Digital for all now

Experimenting to take advantages of digital opportunities: interview with Pierre-Philippe Cormeraie, head of Innovation for BPCE Group

P-P Cormeraie 25 Sep 2015

Pierre-Philippe Cormeraie is Innovation Director at BPCE Group, France’s second largest banking group, which is supported by two networks of cooperative, independent, complementary commercial banks: the Banks Populaires and Caisses d’Epargne,  Natixis,  Crédit foncier and Bank Palatine.


A specialist in sales and marketing management, Cormeraie spent over ten years as a consultant for groups such as American Express, Virgin Megastore, General Motors, BMW and SNCF. He went on to head up the Marketing department of a startup specialising in software for chip cards. In 2009, he joined Caisse d’Epargne group where he set up the CRM, sales promotion and digital communication divisions. For the past three years, he’s been Innovation Director of BPCE Group.


How to innovate in a group with nearly 108,000 employees and over 36 million clients? What processes should be implemented to encourage innovation in BPCE Group’s many subsidiaries? How to fast-track the digital transformation in a constantly-changing ecosystem? We found out from Pierre-Philippe Cormeraie.



What’s your role at BPCE?


My job involves building and coordinating the innovation ecosystem at BPCE Group by addressing one of the objectives of the strategic plan: “Creating banks that are leaders of human and digital relations”, to  improve the customer and employee experience and the company’s efficiency.


“The resources strategy implemented to foster innovation is based on the following idea: the ability to innovate in the digital age in a major cooperative group relies on the ability of each of its companies and business lines to innovate for a collective purpose.”


In our group, innovation is ubiquitous: it can be found in every business line, every region, every bank, every branch, every subsidiary, for the benefit of every client and employee.


The group’s innovation policy is centred on encouraging initiatives from everyone and sharing the resources to enable everyone to go faster and at a minimal cost. To do that we’ve built up a network of Innovation Advisors, who are active on a daily basis in the group’s innovation ecosystem and specialise in four areas.


The first one is dedicated to monitoring, prospecting and acculturation for digital opportunities. The second one focuses on collaborative innovation between the group’s various companies and uses collaborative tools, nationwide meetings, inter-company focus groups and shared methods.


Open Innovation is the third area, to give us ideas and share R&D investments. We build partnerships with external players in the banking sector, both major groups and startups.


The fourth area is dedicated to agile innovation, and involves implementing a group open source methodology, the Innov4ction method, combined with a portfolio of prototypes and demonstrators.




Could you tell us about BPCE group’s open innovation programmes?


The group’s companies currently have over 36 million clients with a number of contacts in branches, on the telephone, online and via mobile devices. To address our clients’ ever-changing needs, we believe it’s essential to build partnerships with external players, whether they’re major companies – French or international – schools or startups, to broaden our thinking and share R&D investments.


Open innovation is also about sharing and thinking with companies who aren’t competitors but have similar issues. We also have partnerships with schools, startups and major digital players all over France. For example, we have a strategic partnership with Facebook, we’re part of a big data chair with Télécom ParisTech school,, Deloitte and Yves Rocher Group. Natixis also collaborates with Cap Digital  and Paris Région Lab.


“Open innovation is important for us because it allows us to work closely with creative, innovative people, whilst never losing sight of our main objectives: improving the client experience, employee experience and the efficiency of our companies.”



What resources do you implement to foster collaborative innovation within the group? 


What’s unusual about us is that we’re a group of mutualist, cooperative companies. So it’s our aim to ensure that different business lines and companies work together more efficiently. In order to achieve that, we’ve set up a network of over 110 Innovation Advisors, representing around fifty companies and a number of industries.


These advisors are based all over France, in a wide range of companies and industry sectors. We’ve also set up a social network for these Innovation Advisors, so an Innovation Advisor from the Banque Populaire in the south of France can talk to an Innovation Advisor from Natixis in Paris or the Caisse d’Epargne in Lorraine. It’s really designed to facilitate the sharing of experience so we can move faster.


“The key to our strategy? Innovation isn’t the preserve of just a few people, it’s everyone’s business: every business line and every company must innovate! The point is to facilitate innovation everywhere.”


The Innovation Advisors act as facilitators and accelerators, to ensure that each entity can go further by helping them to be more innovative.





Where collaboration is concerned, focus groups are set up: we combine skills from the different companies to make mixed teams and ensure maximum agility.


We’ve also implemented the Innov4ction method. This was co-created with the Innovation Advisors and allows us to use a common language for simple, open-source methods. Anyone can improve the method by suggesting new tools or practices.


The Group HR dept. has set up the internal Innovation Trophy which rewards initiatives conducted by BPCE Group employees, whether they’re hopes i.e. ideas, or achievements. We’ve been running this award for five years now and there’s been tremendous involvement.



IpAds, connected savings accounts AND Apple watch Applications


Could you give us some examples of innovative projects that the group has implemented?


The Banques Populaires recently deployed 14,000 iPads for its Customer Advisors, in order to offer clients more services. We’re definitely in a rationale of digital transformation and acculturation, with genuine added value for both the Advisors, because it improves their employee experience, and in terms of customer relations.


The group’s payment methods division, meanwhile, launched a global innovation a few months ago by introducing the first credit card with a dynamic cryptogram: the three-figure code on the back of the card has been replaced by a mini-screen that displays a code that’s automatically changed regularly. This ensures greater security for online transactions and fraud prevention, without the cardholder or vendor having to change anything.


The Caisses d’Epargne banks are about to introduce a connected savings account, a sort of participative savings service whereby customers can connect their savings accounts to an electronic piggy bank. The Caisse d’Epargne, who launched one of France’s first savings accounts two centuries ago, a historic financial service, has now made it shareable via the social networks and digital (email, QR code etc.).


This new service also allows parents to create an online electronic piggy bank for each of their children, log into it and invite friends and family – via the social networks – to contribute just using their credit card.





Do you come across obstacles to innovation or the digitalisation of businesses?


The possibilities are infinite: every day, new digital opportunities arise. What we ask ourselves is not what obstacles we’ll come across but what resources we need to deploy in order to go faster. Digital acculturation is important because everyone has to realise that these digital opportunities are new tools that will help them do their job better.



What advice would you give a company looking to innovate and step up its digital transformation?


“Be curious and open your eyes to the world!”


If you want to succeed, you have to be a user yourself and be prepared to make mistakes: test and learn by yourself.


To give an example, three days after the launch of Periscope, a video streaming app launched by Twitter, the Communications Director of the Caisse d’Epargne was already familiar with the tool. The Caisse d’Epargne Lorraine-Champagne was the first bank in France to arrange a guided tour of its new ultra-connected branch in Metz. And it was a success, because there was a great deal of online interaction.


The Banks Populaires have also presented on Periscope the first professional bank app for the Apple Watch. With the Enterprise Watch suite, managers can access, via their smart watch, an app for monitoring and managing bank operations: consult balances, manage notifications, approve or deny transactions, etc.


“We’re really in an experimenting dynamic so we can leverage digital opportunities.” 


Initiatives can come from anywhere in the group: there’s a real desire to share. And this works because we have a strategic vision.


“When a new technology comes out, we ask ourselves what we can do with it and how it can help us offer our clients more services, create a better experience for our employees or increase efficiency.”


If you want to get ahead, you have to be a user: digital is all about use.



Related articles:

– Patrick Hoffstetter, CDO at Renault: you have to get all your staff involved in the digital transformation

– Sandrine Godefroy, CDO at Econocom: the digital transformation is an infinite playing field

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