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Radical the new normal

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Being radical is the new normal at FNB, says recently appointed Head of FNB Innovators, YOLANDE STEYN. She previously led FNB’s mobile money solution, eWallet, to become one of the largest bank-led mobile money solutions on the continent. 

“We have a history of rewarding our staff for being radical,” she said on her appointment. The Innovators programme, she said, would expand to be much more than just an internal staff competition.

“FNB’s customers are at the heart of why we innovate, and our future innovation strategy will be focused on customer-focused products and services. Simply defined, a radical or disruptive innovation needs to have a significant impact on the market and on the economic activity of organisations within that market.”

The concept highlights the impact of innovation in the market as opposed to it just being developed for novelty purposes: “Radical Innovation serves as a guide for us to become and remain top of mind to our customers when it comes to any financial services value propositions or solutions.

”We need to be responsive to the shifting economy and create innovation best practices that will disrupt and influence the market. The current environment is jam-packed with mobile technologies, complex processes and incremental innovations. Concepts like big data and artificial intelligence, new business models like Uber, the Internet of Things (IoT) and other exponential technologies have fallen under the radical innovation radar and might just be the most disruptive technologies to date.”

FNB has partnered with a number of innovation properties that incubate and accelerate innovation and organisations. Properties like the FNB Business Innovation Awards, SiMODiSA, wethinkcode, FNB codeFest, and FNB Business Accelerator are examples of the programmes that up-skill innovators and entrepreneurs in South Africa.

“All types of innovation requires a degree of independence, so that people can work in a specific way without having to worry about the constraints of red tape,” says Steyn. “We want our people to think and act differently. We want them to be able to change the status quo. The innovation strategy serves as a catalyst for entrenching a philosophy of entrepreneurship among our staff and enables ideas that make a difference so that we can efficiently serve our customers.”

The current competitive environment is encouraging innovation that disrupts and changes incremental thinking, she says.

“We find that we are moving and adapting to the FinTech model more so today than ever before. FinTech not only has the ability to change the social economic circumstances of both business and people, but it is also creating platforms that will see more radical innovations comes to surface.”

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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