Bank UMB Chief Information and Product Officer Uma Wilson has focused on unifying the technology and product development teams since joining the Kansas City, Missouri-based bank in 2021.
The collaboration brings different perspectives and a better understanding of consumer needs, Wilson said, noting, “It’s all about solving our customers’ problems and how we can make them effective.”
Wilson recently sat down with Bank automation news to discuss her role and the $37.6 billion bank’s focus on cloud, automation and product launches planned for later this year. The following is an edited version of that conversation.
Bank automation news: How has your focus on technology and product development at the bank changed?
Uma Wilson: I look after the entire technology platform, which includes everything from applications to infrastructure to cyber security and digital payments. The product is more related to the framework, digital deposits and loan payments. Product and technology haven’t always worked together, but product specialists are bringing the voice of the customer to technology, and now both want to understand that it’s not just about building the technology or using the cloud.
BAN: What technology will be on your radar by the end of 2022?
UW: UMB is on a cloud journey. The technology business is more focused on real-time payments. This is an exciting time for our industry because our network really hasn’t had a new toll rail for many years. This is the first new toll railway that allows us to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 a year, which is very powerful.
The challenge on both the technology side and the product side is thinking about same-day fulfillment. These are the key points to pay attention to.
BAN: What role does automation play in UMB’s approach to technology and product development?
UW: Automation doesn’t have to be an afterthought. We’re trying to optimize automation, not trying to go backwards, meaning if you put automation as a project, you’ll never get there. Don’t make it a separate track. There are things you do every day and you have to be able to have a critical lens to say,
“Are there things I’m going to roll out that I can automate?” I think that’s the best way to say that we’re looking at automation.
BAN: Are there any product launches planned at UMB?
UW: There’s a cloud automation and transformation project in the fourth quarter that I’m very focused on because transformation drives efficiency. A real-time payment initiative is also being developed, which could be discussed in the third quarter.
BAN: What is your favorite piece of leadership advice?
UW: In the long run, good managers manage better leaders. So our executive managers preach that … on our team and in our company. In that vein, many years ago we had a motivational speaker talk about leadership. One of the quotes he gave was, “It’s your ship, make it the best it can be.” [Navy] Captain D. Michael Abrashoff.
This is what I enjoy and I share it with my team.
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