Open source, a key to innovation

The process has been under way for several years: Societe Generale is embracing open source software and prioritising openness in its projects. The aim is not only to migrate its applications and infrastructure to open source solutions, but also to instil a new mindset by turning its IT teams into leading contributors.

An operational choice and a new philosophy

In purely IT terms, “open source” refers to software for which the original source code is released under licence, meaning it can be accessed, modified and redistributed. The original source code is generally produced by several programmers working together, and it is made available to the general public.

Open source is the cornerstone of the innovation strategy for Societe Generale’s information systems and it lies behind a global policy of fostering collective intelligence in a multilateral approach combining cooperation, flexibility and proactivity. By capitalising on open source solutions, Societe Generale has clearly positioned its transformation strategy, which is based on openness, in recent years and for the future.

Alain Voiment Deputy CTO and sponsor of Societe Generale group’s Open Source strategy.

Open source is a powerful driver of innovation, accelerating our digital transformation and attracting talent. By 2020, we are aiming to make 80% of our servers on the Cloud and 30% of our databases Open Source.

“This approach was initiated by the company's developers, who wanted to share practices, standards and technology building blocks to help them innovate faster,” explained Group IT Architect David Fiou. Open source is one of the factors of success of this transformation. It is a powerful vector of technological innovation, via the cloud, machine learning, etc., and it is making banking more interactive and more attractive. Open source is a real driver of change, making us less dependent on traditional software publishers and more open to disruptive innovation. Open source solutions are now respected as much as proprietary solutions, allowing decision-makers to compare and make better informed choices.

A crucial part of Societe Generale’s transformation plan

Open source is an essential vector of open banking. It allows interoperability between platforms and facilitates cooperation with startups - starting with FinTechs, which are major players in the transformation of banking.

Societe Generale also intends to release its IT teams’ creativity and daring by encouraging them to contribute to open source emulation. To do this, a massive upskilling programme has already been started, with the aim of bringing on board members of staff who were trained before the open source era. Candidates’ interest in open source is now a decisive selection criterion. This approach reflects Societe Generale’s confidence and recognition of its talent, with the goal of making the group a leading open source contributor.

Using open source to unite and support all drivers of change

The open source approach is not only an integral part of the Group’s broader digital transformation strategy, it is the very essence of this strategy. It has three components that foster emulation and disruptive innovation - “Use, Contribute, Attract”:

  • USE: prioritising open source technologies as an alternative to publishers’ products, whenever appropriate;
  • CONTRIBUTE: spotlighting the inherent community-based nature of open source development ;
  • ATTRACT: attracting technology leaders by offering a modern and innovative IT environment.

Open source and data security

Big data, free, open, banking - it is somewhat surprising to see these words together in the highly secure world of banking. But in fact they go very well together. According to research, “Open Source solutions are no more and no less secure than traditional solutions,” David Fiou explained. “They therefore require the same vigilance as proprietary products.” Whether or not the technology is open source, cybersecurity remains a crucial issue for Societe Generale.

Societe Generale’s open approach reflects its ambition to make virtuous, responsible use of the technologies of the future. Societe Generale has chosen open source solutions so it can be closer to its clients, meet their expectations and respond to their concerns. By being at the heart of the technological transformation and by initiating and making avant-garde choices at all levels, Societe Generale can reassure its clients that it fully masters the solutions it provides for their comfort and security.

A unique and universal source code archive

Inria, the French National Institute for computer science and applied mathematics, launched the Software Heritage project in June 2016 to collect, organise, preserve and share all software that is publicly available in source code form around the world. Societe Generale is sponsoring this project which reflects the Group’s ambitious open source strategy - a powerful driver of innovation and agility to enhance customer service.

Read the press release

Open source first!

In the digital era, Open Source development takes on strategic importance and enables us to streamline our development processes so that we can achieve continuous delivery. In concrete terms, we have created “Fast-IT” teams within a Group entity whose job is to create and launch applications in a span of less than one month for the fastest projects. To achieve such levels of agility, they use Open Source technology.

Read the article by David Fiou, Group IT Architect

Free software: a digital springboard in Africa?"

"Free software that is accessible and open to all without restriction will allow us to rapidly prototype business ideas based on components of open and modifiable source codes. Young Africans have already created applications from scratch using free software, and this should inspire us and inspire other young people in Guinea to take action."

Read the post by Florent Youzan, Head of Societe Generale Innovation Lab in Africa

Go further

Create together, innovate faster

The digital era is evolving the Bank's approach to innovation. Moving from a 'product-driven' model to a relationship-focused one grounded in the customer experience, from innovation in isolation to open innovation made possible by increased connectivity between communities, both within the company and in the company's wider ecosystem.

Find out more