For one of the world’s largest financial services software providers, two knock-on effects of the 2007–08 financial crisis both sounded a potential death knell for its existing operating model and opportunity for growth. On one hand, its cash-strapped core customer base all but stopped buying traditional software licenses. On the other, many banking regulators—such as those in the United Kingdom—enacted new regulations that lowered barriers to enter the industry, creating a new cadre of small retail banks empowered to challenge the incumbent players. These new entrants represented potential new sources of revenue for providers that could adapt to the different commercial construct of the new entrants.
These small banks had fewer resources and a desire to be more agile than the legacy competitors they were targeting. This made traditional software licenses—where banks would obtain software from multiple vendors and then figure out on their own how to integrate and implement them—wholly unappealing. These developments were amplified by the fact that both the smaller challenger banks and the larger legacy players were seeking business partners to provide turn-key, technology-enabled retail banking processes as a service..
Despite the changing needs of clients, many competitor firms were still executing on their traditional software strategies. This particular fintech company knew it needed to rapidly evolve, which meant completely redefining the way in which it provided solutions to its customers and competed in the market.
Since 2007, Senior Protiviti consultants had offered strategic counsel to the leadership team of this provider on how to best react to and capitalize on trends in the rapidly changing world around them. A major impetus for these ongoing conversations was the fact that in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), traditional software sales were beginning to show signs of weakness. The client had a small team of salespeople that offered over 30 different licensed retail banking software products. For an added fee, the firm's small professional services team could help clients weave together multiple technologies and implement the solutions. Meanwhile, the concept of software as a service (SaaS) was beginning to take off around the world, led by the likes of Salesforce.com and Microsoft 365. Hosted banking solutions were already quite successful in US markets—and they were on the rise in EMEA as well.
By the end of 2013, its license sales had nearly come to a halt, and the fintech company’s leadership was ready to make the leap to SaaS. It had been working to demonstrate to its board and internal stakeholders the importance of reimagining its software solutions as a set of services. To deliver on the promise of SaaS, the company needed no less than a complete business transformation. Over a relatively short period of time, the leadership team would take steps to change not only the content of its banking solutions but also its entire operating model, organizational structure, and corporate culture.
To succeed, the firm needed a host of new skills. It needed developers who could understand clients’ business requirements and perform the technology integration with each piece of software. It needed contract negotiators to forge commercial agreements with clients and new supply chain partners. It also meant changing its talent mix to add people with product development, pricing, and regulatory compliance knowledge and skill. Furthermore, sales staff needed to be trained to sell in a completely different way based on a new set of metrics.
In normal circumstances, these changes would place a huge amount of stress on a company’s culture—but existing cultural challenges complicated the matter. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the firm had grown by purchasing multiple smaller software companies and hadn’t fully integrated many of its acquisitions. The resulting collection of geographically dispersed teams made it extremely difficult to align internal resources for this new and sizeable transformation.
In January 2014, the company began the enormous task of refining and reorganizing around its new value proposition. Together, the client and Protiviti began a two-year journey by defining a clear set of business services that covered the entire SaaS lifecycle, from sales to project delivery to ongoing support services.
The client's leadership team worked with Protiviti strategists to reshape their value proposition into one that was both feasible and profitable. Business process improvement experts identified the necessary capabilities required to make good on the firm's SaaS promises and identify capability gaps. Supply chain experts enabled the company to quickly engage the right partners and align over 50 major service contracts across a complex supply chain. Organizational experts established a new organizational structure, including job descriptions and objectives for the executive team. And by calling on its staffing firm parent company, Robert Half, Protiviti assisted the client with hiring decisions and the onboarding of new talent. All along the way, company leadership made concerted efforts to create a new, unified corporate culture, clearly communicating the rationale behind decisions to align employee incentives with new goals.
By the end of 2015, the company had upskilled its existing workforce in addition to bringing on board a significant number of new employees with the skills and capabilities it needed for its retail banking SaaS solutions—the new growth engine of the business. A growing number of clients are both using and beta testing new solutions. Together these clients form a powerful list of both start-up and established retail banking service providers —one of which has already migrated more than 100,000 customers to its new SaaS solution. Other contracts are in the works and, for this fintech firm, the change in the air is palpable. The firm—which not long ago had faced serious headwinds—is now successfully bidding against and regularly winning in competitive situations. Several years ago it had no software sales. Today, the company has developed a set of long-term client relationships that generate a multi-million dollar revenue stream on the back of this new offering alone.