Innovation centers have ironically become the standard corporate response to the fast-paced evolution of emerging technologies. A lot is riding on these centers, which potentially hold the key to their companies’ future market relevance.
When Elavon launched its innovation center, The Grove, back in 2013, the idea was that the center would harvest new technology and product development for the global payment provider, a wholly-owned subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp. At time of its conception, The Grove’s main objective was to develop mobile solutions for the more than 1 million merchants that use Elavon’s payment services across the globe. However, true to its innovation mandate, over the past three years The Grove has evolved to address multiple technology trends.
“Mobile is where we started and may be a part of the customer solution,” said Wally Mlynarski, head of global product & innovation at Elavon, “but mobile is just one of the many opportunities we have to help our customers make smart decisions about their payment needs.”
A combination of in-house and outsourced marketing, together with live customer product testing has helped The Grove define just what these opportunities are. The innovation center has added securing customer payments, servicing the omni-channel business, making integration easier and delivering positive customer experiences to its initial mobile goals.
The establishment of The Grove left Elavon with its own innovation challenge to resolve: getting The Grove and Elavon to work together smoothly. The solution it came up with was having The Grove’s employees operate within a Scaled Agile Framework model.
“Basically, SAFe is a project and development methodology aimed at enabling large organizations to apply the ‘lean and agile’ practices of smaller organizations,” explained Mlynarski. Deploying SAFe at the innovation center has firstly enabled its over 100 employees to deliver a wide range of mobile but also platform-based solutions that service omni-channel payment processing needs. However, it’s also been instrumental in transitioning products from The Grove to Elavon. ”We leverage the SAFe model and tie this into our delivery model within Elavon,” he said.
Of course, integration is a two-way street. On its end, Elavon is investing in making it technologically simple to integrate The Grove’s innovations with Elavon’s existing infrastructure. “The largest challenge of implementing anything mobile is to ensure that you have the appropriate interfaces to the back-end infrastructure,” Mlynarski noted.
By simplifying the integration and delivery of mobile solutions, Elavon’s own employees are able to see greater value in the mobile channel, while customers get the quick mobile payment integrations they’re looking for.
Having SAFe’s detailed framework guide The Grove’s operations could put Elavon at an advantage when it comes to establishing a culture of innovation, something that innovation centers are meant to do. After all, one reason banks and credit unions are having trouble getting their innovation culture on is because they lack scalability.
With SAFe, The Grove and Elavon are ahead of the game.