One step ahead of the future
Interview with Claire Calmejane and Christophe Leblanc
Societe Generale embarked on digital transformation in the early 2010s, to invent the bank of tomorrow. Things have considerably gathered pace over the last three years. The bank has laid the necessary technological foundations and reached digital maturity, embodied in the eCac40 trophies over the last four years. The Group has now moved on to phase 2 – industrialisation.
A joint interview with the two enablers of this transformation, Claire Calmejane, Group Chief Innovation Officer, and Christophe Leblanc, Group Head of Corporate Resources and Digital Transformation
With the digital revolution, the banking industry is at a historical turning point. What will the bank of tomorrow look like?
Christophe Leblanc: Like a highly digitized bank, with a smoother customer experience and as flexible and as responsive as possible. If we manage to offer the best of digital technology and human expertise, we will have succeeded in the challenge! It will also be a more committed bank in terms of social and environmental responsibility, with a wider array of activities to accompany the changes happening in the world.
Claire Calmejane: Societe Generale upholds some pioneering, visionary and innovative values. What will set us apart is our ability to find new services related to our business, but not necessarily with the business of banking in its narrowest sense. Digital transformation is a chance to seize new opportunities for growth by building on our position as a trusted third party and on a network of qualified experts. Throughout its history, Societe Generale has always succeeded in moving into new areas of business. We will continue to do so in the future.
How is Societe Generale’s approach to the digital transformation different?
Claire C: We have made some structural choices, in our acquisitions for example. With Treezor, we are testing out some new business models. We are co-inventing tomorrow’s world by taking the best of Societe Generale and the best of Treezor. The Internal Startup Call intrapreneurship programme has also helped us create new services. From cybersecurity to the neobank, seven in-house start-ups are now in the running for Societe Generale Ventures, our investment scheme for start-ups. For me, that is a key factor in setting us apart from the more conventional banks.
Christophe L: Societe Generale draws strength from its valuable human resources. More than 23,000 people work in the IT Community. We recruit 600 developers a year. However, while the IT staff are a powerful force, working on the front line, the digital revolution is technological and industrial, and also cultural and human. It concerns every member of the Group’s staff. Everyone, at every level, needs to rethink how we serve our clients.
Societe Generale is now entering phase 2 of its digital and innovation strategy, the scaling-up phase. What does that involve?
Christophe L: All our lights are on green: 200 cases of data use developed, almost 70% of infrastructures on a private or public cloud, around 2,000 APIs available in the Group’s catalogues. We have made massive investment in cybersecurity. I see the level of technological maturity required to scale up and industrialise the transformation of the Group’s activities.
Claire C: We have identified three avenues for this scaling-up operation. Firstly, we will be working with all the Group’s business lines so that they can integrate AI and data into their strategy.
Then, given the emergence of platforms with highly innovative business models such as Airbnb, Facebook and Amazon, we are developing an open bank strategy. We are reacting by transforming our business lines and by offering services via external partners.
Finally, we are thinking about what the Societe Generale group will look like by 2025, especially in terms of agility and responsiveness. That will mean pursuing our open innovation approach and rolling out new working and management methods.
In real terms, what does the digital transformation mean for your clients today?
Claire C: For retail banking, we have a very innovative business model with Boursorama, a fully online bank. We are actively transforming our traditional networks in Russia, the Czech Republic, France and Africa. We are also offering ground-breaking services such as the cryptodynamic card, the Yup wallet and Synoé... Clients’ expectations have been reached : 67% of the Societe Generale’s clients in France and 56% of Komerční banka’s clients were connected to digital channels at least once during the last 12 months.
Christophe L: For B2B clients, we have the SG Markets platform which can be used to manage a company’s or an institutional investor’s front and back office requirements, and to offer payment, exchange and pricing solutions.
All of these use cases will be on show during #TechWeekSG from 12-14 November 2019. Follow the event on Societe Generale’s social media accounts.