Business challenge

To nurture loyalty in the crowded, competitive Bahamian market, Commonwealth Bank wanted to tailor products to local needs. Customer-facing staff had valuable insights—but sharing them was difficult.


The bank worked with IBM to deploy a business social network based on IBM® Connections™ Cloud—empowering employees to share their suggestions for new products with senior decision-makers.



employee collaboration and helps decision-makers better understand customer needs


design new products tailored to customer needs, nurturing their loyalty


the bank’s growth, which has recently reached $1.6 billion in assets

Business challenge story

Striving to serve customers better

Competition in the retail banking space can be tough, especially if you’re a smaller local bank standing against multinational players. Add to the mix a market with a relatively small pool of potential customers with growing expectations around service quality, and you have the challenge facing Commonwealth Bank—a regional bank based in The Bahamas. Lynda Burrows, IT Operations Manager at the bank, explains: “One of our major focuses is social responsibility. We believe in giving back to the Bahaman community by providing services that are not only tailored to our customers’ needs, but also aimed at improving the overall lifestyle and economy of our islands.

“To find out how we can do better than our rivals, what type of financial products and services our customers want, and how we can play a pivotal part in supporting the community, we’re always looking for ways to know our customers better.”

The bank realized that in-branch employees who interact with customers regularly were ideally placed to understand these needs—but staff had no straightforward way to share their insights with senior decision-makers.

Lynda Burrows continues: “In the past, we relied on email and phone calls for internal communications, which made it difficult to spark two-way exchanges between employees in our local branches and decision-makers at our head office. To shape more relevant, compelling products and nurture customer loyalty, we looked for a way to increase employee collaboration and engagement across the business.”

By enabling in-branch staff to tell us what their customers need, we can keep providing financial solutions that delight our customers.

Lynda Burrows, IT Operations Manager, Commonwealth Bank

Transformation story

Sharing fresh ideas in the cloud

To solve the challenge, Commonwealth Bank deployed a business social network based on IBM Connections—enabling employees from all levels of the organization to share ideas in digital communities. Lynda Burrows states: “We have been using IBM Notes® and Domino® for email and calendaring for many years, and we knew that IBM had considerable experience in the collaboration space. When we saw the social business capabilities of IBM Connections, we immediately recognized its potential to transform our approach to collaboration.” Using IBM Connections, Commonwealth Bank employees can easily and quickly find the information they need to perform their roles effectively. Staff collaborate in communities based on their roles and seniority, and the bank can provision and de-provision users with minimal manual effort. After deploying IBM Connections Content Manager alongside IBM Connections, Commonwealth Bank shaped digitized processes for approving new and amended policies and documents. By avoiding the need to send paper back and forth between offices, the bank has dramatically improved the efficiency of its policy approval workflow. “Our policies and procedures documents are updated on an almost weekly basis—and in the past, our head office would distribute the files as email attachments,” Lynda Burrows recalls. “As well as increasing our storage costs, this approach made it difficult to ensure that employees were following the current guidance. Today, we share links to single versions of our policies and procedures documents using Connections Cloud, which helps ensure that everyone is using the latest information.” After using the on-premises edition of IBM Connections successfully for a number of years, Commonwealth Bank saw an opportunity to shrink its IT operational costs by migrating to the cloud. Lynda Burrows recalls: “IBM Connections Cloud is a security-rich platform that offers practically all the features of our on-premises environment without the need to manage the underlying infrastructure—a big benefit for organizations like ours with lean IT teams.” Working together with a team from IBM Collaboration Solutions Customer Success group and IBM Lab Services, Commonwealth Bank migrated its on-premises data to IBM Connections Cloud. “The IBM Collaboration Solutions Customer Success team provided us with a dedicated onboarding coordinator, who provided expert guidance along every step of our journey to the cloud,” comments Lynda Burrows. “It was clear from the outset that the team had performed many of these kinds of migrations before, and our coordinator provided us with all the tools, support resources and advice we needed to keep the migration process moving forward smoothly.” Moving to the cloud frees the bank’s IT team to spend more time on value-added tasks such as product development. Lynda Burrows states: “As a financial organization, we must comply with stringent regulatory requirements. We do not currently hold any sensitive customer data in IBM Connections Cloud, but we see that IBM possesses the competencies around data governance that might enable us to use the cloud for that purpose in the future.”  

Results story

Giving back to the community

By enabling in-branch employees to engage directly with senior decision-makers for the first time, Commonwealth Bank is harnessing the wisdom of the crowd to find better ways to serve its customers and nurture their loyalty.

For example, the bank used its IBM Connections Cloud platform to take swift action straight after the 2016 hurricane hit, as Lynda Burrows explains: “In the aftermath of this natural disaster, we were the first bank to get back up and running so customers could withdraw cash. Our staff saw that many customers were applying for loans to fund repairs for their homes and businesses—but a lengthy application process was delaying essential work.

“After employees communicated these experiences with our decision-makers via IBM Connections Cloud, we were able to quickly build a fast-track loan product that pre-approved customers with good credit, helping them get funds faster. The product proved extremely popular, and we are proud to have played a role in helping many of the communities we serve get back on their feet.”

By listening more closely to its customers, Commonwealth Bank is going from strength to strength, helping it to improve its competitiveness and nurture loyalty.

Lynda Burrows continues: “We recently reached USD1.6 billion in assets—a huge milestone and a testament to the positive impact that engaging with customers can have on a business. Throughout our collaboration transformation, IBM has supported us with the guidance we need to realize our goals.”

She concludes: “Working with IBM has allowed us to empower our staff to work together effectively across all levels of the business. By enabling in-branch staff to tell us what customers need, we can keep providing financial solutions that delight our customers, and do our bit to give back to the community when it’s needed most.”

business logo

About Commonwealth Bank

Founded in 1960 and headquartered in Nassau, The Bahamas, Commonwealth Bank is a retail bank. Committed to supporting the economy of The Bahamas, Commonwealth Bank aims to deliver socially-responsible personal banking services that promote economic growth and stability.

Solution components

  • Connections Content Manager
  • ESS: Connections Cloud S2 (SaaS)
  • ESS: Connections Files Cloud (SaaS)

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