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Highlights from NG Banking Summit.

June 17, 2021 By: Alex Torres

The 2021 NG Banking Innovation Summit featured over 60 executives from the banking and technology industries. For 3 days participants explored topics such as developing innovative cultures at banks and addressing other business challenges related to digital transformation. 

Mike Hanson, Regional Vice President at Quantum Metric, and Christine Tran, Senior Director of Product Marketing, led a 3-day long roundtable titled “Driving Team Alignment for Operational Innovation.” 

Here’s a look at some of their key insights.

Who is spearheading changes?

On the first day of the conference, one of the biggest questions was, “Who is spearheading the changes in technology at banks?” Depending on the organization, it could be the CTO, CIO, CDO, or even the Chief Customer Officer.

But it’s not just about the C-Suite. Today’s banking executives need to help their organizations transition from legacy on-premise technologies to cloud-based ones. To accomplish this, executives need buy-in from their employees.

But what about data silos?

“When you think of banking organizations, these are large organizations,” Hanson explained on day 1. This is one of the biggest challenges or blockers in driving a customer-centric banking experience. Customer experience teams are using one type of data stream, DevOps is using another, engineering yet another. 

With multiple data streams available, organizations need technology that allow them to align around one set of data, while still being able to navigate the data that matters most to their specific department. To explain this conundrum, Hanson offered the following example: “Departments are speaking the same language, but using different dialects.”

Some of the respondents, however, “still have spreadsheets–the data stream is email in spreadsheets.” Across many organizations, teams can only access certain data analysis tools if they are working on a project of certain sizes. For other organizations, building up a single source of truth has led to other sorts of bottlenecks, especially for banks without the right infrastructure in place. 

Mergers and acquisitions, which are common in banking, have also led to data silos and legacy tech debt

As banks look ahead, they need to embrace technology that streamlines data governance and unwind complex bureaucracy, all while following local and federal regulations. 

But data won’t solve all problems…

On day 2, the roundtable made a good point: Where should people look for in data? 

Too much data leads to noise, not customer signals. Data alone doesn’t solve issues; data is simply an opportunity or a tool to solve problems. 

Getting out of the data swamp requires driving human engagement. 

Transforming the employee experience.

One respondent spoke at length about how her organization struggled to retain employees as they started striving towards digital transformation.

“Culturally, we lost people,” she explained. “We are not going to pay people to be spreadsheet pushers. You’re not going to be allowed to pull data, put it in a spreadsheet, and call that your job.”

Another respondent said that one of the problems with analyzing data is that “we tend to look backwards, not forward.” 

Other respondents spoke about how their organizations are still accustomed to the days when it took months to spin up a server. In today’s cloud environment, banks can launch a server in a matter of minutes. 

Build vs. buy dilemma.

Building or buying software can stifle or drive operational innovation–it really depends!

On the one hand, banks want to embrace external vendors to drive solutions. However, respondents noted that it can be hard to find vendors that plug into their systems, or find platforms that solve their problems.

One respondent spoke about regretting building an in-house solution that took 3 years, when they could have brought something and deployed it within 18 months–at the same cost. 

Other respondents highlighted the risk of buying as well, which can rack in loads of technical debt after infrastructure testing and risk mitigation. 

And that’s a wrap…

On the last day of the conference, Christine Tran summed up the challenges of leveraging data, especially getting alignment around data and the customer perspective. 

She spoke about why Quantum Metric believes in one version of the truth, or in other words, why it’s important for multiple teams to have access to data streams that provide insight into customer behavior. 

Tran’s top takeaway? “It comes down to alignment around the customer.” How do you get the customer perspective in the hands of everyone making important decisions?

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