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Scotiabank: Exemplar Blueprint for Building a ‘Digital Factory’ to Accelerate Digital Innovation

Canada's 180 year old bank provides an exemplar blueprint for the most modern of digital transformation strategies.

With a goal of building a world leading Canadian digital nation, we can think of CIOs and the sum total of transformation initiatives they lead being the backbone of the effort to achieve this.

Central to the success of these programs is the shift to Cloud computing, and our best practices guide examines the detail of how Canada’s pioneering enterprise organizations are harnessing it to achieve digital transformation.

A keynote example is Scotiabank. At 180 years old their digital strategy truly represents a modernization of the oldest to the newest practices.

Some of their digital innovations include interactive screen media in branches, ‘eHOME‘, where Canadians can apply for a mortgage completely online and track the application status through real-time updates, and in this video they explain the value of digital banking in the era of Covid-19.

Digital Factories

They’re also applying innovative organizational concepts to advance these technology innovations, notably their use of ‘Digital Factories‘, explained in this AmericanBanker interview with Chief Digital Officer Shawn Rose.

Shawn says the bank has set up five such factories, one each in Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, which enables them to develop central best practices while also localizing specific functionality that’s unique to each country.

In essence they’ve created an internal banking-as-a-service platform, a design system called Canvas. This enables a swipe function for their applications, where you swipe-right to initiate transfers. Their latest round of innovations, named ‘Nova’, has seen them migrate 2.6 million of their customers their previous application to a new Android and iOS one.

This has enjoyed over 90,000 4.5+ ratings and reviews in the Apple app store, up from 2.4 just a couple of years before, adding 400,000 new customers using the app, achieved a lot through viral word-of-mouth recommendations. It’s also facilitated better security – Those using biometric authentication has gone up from 45% to 80%.

Accelerating Innovation Pipelines

In this video Justin Arbuckle, Senior Vice President for the Platform Organization at Scotiabank, shares his experiences of their Cloud journey, the organizational transformation they have undertaken to make these types of innovations possible.

He emphasizes that Cloud is a method, not a location. It is less about where applications and data are deployed, and more about how they are developed and how organizations are modernized to achieve this.

Describing the “two island problem” – Many years of highly fragmented data and layers of legacy systems, existing in tandem with a set of new Cloud Native apps, he defines the primary goal of the Cloud method being to build a bridge between these two islands.

To address this they have developed ‘the Accelerator’, a software development pipeline, which takes all of the steps needed to safely deploy code to production and creates an abstracted layer that synthesizes all the tools required for both legacy and Cloud Native apps. IT World reported on how they have open sourced the technology to tap into a collective innovation capacity.

Fundamentally what this accelerates is change throughput; new innovations can be moved through the organization quicker, through a continual process of improvement. This was the key learned lesson for Scotiabank – How you are getting code to the Cloud is the key success factor.

Achieving this sustained high velocity requires difficult transformation, particularly in terms of people and culture. It requires a new way of organizing, a new way of building teams, trust and relationships with stakeholders.

PLATO: Co-creation of Cloud and Application

As Justin explains Scotiabank has wholly embraced the Banking as a Platform concept, encoding it literally into being through their ‘Plato’ organizational model and technology architecture. What is especially potent about this approach is the dynamic of integrating traditionally off-the-shelf enterprise applications into the Cloud delivery method, in this case through Pegasystems, enabling the ‘Co-creation of Cloud and Application’.

From the Pegaworld 2019 conference the modernizing technology presentation from Jim Saleh, Senior Director BPM Engineering, explains this in detail, describing their journey to becoming a Cloud Native bank.

Built on a foundation of Cloud IaaS and PaaS this has enabled them to pioneer a BaaS (Banking as a Service) paradigm and greatly expand their rates of DevOps innovation, building over 60+ BPM apps containing over 250 processes, in functions from customer on-boarding through disputes and settlements.


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