The pros and cons of bank ‘intrapreneurship’ programs


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Major European banks have recently been ramping up efforts to tap their existing staff pools to generate ideas for new fintech products and services, amid a broader push among banks to update their corporate culture.

Last month, BNP Paribas launched its Alpha program, and this week, Societe Generale followed suit with what it calls an “intrapreneurship” program. Both initiatives encourage the banks’ existing employees to submit ideas in areas such as data analysis, digital banking, automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and the sharing economy.

Successful pitches are developed in what the banks call a “startup-like” environment, enabling the projects to be re-evaluated constantly to make improvements. In BNP Paribas’ case, the projects will take place in a dedicated coworking space. Meeting changing customer expectations, and staying relevant in an increasingly digital economy, were cited as key motivations by both banks.

This inward-looking approach to innovation has both pros and cons for banks:

 Sarah Kocianski, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has written a detailed report on banking culture transformations that looks at where, and how, failure to consider the impact of operating culture can harm banks’ innovation efforts, and includes case studies from three major global banks that are tackling the problem. The case studies examine the approaches the banks are taking in addressing cultural barriers to innovation, details where they’ve seen success, and provides lessons learned. BI Intelligence also details our recommended best practices for encouraging cultural change in banking to better foster successful innovation efforts.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

 In full, the report:

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