By Greg Keeley
EVP and Chief Information Officer (CIO)
TD Bank Group
In times of crisis, the innovations we create to rise and meet the challenges of the day can sometimes wind up becoming the cornerstones of our recovery.
I was in New York City on September 11, 2001 and witnessed firsthand the devastation that took place that day. I vividly remember the feelings of helplessness that permeated the city and the fear that continued in the weeks that followed.
But it wasn't long before that fear was replaced by a sense of resilience, especially in the business community, where organizations both large and small quickly adapted to new realities, new problems, and new concerns.
Surrounded by the unknown and awakened to the possibility of threats they couldn’t have imagined, businesses had to innovate in real-time out of necessity to protect themselves, their employees and their customers when they were most vulnerable.
Innovation and the recovery effort ahead
As we continue to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m reminded of those days in the wake of 9/11. The challenges we face with the current crisis are by no means analogous, but we do know that the world has changed quickly and unexpectedly.
One of our responsibilities as leaders is to keep up with the pace of change to do what matters most – innovate to solve problems for our customers, colleagues, and communities.
When the COVID-19 crisis began, TD was already undergoing a technology transformation journey that began five years ago and has led to new capabilities, including automation tools, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud technology, and advancing the Bank’s cybersecurity defenses.
Early in the pandemic, we marked a significant technology achievement by transitioning most TD employees to work from home within a matter of days, while securing the organization and continuing to provide vital services to TD customers across the globe.
With our refreshed technology strategy, we’re thinking bigger and further than we have before, to meet our customers' needs with frictionless, secure, and reliable service whenever they need it.
Driving a refreshed technology strategy for a changing world
Now more than ever, innovation and technology are shaping customers' expectations about the products and services they use every day, including how fast and how personalized they should be. Evolving customer expectations, coupled with increased security threats, mean it’s critical for financial institutions to think with an innovation-first mindset and invest in their technology to stay competitive.
There once was a time when our true “first impression” with our customers took place in person. These days, many of our first customer interactions happen digitally or virtually, a trend that has been accelerated by the current pandemic environment where physical distancing has become the norm.
With our customers' evolving needs in mind, TD has identified five key principles that are driving our refreshed technology strategy with the objective of providing our customers with seamless, stress-free and secure services no matter where they are:
1. Secure and stable operations are a must: The security and stability of services can be jeopardized when organizations try to scale too quickly. Our technology strategy ensures our systems are held to our highest standards every time, so that we can deliver consistent and frictionless experiences for our customers.
2. Build once and use many times: To help us scale, while maintaining consistency across our customer experiences, we will focus on building technology solutions once and putting them to work across multiple lines of business.
3. Innovate to solve problems: Keeping our customers' needs and security front and centre, we innovate to solve problems and not just for the sake of innovation.
4. Focus on the customer experience: Our technology strategy is empowering our teams to deliver positive experiences for our customers, now and into the future.
5. Automate to optimize: Modernizing and automating our systems to accelerate our technology journey has helped TD deliver results with speed, while reducing errors and increasing our agility.
Technology solving everyday problems
At TD, we are accelerating our transition to utilizing the benefits of public cloud technology, where we work with trusted partners to scale up or scale down storage and computing power as we need it.
What this does is enable us to improve the stability of our technology offerings, cut down on outages or downtime, while maintaining security. Our cloud technology strategy has also increased the speed at which we have been able to offer new products and services to our customers throughout the pandemic.
It wasn't that long ago that the idea of a bank using cloud services was almost unthinkable, and today, cloud is a core component of our technology strategy.
New technologies mean new opportunities
When I reflect on the key principles of our technology strategy, I'm mindful about what they mean for career development opportunities for our colleagues as we continue to develop our technology talent, and build and evolve our cloud, AI, automation, engineering and cybersecurity capabilities.
A great example of this is how we're operationalizing our cloud strategy through the help of internal "Cloud Coaches" who work with our businesses to onboard them. Our Cloud Governance Council, which sounds like it might not be out of place in a science fiction movie, is a cross-functional team that ensures we have the right safety controls and data protection protocols in place. And finally, my favourite is the TD Cloud Academy, where TD colleagues take courses to learn about the potential of cloud technology for our businesses.
My advice to any organization that is entering a new phase of their cloud technology journey is to make sure that you create opportunities for your teams to get involved and empower them to help you take the next step.
At the end of the day, it's clear that our investments in technology and innovation have been worthwhile. Despite the challenges this year has brought, we have made great strides in accelerating our technology strategy and achieving things we might have thought were impossible.
Now with our guiding principles driving our refreshed technology strategy, it’s our mission to harness our momentum and accelerate our efforts, not just for the sake of being innovative or cutting edge, but because it’s critical for our customers and our colleagues.