The world around us is constantly changing. Like any other healthy business that operates in the financial markets, we strive to keep up with the needs and desires of our clients. This motivates us to think about the products and services we offer, and the technologies we use. Our business development and operational teams do so by evaluating our existing products and services, while our innovation lab does so by experimenting with new technology.
Our clients’ need for innovation is evident. The financial sector faces increasing pressure to keep up with technological developments and new regulations. This requires them to transform their products and services into sustainable and digital alternatives for the future. Falling behind in terms of innovation means creating an opening through which a competitor can move in and snatch away part of the market share.
Innovation at different levels
Within VI Company’s innovation lab, we spark innovation in different ways based on the source of the need. We distinguish two equally important types of needs that lead to innovation:
- Intrinsic needs, originating internally. Colleagues acquire new knowledge or expertise (e.g. learn to apply a new technology) to improve our existing products and services.
- Extrinsic needs, originating from external sources (e.g. one of our clients). This concerns a need we do not have a solution for yet or adapting an existing solution to a new need.
We account for intrinsic needs by giving members of the innovation lab the freedom to explore new technologies that show promise and might prove to be of interest to our clients. The knowledge and expertise that are gained from this exploratory phase are afterward shared with the other members of the innovation lab.
If the new technology shows enough potential to warrant a real-world experiment the lab will organize a presentation for our entire company. This ensures everyone is involved early on in the process and will gradually be introduced to the new technology.
What your innovation lab is trying to accomplish is new to your company, but not new to the marketplace.
Richard Turrin, Fintech innovator & author of 'Innovation Lab Excellence: Digital Transformation from Within'.
Extrinsic needs are on a whole different level. We learn about these needs in conversations with prospects and clients. Oftentimes it concerns a new technology or solution we do not offer yet to our clients. This pushes us to think differently, take a step back, and try to approach the client’s need in the broadest sense possible.
Taking a step back
Let us look at an example of an extrinsic need that led to innovation within VI Company. In the past, clients used to ask us if we had any experience with low-code. At the time, low-code was a relatively new technology. Low-code enables people to develop applications using a standardized environment containing tools that simplify the development process and require next to no experience in programming.
Using low-code, clients and developers can have an equal-footed conversation about what the product should be. This is made possible because of the (visual) characteristics of low-code platforms and the reduced technical complexity. Next to that low-code has the potential to raise development efficiency, therefore lowering costs.
Experimenting with low-code
Example of an internal project we developed at VI Company, the floorplanner app.
VI Company’s innovation lab started multiple initiatives to properly investigate what low-code has to offer, and whether or not our company should add this technology to our existing products and services. After the exploratory phase had ended, some members of the business development and operational teams became intrigued with low-code. Mixed teams started to form organically, who built some internal projects using low-code.
Because low-code is a term widely used and leaves a lot of room for interpretation, we created a focus group. By doing field research, comparing the available alternatives, and experimenting with a potential client case the focus group gained valuable insights that could help answer future extrinsic needs. We will dive into the focus group approach and results in an upcoming article.
Venturing into new territories
Low-code was, and still is, a great example of ongoing innovation within our company and among our clients. But we are constantly driven to venture into new territories for many reasons, not even only on a technical level. At times this can be a daunting process, but it is necessary to invest in if you want to remain relevant as a service provider.
Are you curious how we can bring innovation and digital transformation to your organization? Our solution engineer Kevin Wareman is happy to tell you all about it. You can contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.