Interview: Barclays banks on innovation

By Stuart Sumner
03 Apr 2012 View Comments
Barclays' Shaygan Kheradpir

Enabling customer-facing staff to access bespoke financial services apps using tablet computers is just one of several ways in which COO Shaygan Kheradpir is transforming the retail banking experience at Barclays

Further reading

Banks are traditionally thought of as risk-averse companies rather than agile innovators, but Barclays retail COO Shaygan Kheradpir is drawing on his knowledge and experience as a former CIO to try to change that.

His vision of the banking business is one in which end users and developers freely mingle, sharing ideas and feedback. He wants to increase staff mobility and flexibility by enabling tablet use in the office, with a Barclays app cloud providing everything staff need to work and communicate.

According to Kheradpir, this vision will become reality later this year.

Enabling mobility

“We have a saying; crawl, walk, run. We did the crawl last year until we were all comfortable, working out where tablets will work and where they are less appropriate. Now we’re in the walk mode.

“Eventually you will see these devices in the customer-facing front line at Barclays.”

To illustrate how tablet devices could benefit staff, Kheradpir cites the camera on the iPad 2.

“In the old way of doing things you scan a written form or meeting notes and upload them to the network.

“But why do it that way? The camera on the iPad 2 is better than most scanners. It can upload the file directly to the internal cloud. You can secure it and tag it and off it goes. Why have paper and a scanner?”

In Kheradpir’s view, tablet devices are more secure than PCs, partly because their software requires less regular patching, but also because the IT department can restrict how and where the device is allowed to connect to networks.

“Tablets have context, they know who and where you are. You can leverage that information to build a more secure ecosystem.

“My iPad is fully secure. We deployed with Mobile Iron and there is heavy mobile device management on it. It knows where it is, and what networks it is allowed to attach to.

“We also use encryption from Good Technology, which we deploy as an app.”

Creating an internal app store

Enabling the deployment of this app and others will be the Barclays app store, which staff will use to download software that will let them carry out core business functions and network with one another.

“It’s for business-focused apps that employees need for their daily activities, but also for internal social networking and collaboration,” he says.

The app store will also be used by various layers of the organisation, including customer-facing staff.

“Many of the tasks that happen in the front line of the bank are app-oriented. They are specialised tasks like applying for a mortgage or a credit card,” he says.

“And what are apps? They are deep and narrow. They’re not like PC applications, which are broad and shallow. You want apps to do one, often complex, task.”

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