Metro Bank CIO Martyn Atkinson plans to use technology to shape the organisation's strategy and thinking while improving the startup bank's resilience and customer offerings, he told CIO UK.

Atkinson joined Metro Bank as director of digital and change, and was later promoted to CIO as part of the executive leadership team. He was previously head of transformation at Nationwide and at Metro Bank is responsible for the organisation's technology estate and strategy. [See also: Metro Bank promotes Director of Digital Martyn Atkinson to CIO role]

Metro Bank is currently investing up to £70 million in new products and services for its customers, with Atkinson shaping the direction of the bank.

"I want to bring in new technology and new ways of working that help shape the business thinking so I see it as a two-way street," he said. "The business have got their part but I think the technology and roadmap will have equal weighting. 

"One of the projects we are working on is the ability to reduce the amount of time customers spend in our stores. Whether it is an opening of an account or current account holders, how we ensure that there's no wait, so it can be done within 15 minutes?

"I also think that you will probably see a continual investment in the resilience agenda across all banks because as customers become much more demanding and as we move closer to a 24/7 operating model you have got to make sure that your IT operations and IT operating model mirrors the wants and the needs of the customers."

Digital demand

The CIO admitted one of the main challenges has been keeping up with customer expectations for digital services as well as making use of customer feedback.

"Customers want 24/7 digital services and I think the challenge has always been trying to get out the right quality of services as quickly as the customers demand them," Atkinson explained.

Atkinson will play a fundamental role in making sure the bank continues to provide that superior customer experience and across all channels, by applying fully integrated front and back office technology.

"We have seen a lot of feedback through our social media and in stores that they are actually keen for us to expand and build out on our stores," Atkinson said. "It is making sure that whatever channel we offer our services through that there is a level of consistency and performance."

In the newly-created CIO role, Atkinson has encouraged his team to understand the part IT plays in the wider business strategy, including across products and services.

"The team needs to demonstrate what they are doing on a daily basis to meet business objectives whether they are building, delivering or maintaining that service," he explained. "If you are doing things that don't link to the strategy then let's take those skills and actually progress the agenda."

Culture and IT in the boardroom

Atkinson, who joined the full-service bank in 2015, said it is going to be an on-going challenge in bringing IT to the boardroom at the start of his role.

"It is going to be a long conversation but there is I think there are early signals that we are moving forward and the board is actually prepared to take part in the debate," he said.

Over the last 18 months, Atkinson has demonstrated some of the innovations on the market such as AI and robotics and how they could be used at Metro. "I had a great conversation with the board last year around the challenges from a security and authentication perspective and I came up with ideas around new biometric innovations that allowed us to make sure we are really clear and certain that we are engaging with our customers," he said.

Atkinson said that the future of the organisation will focus on maintaining its reputation for excellent customer service while also expanding the store footprint.

"As more colleagues join us, we absolutely must ensure that our culture remains true to our original model," he said. "At the same time as expanding our physical presence, we'll continue to invest in our digital offering, so that we're providing customers with a superior omnichannel experience by offering a physical and virtual service and giving customers that kind of choice."