Determining consumer readiness for future tech for Royal Bank of Scotland

Going beyond regular research, our Culture + Trends solution provides future-facing insights that impact innovation, customer experience and branding challenges. Together with the Technology Futures team at Royal Bank of Scotland we fueled innovation for tech in finance and banking.

The challenge

The Technology Futures team at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) identified a set of disruptive technologies and themes set to shape the future of finance and banking. Also, they needed to understand consumer readiness and barriers to adoption.  

Our solution

We began by deep diving into RBS’s tech themes and exploring the human problems they have the potential to solve. For example, what problem or need does ‘platformization’ really address? How do these emerging technologies tap into wider cultural shifts and social challenges? 

Building on our initial analysis and hypotheses, we selected five Illume Guides to explore this more in-depth, each of them aligning to one of the five strategic themes. For example: for the theme ‘Culture & Work 2.0’ we engaged with a freelance creative that spent years optimizing her remote working systems. Guides took part in interviews and trend-spotting activities which aimed to understand how the themes are currently playing out in their lives, and where they expect this to go in the future.  

The second stage of the process was to validate the Culture + Trend insights with a mass audience, namely RBS customers and SMEs. We did this via a quantitative survey which focused on understanding consumer readiness to engage with the strategic themes.  

The final stage of the project was to activate the insights. Alongside a comprehensive research report, we invited RBS stakeholders to attend a workshop. There, they could watch videos, explore an interactive timeline, and experience each strategic theme through a series of hands-on activities.  


“This piece of insight is fundamental to understanding how our customers are feeling; and, in turn, how we go about bringing some of these technology innovations to market. Consumer focus is now added to the organization-wide Technology Futures dashboard; and we are committed to running the research again next year to track the trends.” ​  ​ 

Nikki Humphries, Trends & Digital Insight Lead, Royal Bank of Scotland 

The project resulted in a set of  key opportunities for RBS across the five strategic themes; all were grounded in emerging cultural expectations and mass consumer realities.  ​ 

Since completion, RBS have presented key insights at their Future of Banking conference; 300 people across Comms & Marketing posted personal commitments around what they intend to do differently with the deeper understanding of trends from a consumer perspective.​ 

RBS is currently using this work to prioritize innovation and focus resources where it will make the biggest difference to consumers and SMEs. Also, they are continuing to quantitatively track the trends; furthermore, recently repeated the survey, to determine how attitudes and behaviors are evolving​. 

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