by McCree Lake

How a talent strategy can help banks get their IT groove back

Jul 26, 2016
InnovationIT LeadershipIT Strategy

Bank IT leaders must rethink their staffing strategies not just so they can better align with the business, but also to be a part of the bank’s core capabilities and products.

It’s no secret that the banking industry is facing unparalleled disruptions. Banks are continually forced to revisit their strategies and operating models as a result of new market entrants, cybersecurity concerns, changing customer profiles and automation. The burden of legacy technologies and overdue strategic change means that IT organizations are no longer positioned to effectively influence the overall direction and capabilities of a bank. While there certainly is no silver bullet for technology leaders, one important imperative exists: They must radically rethink their approach to talent not just to align or partner with the business, but also to be a part of the bank’s core capabilities and products.

Banks are struggling to attract and retain top talent as more workers make the jump to entrepreneurial technology firms or fintech companies. CIOs and technology leaders should think of this trend as a critical barrier to remove in order for the IT function to overcome legacy systems and drive digital transformation. CIOs can leverage the workforce of the future to create innovative capabilities that deliver business value and performance by crafting the right talent strategy. If banks continue to lose talent, how will they be able to overcome the challenges of legacy technologies and become a part of enterprise value and core capabilities?

It’s time for banks to assess their IT talent from “pipeline to performance” — meaning that simply attracting top talent is only one part of the solution. C-suite technology leaders in the banking sector must engage workers, provide leading-edge work, and create an environment suitable for driving collaboration and innovation. To that end, these executives must focus strategically on four primary areas in order to attract, retain and invigorate their technology capabilities:

  1. Technology functions continue to have challenges with diversity, particularly at senior levels. Banking is no exception. Many studies suggest that diversity ties directly to value creation and team performance, and that failing to address disparities can damage business results. Top-performing IT organizations should focus on working with HR to strategically invest in recruiting, retaining and sponsoring a more diverse talent pool that can deliver the value that today’s banks need to meet their customers’ needs.
  2. Digital changes everything: Technologies like the cloud enable traditional IT capabilities to be diffused throughout banks to enable innovation across the enterprise. As that occurs, employees like those in customer service or marketing who have traditionally consumed IT services now become creators of technology. A tech-savvy generation of workers across the bank expects IT to deliver platforms where they can quickly iterate on a new mobile platform for customers or build their own reporting interfaces with enterprise data. Technology leaders in banks can either fight a losing battle or embrace change and become innovation champions who capture the best ideas from across the enterprise — both business and IT — and drive scale and repeatability.
  3. Too many banks think of digital as external, customer-facing capabilities, and they’ve certainly made tremendous progress in the last decade. However, IT leaders must drive an inward-facing view of digital to support impactful career experiences that rebrand their organizations as leading-edge collaboration and innovation hubs. The IT function of the bank can be a powerful ally and an enabler of digital capabilities from enabling rapid development through platform technologies to augmenting human relationships with robotics and social capabilities in a way that creates exceptional experiences for IT workers and enables collaboration as well as transformation for bank employees. These types of development can begin to break down the traditional silos in the bank’s data and operating model and allow people to work together — and create value and efficiency — in new ways.
  4. Technology organizations can leverage the renewed talent approach to drive the bank’s “New IT” agenda. With this new model, IT in banking can become an enabler, bringing together cross-functional teams from diverse groups such as customer service, marketing and risk management while rapidly architecting new digital services and products for customers or the internal enterprise. This broad-based approach helps banks attract prospective employees who want to do work that is purposeful and innovative.

As part of a revamped talent strategy that is focused on capability-building, IT can deploy distributed teams that drive critical business initiatives from tip to tail. While the bank innovates on new product offerings, IT supports the effort by bringing together the customer insights, product design methodology and infrastructure stability that products and services will need to succeed at scale in the market, whether they involve mobile support or digital wallets, to name a couple.

Disruption may be a threat but it’s also an opportunity for IT executives who are able to provide their banks with the technology they need to innovate and secure their future.  As they do so, they also can reshape the role that information technology plays. IT executives in the banking sector can definitely get their groove back but they need to focus on radical new approaches to talent that bring enterprise IT and the business together to create value for their bank and their customers.