The banking industry is approaching an “innovate or die” moment. To boost growth and create a brighter future, the industry needs to learn to innovate like never before.

This, of course, is easier said than done. One of the challenges banks must overcome as they seek to boost innovation is that proposing new ideas is—let’s face it—daunting. One could look foolish and lose face in front of one’s peers or even damage one’s career prospects.

The Austrian bank Bawag PSK has come up with an exciting way of encouraging its workforce to think big and innovate fearlessly: “TREND_LOUNGE.”

The independent judges and voters who select winners gave TREND_LOUNGE the gold spot in the Workforce Experience Category. It is easy to see why.

The basic idea of TREND_LOUNGE is simple. It is an event, held three times a year, where employees can present creative ideas for products and services. Each speaker has just three minutes to pitch their idea to the audience, who vote afterwards on the top presentations.

The real magic is in the results. TREND_LOUNGE attracts great attention from Bawag employees—there are always more ideas to be presented than there is time at each event. Bawag has run six events since the launch of TREND_LOUNGE, generating almost 60 product and service ideas, 12 of which have either been implemented or are in development.

Silver in this category went to UniCredit for its MarketPlace work platform. MarketPlace is a crowdsourced workforce distribution tool UniCredit developed to increase coordination among employees.

Employees can interact with the platform in two ways: as Assignment Publishers or as Skill Owners. Publishers can post requests for help on the MarketPlace, asking for assistance with a specific job or with learning a new skill. Owners provide help, using remote collaboration technologies if necessary.

MarketPlace has achieved impressive results since its launch. More than 4,000 UniCredit employees in 13 countries use the platform and over 800 different assignments have been completed. Last summer it passed 1,000,000 visits. Major growth indicators show stable monthly growth of 10 percent.

Finally, bronze in the Workforce Experience category went to Bradesco for its Field Control platform. Bradesco’s Asset Department manages almost 7,000 maintenance calls per month. The Field Control platform allows those making the calls to track the status of their request in real time. They can see the location of the technician assigned to their call and the technician’s expected arrival time. The Asset Department can also access more information about the requests through the platform, allowing for more efficient management of maintenance calls.

After a wildly successful early testing phase, the project was expanded from its planned 480 locations to over 6,000. Field Control has cut the number of maintenance calls substantially and dropped the average time to resolve a call from five days to two.

Congratulations to all three winners in this category. Come back next time for a look at the 2018 winners from the coveted Global Innovator category.

In the meantime, I wholeheartedly encourage financial institutions from across the globe to submit innovations for the 2019 Customer Insight and Growth Banking Innovation Awards.

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