Enabling and implementing innovation the Fidelity way (videos)

31 Oct 2014

Innovation culture is something that must constantly be nurtured and the key to this is the implementation of ideas, senior technology leaders at finance and technology giant Fidelity Investments told Siliconrepublic.com.

Last year, IDA Ireland revealed Fidelity Investments is to create 200 new jobs in Dublin and Galway involving a diverse mix of technology, back office operations and enterprise services skills.

Innovation is in Fidelity’s DNA, said Stephen Ashmore, senior vice-president and head of technology services at Fidelity Investments.

He explained the end goal has to be implementation. “One of my favourite sayings at the moment is that vision without execution is hallucination.

“How I would apply that to innovation is a very good idea if not implemented is only a very good idea.”

Implementing innovation

Ashmore said ideas that work are those that have delivering business value at their core.

Ideas range from small ideas that lead to daily improvements at Fidelity to big-vision ideas that could result in new products and services, which involve a lot more complexity, time, effort and funding.

Fidelity operates the Fidelity Centre for Applied Ideas to incubate ideas and bring them to prototype stage. The company can also call on locations around the world, its graduate intake programme, as well as interns who get the opportunity to work on exciting projects.

“The end result has to be the implementation and unlocking the business value.”

Enabling innovation

David Murphy, vice-president of development (innovation) at Fidelity explained there is a proud tradition and culture of innovating in financial services through technology.

This extends back to being the first financial services firm to use the 1800 number to sell to customers to being the first financial services firm to establish a webpage in 1995.

And this, he said, extends to advanced online tools and apps today. “For example, we are responsible for developing decision support tools for our research analysts and portfolio managers to make multi-billion-dollar investment decisions.

“This history and culture provides a strong base to encourage innovation across all our business and locations, with strong executive support and staff engagement.

“Fidelity Centre for Applied Technology, or Fidelity Labs, is the organisation at Fidelity charged with being a catalyst for innovation. This is done through a number of programmes, process innovations and support for the culture of innovation at Fidelity.

Geraldine Bogan, programme manager (innovation) at Fidelity said the key is to instil an innovation “as usual” culture in the workplace.

In the past year, the company has rolled out initiatives and challenges to focus employees’ attention and ambitions around small “i” and big “I” idea generation.

“We’ve had huge success with our campaigns this year. Our campaigns are not just for our technology associates. We have great ideas coming in from our shared services, such as HR and finance, and our strategy and planning office.”

Fidelity also runs an internal ideas trade show called InfoFest, which is full of talks and demos.

Bogan said associates get to not only showcase their ideas but also get a good idea of what’s going on inside the organisation and outside Fidelity.

“Innovation is in our blood. We are all born creative and playful. But sometimes we lose sight of our creativity over time. It’s something that we really want to re-ignite in our associates and we do that through various campaigns and initiatives.”

Digital innovation image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years