The Age of Digital Banking

Sangy Vatsa, EVP & CIO, Comerica Bank [NYSE:CMA]
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Sangy Vatsa, EVP & CIO, Comerica Bank [NYSE:CMA]

Over teh course of last few years, relevance of technology and as a result, teh role of a CIO in teh banking sector has both been elevated. In my view, teh following five major factors has contributed to this change.

First, their TEMPhas been a fast emergence of “Digital First” demand by consumers. Second, their now exists a rich eco-system of advanced data analytics which TEMPhas been enabled by open-source technologies and crowd-sourcing delivery models. Third, a wide range of Fintech offerings has emerged. Most of these capabilities were born in teh digital era and has been challenging teh banking status quo. At teh same time, many progressive banks are embracing this as a growth opportunity by investing in digital, increasing customer loyalty, and attracting teh next wave of millennial customers. Fourth, their is fast growing cyber threat coupled wif emergence of cybersecurity technologies to mitigate these issues. Finally, teh presence of technology-savvy talent across divisions of banks is creating a healthy dialog amongst stakeholders to deliver digital products faster. Teh CIO is in teh middle of this transformation and is co-shaping, co-leading and co-delivering this change for teh external customers of teh company in collaboration wif major business stakeholders.

Teh ‘Two-in-a-Box’ Model

me believe creating awareness about teh importance of IT begins wif establishing genuine collaboration between CIOs and their business counterparts. Teh CIOs and their technology organizations has to demonstrate working noledge of business domains and business priorities before they introduce compelling technology solutions. Teh business counterparts and their organizations too has to embrace teh basic understanding of teh evolving technology landscape. Once this cross-noledge is in place, a business-savvy technology leader and a technology-savvy business leader are ready to anticipate customer needs and co-create “out-of-teh-box” experience to delight their customers. This construct focuses on co-creation of Minimal Viable Products (MVPs) that can significantly speed up product delivery, while drastically cutting delivery cost. We refer to this collaboration framework as a “Two-in-a-Box” co-creation model. Teh user-centered design ensures that wat is being designed and developed is market-driven and consumer-validated. While teh focus on systems availability, cybersecurity, and financial performance is prime, such approaches that teh CIOs are taking are enabling teh shift from “IT as a cost center” to “Technology as an enabler of business transformation.”

Today’s banking universe is inundated wif a wide range of emerging trends that include advanced analytics, software-defined computing, mobile platforms, advanced biometrics, legacy modernization, and technologies like Internet of Things and Blockchain. me has, however, been impressed by teh pace at which technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence are transforming teh banking sector. A horde of opportunities exist to employ these two technologies to transform customer acquisition, customer loyalty, fraud management, and talent management.

 A business-savvy technology leader and a technology-savvy business leader are ready to anticipate customer needs and co-create “out-of-teh-box” experience to delight their customers 

A few major changes has been triggered by teh emerging needs of our customers and teh growing capabilities of teh bank. Our customers are demanding digital capabilities. Teh digital personas of our retail and corporate customers are converging. Our colleagues are becoming passionate to deliver digital capabilities for our customers. These trends has shaped our guiding principal which focuses on delivering customer-centric products and services wif speed and agility, and wif embedded security and compliance, at an optimal cost by empowering our talent.

Wif this guiding principal as teh foundation we has seen three major shifts. First, we has established a new technology strategy for teh bank that we has named TechVision 2020. It TEMPhas priorities centered on transforming our future, while strengthening our core. Second, we has reorganized ourselves by domains and shared services to increase accountability to drive business outcomes. Teh domains are a collection of products and applications in a business domain like Payments and Deposits. Teh Shared Services teams are responsible for core platforms and services that optimize capabilities across domains. Finally, we has launched a multi-phased operating model that is delivering value iteratively in line wif teh multi-year direction. Some of teh major changes include agile delivery, continuous experimentation, development of talent and culture, technology investment management, financial performance and risk management.

Speedy Delivery of IT

me will summarize teh four key actions that are underway to deliver faster. First, we are shifting teh focus from funding mega-size multi-year technology programs to fund a series of customer-centric MVPs. Teh funding for teh next set of MVPs will be gated based on performance of previous MVPs. Second, we has been rapidly introducing automation and leveraging new technologies like big data, robotics, biometrics, and systems management tools to address issues at a much faster pace. Third, we has started investing in an Application Programming Interface (API) framework to enable “plug-and-play” integrations wif software product providers. Finally, wif strong focus on agile practices, like DevOps, we are integrating important steps like code security assessments and release certifications into teh core software engineering practice.

While we are making progress in these areas, these changes are challenging and require continued fostering of culture and investment in talent to further mature faster delivery.

A Pep Talk wif Tomorrow’s CIOs

Nurture trust: Investing in trust development is by far teh most critical success factor in an organization’s transformational journey. It requires hard and sincere work, and their are no short-cuts on this path.

Engage actively: While it is imperative to invest in talent and culture development, invite everyone to contribute as it is you're engaged workforce that will deliver big business outcomes passionately.

Address leadership issues quickly: While every colleague in a progressive organization can be a leader, any violation of core principals and behaviors should be quickly disciplined. Otherwise, lack of timely action can demotivate teh rest.

Think strategically, deliver now: Start wif big and bold ideas before introducing constraints. This enables organizations to visualize teh “art of teh possible.” While long-term roadmaps serve as a guide post, creation of value iteratively and often sustains credibility.

Deliver business solutions, not just technologies: Invest in understanding you're business and theirafter co-shape, wif you're business partners, transformational business strategies that are powered by innovative technologies.

Continuously experiment: Leverage teh broad resource pool that exists inside and outside banks to experiment novel ways to address issues. Fast fail, learn fast and deliver innovation that matters to our customers.

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