Claire Calmejane, the Group's Chief Innovation Officer, shares with us Societe Generale's new innovation strategy.

"We must convert the try!"
Claire Calmejane

Claire, what major changes this new innovation strategy will bring?

In my opinion, our digital transformation is based on 3 components: a cultural and technological revolution that has intensified in recent years; customers who want to benefit from a similar experience to that offered by digital pioneers; and a less favourable macro-economic context. From now, the Bank must provide a personalised experience and a better service at lower cost by using data and digital technologies.
Societe Generale is already well-engaged in its roadmap. The Bank is now able to take its innovation strategy a step further to take advantage of the latest technological advances. This strategy is based on 3 pillars, in line with the "Transform to Grow" plan: strengthen relationships with startups, support the business lines' digital strategies and create new business models.

What will be the concrete application of this strategy?

This starts with our relationship with the startups. We have received a very positive feedback on our open innovation strategy which enables us to quickly identify innovative trends and players throughout the world. We also rely on our innovation centres in Africa, Germany, France, Israel, India, Luxembourg and Great Britain. They are essential assets in our open innovation setup, which will support central topics for the Group such as Open Banking or Blockchain. Finally, we are deploying the Startup Flow platform for all employees, which references our interactions with external startups and already has 3,000 users. We will open it up to the public in 2019.

Secondly, we aim to support the business lines' transformation in new ways of working, as well as transversal initiatives for the Group such as Open Banking, data, artificial intelligence and agility. We've learned a lot about how to be more agile from the Internal Startup Call programme, through contact with the incubators and accelerators. We will strive to implement these lessons in 2019. We will set up digital capabilities such as design centres to systematically put the customer and staff members at the heart of our offerings, services and processes.

In addition, we are strengthening our investment strategy to create new businesses and anticipate disruptive innovations in the banking sector through the creation of Societe Generale Ventures.

Can you tell us more about Societe Generale Ventures?

We announced to investors in November the creation of Societe Generale Ventures, which will structure innovation funds to the tune of €150 million. The aim? To develop investment in startups with which the Group's business lines can create synergies through long-term strategic relationships and establish the conditions under which we can work effectively together on the development of new offerings. These investments will cover external start-ups like Treezor, which we have acquired recently. They will also be used to strengthen our support to internal start-ups like Moonshot-Internet and the others developed as part of the Internal Startup Call programme.

We have identified nine areas of investment to support the business lines in their transformation, with priority on the following three: payments and e-commerce, banks as a platform, services for SMEs. We are also incorporating five prospective pillars that will be key in building the bank of tomorrow: mobility, identity/virtual reality, data valuation, the future of work, e-healthcare.

How is the Internal Startup Call programme progressing?

In the 12 months following the "pitch day" in front of the Management Committee, we identified 70 projects and launched 60 startups. To date, 12 have been integrated in a BU/SU; 12 others have been extended for up to three months after which a decision will be made on their future. These results are very similar to those of the externally developed startups. 25 startup projects are still at acceleration stage at our partner incubators. Each member of the management committee follows one to two startups and gives several hours of his/her time per week to support them!

Final few words?

I recommend that you follow the highlights of the Finance Week all week on social networks, which will feature our participation in the Paris Fintech Forum on 29 and 30 January, an event in which Frederic Oudea is speaker. There is an event on 31 January at the SWAVE fintech incubator, a partner and host of the Global Markets Incubator. All these events give us an opportunity to strengthen our relations with the start-ups and contribute to our objective of being a more digital, connected and open bank.