Fintech makes the world go around

Oct 10 2017   10:29AM GMT

Is the death of IT department too dull for Blade Runner 2049?

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

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You won’t see marketing executives programming and lawyers playing with artificial intelligence in the latest Blade Runner film, but it is the future.

It might not be as exciting as driverless cars, robot police, and printing prosthetic limbs but it is another, albeit more subtle, change brought by tech disruption. And a change that will affect many.

It’s not as overt as some of the advances the latest Blade Runner film and its predecessor show, but it is arguable more transformational.

I recently met up with the CEO and CIO of Starling Bank. I wrote an article here. Starling is one of a growing number of challenger banks and in its case it is a current account in a mobile app. Customers receive their entire service through their smartphone.

APIs, apps, AI, big data, developer portals are all subjects close to the banks heart. Yet CIO John Mountain told me the company doesn’t really have an IT department. Doesn’t he worry as a CIO that he has no department?
Not at all. In fact the entire company is an IT department.

“My team is not technology because we don’t really run a technology function here, the whole company is a tech function. What you don’t find here is a whole suite of technologists reporting into me.”

“To work here in any capacity whether its marketing, finance or a developer you will have some involvement in technology.”

He said he puts “hard core technologists” everywhere. “We have technologists in finance and programmers in marketing.”

He said this mix up is essential to a tech company even if its business is banking. He said in traditional banks the IT department and the business felt like different companies.

The new model sees anything that is not core to the business outsourced with, for example, the extensive use of software as a service.

Perhaps the big banks are looking at this in the long run with IT departments being savagely cut.

But not only are there hardcore techies strewn throughout the business but people in different departments are tech savvy. In fact the reason many apply for jobs at companies like Starling is because they enjoy using and understand the IT they are providing to customers.

A contact of mine in the legal industry told me that even lawyers have to improve their IT skills. “In the near future, if you want to be a lawyer in my kind of practice, you are going to have to be able to put a document together specifically for AI review,” he said.

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