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October - 2015 - issue > In My Opinion
Developments Impacting the Business Environment
Anil Cheriyan
CIO-SunTrust Bank
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Big data, social media, mobile, and cloud-CIOs across the globe are grappling with these technologies. Each will have a significant effecton the way enterprises interact with their clients, manage their teams, and partner across their supply chains. The technology is here, but often times the question is how to deploy it so that efficiency, return on investment and deeper insights are gained.

At SunTrust, changing client preferences, increased regulations and a more challenging operating environment have dramatically altered the environment in which we operate. To improve our competitiveness and create value for our clients, teammates and shareholders, we are thinking differently about how we operate while keeping a best-in-class client experience front and center.

Innovation Culture

Through our research, we have found that our clients want to bank when, where and how they choose. To respond to their needs, we have developed an integrated strategy that allows clients to select how they want to bank-whether online, in a branch, on their mobile device, or via phone-with the goal of a seamless experience and higher level of service to our clients.

At SunTrust, we are constantly exploring and testing new technologies and are always looking for opportunities to delight our clients with new products and services. While it is important to be quick to the marketplace with new technologies, it is equally important to make sure it does what it was intended to do, is reliable, and meets clients' needs and expectations.

To ensure we remain innovative, we have launched several internal programs, which have been highly successful, including:

- "Innovation Hub" - allows technology teammates get together on a collaboration site to collaborate, share ideas, solve problems and think outside the box in real-time

- "Innovation Fridays" - facilitated sessions where 30-50 teammates from across the Bank focus on creating new critical process solutions.

- "Real Time Answers" - my key leaders and I spend an hour with the technology team on a collaboration site answering questions from teammates.

- "RISE" - a hackathon in which teams from across SunTrust go from idea to prototype in six weeks with no investment. Winning teams are provided investment dollars to implement.

- Gauntlet - teams outline a problem, draft a business plan, and propose a realistic roadmap to deploy the idea in six months. The top six teams pitch their ideas to a -shark tank- and the winning teams receive the funding, time, and support to turn their idea solution.

- From Branch to Boardroom: a program that provides a forum for all SunTrust teammates to share the smart ways they have improved their work processes and offered new experiences to our clients.

Big Data

The amount of data available is growing at an unprecedented pace. New technologies allow us to move from data gathering to more strategic data analysis. Our data strategy is focused on building the capability to consolidate data to deepen our understanding of markets, clients, products, services, channels, and risk. The key to our data strategy is the ability to deepen our client and operational insights. Underlying this are several strategic competencies that have been evolving in maturity- data governance, data quality, information delivery, and predictive analytics. This will continue to be a key initiative moving forward.

Social Media

At SunTrust, we engage with our clients in numerous ways. Of course, in person and one-on-one, but we also have a website, send email and mobile alerts, offer service via telephone, and respond via social media. In addition to those traditional means of engagement, SunTrust has maintained an ongoing leadership position in the use of social media to help service our customers. A great example of our social media presence is @AskSunTrust, our Twitter channel, where we directly answer client questions. We make it easy for our clients to communicate with us, no matter what channel they prefer.


The ability to quickly scale to support growing client needs is of upmost importance. By using cloud principles to create a private cloud, SunTrust is able to improve shared infrastructure and improve re-use and speed-to-market.

At SunTrust, we are purposeful in our technology decisions and ensure that any new technology we introduce is seamless, easy to use, and improves our clients' sense of financial well-being. We quantify the business value our IT projects create, not just for revenue generation, but also efficiencies gained for the bank. We like to say that our clients are the 'why,' and our technology is the 'how.' This is the lens through which we view our decisions.

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