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Santander: confused, boring … or innovative?

Thanks to Andrew Carrier's tweet for spotting this brilliant story in Gizmodo about Grupo Santander's Head Office in Santander City, Spain.

Gizmodo liked the fact they have wee little robots running around guiding visitors around their massive HQ.

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Their HQ “is so damn big and confusing to navigate that you'll desperately need these multilingual robots to guide you around … you stroll up to where the mechanical swarm is waiting, tip-tap your way through a menu on a robot's touchscreen to select your preferred language, pick a destination, and off you go.

“The robots are about knee-high and zip back and forth through the Santander Group's financial complex in Madrid. They're clever enough to avoid running into people, other robots, or any of the LED panel covered columns around the complex while promptly getting you to your destination.”

It makes sense, as the bank moved its Central Services from Madrid to the new headquarters, Santander City, in April 2004 and 6,800 people work there today, so it is a big campus.

However, although Gizmodo may like it, TIME Magazine labels Santander “the most boring bank in the world”:

“Banco Santander's no-nonsense headquarters sprawls across a dusty hilltop a little over 12 miles (20 km) from downtown Madrid. But it seems a world removed from Spain's capital, with its long naps and midnight dinners. Santander City's squat, red-brick bunkers don't try to make any lofty architectural statements, and its workers would be too busy to notice even if they did. Travel between buildings is underground on white shuttle buses. Cigarette breaks don't last long; the leafy inner courtyards have no place to sit. ‘This is a place to work’, says a spokesman wearing the standard-issue Santander red tie.”

The TIME article goes on to explain why Banco Santander's has risen from being the sixth biggest bank in Spain to the largest bank in the Eurozone in just a quarter of a century thanks to the leadership of Emilio Botín, who took over the bank from his dad back in 1986.

Well worth a read, even if half the workers these days are robots.

p.s. please invite me over to visit 🙂

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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