For This Banking CTO, Digital Transformation Means “Adapt or Die”

VMware’s Agents of Change initiative celebrates technology leaders who challenge the status quo. By harnessing the power of digital transformation, they create unlimited possibilities for their businesses. Here’s the next technology leader in the Agents of Change series: Jose Luis Romanos, Chief Technology Officer, CaixaBank.

CaixaBank is the leading retail bank in Spain. CTO Jose Luis Romanos knows the vital importance of customer experiences.

“It’s a difficult time for banks,” Romanos explains. “Banks are dealing with a lot: strict regulations, new competitors from outside the traditional financial services industry and fickle customers with increasingly high expectations. Transforming the customer experience gives us the opportunity to differentiate ourselves. To do it successfully is tough. A customer’s relationship with their bank is really complex. However, it really is a case of adapt or die.” 

Customer-Centric Digital Transformation

CaixaBank’s dedication to delivering the best customer experience is culturally ingrained. Unwavering commitment from the board reinforces this focus daily from the top-down. The bank states publicly that company leadership and growth come from providing customers with the highest quality of services.

CaixaBank designed its IT team to support this strategy. Romanos guided the bank through a technological and cultural transition. The bank moved away from a traditional IT infrastructure to a software-defined environment. Today, agility, scalability and flexibility characterize the bank’s IT platform. These capabilities are ideal for:

  • Rapid response to market trends.
  • Swiftly introducing and refining services for its customers.
  • Experimenting with new technologies. 

“I’m really proud of that transformation and that we did it so fast. Occasionally, when you’re dealing with projects of this scope in such a large organisation with so many systems, they can seem like a fantasy. You have the feeling you’ll never achieve the goal,” he says.

Building Trust to Drive Change & Digital Transformation

When asked what characteristics enabled him to successfully champion and lead the program, he initially points to his business acumen:

You won’t get very far spearheading change if people don’t trust your acumen. As a leader, you must have the ability to make good judgments and take quick decisions.

“However, more important is the ability to sell excitement. You must get people bought into your concept, then a debate opens up and people start proposing new ideas. Now they’re excited about the potential of the project, then they will start transmitting that excitement to others.”

Emerging Tech Plays a Part in Digital Transformation Investments

When looking to the future, Romanos highlights artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive banking, both investment areas for CaixaBank.

“AI is hot in banking technology today and is being used to offer consumers new products. But it’s cognitive banking, which takes AI to the next level that gets me really excited,” he says. “But the banking industry needs to see the big picture and use our imaginations. It’s more than just adding some chat bots. Here we have the opportunity to do something really unique to re-invent the customer experience. I’m excited by what’s going to come.”

This article is the latest in the Agents of Change series, a look at how technology leaders challenge the status quo to discover new possibilities for their organizations.

Learn from other Agents of Change.