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22.11.2018

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    Bank of APIs

    RBS

    #BankOfAPIs is a hackathon programme by the Applied Technology team to bring to life new propositions using Open Banking APIs. Teams meet on a Friday and pitch their prototypes on Sunday: working harder, faster and achieving more. #BankOfAPIs is forging a new approach to innovation within the Bank.

    What objectives did you set out to achieve?

    #BankOfAPIs is about the desire to innovate with all the smarts outside the bank and open up the process of innovation to empower our people to do things differently. We’ve done 13 hackathons with 100-150 people at each event in India, Israel, UK, Ireland! At first we were just curious of the ideas people would develop but it very quickly shifted to how we could change our culture. We don’t talk about change at our hackathons it’s our participants that embody change, by bringing to life ideas over a weekend. We want people to believe they can change their ways of working. After a hackathon and seeing the speed at which propositions can be developed no one wants to go back to their usual way of working.

    What was your single biggest challenge in achieving them?

    We had the challenge of bringing people to the realisation that there was a different way to do technology. We held coaching sessions for different team roles (ideas people, designers, developers etc) to help people approach ideas differently and be as forward thinking as they wanted to be. We also wanted to allow our people to see how things were done outside the bank by opening up our hackathons to anyone that wanted to come from students, suppliers to anyone interested! We've had scores of our suppliers join us; giving everyone who attends the chance to work with a multi-disciplinary team.

    What did you do differently to overcome that challenge?

    To overcome the challenge of building something real and a working prototype in a weekend we created our own Sand Box environment and customer portal to simulate real bank transactions. We led by example and our team's mantra was ‘get it done yesterday.’ Most importantly we were able to get feedback from developers so we could improve the APIs and portal for each event.

    What were your most impactful outcomes?

    We’ve done 13 hackathons and now picking up the pace and shifting our goals. The bank are now committing to make our hackathon winning ideas real and pilot them with customers. We’ve done things differently and our bank leadership team see the changes to our organisation as people take a ‘get it done’ hackathon mentality to their day jobs. Our focus has been show and do, not just talking about innovation, doing it. Some ideas work and some don’t. We’ve tried to show innovation and allow anyone that wants to take part to join us in transforming the bank and embracing Open Banking.

    In a sentence, what was the biggest learning you took away from this?

    Innovation is not about the ideas! Rather it is about creating an eco-system and delivery approach where you can take any idea, and drive it into the hands of the customer quickly. It is customer pickup and adoption then that proves which ideas are winners.

    What will you do next?

    We have an awesome group of winning propositions from our #BankOfAPIs hackathons and we want to start bringing these winning ideas to life and test them with real customers…. And do more hacks. However, the most significant change will be the cultural transformation with our people.

    Read more about #BankofAPIs here.

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