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IBM, Watson, and the Royal Bank of Canada

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Ginni introduced Bruce Ross, Group Head of Operations at the Royal Bank of Canada mentioning that both he and the organisation are pioneers. Bruce is the head of both technology and operations at the no. 1 bank in Canada.

Legacy is a massive strength

GR: How has banking changed?

BR: Clients are looking for more – a digital experience. Their money, where ever they are, however they want to see it. It’s a completely new business. Not just a digital view of yourself – it’s a new you. For Financial Services, people want a lifestyle experience not just a product experience. Is it a mortgage or a home? It’s the place you live, the schools, the surroundings. For a Financial Services company to be relevant going forward – you have to look at it that way. Legacy is a massive strength you can exploit to create this new experience. Our job is taking that experience to our clients – to share ‘what people like me do?’

An IT company with a bank sign on the front door

With cognitive learning you can do many things. Yesterday, we marketed to a zip code, now we can market to one. We have 12m clients, in 30 countries – how do we market to someone to give them a lifestyle improvement. We think of ourselves as “An IT company with a bank sign on the front door”

GR: How do you change the culture of development?

BR: You don’t need to be an engineer to be an engineering cult:

  1. are we thinking about everything with a business outcome?
  2. take the leap to use the new tech and be the early adopters. Agile, data, analytics, cognitive APIs’ – we’ll be a SAAS provider to our customers. We have to innovate for the future and think what’s likely to happen, dedicate resources and make it happen. IoT, blockchain – they’re all hyper critical to us.

Not just born in the cloud – it is the cloud

GR: What have you done for your developers, and how has IBM helped?

BR: IBM Cloud and BlueMix have helped us here at RBC. We have around 30 BlueMix applications in production. 12m customers using on-line banking. They’re mission critical applications in production for us. We poured 20 years of data in the last 6 months into the RBC data lake. Not just born in the cloud – it is the cloud.

GR: Tell me about BlueMix Garage at RBC

BR: BlueMix Garage is a capability providing BlueMix and all the tools to our developers anywhere – where they don’t have to worry about the configuration and setup, they can just start working using the mirco-services and patterns and start building. They can build a financial services application in the time we’re talking on the stage, which previously took months. We had to change how we worked. We’ve had to look horizontally – not in our IT verticals.

GR: What advice would you give to other organisations on making the transformation?

BR: The size of your bet and commitment is defined by two things. The amount of money and the amount of people. At RBC we took one of our strongest leaders and put her in charge. We committed the funds. And we trained and recruited the skills. Second is the importance of communication. Training is not enough. We have 500 developers trained on BlueMix. We created a certification program to create a profession. Technicians could see how they could develop and grow. Not all will make it, but we put the best support in place to make sure that the most possible, do.

Massively more productive in an order of magnitude

GR: How would the business describe the business outcomes of this journey?

BR: We talk about the speed we can get applications out to our clients. We’re beating the competition in getting apps like Siri Pay out the door. We look at the mobile adoption rates. It’s growing so fast it’ll beat online in the next 6-8 months. We look at speed of releases. We previously did one release a year, we now do them every couple of months. Our development teams today are massively more productive in an order of magnitude.

You change the way work is done to get the speed

GR: My key take away is not just doing the old way faster. Agile is about doing work differently – you change the way work is done to get the speed.

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