By Bart Van den Daele, General Manager, Global Technology Services, IBM Europe

Bart Van den Daele
Bart Van den Daele

In Europe, the pace of digital transformation in the financial services industry continues to accelerate. New entrants, new habits among consumers combined with changing economies and regulatory environments, are transforming banking services with disruptive business models. Consider some of the challenges faced by banks today:

  • Less and less people do their banking in branches. Instead they are using their mobiles – to pay, to trade, to do almost everything. Banks need to be innovative enough to engage their clients – of today and tomorrow – without having a branch on every street corner.
  • Regulators and customers expect banks to be always online
  • Banks need to optimize cost structures and reduce cost – without outage, without disturbance, without interruption of service and with bullet proof security.

Digital transformation projects and activities are, of course, heavily dependent on technology. In 2017 banks and financial services organizations in Europe are expected to spend approximately EUR 90 billion on IT with a growing proportion of this to be invested in new technologies such as analytics, mobile and cloud. (Source: IDC*)

Clearly, the rules have changed and digitalization is at the heart of this process. Banks need to transform radically to reduce costs, reduce risk, and enhance experience and value for customers. It’s the cause and the result of the disruption.

Digital transformation brings a whole new opportunity for the financial industry in Europe. We see how European banks are reacting to these challenges leveraging mobility, security, resiliency, and cloud technologies in order to:

  • transform from traditional branch structures towards digital channels;
  • embrace the API economy without compromising their legacy systems;
  • focus on an end-to-end cost reduction to be ready for anything the future holds for them
  • keeping on top of technology trends to anticipate the next big shifts in clients’behavior.

How to tap into these new opportunities?

To respond to the threat of disruption from new competitors and fintechs, banks and financial institutions will become more customer-centric by creating seamless interactions across touch points. New technology helps strengthen competitiveness in other ways too – eg. by collaborating with an ecosystem of service providers to offer improved end-to-end solutions( to clients. like the consortium of seven of Europe’s largest banks who recently joined forces ( to build and host a new trade finance platform based on IBM Blockchain.

Or, innovators like Danske Bank who benefit from the IBM Services Platform ( with Watson applying the power of cognitive and the IBM Cloud to deliver next generation IT services. After successfully testing the cognitive monitoring solution – IBM Operations Analytics Predictive Insights – Danske Bank saw a significant reduction of server incidents.

Bold moves like this help banks leverage economic and technology breakthroughs and enhance client experience using digital capabilities to deliver virtual self-service or provide immediate and transparent execution of transactions.

What do new technologies such as robotics, machine learning or blockchain mean for banks’ operating models and future cost bases?

By 2025, the banking landscape will include some new names alongside today’s well-known banking brands. Most leading financial institutions will be substantially automated, with customers mostly serving themselves and engaging with bank experts for more complex or personal financial advice and needs.

What is achievable with these technologies?

I can’t wait to show you.

*. – IDC: Worldwide IT Spending 2015–2020 — Worldwide Banking IT Spending Guide, CY 2Q17. May 2017 | Doc #US40831717

About the author 

Bart Van den Daele is the General Manager for IBM Global Technology Services in Europe, covering more than 50 countries and helping clients tap intonew cognitive business opportunities by rolling out transformational digital services and automating processes. He is responsible for a portfolio of services, including Mobility, Resiliency, Systems and Networking service lines, as well as Technical Support Services and Outsourcing.

Prior to this position, Bart was the General Manager for IBM’s Financial Services sector in Europe. He has extensive experience and deep industry knowledge across all parts of IBM’s services business. Bart has been the architect and lead senior executive on most of our large and transformation engagements on the European continent that make up IBM’s sourcing and managed services business.

Since joining IBM in 1999, Bart has held several senior leadership positions within IBM’s Software, Industry, Solutions and Services divisions. He is President of IS4F, Vice President of BP2I and board member of VTS, joint ventures for IT operations and innovations with Belfius, BNP Paribas and Unicredit Group.

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