At State Street, design thinking drives digital strategy

At State Street, design thinking drives digital strategy
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A core tenet of successful digital transformation is a laser focus on customers. After all, if your organization struggles to relate to your customers, delivering the products and experiences they desire is next to impossible.

That’s the challenge Erich Umar faced when he joined State Street in 2016 as head of technology experience management. Employees of the 227-year-old custodian bank, steeped in tradition and legacy processes, struggled to grasp how to develop products and services using design thinking, an increasingly popular approach to product development centered around user experience.

State Street's leadership found a one solution in storytelling. The simple practice of cultivating a narrative helped the company shape its product vision, and in the process overcome a significant cultural hurdle in shifting from project-based IT to the production of digital products, says Umar. 

Most CIOs will tell you that Culture is the single biggest barrier to digital transformation. Change is made even harder by willful resistance, as empirical evidence suggests. Only 14 percent of 1,733 business executives said that their digital transformation efforts have sustained performance improvements, with only 3 percent reporting complete success at sustaining change, McKinsey found in 2018.

Umar's position, which includes helping the technology team get cozier with the business, in itself was indicative of this cultural shift orchestrated by tate Street CIO Antoine Shagoury, who has hired hundreds of technologists to drive product development with design thinking at their core.

Design thinking informs product development

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