Deutsche Bank CIO shows how to do software right in the digital era

Frédéric Véron extols the virtues of smart software execution, deploying machine learning and sound principles to ensure the bank’s software operates optimally in a sector where downtime can be deadly.

Most CIOs can talk all day about how they’re leveraging machine learning, blockchain and other emerging technologies to differentiate their businesses. But IT leaders rarely discuss how they’re improving the performance of their software, a critical requirement in the digital era, says Frédéric Véron, who doubles as CIO and head of safety and soundness for Deutsche Bank.

In fact, Véron says that IT departments are not aware of the state of their software, let alone whether end users are using it. Ensuring robust software from inception to deployment is Véron's chief remit at Deutsche Bank, which he joined from Fannie Mae last August. For many CIOs, Véron's IT production role may not rate highly. But he basks in it.

"We need to know our software much better than ever before,” Véron told at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium last month. "At the end of the day if the CIO doesn't run the system, the CIO doesn't have much chance to see tomorrow in that organization." A hack is one thing, but bad code can also bring down a network. Véron noted how France’s trains were recently down for 36 hours because of a single, faulty line of code in the software controlling the transit system.

Bad software can cripple companies

The last thing any bank wants is a systems outage, but such an episode would come at a tough time for Deutsche Bank, which posted $612 million in losses in 2017. In April, the German bank fired CEO John Cryan after only three years on job for taking too long to revamp the company. The bank, which has pledged to cut 7,000 jobs, recently said it will likely report another quarter of declining revenue through June.

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