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Q&A: Antonio Massanell, Managing Director of CaixaBank, on Succeeding Globally

Massanell discusses how Barcelona-based CaixaBank is meeting the challenges of globalization by driving efficiencies, innovating and forming strategic partnerships.

Financial institutions that operate on a global scale face different challenges than banks with a smaller footprint. What are the biggest challenges your bank faces in operating successfully on a global scale?

Massanell: Consumers today want to bank anywhere, anytime with the convenience of using their smartphones and iPads at their fingertips. As we move toward a cashless society, the future of banking will be shaped by how the physical and virtual worlds of banking converge. Today, banks need to evaluate the use of technology to manage across layers in a complex, interconnected matrix and analyze rich and varied data streams in real time. When times are good, you can afford complexity. In more challenging economic times, there is no room for duplication of channels, geographies, lines of business, etc. The biggest challenge for a large global bank is to be leaner and more efficient.

How is your bank tackling those challenges, and how does technology fit into those solutions?

Massanell: To become more nimble, many banks are moving toward a shared services model of computing, pursuing strategic outsourcing opportunities and collapsing applications to be used on fewer large-scale computers to reduce IT spend. ?For us, our strategy to drive more efficiency lies in our decision to partner with IBM to manage our data processing centers rather than do it ourselves. This strategic decision is expected to yield a savings of over 400 million euros.

The new strategic alliance with IBM will boost projects around mobility, social networking and cloud computing. The objective is to develop new innovations to increase CaixaBank’s business by accessing the latest technologies, research capabilities and innovations in business processes for smarter banking, mobility, social media and cloud computing.

[Click here to read more about CaixaBank's deal with IBM.]

What infrastructure, systems and processes does your bank have in place to help it operate successfully on a global scale?

Massanell: I think the focus for us is on innovation and bringing new technologies to bear as we continue to expand into new markets. For instance, an important part of our work with IBM includes collaboration between the "la Caixa" Innovation Center in Barcelona and IBM's research centers. The objective of the center is to develop new innovations to enhance CaixaBank’s business by providing the latest technologies, research capabilities and innovations in business processes for smarter banking, mobility, social media and cloud computing.

Do you think IT, business process or operations outsourcing can help banks compete better on a global level?

Massanell: There is not only the need to reduce IT costs and architectural complexity, but the desire for banks to significantly improve the overall customer experience. Banks are investing in technology to differentiate their services and strengthen their core competencies under one guiding principle: to better serve their customers. But finding the right IT partner is critical for success. Most banks today are looking to IT service providers for more than just cost cutting. We selected IBM for its ability to tightly weave together business insights and world-class technology resources, research and operations expertise.

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