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Innovations are evaluated on the core tenets of originality and impact. Beyond this, judges are interested in understanding the big how, the cultural element, the universality and scalability of an innovation, its creativity, simplicity, opportunity to challenge the status quo and the collaboration (including cross-industry) required to bring the solution to life.


Painting the picture to include such elements will strengthen your case as a prospective Award-winner.


All submissions for each innovation category must be complete and launched in the market after July 2016. All awards recognize organizations– not specific individuals.

The 2018 awards will be bestowed for the following categories:

Best Application of Data Analytics, AI or Machine Learning in a Product or Service

Products or services recognized in this category should represent best-in-class applications of data analytics, leveraged big data, AI and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities to provide a radically improved or value-added customer experience. 

Examples might include: AI-enabled robo advisors or wealth management solutions, NPL-enabled payments and services, investment tools, payments services, intelligent UX design, contextual offers or more. The end-result must be a significantly improved or differentiated product or service that solves a real customer problem. 

Innovative Touchpoints and Connected Experiences

Innovations should reflect cutting edge approaches to delivering a consistent, contextual and connected experience in a multi-channel environment (across omnichannel, digital, mobile or physical touchpoints), and can be either internally-facing for employees or externally-facing for customers. 

Examples may include mobile and social touchpoints, advances in self-service, contact centers with digital operations, API-enabled knowledge centers, Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs), remote-enabled relationship management services, intranet or communication portals or mechanisms, interactive learning experiences and more. 

Internal Process Innovation

Innovations in internal process improvement incorporate investments in technology or other to significantly upgrade aspects of infrastructure or operating efficiencies. These are internal in nature, meaning they either enable people to do their jobs better to deliver exceptional service, or they might improve an organization’s workflows, enhance corporate sustainability, or improve risk, cybersecurity or fraud management protocols. 

Innovation in Societal and Community Impact

Innovations of this kind are tailor-made or enhanced products and services that provide new forms of accessibility to meet the needs of customers with special circumstances. 

Examples could include: The removal of barriers to interaction or physical access, unlocking new financial access for an underserved population, investments in environmental or societal causes that benefit specific communities, connecting underserved customers with specialized opportunities, enabling a dramatic lift in the community service of the institution or even improving social and emotional well-being (for example, in times of disaster relief). 

Human Capital Innovation

Human capital innovations are recognized as strategies, investments or actions taken to creatively shape the governance of an organization’s employees or programs. In short, they are HR innovations. These might entail a significant cultural or change management shift, or forward-thinking approaches to collaboration, leadership, strategy, structure, people practices, innovation management practices and culture.

Innovation in Marketing

Innovations in marketing should demonstrate original, engaging campaigns supported by cutting edge deployment tactics and techniques. These could also include content produced for niche customer audiences, clever PR and ad campaigns that capture the imagination and depict truths inherent in the customer experience or successful crisis or change management communications. 

Innovation in Customer Experience

Customer experience innovations should reflect the organization’s ability to leverage emerging technologies to hone in on customer preferences to improve the intuitiveness and engagement of product features for an excellent client experience. These solutions should really make use of the new – personalized – technologies to offer relevant services for a particular event in a context, at a location and moment in time.

Examples may include: new routines designed to provide a consistent and excellent experience, newly released, simplified UX across digital channels, data-driven, tailored experiences and more. 

Innovative Accelerator or Incubator

Many financial services organizations are forming accelerators or incubators to specialize in and accelerate innovation and product development. The Innovation Circle wants to know what makes your program/group unique. What obstacles were overcome to bring your incubator or accelerator to life, and what new value has it brought to the organization? How does your output relate to corresponding business lines in the bank?

Honorable Mention: Wild Card

What are you doing that nobody else is and doesn’t quite fit into any of the above categories? If your innovation is an original mold-breaker, we invite you to submit your wild card entry for consideration.

Outstanding Achievement Awards

The Innovation Circle presents three Outstanding Achievement Awards to financial services nominees who submitted innovations across the 9 categories to recognize the Disruptive Innovation in Financial Services, Outstanding Use of AI in Financial Services and the Most Innovative Finserv of the Year. These awards are specifically designated for organizations that have made considerable strides towards advancing innovation within the financial services sector.

These exceptional awards are characterized as follows: 

Most Innovative Finserv of the Year

Quite simply, the winner of this Award is an organization for which innovation is a core component of their organizational DNA, possessing an innovation framework or processes that are supported by all levels of leadership. This organization exhibits innovation through new-to-the-world products or services leading to unparalleled customer satisfaction and loyalty, while realizing significant market and business impacts.

This organization is driven by market insights, consumer preferences, and a desire to continuously disrupt one’s self to provide an unrivaled banking experience. 

Disruptive Innovation in Financial Services

The disruptive innovation in financial services award recognizes a ground-breaking product, service or business model that disrupts business as usual, and provides financial products or services directly to consumers. 

This organization is driven by market insights, consumer preferences, and a desire to continuously disrupt one’s self to provide an unrivaled banking experience. 

Outstanding Use of AI in Financial Services

To coincide with BAI’s trend of the year, the Innovation Circle is awarding this honor for the best application of AI across any of the primary award categories. The innovation recognized for the Outstanding Use of AI in Financial Services award should be forward-thinking in nature, demonstrate impeccable results and a positive outlook for continued success. 

If you’re uncertain about which category your innovation might fall under, it might be helpful to review previous innovation winners as you select the right category for your submission. You can also email globalinnovations@bai.org with any questions.