The Wells Fargo CIO Deals With Old Technology

Wells Fargo has aging systems
Wells Fargo has aging systems
Image Credit: Mike Mozart

Wells Fargo is a bank. A very big bank. Being the person with the CIO job at a big bank is never an easy task. Being the CIO of Wells Fargo is especially tricky these days because Wells Fargo was found to have engaged in illegal operations where they were signing customers up for services that they did not want. In the aftermath of this scandal, somebody still has to make sure that the bank’s IT systems stay up and running. It turns out that this is proving to be harder to do than you might think.

What’s Wrong At Wells Fargo?

Wells Fargo has been running its operations for years using the same technology. The problem is that things have moved on and yet Wells Fargo’s technology has not. This was all brought to the surface a while ago when Wells Fargo suffered a server failure that knocked out their ability to support online banking. Their antiquated systems have made it difficult for Wells Fargo to meet the demands of regulators, who are closely scrutinizing the firm after its fake-account scandal.

The fact that their IT systems are so far behind has resulted in Wells Fargo struggling with tasks like monitoring employee pay, building a new platform for financial advisers, and hampering key businesses. The Wells Fargo CIO understands that just like every modern bank, Wells Fargo has to transform itself into a technology company. The CIOs short term priorities have to be to fix issues raised by regulators, attract talent and make sure key systems don’t go offline again.

What has happened at Wells Fargo is that banking has changed while the bank has not. Once upon a time banking was a business of branches and vaults, but a bank now runs on digital systems designed to move money around, keep cybercriminals out and knit the parts of sprawling institutions together. All of the big banks spend billions on these tools, employ tens of thousands of people to keep them running smoothly and use mobile apps to compete for customers.

What’s Next For Wells Fargo?

The good news is that the bank has made a number of improvements to its technology offerings, including card-free ATMs, contactless debit cards and online mortgage applications. However, there is much more still to do. Regulators have told Wells Fargo to improve its human-resources functions, including technology systems. Of particular concern was the company’s manual processes for overseeing pay and performance for its 260,000 employees.

One of the tools that Wells Fargo is working on is an automated tool that predicts customer activity each day. That helps the bank ensure that digital systems have the bandwidth to handle busy days. Outages are being prevented by removing a particular type of fire-extinguisher system from data centers that has caused outages in the past. Wells Fargo realizes that if “the app is down, the bank is down for its customers”.

A key issue that the person in the CIO position has to deal with as the bank’s technology gets upgraded is that none of this comes cheap. At Wells Fargo spending on technology workers has been one reason expenses have remained higher than the bank would like. Additionally, costs associated with projects that involved outside software had started to balloon. These projects had to be shut down and the company is currently looking for alternatives.

What All Of This Means For You

Wells Fargo is a bank that uses technology to keep its operations up and running and to interact with its customers. However, they forgot about the importance of information technology and its technology has not kept up with the times and this has become evident as the bank has experienced embarrassing outages. The bank recently had a scandal and so things have become even more difficult for their CIO. How can Wells Fargo solve their technology gap problem?

Wells Fargo’s IT systems were designed and built several years ago. They have not been upgraded to keep up with changes in technology. This is making it hard for the bank to keep up with the demands of regulators and their customers. Modern banks run on their IT systems. Wells Fargo has managed to upgrade some of their systems; however, there is still a lot of work to do. Wells Fargo is working on new tools and is upgrading their data centers to prevent outages. The cost of all of these changes is becoming a significant issue for Wells Fargo.

The key issue for Wells Fargo is that all of their competitors are big banks that spend a great deal of money on their IT systems. Not only do they have to keep their assets safe, but they also have to find ways to better serve their customers. Wells Fargo is going to have to do this successfully if they want to retain the customers that they have and attract new customers.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What systems do you think that Wells Fargo should upgrade first?

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