MONETA, Erste Group and Volkswagen Financial – what are they digitalizing and where are they heading?

December 3, 2021
December 2, 2021
Lenka Kovaříková

The afternoon session "Digitalization in Finance: Myths and Facts" included a panel discussion with managers of major players on the financial market. Are you interested in discovering what pitfalls the beginning of the pandemic has brought them? How did they cope with digitalization and automation? Read the full article.

The panelists:

Petr Beneš from 6D Academy skillfully moderated the discussion and was not afraid to raise controversial issues. Below you will find some of the questions and answers.

What did you do in 2020 in the field of marketing and business automation? What obstacles can you see in the digitalization process?

Lukáš Pudil: We used this time to think, plan and analyze the big technological change we had decided to make. Speeding up data and communication was our main activity that needed to be done regardless of the pandemic.

Pavel Kučera: We were hit hard by the lockdown at first because we had our entire distribution channel shut down. But the whole situation helped us realize that customer behavior is changing. Some clients now want to arrange financing, car or leasing remotely, so we had to find online avenues. Fortunately, we had already made a massive investment in Salesforce and customer centricity before COVID. Therefore, we are now prepared for situations like this.

On the issue of obstacles, I would mention two things – we have been working on a core leasing system for 8 years and a many processes need to be robotized. The second limitation is the ownership of cars which are not ours (the owners are car dealerships, ed. note). Clients come to us not only for the product, but also for the vehicle. We are working on having all the information about cars in real time, which is a huge challenge for us.

Petr Šrámek: At Moneta, I am responsible for Salesforce for commercial business, especially the entrepreneurship sector. This has kept us busy with ad hoc solutions to COVID government guarantee programs, where we have not done without the traditional pencil-and-paper approach. But we still managed to go more digital, which was our priority regardless of the pandemic. In this regard, I believe the biggest obstacle to digitization and automation are rapidly changing priorities, whether for product or technology projects. During the pandemic, it's harder to stop and plan a medium-term strategy for digital, IT and business that would give us direction.

Left to right: Lukáš Pudil, Pavel Kučera, Petr Šrámek

Lukáš, a few years ago, the system at Česká spořitelna was very customized. It meant a new implementation every year. What has changed?

We still have a very customized Siebel. Our in-house team does a great job. That’s why the first part we're moving to Salesforce is marketing. It's the first step to replacing our core banking system as well. This year we need to analyze very well and steer our activities in the right direction. In 2022, we want to finish the implementation of the marketing section and start discussing how and whether to replace the core banking with Siebel. It is a huge responsibility.

In the COVID era, we appreciated Salesforce’s flexibility for special emergencies. Petr Šrámek, MONETA Money Bank

How do you perceive the role of Salesforce in digitizing and automating your core processes?

Pavel Kučera: We started with Salesforce last year, but because the project was built on a greenfield, we were ahead of our parent company, which is now trying to slow us down a bit. There had been talks of a new CRM for a long time, but the processes were still handled with paper and pencil. We are happy with Salesforce and avoid major customizations. We started with Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud, and are continuing with Service Cloud and most recently Experience Cloud. We've completed the major implementation part and we're primarily using the modules that Salesforce offers. We're currently working on utilization.

Petr Šrámek: We implemented it seven years ago and pioneered the use of Salesforce for B2B customers. We mostly use the classic CRM system and are experimenting with other tools that Salesforce offers – such as myTrailhead for education or Tableau for data analysis, to see which other tools would be best for us. What we've come to appreciate about Salesforce over the COVID period is its flexibility, which has proven itself in many unexpected and extraordinary circumstances. It has allowed us to quickly gather information from a client or get a bank clerk to draw up a contract with a client. It also helped us respond quickly to changing requirements from internal or external regulators. This is one of the reasons why Salesforce has grown in popularity at Moneta.

Lukáš, did you also change the org chart at Česká spořitelna?

We changed everything. Our problems mostly arose from frequent customizations of the existing solution. We agreed that it was not so much about choosing a specific platform, but about specific people and team. We changed the organizational structure chart from the ground up and hired a lot of people "from the outside". We're picking from completely different ranks than in the past. We need people with a different perspective, from a different work environment with a customer-centric approach.

What do you think about change requests? Do you see them the same way I do, that the more numerous they are, the more they destroy the core system? Do you use Salesforce know-how and community experience or do you prefer to bend it to your needs?

Petr Šrámek: I admit that we rely a lot on the flexibility of the system – that it "can take everything" and we bend it a lot. I see that customization has long-term disadvantages, but so far for us the short-term advantages outweigh them.

Pavel Kučera: I am definitely against customizations, mainly due to my experience from my previous job at MONETA Money Bank. There I experienced all the disadvantages of a large number of customizations. If there are any requirements, we solve them using the available Salesforce settings. I am of the opinion that we can't come up with anything better than what Salesforce offers.

Atmosphere at the conference Digitalization in Finance: Myths and Facts

How has your pace of innovation evolved during pandemic? Was this time a catalyst for you?  

Lukáš Pudil: At first, when we closed the offices, we needed time to adapt to the new situation. However, very soon people started working more and figuring out what to do and how to do it. As a team, we got off to a very fast start and came up with a lot of ideas. However, after we returned, there was some fatigue and the enthusiasm waned a bit and we are back to the pre-COVID days. But during the pandemic we completed a number of innovative projects and started a few new ones.  

Pavel Kučera: We had a similar start – offices closed from one day to the next, and we faced technological obstacles. On the other hand, there was a huge cultural change for us. Management realized they needed to invest in technology immediately. Now there is no longer a concern about how we will check people and measure performance. We have moved offices to smaller spaces, with 30% of people permanently working from home. We have a motto – let's do things faster. Agility resonates a lot throughout the company, it's taken root. We've been learning this method in our spare time and it's paying off.

Petr Šrámek: Agility quickly took hold and permeated the entire organization. It has stayed where it has the greatest benefit and effectiveness. We have leveraged the situation from a digital perspective. We were already used to Teams and other tools before it. Salesforce myTrailhead helped us a lot with onboarding and engaging new colleagues. That helped us enormously in the beginning.

We would like to thank all participants for an open discussion.

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