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Features Hub Interview

How Lloyds’ software dept. is engineering the bank of the future

Thu 7 Feb 2019 | James McLeod

To achieve the full potential of what financial services can offer society, we need to unlock the full engineering power of all the great minds sitting in retail banking engineering teams, James McLeod, software engineering lead at Lloyds Banking Group tells John Bensalhia

“We’re moving so fast it’s important to look back to see just how far we’ve come.” James McLeod, software engineering lead, Lloyds Banking Group, is recalling the huge amount of technological change at Lloyds over the past year. The most noticeable of these is the change in engineering style.

“We are moving from an organisation bound by old, manual engineering processes into one where engineers are empowered to question what’s right in order to remove inefficiency and increase quality. We’re really learning the importance of releasing fast, listening to our customers and adapting our software to be the engineering-led bank of the future.”

While strides into cloud, containers, automation and engineering collaboration through GitHub Enterprise have made this all possible, James says that these really only scratch the surface. “2019 will be an awesome year for engineers at Lloyds as we accelerate further into the art of the possible,” he says.

One of the most successful recent initiatives was the Lloyds Engineering and Lloyds Design Hackathon. “Within Lloyds Engineering, we recognise intelligence isn’t a gift that’s been handed to a chosen few,” says James. “We absolutely recognise that no matter who you are and where you sit within the team, we all have great ideas, we’re all passionate about technology and we all like to learn, teach and mentor others.”

James explains that the Lloyds Engineering Hackathon was an event designed with the sole purpose of bringing everyone together to “see what happens when smart engineers and designers are given free rein to play and create new ideas using great Cloud technology.” More than 350 people attended the event with 120 hacking on the day.

“The outcome of the hackathon was phenomenal,” says James. “In total, we had 18 amazing new product ideas that were taken into proof of concept and presented on the day. We had lightning talks, demonstrations and educational sessions running throughout the entire event. Events like this are the new normal at Lloyds and show why we’re super excited right now.”

Strength in numbers

With respect to ushering in DevOps practices into banks’ software departments, James says there are no challenges – “other than educating people outside of engineering on the clear benefits of automation verses repeating manual tasks again, and again, and again.”

“In my opinion, engineers understand the benefits of automating processes as this is the general philosophy behind building any form of software application. It might be the case they don’t have experience of DevOps, but it’s an easy sell into engineering teams once the benefits are clearly articulated and realised on the ground.”

James says that it is securing the support of people outside of engineering that is the challenge for engineers. “Finding a common language and understanding for communicating with non-engineers can be tricky for introverted thinkers and people whose minds are in the details of solving engineering problems.”

“Technology will provide the methods needed to suggest the right products, to the right people, at the right time”

“However, with a little perseverance and practice, we can all learn to communicate in new terms and find ways to articulate across teams who are also passionate for building awesome software solutions but from a different point of view.”

What future holds for the banking industry is anyone’s guess, but the industry is already benefiting from the new products and solutions afforded by cloud, analytics and machine learning.

As James explains, right before our very eyes, technology is providing ways to engage with people differently and opening the door to creative ways of engaging with financial services. In terms of efficiency and customer experience, the real benefit has been how DevOps and the instant scale afforded by cloud closes and contains customer feedback loops.

“In my mind, I see a world where customers flow freely through banking and financial services,” says James.

“Technology will provide the methods needed to suggest the right products, to the right people, at the right time so we can achieve more without the advantages given to people with in-depth financial knowledge.”

“However, to reach the full potential of what financial services can offer society, we need to unlock the full engineering power of all the great minds who are sitting in retail banking engineering teams. This is the absolute reason why engineering should transform everywhere.”

Join me at Cloud Expo Europe.

James is presenting at Cloud Expo Europe, taking place at ExCeL London March 12-13th. Cloud Expo Europe and its colocated events attract over 20,000 IT industry professionals.

Experts featured:

James McLeod

Software Engineering
Lloyds Banking Group

Tags:

Cloud devops. digital transformation engineering FinTech
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