practices that will disrupt and influence the market. The current environment is jam-packed with mobile technologies, complex processes and incremental innovations. Concepts like big data and artificial intelligence, new business models like Uber, the Internet of Things (IoT) and other exponential technologies have fallen under the radical innovation radar and might just be the most disruptive technologies to date,” explains Steyn.

“Incubator programmes are the engines of growth in this economy. It is these programmes that force us to collaborate and look at new ways of approaching innovation,” says Steyn. FNB has partnered with a number of innovation properties that incubate and accelerate innovation and organisations. Properties like the FNB Business Innovation Awards, SiMODiSA, wethinkcode, FNB codeFest, FNB Business Accelerator are just some of the programmes that up-skill innovators and entrepreneurs in South Africa.

Internally, the FNB Innovators programme has evolved and shows FNB’s ongoing commitment to growing employee innovation. The current strategy involves sharing of information, thinking out of the box and exchanging ideas in a safe and nurtured environment.

“All types of innovation require a degree of independence, so that people can work in a specific way without having to worry about the constraints of red tape. We want our people to think and act differently. We want them to be able to change the status quo. The innovation strategy serves as a catalyst for entrenching a philosophy of entrepreneurship among our staff and enables ideas that make a difference so that we can efficiently serve our customers,” explains Steyn.

The current competitive environment is encouraging innovation that disrupts and changes incremental thinking. “We find that we are moving and adapting to the FinTech model more so today than ever before. FinTech not only has the ability to change the social economic circumstances of both business and people, but it is also creating platforms that will see more radical innovations comes to surface.” concludes Steyn.