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#LDNTechWeek: Lloyds is spending £1bn just to help it understand its customers

It’s a tired old adage that the customer is always right.

But Lloyds bank is so convinced that its increasingly digital customers will use its products however the hell they like that it’s ploughing £1 billion over three years into understanding exactly what those user journeys now look like.

Speaking at a London Technology Week event designed entirely around understanding what corporate digital transformation looks like, innovation manager Jehangir Dyramji explained what Lloyds is up to.

“The key thing is, how do you keep putting customers first? We’re looking at customer journeys end to end so we can make sure we’re properly digitising across every channel.”

Digital transformation at Lloyds and across the corporate world is increasingly focused around corporates working with, or indeed like, startups.

And that’s no mean feat for a company that’s just passed its 250th birthday.

Lloyds has opened up an ‘internal corporate accelerator’ so directors at the business can make use of development and design resource to build new potential products.

“We’re teaching them about learning fast and failing cheaply,” he said, which is a practice that many startups live and die on.

On working directly with startups, which Lloyds does within its Innovation Lab, at hackathons and through product partnerships, he said: “We need to have organisations that are ready for this new capability. Startups bring new ways of working and large corporates need to respond to that.”

From a standing start a decade ago, startup and corporate collaboration is now seen as one of the only ways to deliver the change legacy businesses need, while giving startups the scale to succeed.

Microsoft’s CEO-in-residence and MD of the company’s accelerator in London, which works with the likes of IKEA, BMW and Heathrow on startup engagement, had some harsh words for both parties.

“For any startup that wants to engage with a corporate, unless your solution fulfils an absolute requirement of that corporate’s business, onboarding will be extremely painful.

“But we also have to drill into our corporate customers the fact that you must create an onboarding process for startups if you want to work with them.

“Startups will die on their feet trying to engage with corporate process.”

The event was hosted by Telefónica’s own corporate-sponsored accelerator Wayra, which hosts and mentors teams working on digital products.

Since launch, it’s seen more than 100 companies exit the programme and signed 64 pilot contracts with participants.