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What if all your cloud plans and transformation efforts are technically brilliant, but fail spectacularly because your organization couldn't adapt and excel at using them? Culture is an important part of the transformation of the bank, but it's the hardest to get right and often overlooked.

For a number of banks, the question of whether cloud platforms are breaking down organizational barriers is a mixed bag. Advancements in build and deployment automation have made it easier to create and deliver software more quickly and with less organizational friction, and cloud platforms have changed the way software is built and delivered. 

However, breaking down outdated software delivery practices and processes, and improving overall productivity remains a nagging issue for banks, and creating a culture focused on automation is not an easy task. Too often banks enthusiastically depoy new technology platforms with the promise of increased efficiency and productivity, only to be disillusioned by the fact that many of the same old problems still remain. 

In many ways, technology is the easier part, it is the cultural  aspect that's more difficult. So how does an organization create a culture that is more inclusive, transparent and responsive so that the full benefits of the cloud platform can be unlocked?

Are we aligned on the mission?

Out of necessity, organizations require some level of transparency, inclusion and collaboration. However, for automation to be effective, these attributes need to be amplified. 

What underpins these attributes is a shared mission. Strong advocates for embracing features in the cloud platform that makes it easier to create and deliver software more quickly are obviously an important part. However, inertia in some functional areas can resist positive change, as their goals are misaligned. 

The DevOps movement has helped contribute to creating a blueprint that aligns the objectives of development and operations groups. The “you build it, you run it” mantra has pushed many banks to better align how their software and operations teams work together.  However, in the banking industry software delivery goes beyond these two teams. Other groups, such as those that work with data and decisioning systems, manage business risk, and those who work with heritage platforms need to be engaged in any non trivial release of software. 

What does mission alignment look like? 

It starts with alignment at the top. Having consensus from leadership on prioritizing a culture of automation. Without agreement and prioritization as a specific initiative, these other groups may not have the directional support needed to address the shortfall. 

Accelerating software delivery is an output, not necessarily the mission. Realizing the goal of automation can have the positive result of delivery speed, but also may have the added benefit of freeing up others to focus on value added work. 

This means that the “you build it, you run it” mantra expands to other areas. Perhaps an elaboration of mantra is more akin to “you build it, you explain it, you protect it, you run it and you audit it.”  Being aligned on automation as top level objective brings harmony to the needs of other parts of the organization that are often been misaligned. A rallying cry of more frequent releases and improved delivery productivity is balanced against the needs for protecting against reputational risk and codified within automation tools.

What is a culture of automation?

In my next post, I will talk about the benefits of infusing automation into the bank’s culture and how advancements in automation technology have enabled organizations to extend automation beyond cloud platforms and into others areas that have previously been excluded from automation efforts.

About the author

Eric Marts is a financial services leader at Red Hat. Prior to joining Red Hat, Eric shaped solutions globally in the Retail Banking and Wealth Management business at HSBC. He has more than 20 years of professional experience across both startups and incumbents. He is particularly interested in unlocking new market opportunities and making financial services simpler and more inclusive for customers with cloud technology.

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