Jose Luis Elechiguerra, Global Head of Engineering at BBVA, faces 2023 with a focus on continuing to evolve the technology platform to provide new capabilities that allow us to offer the best solutions to customers. To do this, he maintains his commitment to disruptive technologies such as the cloud, artificial intelligence, big data or biometrics, without losing sight of the digital regulatory framework, as he mentioned in the CIO Spain interview.
Against a backdrop of increased remoteness, spurred on by the pandemic and with a high growth rate in digital customers who in turn interact with the bank in an increasingly sophisticated way, Elechiguerra is clear that the main objective of an area like Engineering is “to support the Group's strategy to provide our customers with solutions that facilitate their banking activity and contribute to the improvement of their financial health”.
“It is essential for us to continue to evolve our technology platform, enabling the new capabilities that our customers demand from us in the most efficient way possible,” says BBVA's CIO. To achieve this, in his opinion, BBVA must continue to invest in new technologies such as cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence and biometrics, because "they are generating a disruption in the way we provide financial services to our customers and allow us to remain competitive”.
At the same time, the company will continue transforming the software development function to improve productivity. “The goal is to put our developers at the center of the production process, simplifying processes and improving their tools, encouraging the adoption of DevOps methodologies and increasing automation in the development, testing and release of software into production,” Elechiguerra added.
The uncertainty of the current difficult situation means that organizations are looking to make the operation and management of technological resources as efficient as possible, and at a global level if necessary. “We will continue to drive cost optimization levers such as, for example, the migration to new-generation technologies whose processing costs scale better than the cost of traditional legacy systems”.
“However, despite the current climate, we plan to slightly increase our organization's technology budget compared to the previous year, making recurring expenses as efficient as possible to accommodate growing activity and to be able to implement transformation projects and new digital offerings, which are a key pillar as a catalyst for the bank's efficiency and growth,” said the executive.
Jose Luis Elechiguerra, Global Head of Engineering at BBVA. - BBVA
Yet digitization, and all that it entails, is not the only challenge facing banking in 2023. The increase in digitization has also meant an increase in cyber attack exposure. According to the Global Head of Engineering, “there has been an increase in phishing campaigns, as well as in the number of DDos, malware and ransomware attacks, which can affect the business continuity of companies globally. All of this represents a challenge that we are addressing by positioning security as part of our DNA and at the core of our strategy.”
On the other hand, the enactment of the DORA Regulation, which establishes a regulatory framework whereby entities must ensure that they can withstand and respond to ICT events and threats, while ensuring service continuity at all times, is another major challenge that BBVA faces in 2023. “Regulation has a fundamental role to play in the financial system, as it has to properly balance its stability and the protection of citizens, with innovation and the ability to carry out a digital transformation such as the one we are promoting. The regulation became effective last January, but at BBVA we have been working intensively in recent years to anticipate the necessary measures to ensure that we are the best prepared in terms of operational resilience and availability of our channels and services” explains Elechiguerra.
The last of the challenges that Elechiguera notes is the difficulty in attracting and retaining the best IT talent. “Global markets present a deficit of qualified resources, as most companies globally are immersed in the implementation of digital transformation plans and need to have the right profiles to execute and facilitate this transformation. In the last year, we have executed an ambitious plan to hire more than 2,000 engineers, which we will continue to promote in the coming years,” concludes the BBVA's Head of Engineering.
Jose Luis Elechiguerra, Global Head of Engineering at BBVA. - BBVA
As for the leading technologies that may shape 2023, the executive was keen to point out two due to their relevance in the current technological and financial ecosystem: the public cloud and artificial intelligence.
Processing in the public cloud will be a key part of the transformation processes, not only as a lever for cost efficiency, but also because it allows access to value-added capabilities and to build solutions that leverage a more intensive use of data while maintaining high security standards. “If we add to that the flexibility and the improvement of time to market in the face of business needs, migration to the public cloud is a fundamental part of our technology strategy. Our projection is for a significant increase in the demand for processing in the short and medium term, driven by the increase in the number of clients, the increase in transactions, the development of new functionalities and the introduction of advanced processing models based on artificial intelligence”, states Elechiguerra.
On the other hand, innovation at BBVA is one of the strategic pillars and artificial intelligence is already an essential part of the strategy. For the Head of Engineering, “at BBVA we were pioneers in understanding the potential and opportunities offered by advanced analytics and artificial intelligence, creating the technological and human capabilities necessary to make this new technological paradigm a reality in our everyday life and that of our customers. Today, we have already incorporated these technologies into products and services such as financial health, carbon footprint calculation and intelligent assistants These are available, for example, in the mobile app for our clients in Spain, as well as in our operations, for example in the areas of fraud prevention, money laundering and risk calculations.
Although artificial intelligence is already a reality, it is constantly evolving, which makes it difficult to predict the transformational impact it will have on business. However, BBVA is researching and innovating with the goal of making customers aware of the new capabilities that this technology will offer in the future.