Innotribe 101

25 Mar

The team often gets a question like this – “I’m intrigued by the word Innotribe in your title. Sounds exciting! Can you please explain what you do?”

So here goes – the Innotribe 101 in the form of a Q&A.

What is SWIFT’s Innovation Program and strategy? How has it been built?

Innotribe is SWIFT’s initiative to enable collaborative innovation.

Innotribe enables innovation at SWIFT and in the financial industry of which SWIFT is an integral part.

At SWIFT, we started in 2009 by organizing Innovation Challenges – events where  anybody working for SWIFT can put forward ideas. The prize of the challenges is for the winning team to implement their idea. Since then, the innovation challenges and other tools have become part of the tradition at SWIFT. The innovation challenges are appreciated by staff – we typically see about 25% of the staff contributing.

In the financial community, we started at Sibos Hong Kong in 2009 by organizing the first Innotribe@Sibos- a highly interactive event where the delegates of Sibos could get inspired by industry experts and engage in ideation activities. The event culminated in an innovation award for the best idea, which was subsequently funded with a 50,000 EUR prize. Since then, Innotribe@Sibos has become a permanent feature of Sibos (more than 2,000 visitors in 2011). We have also diversified our events outside of SIbos – for example the highly successful Innotribe@Mumbai event in 2011 centered on “connecting the unbanked”.

In 2011, the Innotribe program was enhanced with an incubator – a resource for the financial industry and SWIFT to help experiment in the implementation of the ideas generated at our events. In 2011, the incubator has produced several new concepts – such as MyStandards and the EBAM Hub – which will become mainstream product and services in 2012.

Also introduced in 2011, the  startup challenge events provide a platform where banks and financial institutions can meet the startup community. The startup companies highly value this opportunity to get in touch with the financial world, while the financial institutions highly appreciate a quality selection of startup companies to potentially invest in.

Innotribe values are – neutrality, authenticity, simplicity and passion. This is reflected in many of our events – see the blog for videos and summaries. The team at SWIFT behind Innotribe is composed of 11 people, covering a wide range of skills – event design, facilitation and curation, business and technology expertise, program management, marketing. Above all, Innotribe is a network – you can easily assess the extent of it by checking out team members LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles.
How can Innovation help the community to face the challenges of the industry?

Innotribe is a forum to discuss issues and trends that are important for the community from the technology, economy and social aspects.

We bring “Igniters” (recognized experts and though leaders) in touch with the financial community, to understand, discuss and design the short, medium and long term responses to emerging trends such as –

– digital identity

– cloud computing

– social data and media

– business intelligence and analytics

– mobile payments

– alternative and virtual currencies

– new economies

– new organizational modes

– the hyper-connected generation of people

– social entrepreneurship support

Innotribe helps people to understand what is happening and formulate a response.

What are SWIFT’s priorities in terms of Innovation? What are the big challenges for 2012-2013?

We are looking to manage a portfolio of innovative projects –

– incremental innovation: develop new products and services that SWIFT can provide to the community – such as the MyStandards product going live in April 2012 (collaborative tool for designing standard business practices), the EBAM Hub product (singe window multi-bankk electronic bank account management service for corporate clients.

– new business model innovation: incubate the idea for a  SWIFT provided “financial app store” in support of the financial community – where banks, third parties and SWIFT can provide application services to the 10,000+ strong community connected to SWIFTNet

– disruptive innovation: the “digital asset grid”, a concept where banks would evolve their services to provide digital asset management products in addition to money and fund management.

What is the objective of “The Innovation Sandbox” and how does it work?

The problem in many established companies is that it is difficult to innovate as the main focus is often on optimization of processes and cost reduction. So it is very difficult for people in such organizations to experiment new ideas (which often may fail). The “innovation sandbox”, such as Innotribe’s incubator, is a place where a company sets aside resources (time, money, location, legal and brand protection) to enable the entrepreneurs in the organization to explore their ideas in a “safe” environment. Safe means that the sandbox is isolated so that failures do not affect the main company brand, reputation, and core products and business. In the case of the SWIFT Incubator, we manage yearly 6 to 8 projects, each extending from 6 to 12 months duration and from 200,000 to 1,000,000 EUR funding.

What are the keys of success to innovate in companies? How can we encourage innovative initiatives/projects within a company?

The key success factor are to –

– embrace ideas, not only from inside your company but also from outside – clients, partners, people at large. This is the “open” innovation concept, one of the cornerstones of Innotribe

– enable the intra/entrepreneurs to try and experiment in a safe environment. This is the “innovation sandbox” concept, such as the Innotribe incubator

– understand and engage with the thought leaders to grasp the deep root causes of the current changing environment. The best opportunity for that is to join us in one of our upcoming Innotribe events – see for the scheduled events.


4 Responses to “Innotribe 101”


  1. Where Banking Meets Innovation: Innotribe « Discerning Technologist - 31/03/2012

    […] Learn more about Innotribe […]

  2. Innovation shows results – the 3 babies from the Innotribe incubator « copernicc - 10/04/2012

    […] 10 Apr As you are reading this blog, you probably know about Innotribe. Just in case, here a link for a quick overview. In a nutshell, Innotribe is SWIFT’s initiative to enable collaborative […]

  3. Innovation shows results – the 3 babies from the Innotribe incubator « Innotribe - 10/04/2012

    […] you are reading this blog, you probably know about Innotribe. Just in case, here a link for a quick overview. In a nutshell, Innotribe is SWIFT’s initiative to enable collaborative […]

  4. A shot of Innotribe « Innotribe - 09/05/2012

    […] I compiled the following links – a condensed reading that helps answering these questions. Sharing it here. – Innotribe 101 […]

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