On December 2nd 2020, Rudi Peeters, CIO of KBC, was keynote speaker at a lunch meeting hosted by CIONET, Red Hat and Intel. 18 digital leaders joined the inspiring and motivating event.
This event was the follow-up of an interview of Rudi for CIONET TV.
Rudi Peeters explained that people are not against innovation yet do not like to be changed. To support change the right culture needs to be in place. Culture is even more important for an organisation than strategy. Culture eats strategy for breakfast, as they say. So how do you create the right culture? Innovation should be everybody’s responsibility. Having a separate, dedicated group responsibility is not a good idea, while allocating R&D budgets to innovation is a the right thing to do.
Setting up a monthly innovation board consisting of managers from across all business units is a key success factor. During these board meetings all ideas are reviewed. Typically, 3 to 4 ideas per month get approved. Innovation is not just about technology. Improving business processes and looking for new business models is also innovation that should be considered. e.g. Blockchain projects are typically process focused. In innovation initiatives technology is usually not the biggest challenge. The innovation board and the people who made a suggestion for innovation determine the criteria to measure the success of the idea upfront. It is not only about money. It could be because customers would see the innovation as an extra service. Do not be afraid to fail. You can’t learn if you are not willing to fail. Even failures should be celebrated: “Thanks to this failure, we learned” is embedded in the innovation culture at KBC.
Having an innovation box for new suggestions (in e.g. SharePoint) works well in particular when you add a competition between departments to be the best contributor. KBC publishes the ranking of the number of ideas per department. Nobody wants to be the last in the ranking. That helps. Do not forget to give feedback about what was done with the suggestions for innovation.
KBC also implemented a trend book to capture new trends. This triggers ideas and helps evaluating new suggestions. Making a technology tweet every 2 weeks became part of KBC's culture. Maybe CIONET could launch a weekly technology tweet in the global community of nearly 10.000 digital leaders. Picking up trends and focusing on what will be needed 1 to 2 years from now is key. Innovation is not about improvements needed in the next months.
KBC has set up a demo room where all new technologies are visible so that people get inspired. KBC’s technology partners can also demonstrate their newest technology there. Next to that KBC has innovation days where IT-suppliers and start-ups can demonstrate what they are working on. Ideas very often come from outside the organisation. This can also be stimulated by acquisitions, co-creation and other initiatives with other companies. If people connect, things will happen.
Kalman Tiboldi, CTO of GEMOne TVH Parts, summarised it very well: “Innovation should follow a organised process to transform good ideas into value for your organisation. This way the innovation board can quickly show the money of the selected initiatives. If you can show the money, it is easy to get the budget. There is value in being an early adopter and in experimenting. TVH was one of the early adopters of e-commerce, of WIFI, of VOIP, etc.. At this moment TVH makes more than 1 billion € turnover per year via e-commerce.