Digitalisation – do it, but be prepared

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Some fascinating insights on a couple of the main issues facing all CIOs these days have come in an interview with Arancha Sanchez, the UK CIO of Santander Bank. Both issues – adapting to the use of mobile devices by consumer customers, and preparing the business for ever-increasing digitalisation – are prime examples of how CIOs need to respond to the customer now being `king’.

When it comes to the use of mobiles, Sanchez points clearly to where the drive is coming from.

“Customers are leading this change,” she said, “and we must listen to them. And we must keep it going, listening and delivering.”

To this end, the company has now introduced new internal services designed to help the business shape the way it interacts with its customers and keeps listening for hints of the services they would like to see in the future.

As she says HERE, her philosophy for how she, as CIO, manages this rush towards mobile-delivered services is simple: just keep accelerating the company’s mobile agenda.

“If you fail to keep up with this you are failing,” is her stark advice.

It is also a challenge that she relishes and motivates her to keep pushing further along the mobile service delivery route. As she observes HERE, she believes that is what all CIOs should not be looking to do now.

Customers using mobile devices are just part of a wider trend towards what is increasingly called the digitalisation of business, and that is now a key driver for all CIOs. However, Sanchez acknowledges that reality for most CIOs still means working with legacy applications.

Her advice here is that CIOs must be sure of the groundwork on those systems. They must be sure that digitalisation of the business is based on solid foundations of soundly architected systems. All legacy issues need to be fixed before making the move, otherwise she would not recommend even attempting it.

“If you don’t have fully architected systems then trying to innovate will just create a mess,” she said.

This is the first step of a three-step programme for starting the transition to fully digitalised operations. The second is integrating all the elements that will need to be part of the new service. This is especially important if, as in Santander’s case, recently acquired companies are a core part of the mix. This will include all necessary de-commissioning of old systems and applications.

The third step is then the planning and implementation of the technology needed to transform the business.

“You must be sure the foundations are right, otherwise you will create a vicious circle and be absolutely inefficient in achieving your goals,” she said.

Video clips shown courtesy of Bloor partner, Cloud-Channel TV