Innovators of Barclays: Using tech to solve customers’ problems

22 May 2019

Megan Caywood has innovation in her DNA. She started her first business aged 10 and went on to help start Starling Bank as Chief Platform Officer. Today – in her role as Barclays’ Head of Digital Strategy – Megan discusses what innovation means to her.

Fundamentally, what we’re doing is thinking through what are the latest pieces of technology that we can use to solve customer problems. 

It’s all about how we utilise that tech in a way that benefits the customer, even if that means changing our existing processes and products. It can mean disrupting ourselves. 

I want us to pursue ideas that really change the model, that do something distinctly different. It’s not about slow, incremental change. For me, innovation at Barclays is all about big ideas and how we bring those to market.

Companies that do innovation well 

I’m really inspired by a lot of the new challenger banks, obviously. But also, by really innovative tech companies out of San Francisco. Apple is a pioneer that I really look to. One of the reasons I like them so much is because of their focus on doing end-to-end design – even the pieces of the product that customers will never see. 

Being inspirational in financial services is about thinking through end-to-end customer flows, not just the easy, problem-free journeys that 90% of users take. But when things go wrong or a mistake is made or customers need help, how do we solve that through all the different avenues that could possibly occur?

Where Barclays should focus its innovation efforts

There are three big areas where we can focus. 

Firstly, in terms of mobile, what we’re seeing is that people don’t just use our banking app in emergencies: they’re using it for day-to-day needs and as a primary point of contact for us. So, we need to continue to deliver for that particular channel in order to stay at pace with where our customers are meeting us.

The second priority is making sure we are globally accessible. Our final, and most important, priority is around ‘jobs to be done’. It’s about not only looking at mobile and Cloud and the technology, but always at the end goal of serving customers extremely well.

To do that, you need to understand their pain points and the competition in the market – and understand how we can use our strengths to solve those things. How can we differentiate to win in this space? There is so much competition nowadays. There are lots of new fintechs and it’s becoming increasingly easy for customers to find, access and switch to new providers. But winning for us means winning for the customers now. Our success is very much aligned with theirs. 

How I would like to change the world through innovation

The area I think I can have the most impact on – and the most success – is around APIs and connectivity, and changing the way that banks and fintechs collaborate. 

The reality is that a community of developers can inevitably innovate better and faster than any single company alone. Inside Barclays or other banks, nobody has a monopoly on good ideas. By opening up to APIs and functionality, we can enable this wider ecosystem to start innovating on banking futures and functionality.

Whenever you have that, you can solve better for customers. But the value of this open connectedness isn’t only about improving things for customers or only about how it benefits the banks – it’s also about enabling new entrepreneurs and new companies to do things well. 

Enabling that hyper-focus so that everyone can collaborate in effective ways, I think, will be pivotal to driving innovation forward throughout the market.