Bob Biolchini, one of the initial founders that opened the doors to Valley National Bank in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1982, was inspired by the human element that he saw as a foundation of the community bank’s success. Today, his son Tom Biolchini is keeping the vision going as the chairman of the board. As the family-owned, multigenerational bank looks for new ways to serve its customers, it’s also experiencing a digital transformation under the direction of President and CEO Brad Scrivner.

Brad Scrivner, President and CEO of Valley National Bank
Brad Scrivner, President and CEO of Valley National Bank

Modern Banking with a Personal Touch

Since he joined the bank as CEO in 2012, Scrivner recognized the tools it was using at the time were not able to deliver the type of experience he knows that customers expect today. “That awareness was important,” he said. He credits the people and high-performance culture at Valley National Bank for continuing to keep customers happy. But he added, “Ultimately, the fact that customer preferences and expectations are constantly evolving led us to start that journey of trying to figure out what we can do about this.”

The leaders at Valley National Bank aim to offer their customers a modern financial experience, which they believe is tied into giving their employees the most up-to-date technology to do their jobs. And Scrivner recognizes that this transformation cannot come at the expense of the personal touch that goes back to the bank’s roots.

“We want to create an amazing experience for our employees and our customers,” Scrivner said. “We also want to have strong performance and create shareholder value.” To make this happen, he is in process of implementing SAP S/4HANA as the bank’s ERP system.

Banking at the Speed of Technology

For the SAP S/4HANA implementation, Scrivner opted to work with Axxiome Digital, an SAP partner specializing in core banking. The bank began the project by first adopting the SAP HANA management database. “I love the real-time insights that SAP HANA provides us,” Scrivner said.

The decision to go with SAP S/4HANA was an easy one for Scrivner. “It was an entire package that put together a world-class partnership that would help us offer a world-class experience for our customers and our employees. It was everything from Axxiome Digital, which was going to implement the system, to SAP, which had the underlying technology and the ability to put in place an enterprise platform for us. And then the fact that all of it sat on a cloud-based platform.”

It was important to Scrivner that SAP HANA’s in-memory data management platform allows users to process large data volumes at high speed. Users can retrieve high-level summaries quickly, and drill down to granular details. Scrivner was looking for a system the bank could use to efficiently manage financial data and offer customers a single user experience across all platforms—whether they’re digital or mobile.

A Small Bank with Big Ambitions

The small bank, which has 100 or so employees, looked to SAP and Axxiome to help guide it through the changes it would need in its technology systems to live up to its promise to customers. Despite the bank’s outdated systems, there was some good news about having little legacy data. “We are small for the type of bank that would use SAP S/4HANA,” Scrivner explained. “We didn’t have a data warehouse, we didn’t have a data lake, we didn’t have that kind of infrastructure.”

Scrivner went into the project asking to know what he didn’t know. Given that there wasn’t much infrastructure or process in place, the project had a lot of unknowns. And as a small institution, there wasn’t a lot of internal support for this kind of ambitious implementation. “We didn’t ask our partners or SAP to go develop things based upon our existing processes,” Scrivner said. “We wanted to adopt the latest best practices and then where we needed to, we would modify them for our needs.”

Flying High on the Cloud

Valley National Bank was already operating on the cloud before Scrivner came on board. “We are a financial institution,” Scrivner said. “We have to be very sensitive to personally identifiable information and protecting our customers. But we believe we have the right partnerships in place to adequately protect our assets.”

The bank is putting its new systems on the cloud with DXC Technologies and Amazon Web Services (AWS). “Our partners’ experience in this arena gave us a lot of confidence in terms of the ability to handle our data in a highly secure way.”

Be Real and Persevere

Because it’s small and locally owned, Valley National Bank didn’t have the expertise to handle this implementation internally. “The partners that you choose during the journey,” Scrivner said, “are really important. I do not believe we would have been able or confident to make this SAP decision, if it weren’t for the partners involved.”

In addition to having the right partners, Scrivner noted the importance of knowing your core values. “Don’t pretend,” he said. “Be real about what you know and what you don’t know.”

Another equally important piece of advice he shared is that once you’ve committed, continue along that course, despite the difficulty. “Perseverance is key,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of barriers, starting with the fact that we were a small organization, smaller than anyone thought would be capable to implement an enterprise-grade solution that is typically reserved for the largest banks in the world. We had to get past that hurdle, and we did.”

Intelligent Simplicity Across Customer Channels

Scrivner and his team are still moving through the implementation process. Valley National Bank’s plan for the end of the year includes having the bank’s general ledger up and running, analytics and reporting going, along with its deposit origination, a payment hub, and a data hub.

SAP S/4 HANA is designed to simplify data structure and user experience, but also to allow customers to easily integrate emerging technologies such as machine learning. These new technologies will allow Scrivner and his team the option to quickly integrate these intelligent interactions that can predict customer needs. This is all part of the bank’s goal to deliver that seamless experience he’s hoping to provide.

Once the implementation is complete, Valley National Bank will offer its customers a fully integrated banking system that will provide real-time banking with easy and flexible configurations. Customers will have an omnichannel experience, and the bank will have a 360-degree view of its customers. It’s a win-win for Valley National Bank. And right at the center of the action is the digital platform that the community-oriented bank is using to enhance the human element of its business.

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