May 07, 2014

Mick Simonelli, Simonelli Innovation, LLC.
Mick Simonelli, Simonelli Innovation, LLC.
Business Insider Intelligence reports that Americans spend an average of 37 minutes daily on social media, longer than any other internet activity, including email. In fact, social media has even overtaken pornography as the number one activity on the internet. However, most large banks and finance companies are not readily pursuing the social space, and are way behind with their social business strategies. In fact, the majority of banks and financial institutions I work with actually think they’re innovative because they have a Facebook page. This unfortunately means that true social business innovation for banks and finance is a distant vision.

As the former innovation leader for a large financial services institution, I experienced the challenges first-hand of trying to bring social innovations to life. I experienced the humility of simply trying to explain to board members how social media innovations could help us and was politely rejected. I made a mental note to never bring any social business innovations before board members again.

I sadly watched promising social business innovations get watered down to the point of drowning. I witnessed young, motivated social media stars get brought in to lead our programs only to be worn down by regulations, policies and internal committees that quickly reduced their egalitarian, social ideas to run-of-the-mill communications or sales efforts. In essence, I failed at launching social business innovations. All those failed experiences helped me realize that social business innovations in an established and conservative financial services company would require special methods. I then took more long term tact to launch social innovations, and in the process discovered three practical solutions that helped create a space where social business innovation could succeed.

1) Protect the early development of key social business innovations. Some of the more disruptive ideas are just too foreign to exist within the operational environment of an established company. Social business innovations usually fit that category. For those ideas, there must be a protected environment where ideas can grow and incubate. They must be protected either through a separate structure with different approval gates, or through a laboratory type environment where social media experimentation is allowed and mistakes are forgiven. With some protection from the large company culture, social ideas can grow. The idea of incubation isn’t new, but it needs to be modified a bit to be effective for social business.

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