Executing a digital transformation — a ‘How to’ for banks

Banks are moving to the cloud, and that is exciting news. But how to do this transformation right?
Read in 4 minutes
WHERE TO LISTEN    

Full transcript of this episode is available here.

One thing should be clear: executing a digital transformation within a bank is incredibly hard. A complete transformation involves much more than just apps and online banking platforms: besides the fact that the product needs to be digital-first, everything else also needs to be accessible digitally. Indeed, the whole experience needs to be adapted. The goal is always to move away from one-size-fits-all generic banking products towards personalization and increasingly tailored offerings. But to achieve all that while retaining a sense of operational flexibility and cost-effectiveness is a true challenge indeed. 

In our ‘Banking on Air’ podcast, host Helene Panzarino welcomed Travers Clarke-Walker from Thought Machine, a UK-based core banking company. Travers knows the intricacies of these digital transformation challenges like few others. Not only does the product need to transform, but also the organisation’s challenges and a multitude of regulatory requirements need to be considered. It all plays together. Progress in technology now makes innovation and expansion much easier, and increasingly opens new options to deal with local regulatory challenges and other obstacles. As Travers explains on the podcast:

“If you were trying to build a bank in New York, Hong Kong or London, and you’re choosing the right technology, then arguably you can build the same bank in each of those markets, adhere to local regulatory requirements, meet that state or federal obligations and then relaunch the same bank in other markets. There may be some local variations in those markets, but flexibly and a modernly architected application allows you to make those modifications without an enormous degree of cost or time being the problem.” – Travers Clarke-Walker

To offer truly modern experiences, flexibility is essential. That flexibility is achieved, in part, through the right choice of technology. Where previously banks were designed to offer generic products to the masses, they find themselves under increasing pressure to offer a tailored solution to each customer segment. And through modern technology, those options are available to every bank. That’s where core banking engines come in: they enable banks to innovate on a modern tech stack and work at the speed of innovation. The more adaptive and flexible the underlying infrastructure, the easier it is for banks to ship new product experiences to customers.

But technology is not the only piece. Flexibility needs to be sought in all areas of operations, ranging from product and technology to organizational structuring and smart partnerships. Travers explains:

“The relationship is much more than just providing the technology. It’s also having an organization that is fit to contract with a bank and then identifying if you like the coalition of partners who are also fit to work with the bank. But the absolute point in there is a collaboration of partners working together as seamlessly as they can to build an entirely new technology stack ”  – Travers Clarke-Walker

For some banks, there can be blockers in the forms of existing vendor licenses that bring old technology that strangles and hinders further innovation. But according to Travers, banks shouldn’t hesitate when it comes to executing their digital transformation:

“Starting is more important than thinking. And if you’re doing a new stack without the purpose of full bank transformation, then that’s probably a mistake. And if you’re not doing one and you’re still considering it, then that is also probably a mistake.” – Travers Clarke-Walker

The moment is there, the technology is ready for it, and most banks should jump in with both feet. The cloud is the future, and even in an industry like banking, that future is approaching quickly. It is true that digital transformation in the banking industry has taken longer to gain momentum than it did in other industries like media or retail, but it is now proven also in banking that moving to the cloud significantly cuts costs and has the potential to transform the customer experiences. 

According to Travers, there is a big difference between banks that already adopted cloud infrastructure and those who didn’t. He explains that the cloud as an infrastructure choice for business has proven itself again and again, and banking is now ready to make the switch. 

“I think we can be respectful of the delay. I don’t think we can be respectful of now not moving though. I think that this is the point of change.” – Travers Clarke-Walker

To find out more about digital transformation and what banks should think about before doing it, listen to our new Banking on Air podcast episode featuring Travers Clarke-Walker from Though Machine – Available on Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify or here:

WHERE TO LISTEN    

Full transcript of this episode is available here.

Here’s a rundown of this episode:

  • 03:00 Factors of digital transformation to be considered
  • 07:00 Technology factors & vendors
  • 11:30 Partnerships
  • 16:30 Parallels with other industries
  • 19:30 Delay of digital transformation in banks
  • 27:20 Acceleration of transformation in recent years

Travers heads up Thought Machine’s sales and marketing teams, and is responsible for leading business development, customer acquisition, and brand building activities to drive global growth.

Travers has over 15 years’ board level experience scaling regional sales and marketing across software, banking, energy and retail industries. Before joining Thought Machine, Travers was Chief Marketing Officer at Fiserv and Managing Director at Barclays, where he led the market launch of peer-to-peer payment app PingIt™. Prior to this, Travers was responsible for launching EDF Energy into the UK, as well as building their pioneering Nectar scheme.


‘Banking on Air’ is the official Vacuumlabs podcast covering the challenges, opportunities, perspectives and opinions that matter to you and to our community. In this podcast, we are looking under the hood of the changing face of tech: the acceleration in all things digital, the impact of regulation (and disruption), the need for genuine collaboration – and the specter of competitors old and new as it plays out in fintech and financial services around the world.

This podcast is brought to you by Vacuumlabs – and we’re sharing our experience and expertise in creating solutions for the digital journey for professionals, community banks, and fintechs. We believe that the future is in communities when it comes to digital transformation in financial services, and we invite you to join us and our guests over the coming weeks and months.

About Vacuumlabs

Vacuumlabs provides teams of flexible software engineers and designers with years of experience building fintech, online marketplaces, and digital products. Every step of the way, Vacuumlabs experts collaborate with clients, so that they can move fast, learn and iterate as they build world-class products together.