Architecting for a better customer experience With Ken Meyer, CTO, SunTrust Bank

When you walk into your bank to manage your account or discuss a loan, you expect a personalized, friction-free experience. You probably don't care what technology the bank representative is using — or how many systems and processes he or she has to go through on the backend. But you definitely notice if the bank's technology impedes your experience.


As fintech has gotten more sophisticated over the last decade, this expectation has only intensified. Today, consumers expect their banks to offer superior, easy-to-use digital options at every turn, from loan processing to online banking to wealth management solutions. Customers have high standards for consumer banking, and consumer expectation dials directly back to how teammates work to service clients internally.


The reality though, according to Ken Meyer, Consumer CTO of SunTrust Bank, a Box customer, is that "big financial institutions with multiple lines of business have naturally evolved to have several disconnected technology solutions, but now there’s a great need to unify applications within the overall organization.”


That's why many financial institution IT leaders are working to replace legacy technology that can't always keep up with customer and employee expectations, and build digital workplaces with integrated technology stacks comprised of best-in-breed solutions that work together well and help unify company processes. 


"From a tech-stack perspective, you always have to think with a client-first mentality."

— Ken Meyer, Consumer CTO, SunTrust Bank


Designing technology for a segment of one


As Consumer CTO, Meyer is focused on all things consumer-facing: mortgage products, retail branches, ATMs, and all the contacts and digital channels consumers use, as well as private wealth management. He also plays a role as enterprise digital and marketing leader on applications and experiences for the bank’s wholesale clients. From this global vantage point, Meyer can see where opportunities exist to harmonize the technology stack.


It's up to IT leaders like Meyer to scrutinize existing architectural decisions and investigate new technologies that will facilitate a higher caliber of end-user experience. He says, "Financial institutions are starting to realize that while segmentation is really important for tailoring solutions to your clients, when you think about a tech stack, you have to think about a segment of one." The “one” he references are the individual clients and their specific needs.


"As we continue to evolve," he says, "we're looking at important architectural decisions about owning the client experience and ensuring we're working with partners in technologies that are more open." That includes finding ways to rationalize and consolidate their applications, looking across the enterprise at where the company can share solutions and break down those silos. Creating uniformity across processes lends itself to companywide efficiency and also makes it easier to repurpose technology from one product, service or process to another.”


"We want to fully integrate with whatever experiences we're offering and make it as seamless as possible to our clients."

— Ken Meyer, Consumer CTO, SunTrust Bank


Finding ways to evolve faster


"SunTrust is focused on greater alignment between technology and line of business leaders and forming more co-located and integrated teams," says Meyer. Getting products and services to market faster is a priority in every industry today, and the mandate for agility is a big push in getting traditional industries like banking to the cloud.


Established in 1891 in Atlanta, Georgia, SunTrust is bringing its tech stack up to speed by pushing more of its processes to the cloud. This includes working with best-of-breed SaaS solutions like Box.


"Architecture is a big part of this." says Meyer, "Moving to more modern architectures like micro-services or API-driven services, or just looking at more of a platform view of the world versus an application-by-application-view, are all things that are top of mind in our strategy today." 


Getting proactive about AI


Along with the emphasis on building out a more integrated architecture, two years ago, the company launched a Center of Excellence to study robotics processes automation and desktop automation and currently has over 50 automations currently in production.


Leveraging AI, automation and machine learning tools will also allow SunTrust — and the financial industry in general — to better serve consumers across the board. Eventually, Meyer expects, AI will be built into significantly more technology industry-wide.


Agility layered on security


The unspoken factor in all technology decisions, of course, is security. For a financial institution like SunTrust, security of customer data and compliance adherence must always be a first priority. "At the end of the day, our clients' data, transactional data and all things data here at the bank are priority number one," explains Meyer.


As SunTrust looks at its technology strategy in tandem with security and compliance, Meyer says they’ll continue to look at how newer capabilities, technologies and the cloud can help ensure a secure environment for teammates and clients. 


The blueprint for competitive fintech


  • Create experiences for your team that mirror the experiences you aim to give your customers
  • Find ways to consolidate your tech stack, looking for ways to share solutions across lines of business
  • Enlist technology platforms and partners that integrate well together

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