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Barclays European CIO wants to be the Google of banks

Mark Chillingworth | July 19, 2012
"When people think of music, they think Apple, when they think search they think Google."

When banks talk technology there are plenty in society who fear it means branch closures.

"When customers talk about losing branches what they really mean is losing a physically connection with another person. We are looking at launching products and services to build on this experience, we are not looking at closing branches if it is not in the best interests of our customers," he says, adding that Barclays is looking for ways to enable its bankers to physically go to the customer to transform the banking experience.

"Devices are becoming more mobile, but our strategy is not mobile for mobile sake, it's about seamless service" he says of the recent mobile and online developments launched by Barclays across Europe.

As with any organisation in the current economy Barclays is looking to rationalise and become more efficient and Watsons explains it crosses front and back ends of the massive banking corporation.

"We have core, integrated back end platforms where it makes sense, such as an enterprise payments platform. We did an optimisation plan when I joined three years ago to transform our legacy and move to a more integrated and virtualised environment. We use a utility based approach to infrastructure that I would akin to a " plug and play" model that allows us to move with significant speed," he says.

Watson describes Barclays infrastructure as a utility model and the CIO doesn't have much truck with the cloud hype created by marketing types, he brushes off the hype that most players offer as "big server farms" rebranded as something they are not. He notes banks like Barclays have had large estates like these in the past and have moved on from that legacy. Barclays have an infrastructure shop offering utility computing across the entire global organisation.

"Our infrastructure organisation is lead by Peter Josse, he leads infrastructure for the entire Bank."

"The thing that most industries have not got right, including banking, is the call centre. For a lot of people they are a hideous experience, it just turns people off. We want to change that, it doesn't make for a fluid experience or simple and engaged conversation," the CIO says.

To tackle and enhance the customer experience, Barclays has begun a relationship with SatMap ( SatMap is an intelligent call routing technology that uses highly sophisticated analytics that profiles both agent and customer data to enhance and evolve the call experience. "Our customers now speak to people they have an affinity with, thus enjoy the conversation much, much more and our agents feel the very same. What's not to love, our agent attrition rates have dropped, our training costs have gone down and our customers engagement and satisfaction has gone up - everybody wins."


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