The Economist recently aired a panel discussion sponsored by CA Technologies featuring business leaders discussing consumer driven IT. One of the panelists, Steve Ellis, Executive Vice President at Wells Fargo, talked about how the $21B national financial services company is innovating with consumer driven IT to empower consumers and reduce operating costs.
In some ways Wells Fargo could be considered a founding father of the consumer driven enterprise. Ellis pointed out that, when people talk about consumerization, they usually refer to it as BYOD (for “bring your own device” to work). But the fact is that consumerization didn’t start with employees bringing their own devices to work. It started with consumers using their own devices to connect to the enterprise.
That first consumer-to-enterprise connection happened 15 years ago, when Wells Fargo introduced Internet banking. For the first time, consumers could use their own personal computer to bank from home or work. That, Ellis argued (and I would agree), was the innovative spark that kicked open the door to the consumer driven enterprise.
It didn’t take long for Wells Fargo to realize that the key to capitalizing on consumerization is not in reacting to it, but rather, to use it as a driver for innovation. As a result, the bank became ever-vigilant about seeking out and preparing for the next consumer tech trend.
The lesson: If your organization is reacting to consumer driven IT — and even if it is in step with it—you’re still behind. To maintain competitive advantage you need a skunkworks mentality that’s working to (A) anticipate the next big “thing,” and (B) lay the groundwork to strike should the “thing” become real.
Case in point: At Wells Fargo, not long after Internet banking took off, the institution began looking at mobility as the next evolution of consumer driven IT. To achieve enterprise mobility within the organization, the bank embraced a two-fold early adoption and innovation process. They decided to cater to both business and retail consumers.
This included raising awareness among both audiences, and orienting first-generation mobile business apps to iPhone and consumer apps to Android. Internet and mobile banking transactions now exceed those of all other transactions at Wells Fargo.
But to fully embrace the consumer driven enterprise means more than promoting vision and ideation among IT and business leaders. To stay ahead of the curve, Wells Fargo stepped out of the lab and into the street. They put customers at the helm of technological change. For example, they built a single sign-on portal that gave consumers a unified view of their banking. When it took off like wildfire, the team thought, “Well, if we can do that for our customers, and they love it, why can’t we do that for our employees?” So they did. Now Wells Fargo’s people can log on once and get a unified view of their IT environment.
Wells Fargo is also pioneering social media in the enterprise for more than the low-hanging fruit of marketing communications. The institution sees social as a way to better connect to the customer and employees. As well it should — because up to 50 different people in Wells Fargo can be working with one customer to achieve their financial goals.
That creates a tremendous opportunity for Wells Fargo to leverage social media tools to help its team members connect, communicate, and understand their customer on a real-time basis. According to Ellis, Wells Fargo is running 16 different social media pilots as part of their internal collaboration strategy in order to ensure it has the best practices, policies, and technologies to support all the major social networks where its consumers might reside.
From its introduction of Internet banking 15 years ago to its bear-hug embrace of social media today, Wells Fargo’s IT team demonstrates that it understands what so many other organizations miss: the consumer driven enterprise can and should work to the organization’s advantage both internally and externally.
To characterize the consumer driven enterprise as BYOD is to reduce it to a mere shift of device ownership. The way companies like Wells Fargo practice it, externally facing technology for customers boosts revenue and boosts customer satisfaction, internal technology raises productivity and efficiency, and it all sustains a rationale to promote innovation.
Except where otherwise noted in referenced links, all Wells Fargo-specific information is taken from the transcript of the video Business Leaders' View of Consumer Driven IT with Steve Ellis.