Unlocking the potential of digital transformation


By NCR Voyix Digital Banking

Earlier this year, Jim Marous, owner and host of the Banking Transformed podcast and co-publisher of The Financial Brand, sat down with two experts: Doug Brown, president and general manager for NCR Voyix Digital Banking, and Doug Peacock, SVP of digital delivery at Associated Bank, the largest Wisconsin-based bank with total assets of $41 billion. With over 200 banking locations, Associated serves retail consumers and small and large businesses with a full range of financial products and services. Their conversation surfaces some valuable insights on the bank's recent and ongoing digital transformation efforts — and what it’s taken to get there.

Digital transformation solutions for excellent customer experience

As banks and credit unions look to stay relevant in a complex and changing landscape, digital transformation has become a necessity. And while it’s not an easy journey, those willing to embrace change and able to adapt and innovate rapidly will be the most successful.

Over the conversation, the two executives covered a range of topics, from choosing the right partners for collaboration, executing on digital transformation, managing attrition and scope, and casting a vision for the future.

Doug Brown started the conversation off on the topic of partnership: “When you're picking partners and determining who to work with to move forward, what does that process look like? And ultimately, how did you arrive where you are today?”

Peacock: “Long gone are the days of 150- to 200-row Excel spreadsheets with RFIs, at least at Associated. When we start, we first look at, “What is the solution, and what are we trying to solve for our customers? Where do we want to end up, and what are some of the things we want to accomplish from a customer experience, a technology and certainly a business perspective?’ That’s where we begin.

We're a for-profit company, and you have to think about, 'What are the investments and expected returns?' When you get that sorted out and understand what technology solutions you either need to change or invest in, you can begin evaluating the market.

And we host immersion days here at the bank, where we'll bring in providers for two-to-three-hour sessions. Typically, we look at live software. We'll try to identify what's real and what's on the roadmap. And when you stack those companies one after another in a tight timeframe, it helps you do a comparison and get meaningful results rather than populating a spreadsheet and coming up with some kind of scoring system. And it's been very successful for us so far.”

Investing in digital banking transformation as a benefit to the bank

Later in the conversation, Doug Peacock engaged Doug Brown on the topic of investing in transformation: “When working with financial institutions, you're opening the door to new ideas on digital banking transformation. Every one of these organizations already has a core provider. How do you work to justify what I'll call additional investment, incremental investment above what they're spending on core providers, to move forward with your organization as they look at digital banking transformation?”

Brown: “It gets down to enabling the performance indicators and metrics that Doug Peacock's bank has enjoyed. And that gets back to how we’re going to bring real change into this — and understanding that. It's got to deliver. If it doesn't deliver, it's nothing.

I will call out Associated, an exceptional bank where the CEO was involved in sprint reviews on UX and had material input as we were doing it. As opposed to some banks — legacy institutions with legacy culture and thinking — where they say, 'Hey, let's do one ceremonial review with the CEO at the end of the project,' and he's going to give it a 'Yeah, that's great,' and not be there. But this bank and others like it who really succeed at this have to be in it. You’ve got to be in it all the way. And I think that's what makes a big difference. Then we land at building something that will meet the mark strategically at the customer level and achieve what we're talking about here, whether digital sales or service.”

Gained experience in transformation gives wind at the back for more digital banking

At the end of the conversation, transformation was still a key topic. In closing, Doug Brown asked:

“Almost every organization is in the process, in their mind at least, of a digital banking transformation. What suggestion would you give them, learning what you've learned over the last few years?”

Peacock: “You really have to start with the end in mind, and that's maybe the end of the phase you're in, not necessarily where you think you'll be in three to five years because things change so rapidly. That was the exciting thing for us is selling that vision because you have to sell it. You sell it as a digital leader or a technology leader, not only to your executive colleagues and peers but also around your organization.

Like many banks our size, we've got a very strong branch network with great people who do an awesome job of servicing our customers. And the way we sold this was, ‘Listen, digital is a reflection of our bank's value proposition where we want to reveal opportunities for customers to connect into that value.' And by going through that and saying, ‘We're going to bring some great technology, but we're looking at how we're going to make this great for the customer overall, regardless of what channel he or she chooses to serve or products they choose to buy.’

I think when you get people behind that, when you do hit those bumps on the road, people just understand where you're going, and it's so compelling that they keep going right through it. We're blessed to have the support of an executive team, but frankly, a full organization that understood where we were trying to go, as well as partners like NCR Voyix and you that help us to get there.“


Read the recap or watch the full podcast episode here.