From his perch as the CIO of The Bank of New York Mellon, an institution with $1.1 trillion in assets under management and $11.3 billion in revenues, Kurt Woetzel has run a gauntlet, orchestrating a complicated integration of two global institutions, fostering creative thinking in a far-reaching enterprise, and coping with data breaches. But underpinning it all is a commitment to innovation, and a belief that, in his words, "innovative growth ensures survival, that you have to work across silos, and that a diversity of thought, experience and skills is a main catalyst for innovation."
The BNY Mellon is very much a technology company in disguise, according to Woetzel. Nearly every aspect of the company is driven by technology, including the service touch points for clients-which has made the successful integration of Bank of New York and Mellon over the past year absolutely vital. The major initiatives covered by IT within the integration include: application integration, infrastructure organization, organizational structure, moves to growth centers, and bank charter consolidation. A few of the integration projects undertaken by Woetzel's team include the consolidation of data centers in different geographies and optimizing the technical workforce in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia to rationalize a proprietary transaction processing system.
To foster a culture of innovation across the enterprise, Woetzel created the Office of Innovation to tap employee creativity, create revenue growth, improve profitability and increase the company's competitive advantage. More than 70 percent of ideas submitted are from BNY Mellon employees. A steering committee studies the ideas and so far about 15 percent have been funded and/or implemented. Today, more than 20 patents are pending.
Woetzel explains that the Office of Innovation adds a framework and discipline to the process of product development, and streamlines the innovation process. The ideas generated range from process and product innovation to more strategic, structure innovation and new product development. The ideation workshops draw on a wide range of business expertise and skills from inside and some from outside the company. For instance, the workshop might begin with the question: 'What is the foundation of the credit crisis?' From there the questions progress: 'How did it start? What's happening exactly? How does it create opportunities?' If, for instance, the answer is that there are opportunities around deposit capture, then the workshop might then delve deeper into the kind of deposit products that make the most sense.
A signature innovation under Woetzel is the Enterprise Tracking Service. ETS tracks the end-to-end location of financial transactions at any given time-much like Federal Express tracks packages en route. With $23 trillion in assets under custody and thousands of clients served from more than 100 markets, isolating the status of any single transaction in real time is a major challenge. Now, through ETS, a transaction is traced as it passes through the entire chain, across all technology platforms, business applications, and message/middleware handoffs. Overall, this view has produced better client service, improved processing efficiencies, and points the way toward other areas of product development.
But as Woetzel and most CIOs with much experience under their belts know, not all CIO duties are about inspiring innovation, some are simple damage control. Here, too, an experienced CIO with a well-constructed game plan is essential. Back in May, BNY Mellon lost data tapes containing personal information on 12 million people. The bank definitely took its lumps from the press and politicians and a customer lawsuit, but for what could have been a public relations disaster, the bank escaped with its reputation in tact. Luckily, there's no evidence the data has been used for illicit purposes; the bank is offering two years of free credit monitoring and $25,000 of ID theft insurance.
If called by a fellow CIO looking for advice on how to handle such a breach, Woetzel says the primary point he would make is the need to have an incident management protocol in place beforehand so you know how to handle a breach before it ever happens. "You need to take into account the parties that need to be part of the information flow (state authorities, regulators, customers, managers), and insure that the protocol is well codified." Also, he says, the protocol should be thoroughly analyzed on an ongoing basis for any opportunities to improve the process.