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Press about RVC

Technological development should always give a business result

Source: Kommersant

The role of IT in the new structure of the VTB Group, the digital transformation of business and the development of recommendations of the Ministry of Economics in this direction was told to Kommersant by VTB Deputy Chairman Olga Dergunova.

— What is the role of information technology in the VTB group now?

— In 2016, the VTB Group adopted a new development strategy for 2017-2019, in which a large-scale technological transformation and the use of digital technologies in financial and banking practice are identified as one of the priority areas.

— Why did the bank include IT development in its strategic tasks?

"The scale and speed of the introduction of technologies around the world and the opportunities they provide for the development of financial and banking services have had a great impact on the formation of our tasks. There are industries in which the level of innovation penetration is not so high, but for banks, successful business without active use of technology is simply impossible. The development of remote channels, the introduction of artificial intelligence technologies, biometrics, analytics based on large data — that's what the largest banks, including VTB, are currently working on. However, the bank puts practical problems before itself first of all. Nevertheless, we are not a research institute nor an IT developer. A request for technology that will benefit the business is formed in conjunction with business or functional units. By investing in technology, we expect that they should give results on the horizon from one to five years.

— Currently, many banks are so carried away by technology that they expressly want to become an IT company. You just said the opposite. Why?

— Technology development should always give a result for business. Our shareholders evaluate us according to the amount of profit that the main banking activity brings. All technology projects, in which we invest, are aimed at one thing — to improve the quality of banking products and services for customers. This does not mean that we are not going into new areas. To the contrary, we interact with different market players, we are looking for new technological solutions, but our main focus is always services in the field of banking services. The client comes to us in order to receive financial services.

— In terms of digital transformation, are there any specific KPIs?

— Of the 100% of projects that are identified as strategic for the development of the bank, 85% directly depend on the introduction of technology. This is a very high percentage in terms of IT impact on business results, and this goal can only be achieved if digital transformation becomes a part of every project. The first KPI is the share of projects in which the team of digital transformation participates — a cross-structural unit, which includes specialists in IT, information security, marketing, etc. Another criterion is the selection and integration or joint pilot projects with small technology companies and start-ups. In addition, the third KPI — the most remote in result — is connected with the application of the research and experimental-constructor approach to technologies that will be in demand by business, but will bring results on the horizon from three years on. I will explain it with an example. If we talk about some new technology and it attracts the attention of business, we ask our colleagues to articulate clearly when it can be in demand and in which directions. Next, our task is to conduct a pilot within six months and, based on his results, make a decision on further development and implementation. The digital transformation unit has the right to make a mistake. Moreover, it is pleasant to note that of the 100% of the digital transformation projects launched last year, only 15% did not receive further continuation, as their feasibility and effectiveness were not proved. At the same time, 85% of the projects today found their business customers.

— What key technology directions do you currently have in development?

— We are developing projects in several technology areas: biometrics, blockage, large data, and artificial intelligence. For each of them pilots were made in 2017, and already this year we expect that two projects will go into commercial implementation.

— How many people in VTB are now engaged in digital transformation?

— VTB Group employs more than 5,000 people in its IT-related divisions. They are distributed across different functional areas, but all work for a common result.

— Is there a shortage of IT specialists?

— I think that if you asked any manager connected with information technology, whether he is experiencing a shortage of staff, the answer would be: "Yes! Tell me where to get more! "

— And how do you solve this problem?

— We decided for ourselves that it is necessary to increase the internal potential of the bank. Nevertheless, this does not mean refusing to use external resources. We actively interact with the best service providers to maintain a balance of internal and external resources. However, the main bet we make is on the development of our own team.

— You mentioned that you are engaged in the selection of start-ups for the implementation of their decisions in VTB. Could you tell us more about this?

— In this issue, we are actively interacting with the development institutions of the Russian Federation Skolkovo, RVC. In particular, now we are launching our own Fintech accelerator based on GenerationS together with RVC. For us, this is a good opportunity to find promising technology solutions that, with the support of VTB experts, can be quickly finalized and, in the future, easily integrated into the banking business processes. For start-ups, this is a chance to offer their development to a large corporation and, together with its experts, to refine the product or conduct a joint pilot. I believe that this is a perfect example of how the state wisely and correctly helps start-ups find themselves in working with business.

— Were there any start-ups over the previous years of work with RVC selected?

— Of course, there were, but I want to select not one, two, or three projects, but to build an industrial system for selecting technological solutions for the second largest bank in the country. And this is the task that we and RVC set ourselves for this year.

— How deep has the process of digital transformation affected the banking sector, according to your feelings?

— I think that for the banking sector, at least for top-20 banks, the issue of advancing development of information technologies is not worth it, since competition in the banking sphere is impossible without innovations. We, for ourselves, answered this question ten years ago. Digital transformation for us is rather a new term for a long-running process in which banks have been in the past few decades.

Interview was taken by Ksenia Dementieva

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