Design the future: An interview with Jehangir Byramji
“No matter their role or day job, people can always surprise you, and their enthusiasm can be a valuable enabler to innovation.”
– Jehangir Byramji, Innovation Lead, Emerging Technology at Lloyds Banking Group
Welcome to the first instalment of The Interview by Designit, a new series to bring you perspectives, insights, and advice from business and industry leaders who are designing the future. In this edition, we chat with Jehangir Byramji, Innovation Lead for Emerging Technology at Lloyds Banking Group.
Tell us about your role and remit within your organisation.
As the Innovation Lead for Emerging Technology at Lloyds Banking Group, I work within our central Innovation Lab. Our mission is to understand emerging customer, technology, and business trends, and design and test new business models that respond to those trends.
In particular, we build and share knowledge of emerging technologies to drive business model innovation across the Group.
How do you approach innovation?
Innovation means different things to different people; you see many ideas wearing the badge, from process improvements to game-changing business models. These different types of innovation are needed in any organisation, but may reside in different teams.
In my view, innovation is the generation and execution of new ideas that, crucially, create value. In all cases, innovation should focus on value outcomes, irrespective of the source of the ideas, even those close to my heart like emerging technologies. Therefore, key aspects I always consider are the horizon focus and the knowledge available to the organisation.
We undertake a periodic exercise to scan the markets our customers operate in and sense nascent trends across the spectrum, from consumer and business to legal and geopolitical, much like you would with a PESTLE analysis from business school. The hard bit is then internalising that insight to identify potential opportunities or points of potential market disruption.
Talk us through one of the innovations of which you’re most proud.
Occasionally, a new technology comes along with the ability to be transformative across many industries, changing not just how business is done, but what business is done, and the business model. Blockchain might just be such an example.
In banking, alongside the ability to tokenise financial assets, digital currencies are capturing media attention. In the Innovation Lab, we started supporting the Group back in 2019 with initial assessments of a wholesale cross-border settlement coin from the USC (Utility Settlement Coin) Project, which went on to become fintech firm Fnality.
Since then, engagement has grown across the Group and product teams have stepped up to the plate. Now Lloyds Banking Group is both an investor and partner with Fnality, where we support their ambition and activity to go live with payment-on-chain technology in the coming months.
What has surprised you most in your role in delivering innovation?
People. No matter their role or day job, people can have a personal interest in the opportunity you are trying to bring to life, and that enthusiasm can be a valuable enabler!
As a team that is small (though we feel perfectly formed) our projects rely on support from the business, change and operational teams across the company. Having colleagues with this positive and open mindset has been key to our success.
What do you feel is one of the greatest challenges to innovators in today’s climate?
Change always happens at a surprising pace, and it often takes a variety of disciplines intersecting to create the change. For example, technology like artificial intelligence and blockchain is brought together with changing consumer trends and ESG (environmental, social and governance) change to impact how goods are made, how they are shipped and how they are bought, used, and then re-used through a circular economy.
What advice would you give to others in similar roles given this challenge?
In the last few years, many have talked about the ‘growth mindset’, and embodying this really matters. Even if you leverage experts, you have to upskill yourself so that you can consume, and action, what they tell you. For me, that means my podcast playlist is non-fiction, with a mix of economics, politics, technology, and business (although hybrid working has reduced my usual listening time).
Always be learning.
Is your organisation looking for ways to innovate? Let’s chat.