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Case Study: Hundreds of banks, one single cloud system

The financial and banking sectors are increasingly feeling the pressure of the digital transformation. On the one hand, the bond of trust as well as the local presence of a bank continue to be important strengths. On the other hand, customers increasingly expect to be able to handle their banking transactions at all times­–preferably on their own smartphone.

At the same time, financial start-ups are entering the market, and tech leaders such as Apple, Google and Facebook are also keeping an eye on this particular area. They might not have local branches and they still have to prove themselves as trustworthy providers. However, they do have a high profile, millions of customers worldwide and valuable experience in cloud services and artificial intelligence.

Various studies have documented this change. A study by Accenture, for example, concluded that customers want two things in particular from their financial services provider: a “human touch” and “data-driven personalisation in real time”. PwC, on the other hand, was able to document in its survey that the mobile phone is becoming increasingly important as a means to access banking. At the same time, it became clear that clients’ want for personal contact in the case of more complex questions remains. The majority of bank customers, therefore, want both: digital services available at all times as well as a bank branch and a personal advisor on site.

Ambitious goals

The Raiffeisen Banking Cooperative in Austria has taken up this challenge. With its eight “Landesbanken” and almost 400 local banks, it has a strong local presence. The transformation of the cooperative idea represents a central challenge–both behind the scenes and for customers.

This is why a comprehensive digitisation offensive was launched four years ago. And the goal was ambitious, as Patricia Kasandziev explains. As Head of Digitisation, Products & Processes at Raiffeisenlandesbank Niederösterreich-Wien AG, she is responsible for digitisation. “It is undisputed that we are the number 1 stationary bank. But our aim is to offer equally good service on all channels,” she says.

The decentralised structure of the cooperative was to be incorporated into the digital user journeys. At the same time, “we want to be able to offer the same digital experience as centrally organised institutions or direct banks,” explains Patricia Kasandziev. “When we think about an app, for example, we look at the most innovative examples. That’s what our customers are looking for.”

Independent yet together

But implementing these goals is not always easy. While the local branches, for example, have direct contact with customers, the Landesbanken are more likely to have expertise in areas such as big data analytics. At the same time, the branches are independent units within the cooperative. Developing and implementing a joint digital sales strategy was one of the numerous challenges of the project.

Of course, Raiffeisen has been dealing with the topic of digitisation for more than four years. But the systems used so far have grown over the years and thus offer less and less room for innovation. The website, for example, which was developed in-house, now needs to be modernized.

Many tools from a single source

One wish was to get as many tools as possible from one source in order to significantly reduce the internal evaluation and coordination effort. With the Adobe solutions, Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Target and Adobe Campaign, the Landesbanken have found their solution. “With Adobe, we have a suite that already provides us with many advanced and important functions,” says Patricia Kasandziev.

Another desire was to provide website visitors with relevant local information as quickly as possible. This also applies, for example, for visitors of the general raiffeisen.at page. The system should recognise where the user is located or which local branch he is a customer of.

Lukas Raneburger, Head of Digitisation at Landesbank Niederösterreich-Wien, clarifies, “As a user of a central website, I may see a lot of irrelevant information. It was important to us to create relevance from the first page.”

More simplicity behind the scenes

Simplicity is not only a goal regarding customers, but also employees. Early systems, for example, had no user administration. If one wanted to update more than one branch page, one had to log in on every single page. In the end, more than 500 editor accounts were in use. With the new system there are around 50 accounts sharing a single sign-on. Also, the illustration of the sites was simplified significantly by the Adobe Digital Asset Manager, because the tool helps with many steps and decisions.

At the same time, this means that not every branch has to create its own content. Presently, there is a central editorial office for raiffeisen.at, as well as eight regional editorial offices of the Landesbanken. This makes the website more uniform and more professional at the same time. “That helps us with topics like for example the search machine optimisation,” explains Lukas Raneburger.

The project was implemented by ecx.io – an IBM Company. “As a local Austrian company, we definitely wanted to have a German-speaking partner,” says Patricia Kasandziev. The Landesbanken worked very closely with the developers. “We implemented the project together, sprint for sprint.”

“Standing still is not an option”

Even though the first big step has been taken, the wish list has not become any shorter. On the contrary: around 100 ideas for additional and improved functionalities are already being discussed. Furthermore, affiliated companies such as insurance companies, Bausparkassen and leasing providers are also to be integrated into the new content management system. “The modernisation of the technology stack is an important step for the Raiffeisen Banking Group, especially in the context of our digitisation initiatives,” says Lukas Raneburger, and Patricia Kasandziev adds, “Today we are observing rapid change processes in customer behaviour–and as a bank we have to keep moving.”

This is one of the reasons why a customer-centric approach is so important. Especially in view of the wealth of information and tools in the digital world, customers appreciate having a trustworthy contact person.

“For us, the region and the people are at the forefront,” says Patricia Kasandziev, “and we believe that this is more topical than ever.”