In advance of next week’s Forrester’s European Forum For Technology Management Leaders in London (June 12-13), we had an opportunity to speak with Oliver Bussmann, one of our industry keynote speakers, about digital business and how UBS is responding to the challenges of digital disruption and to rising customer expectations.

Oliver Bussmann joined UBS in June 2013 as Group Chief Information Officer (CIO), responsible for the Group Technology organization. As Oliver will explain in his presentation on day 2 of the Forum, digital business transformation success in his view hinges on three key factors: A joint and strong partnership of IT and the business working together; creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship; consistent and authentic support of senior leadership to demonstrate by example that this transformation is real, necessary and appreciated.

I hope you enjoy Oliver's responses as much as I did, and do join us on June 12-13 to hear the full story!

Q: What is your agenda as CIO at UBS?  

As CIO my job is to position IT as a business enabler, this involves understanding the firm's strategic priorities, and ensuring we strike the right balance between (1) managing the traditional IT functions to ensure a cost-effective, reliable and secure infrastructure and (2) focusing on strategic IT, driving transformational change through innovation, to increase revenue opportunities and deliver real value to our business.

Building a culture of co-innovation in partnership with the business is one of my top agenda items. The key is to partner with the business. At the end of the day, my role is to deliver the capabilities to enable the business to achieve its vision. This requires a strong relationship between the business and IT.  IT staff need to understand the business context and how their work positively impacts our customers and stakeholders.

Q: What does digital transformation mean for UBS?       

"Digital" not only means changing processes and systems to a digital form, but also influences how we think about new services and business models, new channels and new ways to connect with and provide appreciated services our clients. The only effective way to execute on digitization is to co-innovate these new value propositions with our business partners – my role as CIO is to facilitate that relationship.

If you look at the mobile penetration compared to 2010, it has grown by a factor seven with almost 6 billion mobile users, and we are also seeing changing client behavior with 75% of interactions in 2018 expected to be online or through mobile channels.  Already about 50% of our banking clients, are using social media as a key source for product information. 

It is clear that a new disruption is on the horizon, there is a peak of venture capital investment in the start-up environment, with incumbents as well as disruptive start-ups investing substantial resources into digitization. 

In my view, the best way to approach this new trend is by partnering with the business, understanding the emerging technologies and how to leverage this new knowledge early and injecting it into the typical product and service lifecycle. As a leader in Financial Services, UBS is not primarily a technology firm, but to become a leading Digital player we need to accept what's required to achieve a 'Digital mindset' across our firm to transform our business and make our firm successful.

Q: What would be your advice to other technology management leaders be who are about to embark on a similar journey of digital business transformation?         

The most important advice is to develop a strong understanding of your firm's business strategy, addressing key questions upfront like: where will your business be in the future?, How will customer expectations change at that time?, How will your business model look in 10-20 years from now?

Technology on its own will not deliver competitive advantage, it is how technology is leveraged to deliver a unique customer experience, streamline processes and drive new revenue streams which will enable your business to transform and differentiate itself in the digital age.

Oliver Bussman’s keynote takes place on June 13, day 2 of Forrester’s European Forum For Technology Management Leaders in London. Check the event website for the full agenda and registration details.