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No gimmicks for Danske Bank’s agile app team

  • Danske Bank’s journey to becoming a truly digital business now includes its own in-house app development team.

    Founding members Steven McComb (team lead) and Zoe Bambrick (graduate app developer) set up the tech stack, and have been joined by further developers handpicked for their full stack experience. The bank will be on the look-out for junior developers and graduates to help bolster the team before the end of the summer.

    Peter Gourley, Head of Digital Channels at Danske Bank, believes that the investment in this in-house capability is testament to the appetite and commitment the Bank has to digitally transform the organisation here in Northern Ireland.

    “Danske Bank is embracing digital in a transformative way – and I count myself very privileged to be joining the bank on what will be an incredibly exciting journey,” he explains.

    “The arrival of Open Banking means we need to move quickly to respond to changes in the banking landscape, to test and develop concepts that make more possible for our customers. We didn’t have that capability locally six months ago.

    “We set up the team in Donegall Square West, rooted in agile ways of working. We work on greenfield projects and have considerable autonomy over our pipeline, which is not typical in a banking structure. Zoe, Alex, Declan and Conor have an equal remit for product ownership as they do for app development, working closely with specialists from functions right across the bank.”

    Peter pointed out that this team will look beyond traditional banking solutions, following new digital trends and leveraging emerging technologies to build, test and iterate proof of concept solutions for both customers and colleagues. Customer co-creation and evaluation based on data analytics will guide how the team develops these new products and services.

    “We are not here to create whimsical, gimmicky innovation; we want to create innovation that has a good chance of succeeding. We are very prepared to pivot on an idea or close down an idea if we prove it is not adding value, and move on to the next one.

    “We expect the team will evolve to deliver products and services beyond mobile apps and develop core competencies beyond pure engineering. Blending technical capability with customer design thinking is the sweet spot we are aiming for. It’s about listening to our customers and using data-driven insights to build what they tell us they want.”

    That approach has been apparent in the team’s first major project – an employee app called Danske Life that has been rolled out to the bank’s 1,400 strong workforce across Northern Ireland. The app aims to develop the digital capability of Danske’s people by enabling them to interact digitally both inside and outside of work.

    “Our people are our biggest digital asset. By prioritising an internal app as our first project, we hope to raise that digital awareness and engagement amongst our colleagues. This gives us a strong user platform which, as we now change focus towards developing customer-facing apps, allows us to harness their feedback as a colleague-first test ground.”

    Peter returned home to work in Northern Ireland for the first time in 10 years after joining Danske Bank from Tesco Bank Edinburgh in December 2017.

     “The ambition and air of entrepreneurship here in Northern Ireland is palpable and the level of investment, optimism and talent in the tech community here has blown me away.

    “Building collaborative partnerships is imperative to an organisation in this increasingly connected digital ecosystem.”

    And he has this message for any startups or fintechs looking for a partner:

    “Here at Danske Bank we’re committed to fostering strong relationships through meaningful collaboration and by opening up our network, with a view to bringing some thought leadership and solutions back to the bank for the benefit of our customers. We want to show what can be made possible through partnering with the high-calibre tech talent we have here in Northern Ireland, and our team is primed and ready to start co-creating.”

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