The Changing Role of the Bank CIO

The role of the bank CIO has changed dramatically since the financial crisis, as technology leaders have had to take on new responsibilities within their banks in response to a rapidly changing business environment.
October 02, 2012

Understanding the Customer And the Business

David Potterton (pictured to the right), VP, Global Research, IDC Financial Insights (Framingham, Mass.)

In today's ever-changing and evolving banking environment, the skill sets needed to be a successful bank CIO must be both broad and deep, and encompass a combination of IT and business acumen. A core competency for CIOs remains managing data -- often too much data -- much of which today comes from social media and is text-based and unstructured. Consequently, bank users have little knowledge about what it all means, or even what nuggets might be truly valuable to customers.

Because of this, banks continue to search for the elusive goal of truly understanding their customers' wants and needs, and this is the job of today's CIO. Modern CIOs must construct effective strategies to manage this data, which is often in large databases or centralized data warehouses and creates headaches in such areas as storage organization, availability, costs, access requirements and permissions. Another issue with the use of big, unstructured data is the network size and bandwidth capabilities. Often, the ability to transmit large amounts of data throughout the system is a limiting factor in network performance.

But wait, there's more. Today's banking CIOs must also have a deep understanding of business issues and business drivers, and how the IT department profoundly influences bank performance and profitability. Understanding business includes understanding the needs of key stakeholders throughout the organization, including finance, risk and compliance, sales, marketing, operations, and individual lines of business. He or she must be adept at working with, managing and influencing people throughout the organization -- including leading and inspiring them -- and not just residing in a silo and droning on about computer code, servers, network speeds and cloud computing.

These challenges have created a need for a new breed of CIO, one that is equally comfortable discussing database tables and server specs as well as balance sheets, income statements, and risk and compliance issues. While understanding technology remains an important skill set for these individuals, today's CIOs need to be more well-rounded and business-centric than ever, and be an integral part of banks' inner circle.

[ELITE 8 2012: Charlie Lai Overachieves in the Name of the Customer.]

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