Wednesday, 27th May 2020

Disruption expected

If we are to accept the prevailing belief that businesses hate uncertainty, the accelerating pace of technological change takes on even greater significance. New technologies are disrupting established markets at a rate that is making it harder for organisations to see over the hill and prepare for the future. From Blockbuster to Kodak, recent history is littered with stories of organisations that failed to adapt to the digitilisation of their worlds and compete with younger, digitally innovative entrants. By Craig Anderson, Managing Director Cloud Integration, Mitra Innovation.

An acute example of this is the schism between old and new — or traditional models and disruptive forces — that can be found in today’s banking industry, where a growing number of organisations are investing heavily in new technologies to gain competitive advantage. A new wave of digital services is revolutionising banking in a way that hasn’t been seen since the introduction of ATMs and plastic in the 1960s. While contactless payment, mobile apps and online chatbots may feel commonplace, the effect these services have had on consumer expectations simply cannot be understated. London commuters have used cash free buses since 2014, while cashless ride-hail apps such as Uber and Lyft are now more popular than traditional taxi services in New York. So profound is this societal swing that the Bank of England expects notes and coins to make up less than a quarter of all sales by 2026.

For MONETA Money Bank, a retail banking and financial services firm based in the Czech Republic, the solution was to execute a digital transformation of its own. Although it was already the fourth largest bank in the country, with 1 million customers, and more than 200 branches and 650 ATMs, MONETA determined that it needed to do more to meet the new demand for digital services and, ultimately, increase its market share.

To achieve this, the transformation has comprised application replacements, adoption of cloud-based systems, automation and, importantly, a new agile way of working. The bank set a target to sell at least 40% of its major products online by 2020. But digital changes of this nature are hard, particularly for big banks with complex and unwieldy legacy systems. For MONETA, a significant hurdle was a 15-year-old platform that could not support industry standards like open APIs. So, it needed a middleware partner that could support the bank in its migration from an existing system that supported some 40 million calls per day.

MONETA brought in Mitra Innovation, a specialist in digital transformation, cloud enablement and software development, to implement the new integration platform and leant heavily on its technology partner’s expertise. Mitra helped the bank to complete the transformation in a matter of months — a process that often lasts for more than a year.

Any organisation that is implementing new AI- and automation-enabled technologies needs to put a solid yet agile architecture in place. But this process is as much about the people as it is about the technology itself. Fail to engage employees in the process properly and the transformation will fail irrespective of how innovative or sophisticated the new technology is.

To ensure that the culture and behaviours within the organisation aligned with the demands of its new digital capability, MONETA introduced an agile working policy that brought to employees more independency as well as personal responsibility and included regular stand-up meetings and agile sprints with a focus on incremental steps. This strategy has helped to break down barriers between departments and better prepare the business in its quest to build the kind of seamless experiences that customers now want from its banking services.

To mitigate any possible resistance to these changes, MONETA set clear operational guidelines and communicated the reasons behind the transformation from the very beginning. The bank brought in external coaches to run agile workshops that not only allowed employees to prepare for the changes ahead but also helped to nurture the right skills and mindsets across the organisation. The introduction of cloud-based services has allowed the new agile working philosophy to flourish by encouraging employees to work in a more flexible way, too.

The outcome for MONETA is a platform that allows it to offer digital services that meet the needs of an increasingly demanding customer base and keep it in an increasingly competitive digitilised Czech market. The organisations regularly innovate an award-winning mobile banking app called ‘Smart Banka’ thanks to a combination of its new integration platform and its burgeoning agile culture. To keep pace with the accelerating change in the banking space, MONETA understands that its transformation doesn’t end here. But its new scalable architecture means its systems, employees and customers are ready for whatever lies ahead.

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