From hackathons to sprints: KeyCorp's plan to digitize everything

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Amy Brady is out to digitize KeyCorp “from front to back.”

“I’m not sure we’ll ever achieve it, but if you have that goal out there, it causes you to create different solutions and not settle for the status quo,” said the chief information officer of the $138 billion-asset company. “My role is to challenge the status quo.”

Since joining from Bank of America in 2012, Brady has steered Key through a series of investments that include absorbing the operations of First Niagara Financial Group, sharpening the ability to anticipate customer needs by harnessing data and redesigning its digital platforms.

Brady also has made it the norm to challenge the way things have always been done. Three years ago, she instituted a series of one- and two-day sprints that bring together members of teams across the company to collaborate on hacks that have the potential to benefit customers or improve operations.

A hackathon in May made data sets available companywide with the aim of encouraging teams of employees to explore combining them in ways that boost overall efficiency. “The whole purpose is to engage and inspire our workforce to create,” said Brady, who ranked as one of our Most Powerful Women in Banking for 2018.

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Though some brainstorms fall by the wayside, others become part of the business. Since its launch earlier this year, a project that emerged from a hackathon in 2017 has spurred nearly two-thirds of Key’s borrowers who finance commercial real estate with mortgages to manage their loans online, up from a quarter of borrowers previously. The automation is saving time and money for borrowers and for the company.

A modernization of Key’s legacy systems that Brady is spearheading is improving the ability to draw on data. Armed with research and analytics, the company can see, for example, “that the single most critical day in someone’s month is the day they get paid, and the day we have the worst financial habits,” she said.

To help counter people’s tendencies to make poor decisions, Key has instituted a pilot that on payday suggests they take steps such as boosting their savings or rethinking their approach to debt. For business clients, Key uses the intelligence to recommend steps for refining the processing of payments.

Thanks to the analytics, “you’re truly seeing the power of that one-to-one marketing and conversation that benefits clients,” Brady said, adding that such outcomes reflect a willingness to experiment.

Brady, who began her career three decades ago, stressed the importance of continued learning. She also regularly reminds her team of the need to embrace change. “What worked five years ago won’t work five years from now,” she said. “You can either be creating the change or watch it pass you by.”

This year the women in the rankings were asked to select a mentee who they believe could be one of the Most Powerful Women of the future. Read about one of Brady's mentees, Jasmine Hosein, here.

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Technology CIO Analytics Digital banking Amy Brady KeyCorp Women in Banking