Digital for all now

‘Digital for all’ at Société Générale: “Giving employees the tools to build the bank of the future“

Econocom 22 Apr 2015

No, we’ve not forgotten those three little letters N, O and W. ‘Digital for All’ is the name of a Société Générale programme designed to speed up the bank’s digital transformation through employee engagement. Although Société Générale was founded 150 years ago, it is anything but old-fashioned. The bank is committed to a culture of innovation and digital transformation. It plans to gradually roll out latest-generation office and collaborative tools to its teams, equip most staff with tablets, and update its infrastructure and network to facilitate wider Wi-Fi coverage. All the while ensuring that information remains secure. Head of Corporate Resources and Innovation Françoise Mercadal-Delasalles is responsible for the project’s operational management. She coordinates all of the Group’s activities concerning digital transformation in all its forms.

How has a company as old and as vast as Société Générale managed to challenge itself to employ a culture of innovation and digital technology? How do you get thousands of employees involved in building the future? Here’s how.

 

A far cry from the stereotypical image of a stuffy old banker sitting behind the desk looking sullen, with its ‘Digital for All’ programme Société Générale is marking a new phase in its digital journey and mobile offering. The Group is stepping up its transformation into a digital butterfly: 10,000 staff are already equipped with tablets and, by the end of Q3 2015, 50,000 more in France and 30,000 globally will be too. Why? To transform working methods, develop even closer customer relationships and better address customers’ needs.

 

USING TABLETS FOR PROFESSIONAL PURPOSES

“Technically, and also in terms of management and logistics, distributing [tablets] is much more complicated than it seems.”

That’s according to Françoise Mercadal-Delasalles, project supervisor and the woman in charge of Société Générale’s digital transformation. In the workplace, the bank does much more than just handing out tablets to its staff – they are given a short training course too.  ‘SoGé’ also organises Cafés 2.0 workshops that teach basic digital skills. Last but not least, employees have access to an online help service via the Intranet and a best practice guide with information on security and reputation management on social media.

As it stands, Société Générale’s IT department has already developed around 20 company applications that provide access to emails, the company directory and videos. These are available from the SG Store, and apps for specific business lines will steadily be added. Furthermore, to facilitate the use of tablets in-branch, the Group is in the process of rolling out Wi-Fi coverage to all its sites (10,000 hotspots by the end of 2016).

According to Françoise Mercadal-Delasalles, a third of the 148,000 Group employees are already ‘hyper-connected’. It is up to them too to form the vanguard in the digital revolution:

“The first teams across the Group have to act as ambassadors”.

 

BE OPEN TO SOCIAL TOOLS AND CREATE NEW USAGES

The Digital for All programme isn’t just about tablets. An agreement with Microsoft means Société Générale will set up Office 365 and collaborative tools – such as the Lync video conferencing solution – on employees’ workstations. The Group also intends to publish its own MOOCs (massive open online courses) over the course of the year on digital usages and banking activity.  Another development area is updating the enterprise social network (ESN) to encourage exchange, break down barriers to communication and create communities of experts. For the Head of Corporate Resources and Innovation, it provides an alternative to email without in any way rendering it obsolete:

 “These new tools don’t only make us reconsider the customer journey, but also our own working methods”.

Delving deeper into collaborative working methods also leads to a review of teleworking, which was voluntarily trialled by more than 400 staff members in 2014. It has been extended to other departments and business lines, with the aim of having close to 2,000 voluntary teleworkers by the end of 2015.

Perhaps it is the first step towards a Belgian social model, where working from home has become the norm and staff don’t even have their own permanent workstations?

 

WHAT IS AT THE HEART OF DIGITAL FOR ALL? IDEAS, EXCHANGE AND PLENTY OF PEPS!

A collective initiative launched internally in May 2013 was the catalyst for consulting employees on digital transformation. A PEPS (a Collaborative, Inspirational and Experimental Project) was opened for all Group employees worldwide. The challenge? To conceive the bank of the future, focusing on three key areas: customer relations, internal working methods and digital technology.

In total, 15,000 employees from 19 countries were heavily involved in the project, coming up with a thousand ideas on remote working, post-trade banking, digital safes, an internal wiki, and more… Françoise Mercadal-Delasalles explains that:

“We wanted to use 2.0 tools. The enterprise social network, SG Communities, turned out to be the perfect space for encouraging communication and discussion, gaining traction for the plan among employees, cultivating ideas and drawing on collective intelligence”.

All staff members needed to be able to communicate, without business line, hierarchy or location becoming an obstacle.

 

A DIGITAL CULTURE ATTRACTS TALENT

“Banking isn’t this closed, antiquated world that some people imagine it to be.”

For Mercadal-Delasalles, banks’ technological clout is something that really attracts new talent, making them as interesting as start-ups or even the GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) group.  For Société Générale, digital transformation is an opportunity, and innovation is a strategic priority for providing better customer service.

For several years, the Group has worked with creative digital stakeholders, in particular through partnerships with the École Centrale University on the IOI open innovation institute, and the Paris Région Lab incubator. The bank is also a signatory of the SME Pact and, more recently, teamed up with the Player community innovation incubator. For over a year now, the Group has also been organising regular hackathons in collaboration with Xavier Niel’s 42 computing school, during which students and Group staff work together.

Françoise Mercadal-Delasalles says it like it is:

“We must learn from the GAFAs, who have succeeded – in a very intelligent way – in creating interactions with their users on a daily basis, if not more […] We also need to learn from start-ups, who are extremely agile, so that we can maintain a start-up spirit in a company that is 150 years old and has 150,000 employees”.

Is agility a key element in digital transformation and the Digital for All (Now!) campaign?  For Françoise Mercadal-Delasalles, the answer is a resounding yes! And while tablets, collaborative tools and enterprise social networks provide a gateway for companies into the digital world, they also help businesses become more flexible and agile. More digital technology equals greater agility? Greater agility equals more digital technology? The two are interdependent, and vital in the race for better performance. But one thing is certain, whether it’s agility or digital technology, it should be FOR ALL and NOW!

 

Further reading:

Daniel Jarjoura: “Companies need to learn from start-ups and their capacity for innovation in order to succeed”

Three tips for breathing entrepreneurial spirit into large organisations

Going digital: What do you expect from your bank?

 

Photo credit: Guillaume Lemoine – Firmware Update / Flickr.com / Licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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