KeyBank CIO: How to Create a Data Strategy?

Learn from a top financial services executive about the role of data in digital transformation, modernizing financials, data integration, and being a customer-centric organization.


Apr 05, 2021

Digital transformation relies on data from across the organization, ranging from operations to customer service, financials, and employee well-being. In this conversation, we learn how KeyBank's Chief Information Officer, Amy G. Brady, uses data in daily operations and to drive digital transformation. 

Amy's mandate as CIO overs the company's technology, operations, and services organizations. She oversees all of KeyBank's shared services for technology, operations, data, servicing, cyber and physical security, and procurement. Amy is a member of the Board of Directors of DuPont, where she serves on the Audit and Environment, Health, Safety, and Sustainability Committees. She is also on the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

In this conversation, we discuss the following topics:


Michael Krigsman: We're speaking with Amy Brady, Chief Information Officer at KeyBank.

Amy Brady: KeyBank is the 15th largest bank in the United States. We have everything from debit cards to derivatives, so we have all of the products and services that a client would need and would want.

I'm responsible for delivering all of the technology, operations, services, as well as contact center and security for our company. My charge is to help our 200-year-old institution act like and behave as if we were born digital and become a digital institution so that we can meet our clients' demands.

About KeyBank and data strategy in banking

Michael Krigsman: Amy, you emphasized digital. When we speak about digital, that means data. Share with us the role of data as a strategic decision-making tool at KeyBank.

Amy Brady: Our greatest asset is clearly our clients, right? But one of the most important assets (beyond our clients) is our data. Our data is only as important as what we do with that data, transforming that data into insights that are actionable, actionable in the sense that we can help our clients make better decisions.

If you're a consumer, we want to help our clients make more informed decisions about their financial well-being. If you are a commercial client, we want to help those clients make well-informed financial decisions on how to run their company and make better investment decisions for their company. Data truly is the fuel, if you will, on how to run our processes, how to run the interactions that we have with our clients, and how we run our digital processes end-to-end from the client interaction all the way through our employee interactions that we run every day.

Michael Krigsman: It sounds like, as you plan out processes and you think through the steps of this digital journey, that the role of data is very explicitly part of that planning. It sounds like a very important part.

Amy Brady: It absolutely is. I think one of the advantages we have, being a regional institution, is we capture a lot of data. It's our job to turn that data into valuable insights into how we price our products for our clients, to build those relationships in a way that make it valuable for our clients who want to do more business with us so that they benefit and we benefit. It's a mutually beneficial relationship.

Again, data, in and of itself, isn't the value. It's how you transform that data into a proof-point that makes it really interesting.

Michael Krigsman: A common theme, as you've been talking, is this deepening of the customer relationship. It sounds like the role of data is central in that process.

Amy Brady: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Modernizing finance and data integration

Michael Krigsman: Why are you modernizing financials?

Amy Brady: If you think about, internally, just how you run your core systems of your financials, if you can do that more efficiently and effectively, which Workday helps us do, and actually being able to have your core HR systems and your core financial systems on one integrated platform, that alone will deliver efficiencies for Key. We're excited that Workday will help partner with us to do that.

Then, being able to integrate the data at that level is tremendous for us. It will help us be much more efficient in how we run our corporation.

Then you build from there on how you can deliver, again, profitability; how you think about pricing of your products—all of those things—and how you capture and store your data will help us deliver more efficiently for our clients. All of those things help us run our company more efficiently.

Michael Krigsman: It sounds like the partnership with Workday is a deep partnership.

Amy Brady: Workday has been a great partner. It's well beyond just the technology. It helps us rethink our own business processes.

If you go back to what I said around transforming our company, you can't just think about technology or data. It's also business processes. When you have a company that's 200 years old and you grow up on decades' old technology, you get pretty structured into your old ways of doing things.

Workday has been great about helping us rethink the art of the possible and thinking about our business processes. Those make you challenge the status quo, and that's good for companies as well because then you become more efficient in how you think about those digital processes internally as well. That's part of becoming a digital company.

Extensive CIO Role at KeyBank

Michael Krigsman: Amy, I'm sure that part of this digital transformation involves sharing data across departments, organizations, and silos. Your title is chief information officer, but the scope of your responsibilities is very broad. Give us some insight into that.

Amy Brady: I have the fortune in my role of having the responsibility of all the technology, but then I also have all of the back-office shared service operations, so if you think about loan service processing, deposit servicing and processing, transaction processing – those types of processes. When you think about those servicing aspects, when you think about the technology, and thinking end-to-end client journeys, it's great working with our business partners, to think about the client journey, and then automating all the way through. You really get to see the full spectrum of what's happening.

What's more important (now than ever) is the security and protecting our clients, whether that's protecting them from identity theft or protecting the assets that we have here in their data. Thinking about how we interact and how our clients interact with us in a digital nature and protecting those interactions from a fraud perspective, and really working with that front-to-back is really important, making sure that that's integrated all the way through.

Michael Krigsman: Your role encompasses so many parts of KeyBank operations. Does that help you pull together the data that's necessary in order to break down silos and share information across departments, which obviously is central to this customer digital transformation journey you've been talking about?

Amy Brady: With the scope of my role, where it helps us is that it helps us look at things and see where we can build once and share many, so where we can build a capability.

Let's think about things like alerting. Build one alerting capability and then use that functionality and use it to alert our consumers of transactions that they might want to be notified about and alert our commercial clients about transactions that they might want to be notified about.

While the transactions may differ, the technology capability could be the same. That would be one example. Where we might have an automation capability for digital signature, that could be the same but used differently for consumers and commercial.

We can use data about these different journeys and the different experiences, see what's common about those experiences, and then build them once and share across those experiences.

Qualifications for KeyBank business partners

Michael Krigsman: Can you give us a quick overview of how you make that build/buy partner decision? What are the kind of logic points that you think about?

Amy Brady: It all comes down to, what are you trying to deliver, how quickly, and what's the capability? It's a quick assessment of all of those things on a continuous basis.

Honestly, we're constantly evaluating what's the criticality of what we're trying to deliver. Is it a core system? Is it a bolt-on feature that's being added to a core system? Is it something we need very quickly that we can code ourselves and deliver, or is it something that somebody else has already built that we can partner and integrate?

If they have it, we like it, and it works, we don't have to be the author all the time. I think it's constantly evaluating those things and being willing to assess what's the best solution for the business problem you're trying to solve.

Digital transformation at KeyBank

Michael Krigsman: We're having this conversation in 2021. The last year has been a year of real change. How has the pandemic affected KeyBank?

Amy Brady: If the pandemic hasn't affected KeyBank, I think we'd be fooling ourselves. I think it's affected every industry.

Early on, we said that the pandemic probably accelerated our digital journey five years and three months. It has clearly accelerated our digital journey in large part because it accelerated our employee journey and it accelerated our client journey.

There was great benefit out of that. There was adoption of technologies that were hockey stick adoption in rates that hadn't been seen before.

Because of that, we have great momentum going into 2021 around things like automation and the willingness to use technologies in a different way, the willingness of our employees, even, to challenge the status quo, the willingness to say, "Wait a second. I can think about that process differently. I can think about the way I work differently." I think that has forever changed the way clients want to interact with us and the way our employees are willing to work.

Michael Krigsman: You've mentioned, several times, the importance of listening to your customers. How have consumer behaviors changed during this period of time?

Amy Brady: We've clearly seen greater adoption of mobile technologies. We have clearly seen more willingness to do things both by our consumer and our commercial clients, a willingness to do things on their tablet or mobile device of choice, their willingness to interact via video. [Laughter] We all now know how to use Zoom and different mechanisms that we maybe had been hesitant to use prior.

We can see that willingness to interact in a different way. Now, we have to adapt our interaction models and to allow those things to happen in a different setting for our clients.

Michael Krigsman: Amy, what advice do you have for chief information officers who are listening, or even CFOs, that want to take on this kind of transformation to use data in the various ways that you've been describing?

Amy Brady: One: Be open to change and be open to the art of the possible. Two: Surround yourself with great people.

You need different perspectives and great talent. I always say, the most important thing I can do in my role is to hire people who are smarter than me, who are better than me, who can bring different perspectives to the table so that we can challenge each other to create an even better solution than if I surrounded myself with people who all look like me, thought like me, and had the same experiences as me.

Now, more than ever, creative thinking, problem-solving, solutioning, and iterating, I think, is really important because we are faced with a pace of change that none of us have experienced before and expectations that none of us have experienced before. That's exciting. That's also daunting, right?

The reality is, in many cases, there isn't a past that can predict this future. We have to use real-time data and we have to use really smart, collaborative teams of different disciplines to come together to create the solutions for tomorrow.

I think it's a great time to be a CIO. There's no better time, actually, I think, because there are so many different opportunities to apply technology to advance our businesses than now.

Role of women in technology

Michael Krigsman: Before we finish up, I have to ask you about your path into this role. There are very few women in comparable roles.

Amy Brady: I don't think there's one direct career path to being a CIO. I wouldn't say that my path was a traditional path to being a CIO. Although, the more CIOs I meet, I'm not sure there is a traditional path anymore.

You are right. There are not enough women or people of color in CIO roles. There's not enough diversity in CIO roles, in general.

My path, I spent the first half of my career on the business side of financial services, so I was on the P&L side of financial services, and then had the opportunity to move into an innovation role. In that innovation role, I had the opportunity to work with a whole cross-functional team (creating new products, services, business models). Then I went into technology.

While I was in technology, I thought I would stay in technology for a couple of years and then go back to the business. What I realized during that time was, technology is the business. Technology was going to transform the business of financial services.

I truly believe, today, that technology is just as much a part of the business as a P&L leader and we need all different types of discipline in the technology roles. And so, I stayed in technology; rotated, and learned all the different aspects of it; and believe that we need different types of perspectives in this role.

No, I didn't grow up coding. I have some amazing engineers that work on my team. I surround myself with brilliant engineers to help me.

I think you can come to this role from many different directions, and so I would encourage people. But I do believe that you need a balance of technical engineering and business leadership all coming together today to solve business tech opportunities as we drive these businesses forward.

Michael Krigsman: Amy Brady, thank you so much for taking time to speak with us.

Amy Brady: You're welcome. Thank you, Michael.

Published Date: Apr 05, 2021

Author: Michael Krigsman

Episode ID: 701