How to turn a Multinational Automotive-Finance Company into an Innovation Powerhouse
With over 3,100 employees across 36 companies, RCI Bank and Services is a multinational finance company which is focused on delivering innovative services to customers of the Renault and Nissan automotive groups. We sat down with Jean-Philippe Mathes, Innovation Lab Director for RCI Bank and Services, to learn more about his experience managing the company’s innovation project utilizing Qmarkets’ idea management software.
On April 25th, Jean-Philippe will be a guest speaker at our Paris Innovation Leader Breakfast Tour, which will explore a variety of topics around the themes of innovation challenges and collective intelligence (click here for more details).
Qmarkets: Please could you briefly tell us about your industry – what are some of the challenges facing a modern finance organization?
Jean-Philippe Mathes: As we all know, the finance industry is more ripe for technological disruption than almost any other sector. We’re now facing threats not just from established competitors, but countless hi-tech start-ups which seem to appear on a weekly basis. We’re seeing a big shift towards digital transformation and innovation to combat disruption.
Qmarkets: And what were some of the challenges faces specifically by RCI Bank?
J.P.M.: Due to this disruption, we decided we needed to engage our whole workforce with our innovation initiative through a crowdsourcing and collaboration platform. We felt it was crucial for us to engage the “millennials” within our organization, so we needed an intuitive tool which users could easily adopt.
Qmarkets: What were the main objectives of your project?
J.P.M.: Our project was based on two facets, firstly to show that we are facilitating intrapreneurship within our
company – helping our employees to develop innovations. Secondly we wanted to develop new services and solutions to improve our customer journey experience.
Qmarkets: So how did you decide which innovation management software to use?
J.P.M.: After the initial call for bids we looked at many solutions. Out of the top 5 innovation management vendors, Qmarkets was not only the most financially attractive, but also the most technically ergonomic solution which we found. Their flexibility allowed us to start small and scale-up as the scope of our project expanded.
“Qmarkets was not only the most financially attractive, but also the most technically ergonomic solution which we found. Their flexibility allowed us to start small and scale-up as the scope of our project expanded.”
Qmarkets: How many users did you invite to participate in the initiative?
J.P.M.: We had in total about 3,000 people across 35 different countries, with several languages. While Qmarkets offered to translate the system into all necessary language, we chose to work in only English and French which are the official languages of the group.
Qmarkets: How did you incentivize the participation of end-users within your system?
J.P.M.: We understood that employee engagement would be pivotal to the success of our project, but due to our company culture we realized that the standard crowd-voting process and workflow offered by most vendors would not work. So we decided to use a competition-style ideation process to stimulate engagement. The reward for the top 12 ideas was an Apple iWatch for each submitter which was very attractive. Four of these ideas were then selected for a shortlist, and each submitter of the users behind these ideas was given a 5 month sabbatical to turn their idea into a reality, with a budget and a team. This was also a nice challenge for our human resources team!
Finally we selected one “super-winner” who would be awarded with a learning expedition to the start-up hub of Silicon Valley. We were very happy that Qmarkets software could be configured to facilitate our process.
Qmarkets: Did you employ any internal marketing communications to promote usage of the platform?
J.P.M.: Communication is, of course, central to employee engagement, so from the beginning, we initiated a dedicated communication plan to promote the initiative. At launch, we produced a video of our CEO which was posted on our internal Intranet. From then on we sent regular updates to our users on the project, both using Qmarkets’ internal communication tools and our own systems. If we did not engage with communication and involve our CEO, we would not have been able to achieve our objectives.
Qmarkets: Many of Qmarkets customers will use custom workflows to align with their unique company protocols and infrastructure. Please could you describe the workflow which RCI Bank used for this project??
J.P.M.: In order to make sure users would be highly engaged, we decided to limit the length of the idea submission to only one month. Initial evaluation was carried out by a panel of 12 highly qualified experts and executives, including the Chief Digital Officer of Renault, and the boss of Nissan’s France subsidiary, this resulted in the 12 shortlisted ideas. We then coached the 12 submitters to give an “elevator pitch” for their idea to the executive committee of RCI Bank, including our CEO. The 4 top ideas which this committee selected are now in a the proof of concept stage, and will be implemented company-wide depending on the results of this in Q2 2017.
Qmarkets: Please could you share the results which you’ve seen from this project so far?
J.P.M.: Of course, we are very happy with what we’ve seen so far. Out of the 2,800 users we had about 300 idea contributors and 500 ideas in total. This participant rate of roughly 10% is not huge but we were prioritizing quality of quantity. In fact, we were actually very impressed with this level of engagement, and it has now become the benchmark for the whole of the Renault group. We’ve had executives from our sister companies coming to us how they could replicate this success.
“We have always appreciated the ability of Qmarkets’ team to provide solutions to our issues… Due to the time-sensitive nature of our project we needed to be able to make changes very quickly, so it was crucial that a member of the Qmarkets team was always available.
Qmarkets: What has your experience with the Qmarkets team been like?
J.P.M.: We have always appreciated the ability of Qmarkets’ team to provide solutions to our issues. For example, our project manager and interlocutor Yoel Daskal, was very knowledgeable due to his previous experience with delivering innovation to large enterprises. Due to the time-sensitive nature of our project we needed to be able to make changes very quickly, so it was crucial that a member of the Qmarkets team was always available.
Qmarkets: And finally, what are your plans moving forward regarding innovation?
J.P.M.: The 4 groundbreaking ideas will soon be implemented with the help of our executive committee, however other good ideas have also been transferred to other managers for implementation. The President of RCI Bank and Services was actually very impressed with the 4 ideas that were selected and fascinated by the approach we used, so we will soon be launching another campaign right after an end-to-end upgrade which Qmarkets is intending to implement into our platform.
On April 25th and 26th, IFT and Qmarkets will be hosting an enterprise innovation leader breakfast, which will explore a variety of topics around the themes of innovation challenges and collective intelligence. Find out more about the Paris Innovation Leader Breakfast Tour here.