5 questions with … Banco Santander Global Chief Information Officer David Chaos

Banco Santander Global Chief Information Officer David Chaos is focused on cloud migration, modern technology and acquiring talent in his role at the bank.

David Chaos, Global CIO, Banco Santander

The Cantabria, Spain-based bank is migrating its core banking platform to the cloud through a partnership with Google Cloud, which was first announced in October. Through the partnerships, the two companies launched migration system Dual Run, Chaos told Bank Automation News.

Chaos recently shared 1.8 trillion Banco Santander’s digital strategy, including cloud efforts, new tech hub launches and 2023 innovation developments with Bank Automation News. What follows is an edited version of that conversation.

Bank Automation News: What role does technology and automation play in Banco Santander’s overall digital strategy?

David Chaos: At the bank, we like to think of technology as “a means to an end.” Technology is a very powerful layer to achieve automation and digitization. I would say there is a direct correlation: The better technology is, the greater degree of automation and digitization are achieved.

At Santander, the vast majority of our customer transactions are already digital and running on the cloud. In fact, Santander has delivered one of the fastest cloud adoption projects in the world by a global company. More than 90% of our IT infrastructure worldwide has already been migrated to the cloud.

We are now working on migrating our core banking platform to the cloud, which is the most critical part of a bank’s IT infrastructure, where the main financial transactions — such as money transfers, deposits or loans, —are processed. Santander will soon be one of the first major banks in the world to digitalize its core banking. To enable this transition, we are using Gravity, a bespoke innovative software developed in-house. This software plays an essential role in modernizing the core banking platform.

As a testament of the outstanding technology built at Santander, Google Cloud has launched Dual Run, a first-of-its-kind mainframe migration service built on top of Santander’s unique technology.

BAN: How is the bank’s digital team evolving following the opening of two new tech hubs?

DC: Talent is not easy to find, and at Santander we have the determination to find it wherever it is. Today there is a confluence of factors that bring opportunities in Warsaw and in Malaga to host the best tech professionals. We have set up new hubs in these locations, which will house circa 1,400 tech professionals to support business areas, and we are hiring around 750 experts in platforms and APIs, cloud computing, big data, AI, software development and cybersecurity, among others. This will help us to keep developing new technologies to anticipate customer demands.

BAN: How does the bank prioritize product development? Any innovations in the pipeline for 2023?

DC: We are full-steam digitalizing our core banking through Gravity, and in 2023 we’ll accelerate this transition. Every day, we are learning in this endeavor. We expect to complete it in all our core markets and businesses within two to three years. We are also making a continuous effort to keep our channels modern and efficient, as well as improving our processes and increasing constantly the automation levels.

BAN: What technologies are you excited for in 2023?

DC: First, our excitement comes from our daily challenges and transformation initiatives already running, such as cloud, modernization and automation. We are also really excited about the world ahead of us: constant evolution of AI, machine learning, ChatGPT, blockchain and robotics.

BAN: What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received? How does that help you guide your team?

DC: I have been very lucky in my career as I always had great leaders around. The right combination of low lights, where perseverance and execution are key, combined with more strategic views and future thinking is the magic combination I would say. But without a doubt, one of the best pieces of advice I ever got, and which I try hard every day not to forget, is to have the best talent around you.

Bank Automation Summit US 2023, March 2-3 in Charlotte, is a crucial event on automation technology in banking and will feature a fireside chat with Brinda Bhattacharjee of Goldman Sachs & Co. Register here. Learn more and register for Bank Automation Summit US 2023.

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