Building a Digital Bank in the Cloud:

Three Key Motivators that Drove Digital Transformation for an EU Investment Bank

Recently we engaged with a European investment bank to re-engineer their entire back office and implement a new architecture to support operations in the cloud. Motivations for such a radical effort were primarily three-fold;
  1. Contrary to regulatory guidance and risking punitive fines, the bank was repatriating customer and other confidential information from regional locations back up to centralized on-prem systems for processing,
  2. Supporting legacy on-prem technology silos required ever-increasing operational complexity and therefore costs,
  3. Moving to the cloud offers previously unachievable scalability, and typically provides an order of magnitude reduction in the total cost of ownership of cloud based applications vs on-prem systems.

This opportunity was made even more exiting through the fact that this was a brand new, green-field development from the ground up. This meant that we weren’t tied to accommodating legacy systems architecture in providing a bold new future state vision for the bank. Everything was on the table. While the client was in the throes of implementing a SAFE Agile methodology, this effort was still in its infancy and the firm quickly realized they had to broadly and rigorously apply an Agile development methodology if they were going to be successful, drawing on best practice in test-driven development (TDD) combined with an integrated DevOps strategy.

Our work began by assembling a world-class team of of business analysts, enterprise architects, accountants, tax and operations subject matter experts to work with project stakeholders. Most importantly, an Agile transformation facilitator coached and mentored developers, business and operations personnel on the organizational impact of moving operations entirely to the cloud. The output of this stage of the engagement included an Azure based future state reference system architecture, epics and stories for development, test and roll out strategy, functional and non functional requirements, current state analysis and the incremental roadmap for implementation. The roadmap included the operational and organizational changes required to support the new platform and a new way of developing software for the bank. A vertical slice was developed early in the project in C#/.NET to validate the future state architecture. End to end this was a multi-year effort touching every level of the organization.

The new architecture adopted ideas from the Open Banking initiative sweeping Europe and more recently the Americas. The platform is deployed by following a process similar to Capital One’s clean room methodology for Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD). The clean room approach drives organizational changes in the way developers write, test and release code into production. Such a strategy “designs in” quality, since it is impossible for developers to contribute code to the project until full code reviews, unit and functional tests with regression data are defined and implemented.

After the discovery phase, we joined forces with the client’s India based teams to continue development of the remaining micro-services into production-ready code, educating the India team and transferring the scaffolded platform services code to them. In the end, this project is revolutionizing the way the bank delivers software to the business and their clients, and our delivery approach ensures that the required business value is achieved.

The road to achieving full regulatory compliance, realizing the cost benefits of cloud computing, increasing system security and transforming the business, operations and development to enable wholly new customer service offerings is a long one. The most challenging aspects of building a new cloud based digital bank are not in introducing sweeping technology changes, but rather in implementing the organizational changes required for enterprise-wide adoption.

We are at work around the globe, assisting our clients in their digital transformation to the cloud and delivering measurable business value. We can help you in your journey. Read more about big river’s capabilities in digital transformation or start the conversation today.

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