December, 2019 | digitalML
Aligning Business and IT – Perspectives from our Head of Marketing Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome back to our digitalML Spotlight Series! This month we’re chatting to Head of Marketing Kelly Maltman, who shares her views on:

On the wider implications of AI and IoT as trends across industries

Gemma: What are 1 or 2 industry trends or emerging technologies that are interesting to you right now and why?

Kelly: It’s a bit predictable, but IoT and AI are the two areas I’ve been tracking most.

They’re both interesting to me as a consumer, but have a big impact for the industries we work closely with like banking, insurance, healthcare, retail, and telecom.

While I think the technologies being developed around them are cool, what I also find interesting is that they indicate that companies are putting a heavy focus on personalization, efficiency, and great experiences for their customers, and a heavy priority on making smarter decisions and increasing productivity across their business (something we at digitalML can certainly get behind).

Gemma: What resources do you use to track new trends and tech?

Kelly: Our customers serve as a great source for understanding trends. It’s interesting to see how different technologies are being applied in practice, and to see what matters to them now (that they’re doing things with), what things could matter that they’re keeping an eye on, and what’s just being ignored for now.

I also really love newsletters. I find having news curated for me is a good way of quickly keeping a pulse on things that people are talking about and then I can deep dive into the areas that interest me with my own research. That’s something we’re trying to do more for our customers, which I’m excited about.

Gemma: What’s your favorite newsletter?

Kelly: I think my favorite is Finimize – they do a great job; it’s well-structured and always has a great closing line.

How to bridge the disconnect between business and IT – the right end-to-end framework and an abstracted service catalog

G: What do you think is the biggest challenge for large organizations who want to be better at digital or IT modernization?

K: I think the biggest challenge for organizations is often the disconnect between IT and the business.

We often see that there’s this frustration from the business that they have all these ideas that they want, and they want them now, and IT then explains to them the realities of their resources. That means the company is often picking between this or that…do we want to launch this initiative or that one, do we want to retire this back-end system or move this to the cloud? It can create a bit of disappointment.

G: So how to they overcome these conflicting priorities?

K: I think having a strategy that the whole organization can attach to, so there’s a linking driver between the business and IT, is important. We’re finding business people are becoming increasingly more tech savvy and tech people are thinking about the business, so it’s great when you can foster that within your organization. But critically, it’s about having the right end-to-end framework for transformation that all the parts of your business can plug into, from the product teams to dev ops, to different LoBs.

That framework allows teams to work together, rather than disjointly, so that multiple initiatives can be launched in parallel, rather than having to turn certain ideas away. Plus, it allows you to be reactive to customer expectations and technology as they continuously change and evolve.

G: Can you share with us a best practice for abstracted API and service management?

K: While I think having good alignment and a solid strategy within your organization is key, I also believe spending the time identifying the building blocks your organization has, and doesn’t have in, order to estimate the workload of priorities, and make available the service representations across your organization to support the initiatives in your pipeline is just as important.

One of the best things abstracted service management provides is this great representation of your organization’s business and IT functions, that are available and shows you what’s not. So, with that, you’re able to see what your current coverage is and come up with a clear view for where you need to be growing.

For example, if:
you confidently know you have a gap there that you need to build against.

So I’m really saying my best practice is to have an abstracted service catalog so that you have visibility into your business coverage.

G: That’s a great point, and so is it important for both business and IT to be able to visualize that coverage within the abstracted service catalog?

K: Absolutely, that’s crucial. It’s important to build the catalog in a way both understand those things I just mentioned, so that it’s usable for both and not recreating the disconnect between business and IT.

Rapid innovation within large organizations

G: What’s your favorite ignite feature, and why?

With my background being in marketing this shouldn’t be a surprise…my favorite feature is the ability to go into a catalog of really well-organized building blocks that make sense to any user in your organization in order to find and combine them into innovative offerings. Our money transfer video is a great example of how this allows IT and product owners to work together and frees up teams to think about the product differentiators they want to offer, and the consumer experience, rather than how to even get something off the ground.

digitalML as a partner and a resource

G: What’s the best part about working at digitalML?

K: For me, it’s definitely our ethos.

What makes us unique is that we truly believe we’re a partner to our customers and that impacts the way we run the company, the decisions we make, how we enhance ignite, and the resources we create. We do what we do to make some of the world’s largest organizations successful; the ones who have a vision on what their end-to-end framework needs to be in order to modernize their infrastructure and deliver innovation fast, to keep up with digitally native companies. That’s pretty cool.

G: Finally, any other advice for our customers?

K: This one’s a bit of a plug – Use our marketing team as a resource: we’re happy to help plan internal campaigns to build excitement for what you’re doing, work with you on customized digital training programs so your teams have the resources they need to be successful, tell your stories to our network, and whatever else you need.

About Kelly

Kelly Maltman, Head of Marketing at digitalML

Kelly is Head of Marketing, and joined digitalML in 2016 to help launch our marketing initiatives. She’s responsible for the company’s overall brand positioning and communications, but also works closely to support customer’s own internal marketing needs, helping them navigate the space, evangelize their API initiatives and craft stories around their successes.

A big thanks to Kelly for sharing her perspectives this month, see you for the next installment in 2020!

Past spotlight interviews:

How APIs are crucial to Banking trends like AI, Banking-as-a-Service, and Open Banking Reading Time: 5 minutes

Last month, we looked at 6 key digital banking trends and how they are growing globally and domestically. In this article, we’ll now take a look under the hood at how APIs are driving each trend, and how large banks need to accelerate their API maturity in order to deliver them (as well as some maturity measures to assess your enterprise against).

1. Open banking and APIs

As we discussed last time, open banking is a growing global trend, with several countries moving to implement supporting legislation. Connected data through public APIs is key to this trend.
To participate in a modern open banking ecosystem, large banks need to design, build, and manage their own public APIs with appropriate limitations (e.g. SLAs/NFRs and security policies), to expose to approved third-party-providers (TPPs) and partners.

API Maturity Measure: Do you have well-designed, properly governed and compliant public APIs to expose your data to, and partner with, select TPPs within an open banking ecosystem?

2. Mobile banking models e.g. Super Apps and APIs

We looked to China as the lead in mobile banking models, particularly the super app offering Alipay from Ant Financial. Responsive and adaptable business APIs are key to this trend.
Super apps are, by their very nature, constantly changing and being updated, and to support that they need to be able to talk to back-end systems accordingly (both internal and partner). The way they can do this is via well-matured business APIs.

API Maturity Measure: Do you have a set of well-matured business APIs, which can expose siloed data and functionality (currently locked in legacy systems) to innovative applications for consumption? And, are these APIs adaptable and responsive for change?

3. Challenger- and Neo- Banks and APIs

With the rise of the fintech insurgents we discussed in the last article e.g. Monzo and Chime, the key question in the space is whether challenger banks can scale before incumbent banks can digitize? Exposing existing functionality as business APIs is essential to large banks’ success over insurgents.

Incumbents have existing functionality (on average 95% of functionality needed to support their digital initiatives), but the problem is it’s locked away in siloed legacy systems. The solution is to expose this functionality as a set of business APIs everyone can understand (including product managers and application developers). These APIs can be used internally to rapidly launch new offerings in-house, out-competing insurgents and other incumbents.

API Maturity Measure: Have you unlocked your existing business capabilities as a set of internal business APIs, understandable and usable by both business and IT and ready to be used in innovative digital offerings?

4. Big tech in finance and APIs

A common theme we saw in the last article when it comes to Big Tech entering finance is their dependency on partnerships with existing banks. These partnerships are all dependent on APIs. But, unlike internal business APIs, these partner APIs need to have appropriate limitations and controls (so that big tech can’t mine the data the bank holds and bypass them altogether). What’s more, the partner APIs need to be managed by product managers instead of programmers.

API Maturity Measure: Do your partner APIs have appropriate limitations and controls, with proper management of SLAs and security policies/access controls?

5. AI/ML and APIs

To capitalize on the cost savings AI and ML can bring to banking across front, middle and back-office, the learning machines need to be exposed to the widest data set possible. Large banks have a hugely rich data pool, but all this data is siloed away in bulky legacy systems. To leverage this trend they need to design and develop a set of AI/ML specific APIs to expose this data.

API Maturity Measure: Do you have a set of robust and properly governed AI/ML-specific APIs, to expose your full data set and capitalize on these potential cost savings?

6. Banking-as-a-Service and APIs

Two of the key factors for the emergence of this trend is the heavy cost and difficulty associated with tight regulation and gaining a banking charter. APIs can be used to offer core banking functions as part of a partnership framework to overcome this friction.

API Maturity Measure: Have you successfully encapsulated core banking functions as a set of APIs to support partnerships and offer banking-as-a-service?

A note on regulation…

Clearly a mature API strategy is important in adopting these trends within large banks. But, it’s not just banks and technology companies who’ve cottoned on to the importance of APIs.

Globally, regulators now want to gain exposure into how data is moving through APIs, who owns it, where it’s consumed etc.

API Maturity Measure: Can you easily visualize and report on your APIs (and therefore data in motion as well as at rest)? Can you show the impact of regulator scenarios and how you are supporting legal requirements like PSD2 and GDPR?

Next-stage maturity of API first strategies are vital for success in these trends – how do large banks achieve this?

We mentioned in the previous post that over 90% of IT execs have an API strategy in place. But the reality is that within large banks, the maturity level is only in its early stages.

Currently, the system of APIs is primarily held at the developer level, with IT having provided the infrastructure to support APIs as their own channel.

The next level of this API maturity, and one large banks need to get to rapidly to be able to adopt these key digital trends is to move APIs beyond the IT channel. It involves expanding the usage of APIs throughout the business, further building out the API catalog, and designing and developing business APIs which encapsulate core business functions as reusable assets.

There are 2 vital factors in being able to do this:
Once these factors are addressed, large banks can use a mature API first strategy as part of an end-to-end framework for business transformation, enabling them to become responsive digital businesses, ready for whichever banking trend comes next.

Want to learn the recommended approach for rapidly maturing your API strategy as a large bank? Download our whitepaper on Digital Banking Success.