Interview: Pavel Geraskin, Head of IT4IT, VTB Group

clock • 4 min read

VTB Group drove a massive IT transformation across a disparate international network

VTB Group is Russia's second-largest bank, with an extremely varied corporate network: the result of years of mergers and acquisitions. But it's also a technology company, and is working hard to bring those unruly and unconnected systems under a single umbrella.

The company's work made the shortlist for Best DevOps Transformation at this year's DevOps Excellence Awards, and head of IT Pavel Geraskin told us more about the work to change not only the systems, but the bank's culture as well.

Can you provide some background on VTB Group - what are you all about?

VTB Group is a global provider of financial services, comprised of 20 credit institution financial companies, trading across all key areas of financial markets in the global world.

VTB is a holding company with one digitally-aligned and development model, including a common brand, centralised financial risk management and a greater compliance system.

VTB Group's work is unique to the Russian bank industry. It enables a group of facilities and international partnerships, and promotes Russian companies aiming to engage with global markets.

VTB Group operates a large international network across key states such as Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. VTB also has a bank in Austria and Germany, which are part of a European holding company headed by VTB Bank Europe.

The Group also has subsidiary and affiliated banks in the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Georgia and Angola, and branches in China and India as well.

In terms of our digital transformation in VTB Group, new businesses and processes will provide additional sources of revenue, bringing our remote customer services system to a new level and improving internal efficiency and productivity.

What makes VTB Group different from other technology companies?

On one side VTB Group is a financial organisation with government regulations, and on another side we're a technology company. Merger-enabled growth rates have created the second-largest bank in Russia.

Acquisitions, sales and mergers have caused a dramatic surge in the Bank's IT system, though driven by increasing the number of customers, employees and branches.

The disparate and sub-optimal IT architecture of merged banks, with the use of different and often outdated solutions, has caused difficulty with integration into a single VTB landscape.

Meanwhile, the financial market dictates that players must respond quickly to customer needs and their services should be able to quickly deploy the product to the market. This cannot be implemented outside of IT products. Therefore, VTB Group has set itself to follow digital objectives by the end of 2022.

First of all is the acceleration of the business digitalisations. This involves a substantial increase in the share of digital channels in the direction of customers. By the end of 2022 over 50 per cent of all sales will be fully digital with no need for the customer to visit a branch, and over 80 per cent of service operations will be transferred to remote and omni-channels. Also, 100 per cent of our products will be accessible to customers in online channels, such as mobile banking or online-based banking applications.

The second of our objectives is the creation of an advanced integration process platform. This will be based around a new generation of our services IT architecture, which will give the group competitive advantages in the speed of implementation of this solution and the market launch of new services. It is possible to achieve this only after completing a massive DevSecOps transformation for protecting our customers' personal data. Protecting our customers' personal data is paramount for VTB Group.

Can you tell us about your entry to the DevOps Excellence Awards?

We launched our transformation like a big bank: a massive DevOps transformation, which was part of a global VTB digital transformation. We changed not only DevSecOps; we changed the development process, we went to agile and complemented our own agile-style process, rebuilt all the teams to work with the [new] streams, improved system stability and so on and so on.

Our key goal for the DevSecOps transformation was to decrease time to market via the new development platform for the whole Group, quickly and securely.

We had a key expectation for this transformation, which was shorter list times for new IT products. The product team delivered DevSecOps tools and focused on building the business product, so the DevSecOps tools work like a service for teams: transforming our production process, transforming the quality and reliability of IT products, [bringing in] modern development testing implementation practises, and making the Bank's IT functions more attractive.

What single company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

As a result [of our work], in just one year we were able to dramatically improve our IT production metrics. Time to market decreased eight times, to 30 days, and 12 days for the story-level tasks. Now both teams using DevSecOps. It's more than 1,000 teams, 13 software engineers and more than 400 systems connected to the DevOps pipeline.

What are you working on this year?

This year we are continuing to improve our technology development process, expanding automation tools to IT processes, switching from IT system approach to an IT services approach, implementing mobile applications for internal IT services and deploying an internal messenger.

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