How CommBank’s Innovation Lab Makes Development Faster

How CommBank’s Innovation Lab Makes Development Faster

Yesterday, the Commonwealth Bank officially launched out its new ‘Innovation Lab’ at its Sydney headquarters. How can 679 square metres of meeting and testing space improve its technology development cycle? Check out our photo gallery to find out.

The lab space serves dual purposes: a location where customers can be shown some of the technology already used by the bank, and a meeting and testing space where developers can meet with other bank staff to work on future projects. It includes dedicated space for usability testing, multiple meeting rooms for individual teams, and a large central area with video screens that can be controlled via haptic technology.

“We’ve thought a lot about how the physical environment needs to support our strategic goal in tech,” CEO Ian Narev said at the launch. “Being able to be leading edge and applying the world’s best technology for the benefit of our customers is a life-or-death matter. It’s not a nice-to-have.”

One test area in the lab shows off the Oculus Rift in a virtual shopping experiment. This still needs some development. “Even buying a T-shirt can make you feel a little bit sick at the moment,” Narev said.

One core feature in the lab is a dedicated space for usability testing, which previously was done in rented external premises. Bank executives said that having testing facilities on site would speed up development, and also allow staff other than the dedicated testing experts to see the outcomes of user testing.

Typical user testing only involves groups of five to eight people, though some projects use more. Eye tracking technology is used to identify how people interact with prototypes on computers, tablets and laptops.

Some of the tracking technology is concealed in artwork to make it less intrusive.

Group meeting areas with whiteboards are used for broader project planning.

Other spaces will be used for longer-term training needs. This group is completing 11 days of education on basic design principles.

Some meeting areas are visible to anyone in the centre.

More confidential projects can use private rooms. This team is working on new features for the CBA mobile app, though we were told to go away when we asked what those features were.

Customer visitors to the centre are provided with a customised iPad that guides them through the public displays. Bluetooth Low Energy is used to identify where they are in the centre and show off content accordingly.

Large video displays can be controlled by moving your hand, and show off details of current CommBank projects.

An analytic app on the iPads lets you compare spending by bank customers in a given postcode with the national average.


    • Or get NFC working outside the S4. I joined them because of the tap n pay on the mobile phone, my S4 broke and the Telstra people told me that it worked with the S5. It didn’t and doesn’t.

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