Dirk Marzluf, global head of Technology & Operations at Banco Santander, joined a Bloomberg panel on 11 June 2020 with senior global executives from other financial companies, such as Wells Fargo, Mastercard or Paypal, to discuss how banks have leveraged unprecedented levels of digital transformation to ensure business continuity and the best service for its customers amid the covid-19 pandemic.

Intervention Dirk Marzluf

Ensuring productivity through the crisis 

Dirk points to four phases which allowed Santander to harness the power of digital and continue to serve its customers:

Phase one: “We had to transition more than 100,000 employees very quickly to working from home, and sustain one million video calls every day. Contact centres were a big challenge for enabling and serving our customers, so we made sure we can operate our contact centres fully from home.”

Phase two: “The government schemes was really the second challenge that came our way; first the schemes had to be implemented very quickly, in a collaborative way, with the technology required. But the volumes were so large, sometimes one hundred times the usual volumes, that we had to drive high levels of automation for the new products we had to launch.”

Phase three: “At the end of the day, we recognized that after we had stabilized serving customers in the best possible way we needed to prepare for the future: we need to be sustainable, and cost efficiency is very important within that”. 

Phase four: “Now we are already starting to see the return to the new normal. Returning to the office doesn’t mean that it works well from the office: the technology in the office is not set up for a million individual videocalls a day; it’s much easier when you do it from home directly as part of the cloud services.” 

“We have learned how to serve our customers in a more digital way, so we are now rethinking what that means long term for our business model, and how do we sustain it. Spain is one of the first countries which has been through these four phases already, so we are now applying the those learnings to Latin America.” 

Managing cybersecurity risks

Pointing to a fundamental shift in the way the bank thinks about cybersecurity risks, Dirk commented: “In the past we secured devices, we secured our private networks and we secured the data centres. But now private networks as such are pretty much not necessary. The real boundary around enterprises has now become the data centre and the device.”

“The real backbone of communication is becoming our public networks, and what we've seen, to be honest, is the resilience of the public networks has been extremely strong while the private networks are much more challenged.” 

Looking after each other

Discussing how we look after each other in a virtual world, Dirk comments that digital can be a very important tool to keep our teams connected. “Everybody deals with this crisis, with the pressure, differently. And as organizations we need to learn from that.”

“We need to continuously make sure our teams take care of each other.” 

“And we still have a bit of an alarm system to identify whenever somebody gets totally disconnected so that we call them and know that they are fine.”

From crisis there’s opportunity

“I think this there's a huge opportunity with this total alignment between business and technology, which we need to transform in this new world.”

“Focusing on prioritising and accelerating what really matters is a real opportunity for business and technology to really hit this transformation deeper than before.”

The Future of Finance: Leveraging Digital Transformation for Business Continuity

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