Is this the best time ever to be a bank CIO? That might sound like a dumb question, given the state of the banking industry today. Intense regulatory scrutiny, tight budgets, demanding customers and new competition all are contributing to a high-pressure, high-stakes operating environment.
But while the banking business is increasingly complex, with new hurdles to growth and profitability, it also is being transformed by technology -- and it's up to banks' technology leaders to find innovative and effective ways to optimize the potential of IT to support business strategies.
As tough as this can be, isn't this the moment any technology executive worth his or her salt is waiting for? It's the opportunity of a lifetime -- an opportunity to realize the promise of IT and to definitively prove that banking today is defined by technology. And with technology consumerization reshaping the ways financial institutions operate and interact with customers and partners, CIOs, CTOs and a small-but-growing breed of executives with roles that specifically bridge IT and business functions -- such as chief innovation officers, chief customer officers and chief science officers, among some of the new titles -- are leading the way. They are finding the potential in big data and pursuing ways to make still-evolving channels such as mobile and social media engaging, effective and secure, all while bringing core systems and enterprise architectures into the 21st century.
It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it, which brings us to Bank Systems & Technology's 2012 Elite 8 -- our annual special report on some of the most innovative and effective technology executives in banking. Each of this year's honorees is addressing specific issues, opportunities and challenges that are unique to his or her particular organization and market. At the same time, some significant themes emerged as the BS&T editorial team learned more about these talented executives, who will be recognized at BS&T's 7th Annual Executive Summit, Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, at the Royal Palms Resort in Phoenix:
• They are not afraid of big, transformational projects, especially around core systems modernization.
• They understand the complexities of the evolving concept of customer experience and the ways that technology can enhance (or undermine) that experience.
• They recognize that their organizations' long-term success depends on their ability to develop a committed IT workforce with leading-edge skills.
• They are committed to "smart" innovation that provides competitive advantage but is not an end in and of itself.
With this kind of agenda, it's clear that the long-standing image of IT organizations as disconnected from the business increasingly is an anachronism. Still, the pressures on today's CIOs are tremendous. But don't we all aspire to these kinds of professional challenges?