Dave Codack has been at TD Bank Group long enough to have seen some major changes in Canadian financial services, but recently he witnessed something that spoke to one of the biggest changes of all.
“I was in a strategic planning session, and every head of every line of business mentioned that the dominant feature of the strategy was centered around the technology,” Codack, TD’s head of employee technology and network services, said during a panel discussion at the recent Canadian Telecom Summit (see expertIP’s coverage of Allstream’s Raymond Lahoud’s remarks on the same panel). This was a major shift from what CIOs have tended to hear when they gather with their C-suite peers. “In years past, you never would have had the integration of technology as central to the strategy.”
Though recognizing the value of IT is obviously a positive sign, it also increases the expectations on someone like Codack and his team. He cited an ever-challenging regulatory environment and security as perennial pressures, but increasingly important is the potential to leverage technology to combat margin compression — something that would have been equally unheard of in a lot of banks years ago.
“There’s a lot of activity around how to get lean and efficient. It’s a big cauldron where it’s filled to the brim,” he said. “There’s a massive missed opportunity to drive margins.”
Supposing a customer connects to TD through a call centre to get a mortgage, for example. Ideally, Codack said, that would be a great opportunity to provide an insurance package as well. But without being able to have a single view of the customer — and perhaps as importantly, a single view that is consistent across channels — deepening those relationships is challenging.
“From a pure customer perspective, all that data should be known and distributed to every touchpoint. That’s where a lot of the efforts (in TD’s IT group) are being placed,” he said. “We’re far from being where we need to be, but there’s a realization we don’t have the capability and we’re aggressively working very hard to do that.”
Other efficiencies can come through the way technology is deployed and managed, of course. Like many IT leaders, Codack has been looking more closely at the way cloud computing could provide greater flexibility around IT resources, but he described the transition as an ongoing education process.
“There’s different types of cloud — that’s what I’m finding,” he said. There are the pure software-as-a-service plays, which may simply amount to a change in licensing, and then there are managed services agreements where some aspect of IT is completely taken over by a third-party vendor. Then there are other agreements where multiple third parties come together to provide a cloud-based service for the bank.
“It’s not simple when you start to work through it,” he said. “Think of a cloud e-mail solution provider external to the bank. You can’t be a tenant-based subscriber, because there are too many issues from a security and regulatory process standpoint. You could have a dedicated cloud (Microsoft) Exchange environment, but then what happens to data loss protection, to encryption? Does it sit there in the cloud or on the bank’s (servers)? It just goes on and on.”
Codack said TD addresses the complexity by categorizing cloud-based IT into types of service, the terms and conditions required, and the security layer the bank needs to feel comfortable. “Our standards are higher than most people have to have,” he admitted.
Some of the most exciting prospects for business transformation Codack discussed were around communication and collaboration technologies. He cited click-to-video, which provides users a more immersive experience, and underlying collaboration tools that reach from the call centre to the branches. And of course mobility is “almost everything” in its power to provide services.
“It’s definitely the way things are going,” he said. “There’s race for your customer, because we know if you don’t offer them mobility you’re going to lose them. These things are not so much ‘cool’ as much as they’re critical.”