Beth Gallagher helps drive innovation at US Bank as the VP of Payments Innovation, focused on identifying and exploring key changing technical and business innovations in the marketplace related to payment efficiency. In particular, Beth and her team actively work with business group leaders to translate these trends into proof-of-concepts and help drive the product development process in bringing these future-state solutions to market.

US Bank and Spring Theory have been working together for the past two years, and have conducted seven projects to date ranging from product development, to market research, and ideation.

The Value of Hands-On Project Experience

When US Bank first started working with Spring Theory two years ago, Apple had just introduced Siri as the latest addition to the company’s flagship iPhone. Beth and her team knew that voice recognition and control would play a significant role in the future development of mobile, and they envisioned a future where people wouldn’t just use voice to send texts or execute basic commands, but also actively navigate within apps.

By working with Spring Theory, Beth connected with a masters of IT class at Carnegie Mellon to obtain key market research, evaluate potential partners, and develop a working prototype that could be tested withinternalstakeholders. Throughoutthecourseofasemester,the team evaluated software development kits (SDKs) from various vendors and selected a partner, Nuanced Communications, based on a set of criteria that Beth and the US Bank team provided.

The class then built out a prototype using one of Nuanced Communications’APIsandscreenflowsBeth’steamprovided. In addition to developing a product, the student team recruited roughly 100 users to test the prototype and provide feedback, including validating potential business hypotheses. Based on user feedback, the class was able to quickly help eliminate one of the potential uses US Bank was considering in using voice control to fill out credit card applications (unique spelling variations in names and addresses made voice control difficult in this scenario).

To track progress and provide continual feedback, Beth set up weekly calls and one student acted as the team’s project manager. “It felt like I was working with an outside consulting group, and we more than re- cooped our initial investment,” said Beth.

Taking the group’s work, Beth continued conversations with Nuanced Communications and the research from the class is currently integrated into solutions that are set to go live in the market next year.

In total, the joint project took just 3.5 months to complete, nearly four times faster than if the project had been taken on internally (includes time for staffing a technical project, conducting research, building a prototype, getting user feedback, and so forth).

How the Process Works

• Beth connects with Spring Theory before the start of the semester to discuss a topic US Bank would like to explore; Spring Theory matches team with a class

• Beth and US Bank team speaks with sponsoring professor and makes sure both parties have full background

• Beth presents case to class and students select assignment they want to work on

• Regular check-ins are set up (depends on the class, but strongly suggested)

• Final presentation at end of the semester/quarter

Q&A with Beth Gallagher

Q: What is one best practice you would share with others looking to initiate similar collaborations?

A: More structure is better. It really depends from class to class but the teams who communicate with our team often are the ones who generally do better.

Getting on the same page with the professor is also very important since the objective for students should match with what you’re looking for.

Q: How can clients best think about these engagements?

A: Each class will be different but really, it’s almost like having a junior consultancy group. They can help us get things done relatively quickly and inexpensively. Typically, our team always gets new ideas and/or helps us build off their results.