Financial services organizations searching for the next big thing should be tapping their employees for innovation. David Saul, senior VP and chief scientist at State Street, delivered that message at the InformationWeek Leadership Summit Tuesday during Interop New York.
"The best source of ideas is your entire company. If you are not tapping into the ideas of all of your employees and contractors, then you are wasting [valuable] resources," Saul said during the panel discussion "Real World Innovations: The Ups and Downs." He reports to State Street's CIO, but his full-time job is focusing on innovation, encompassing "where we are innovating and where we are not innovating."
One of the things State Street did to spark innovation was to create an internal social networking environment where people could share ideas and ask questions. The global custodian, with $28 trillion in assets, uses Microsoft SharePoint internally and was able to leverage it for the social network. It went into production last April. The network began as a proof of concept for 200 users and then was expanded to 30,000 employees immediately. State Street tracks its usage; about two-thirds of the company uses it on a regular basis. He said that actually exceeds what it saw from other companies.
Saul dispelled the myth that innovation is all about ideas. "By definition, innovation is really about delivering results, and this can be incremental improvements to a system or process, not necessarily disruptive technologies."
He outlined four steps on the road to innovation.
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