Clients are the 'Why' and Technology is the 'How'

Anil T. Cheriyan, CIO, SunTrust Bank
769
1246
256

Anil T. Cheriyan, CIO, SunTrust Bank

The prevalence of Social media, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud has created a soaring impact because of which the industry has witnessed explosive breakthroughs in the technology space. The explosion in Internet usage, evolution of smarter handheld devices, preponderance of structured and unstructured data, and the commoditization of infrastructure technologies makes all four “technologies” critical pillars for nearly every business.

Mobile has been a conduit to the expansion of social. More than two billion people today have much of their activity centered on social media through their mobile devices. The need for remote connectivity has clocked great heights ever since the evolution of social and mobile in view of meeting large business expansion targets.

Successful businesses have been capable of consolidating the data deluge to deepen their understanding of markets, clients, products, services, channels, and risk. In addition, sophisticated analytics tools are enabling instant access to information along with the ability to take action as soon as an issue arises. Meanwhile, Cloud has revised itself and has expanded in multiple directions to offer its services in varying apparitions through private, public and hybrid platforms. Cloud has also been very successful with its multidimensional traits leveraging scalability and flexibility to meet the demands of an increasingly mobile customer base and workforce.

“More than two billion people today have much of their activity centered on social media through their mobile devices”

There are other trends making inroads into the industry. Some of them include Biometrics and tokenization for authentication, collaboration tools for an increasingly mobile or remote workforce, imaging, document management, and workflow capabilities as we continue to look for ways to improve efficiency.

Leaving Out Cookie-Cutter Solutions

Integration and innovation are two key competencies that would require a boost up especially from the vendors. Bringing in thought leadership and supporting our innovation efforts is an expectation from our vendors. This also involves working with other partners and help build capabilities that is imperative to us and to them. On the digital front, it is up to the internal teams to find the right solution utilizing a variety of vendors. People nowadays expect “Facebook-like” experiences that allow them easy access to information and resources irrespective of the time and location, rather than implementing cookie-cutter solutions in a highly volatile environment. End of the day, it all centers to the end-to-end experience that is delivered across various platforms. People should stop thinking desktop first, lead the end user and the rest will be clearer.

The Four Challenges

For a CIO it is important to accelerate the pace of innovation. We have a myriad of opportunities that are advantageous for clients that help them improve their overall sense of financial well-being with our technology based banking solutions. We should remember that clients are the “why” and our technology is the “how”—and not the other way around. Innovation should be driven by relevance, and this is possible by making technology available at every level, facilitating seamless implementation and by making it accurate and easy to use, thus providing true value to the clients. 

Ensuring that we are constantly evolving in the business, especially in the area of revenue generation also poses as a challenge. This requires building strong partnerships with our Line of Business leaders, as well as with marketing, risk, and finance, working closely to understand their strategic plans, operating environments, and client pain points. Finding top technology talent who can understand the banking industry and who possesses the technology skill sets required to meet certain business demands, especially when it comes to SMAC technologies is another challenge.

Initiating “Innovation Days”

Our teammates are also our clients, and they provide us with a great source of ideas and inspiration. Leaving behind traditional IT structure and adopting a culture that inspires collaboration and innovation is one of the ways we value them.  In addition to retiring our old vertical “command and control” structure for a leaner, flatter, more collaborative organization, we are encouraging innovation on multiple levels. This is done by hosting multiple programs that connect teammates across the Bank to solve problems, including daylong “jam sessions” on Innovation Fridays where teammates identify challenges and come up with solutions. We also encourage teammates across all business units to contribute ideas and suggestions to our online “Innovation Hub.”

By initiating hackathon, an internal event, we have encouraged teammates from all business units to work together over the course of three weeks to develop real solutions that can improve our business and operations. Our first Innovation Branch is an example to this where we test technologies we are working on in real branch settings. Innovation starts with having the right people. We largely emphasize on finding—and keeping—the right talent for our organization. We look for builders who want to be a part of our fast-paced transformation journey, and value our clearly articulated strategy, plan, and Purpose of Lighting the Way to Financial Well-being.