RBS is 'changing, disrupting and testing' procurement

1 November 2019

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is breaking boundaries and testing the status quo in procurement by using a disruptive strategy. 

By embracing changing structures, digital functions and the disruptive community, the banking firm has been addressing change, and in the last 18 months has brought on board 40% of its new suppliers. 

Speaking at the CIPS UK Conference in London, Kevin Murphy, capability lead for transformation at RBS, said: “Change is happening all around, and we have to manage that." Over the last number of years, RBS has been doing that, and working with start-ups, he said.

“We're working with an agile methodology, and we're moving away from the long business case – with Powerpoints and a massive investment – towards more small, incremental wins. It is changing, disrupting and testing our onboarding processes and RBS's appetite to work with new and different companies.”

RBS has engaged with thought leaders including the Singularity University in San Francisco, Made in Space, Rocket Space, and Google-supported startups.

Made in Space developed a 3D printer for the Space Station while the Singularity University developed a project to use DNA from dragonflies and elm trees to create glowing trees to replace streetlights. 

Murphy said: “We're getting all these great thoughts and influences, externally and internally. These kinds of things are pretty much off the wall, but are giving us thought provocation, and we’re trying to extend the boundaries of where we believe disruption is coming from and what it can achieve.”

RBS is taking a “utopian view” by collaborating with organisations, startups and fintech companies. 

The bank took steps to achieve this cultural transformation by “synchronising” procurement and working with other departments to enable fast, flexible autonomous decision-making, ensuring a shared purpose and transforming capabilities to compete in a “digital-first, customer led world”.

Murphy said: “We're bringing procurement, technology and business all together. Unheard of before, RBS are taking risks, taking challenges, whereby we are now testing and learning and providing new services to our customers.”  

Included in these changes are the use of chatbots to “better engage with suppliers and customers”. Cora is a banking virtual assistant that RBS is developing in collaboration with Google. 

Murphy said: “More and more people are using voice to interact, and that has been led by procurement. Not only has this delivered Cora, but unimaginable things have spawned from it. For example, we have Archie, Sophia, March, and various other chat bots or virtual assistants across RBS, all supporting either customers or internal colleagues.”

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