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Don’t reinvent the wheel, ride the wave

Paul Lewis

September 10, 2020

It’s no surprise that many CIOs I’m speaking to in the banking and wider financial services sector are keen to optimize their business to build profitability. But what has surprised me is how many are now coming to me with a tangential agenda around how to best support customers and drive positive social change, writes Paul Lewis, Global CTO at Hitachi Vantara.

They are keen to pursue what we at Hitachi Vantara call ‘Powering Good’. Of course, getting the buy-in and releasing the necessary funds to make investments happen means understanding how these two ambitions can work in conjunction.

In this third of a four-part blog series, I look at why I believe one key for banking and financial services organizations is to find the right partners who are expert in all the bits of technology they need, helping them smoothly ride and harness new innovation waves. I hope you find that the thoughts here help you confidently take the next steps on your journey to building a better business for your shareholders and your customers.

Banking and the wider financial services community has long been invested — quite literally — in the possibilities of digital transformation. Having done much of the ground-work building a smart digital infrastructure and customer-centric operating model that has protected them through the Covid-19 era, many are now in an enviable position to think about what comes next.

Some of the most forward-thinking players are turning towards the idea of supporting the ‘greater good’: building businesses that actively deliver what people and societies need.

While discussing the possibilities with senior IT leaders in the banking and financial services sector, I’ve noticed similarities in their challenges. This has helped me identify four elements that, I believe, any CIO keen for their organization to pursue the greater good alongside profits now urgently needs to think about:

1. Understand why data is the right focus rather than infrastructure and applications: how can you make data less rigid and hierarchical, more interactive and agile?
2. Adopt a mature strategy for monetizing data to secure business success, shorten the coming recession and do practical and positive things for communities.
3. Ride the innovation wave — don’t reinvent the wheel finding the right partners who are expert in the tech they need, offering ready-made, proven blueprints.
4. Grow banking eco-systems diversely yet holistically mirroring how people live in the emerging world and both guiding and embracing other sectors to drive social good.

This blog focuses on the third element: How to ride the innovation wave.

Expertise matters

Banking is a tough sector in which to succeed. While each organization tends to be rich in knowledge about their own business, customers and technology environment, they are likely to know much less about the customers who don’t choose to bank with them. Why do they bank with competitors? What differentiated products or solutions are they seeking out? How are other banks supporting and driving the kind of socially-focused agenda that can positively build their brand and attract new audiences?

Instinct tells us that it’s hard to keep a big organization like a bank moving while also intelligently refining applications, approaches and skillsets to embrace competitive innovation. Experience tells us that it’s almost impossible to evolve to be more competitive or socially motivated by staying within your own, known universe. Instead, there is an urgent need for ambitious banks to actively embrace external knowledge and build a trusted ecosystem of talent, technology and information around their core business, creating a series of partnerships that cost-effectively and rapidly add real vision and the right capabilities to their teams.

These need to be partners that are keen to work within an organization to solve its unique challenges, rather than simply pushing ready-made products and services on it, which so often simply adds cost, complexity and security headaches.

Working from within the innovation community

Having access to ground-breaking innovation is pointless if you can’t pay for it or integrate, maintain and develop it. So what banks really need are partners that are able to think like they do, anticipating not just their technology challenges but the support they may need in financial and talent spheres too.

A select few technology vendors work as an integral part of the innovation community. They not only invest R&D in the use-cases that industries themselves say matter, they also think about how to help companies take the next step in their innovation journey.

Hitachi Vantara has this exceptional customer focus: you’ll find that our company is much more like our customers in how we think and act than most standard technology vendors, offering solutions powered by a deep understanding of banking challenges and a wealth of talent extension and innovative financial service models designed to address them, head on.

  • Extending Capital Leasing: Customers rarely want to make really significant and expensive purchases with cash. We get that and can offer practical help through our Capital Leasing division.
  • Building smart machines like ATMs: There is often a need to build really complex machines, bespoke from the ground up for a particular banking need. That’s no problem. Our diversely skilled teams are ready to offer these kinds of services, because building incredible technology machines that crunch, streamline and optimize data is already a huge part of what we do.
  • Integrating state of the art biometric identity and access solutions: This is one of our core skill-sets, built on Hitachi Vantara’s deep heritage in security and industrial safety.
  • Powering Investment Banking: We have Machine Learning experts around the world building and refining the complex technology needed in this sector; no other vendor out there of our security and size can match our credentials.
  • Driving Retail Banking: Our expertise in Investment Banking perfectly positions us to also innovate in Retail Banking, offering tried and tested solutions that are quick to refine and redeploy.
  • Credit and Risk Management: Our customers want to offer appropriate loans to people based on their physical and financial health, so that more people get the finance deals they need. We have teams focused on developing the smart modelling that requires.
  • Training customers to use new marketplace solutions: We also have special practices focused on helping customers to stay password safe, avoid scams and limit the dangers of nefarious home-calling campaigns.

Don’t go it alone

It makes no sense to invest precious time and budget in creating the complex solutions you need from the ground up.

So as you consider the next Digital Transformation phase for your bank or financial services organization, researching the right partnership models should be a core activity — helping you ‘power good’ with more speed, vital cost-efficiency and the lowest possible risk.