Staying Ahead Of The Curve: Salon Q&A With EY’s Roger Park

Roger Park, a partner at EY, leads innovation across the Americas for the financial services sector. He talks about EY’s dedicated innovation spaces and how technology is transforming work.

Global Finance: Where and how do you innovate?

Roger Park: We currently have 19 global locations that are part of our EY wavespace network. These centers function like innovation labs, with open spaces where we can facilitate design processes, workshops, or strategic innovation sessions with our clients and where we showcase technology. We have feature teams and smaller multidisciplinary groups and use an agile approach to doing design and development.

Each standalone wavespace focuses on a specific domain, and the real power is how they’re connected to each other. As we continue to build upon our current network of wavespace centers, we’re not only focused on keeping our clients’ innovation needs top of mind, but also in tapping into a broader ecosystem of startups, fintechs, the academic community and government organizations to help feed our funnel for new ideas.

GF: What are the key areas of focus in financial services innovation at the moment?

Park: We’re seeing a lot of activity around automation driven efficiencies right now. We have also been working with clients on projects focusing on organizational agility and flexibility, in turn adapting processes and operations to be more reactive to opportunities and insights in the marketplace.

GF: How do you see innovation changing the workforce?

Park: It’s taking the robot out of the human – if there’s a robotic task that a human is doing, then we can free them up to do other things. When it comes to how much we can transform our businesses and operating models, the promise is not a 10% or 20% increase in productivity, but a five- or 10-fold increase in productivity.

With 10 times the productivity, you can either continue business as usual with one-tenth the people or you can enable your people to do 10 times as much. In the long game, companies that enable and empower their people to grow and expand their business will win, while everyone else shrinks in relation.

GF: How are you seeing technologies creating opportunities for innovation in industries?

Park: Blockchain technology really shines when coordinating complex transactions that involve multiple parties. For example, EY, Guardtime and industry participants recently launched Insurwave, the world’s first marine insurance blockchain platform to help global businesses transform how they manage risk across their organization, and how they work with brokers and (re)insurers. Insurwave will support more than half a million automated ledger transactions and help manage risk for more than 1,000 commercial vessels in the first year.

GF: What worries you about the future of innovation?

Park: Innovation is about trying something new, which might not work the first time. As with all new things you need to manage your risk. At EY, we talk about innovating at scale and at speed, while also focusing on efficiency and safety. When working on projects we manage this risk partly through labs that act as safe places where failure happens quickly and in a controlled environment.

Strong risk management allows you to drive and accelerate more innovation. There are lots of cautionary tales of companies that didn’t manage their risks appropriately, that left people behind, or weren’t aggressive enough in innovation, and those are going to be studied for years in business school.